Air New Zealand passengers can no longer pour their own gin and tonic or vodka soda while in Queenstown and Dunedin airport lounges.
Most of Air New Zealand’s regional lounges only serve beer and wine, however, Queenstown and Dunedin airport lounges previously offered self-service spirits.
This option has been removed following an incident in which a customer became too drunk to board her flight.
The incident prompted a ‘prevention conversation’ between the airline and police according to Inspector Ian Paulin, the National Coordinator for Alcohol Harm Prevention.
“Following an incident in November 2022 where a Koru Lounge member was unable to board an aircraft due to her intoxication, our Canterbury Alcohol Harm Reduction Team had a prevention conversation with Air New Zealand around how they were monitoring patrons alcohol intake,” he said.
‘Following that conversation, Air New Zealand made the decision to remove the spirits to ensure they could be adequately monitored.”
Paulin added the airline made this decision without direction from Police.
Chief Operational Integrity and Safety Officer David Morgan told Herald that safety was a key value behind the decision.
“The safety of our Air New Zealand customers and our people is our biggest priority. We want to ensure our customers are still able to enjoy a drink at the bar in our lounges but also ensure they are safe and we creating a responsible drinking environment,” he said.
Spirits are now only sold behind a serviced bar in Queenstown Airpot’s lounge and have been removed from the Dunedin lounge, which does not have bar service.
While beer and wine can still be self-served by customers, the relatively lower alcohol content means they present less of a risk of intoxication.
However, as a liquor license holder, the airline still has responsibilities to customers who choose to drink while in the lounges.
The Air New Zealand lounges have undergone several changes before the new liquor rules, including a $150 million upgrade and rebrand to “Air New Zealand lounges” instead of Koru Club.
Airpoints™ Elite, Gold, Elite Partner and Koru members departing on an Air New Zealand flight can use the lounges.