AIR NEW ZEALAND: Mask up and starve – suspension of domestic in flight food service
Well, here’s a lovely new year’s present for Air New Zealand flyers. Because of Omicron, as of January 1, food service has been suspended on all domestic flights for health and safety reasons.
This new rule is designed to stop passengers from taking off their masks during flights to eat or drink, thus providing maximum face masks on time, and therefore reducing the risk of transmission onboard Air NZ aircraft.
Seems reasonable, especially when you consider New Zealand’s aggressive elimination/suppression model for dealing with the COVID virus, whichever variant.
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All major airlines essentially have a mask mandate for staff and passengers, requiring them to be worn on board during flight, if not from the airport entrance. In Australia and New Zealand, this has not been that controversial with most passengers willingly complying. This is joined with the incredibly effective air conditioning which replaces all air in the cabin every 2 to 3 minutes, and recirculated air has to pass a HEPA filter which can eliminate most virus particles.
New Zealand has an incredibly low rate of COVID infection, even of the Omicron variant, with the first 2 community cases only reported last week, and 10 in quarantine (as of 31 December 2021).
No food service is not a permanent state of affairs. Air New Zealand says it will review the policy as the situation changes. The new rule is to support the fight against the transmission of the omicron variant. They will continue to review the policy and change it if needed.
It’s good to see Air NZ acting in the interests of its staff and passengers. Most domestic flights in NZ are fairly short at under 2 hours: one of the longest routes, Auckland to Dunedin is about 1 hour and 50 minutes for example, so abstaining from food should not be a great inconvenience.
At the risk of jinxing it again, I hope to be visiting the North Island in the middle of 2022. But then again, this is the second reschedule already.