Air New Zealand has made a special mask exemption for wētā and other flying taonga found on flights, although more squeamish flyers would appreciate if they stick to distancing guidelines.
On Tuesday morning a passenger on a Wellington to Auckland service discovered a surprise discovery, tweeting a photo at the airline on the back of her safety card.
"Just wondering what the mask guidelines are for wētā on flights @FlyAirNZ?" asked Alex O'Connor, regarding the Arthropodal passenger.
O'Connor said it was first spotted by another flyer on the other side of the row, who brought it to her attention.
"Not sure why aisle-mate thought she was doing me a favour by pointing out its existence."
The internet was immediately beset with a flurry of excitement over the stowaway insect.
"OMG I would die" wrote one disapproving twitter user. Another called it "the biggest 'Nope' I have seen in a long time".
"What the heck is that thing?" was the contribution from international twitter.
Another twitter pundit joined in saying it was an "emotional support wētā".
O'Connor commented on the mid-air encounter, saying: "It honestly felt like NZ's equivalent to snakes on a plane."
She eventually brought it to the attention of the airline's customer relations with her tweets.
"Wētā's are exempt from masks onboard but sorry to see that he wasn't keeping 2 metres away!" came the response from the official @FlyAirNZ account.
The pair of them spent the rest of the flight trying to get the insect into a paper 'sick bag' for its own protection. Having arrived safely in nature the other passenger took the insect off O'Connor's hands. "She's kindly delivering it back to nature somewhere," Said O'Connor.
A spokesperson for Air New Zealand confirmed the incident to media, saying: "While Mr Weta wasn't part of an official translocation, looks like he had a safe journey and made a few mates along the way.
"We understand that the customer across the aisle from the original tweeter is a conservation enthusiast and has returned him to the wild after experiencing Air New Zealand's world class customer service."
The DOC describes Wētā as national "icons for invertebrate conservation" with many of the species under threat. So the passengers did the right thing by them.
Air New Zealand has worked with the DOC to deliver 4000 animals of different species to relocate them at conservation projects. This insect however was not a part of these translocation projects.
Last November the airline and DOC helped relocate 73 tuatara from Invercargill back to the care of Ngāti Koata in Marlborough Sounds habitats.