Air New Zealand has eliminated food and drink service onboard its domestic flights, citing concern over the omicron variant and a desire for passengers to remain masked throughout the flight.
Air New Zealand Eliminates Food And Drinks Onboard Domestic Flights
Effective January 1, 2022, food and drinks are no longer served onboard. Air New Zealand’s Chief Customer and Sales Officer Leanne Geraghty explained:
“It’s anticipated that we will soon see the Omicron variant within the New Zealand community, so we are making this change now to further safeguard our customers and crew.
“Masks are one of the key ways to limit transmission, so making this change will enable our customers’ masks to be kept on throughout the flight and ensure they are as safe as possible while onboard an Air New Zealand aircraft.”
Indeed, the omicron variant has now reached Kiwi shores, with two cases reported over the weekend (a British DJ and an Air New Zealand crew member). Instead, passengers will be offered a snack upon arrival.
“We know customers look forward to their cookie, popcorn or bliss bites so rather than pause food and beverage service, we have made the decision to offer our popular snacks to our customers to enjoy when they arrive at their destination.”
Air New Zealand says this change is “temporary” and would be reviewed on a regular basis. Water will still be available upon request.
A Logical Policy?
I’m not onboard with this policy, so to speak, because airplanes are amongst the safest indoor environments and because I believe it is time we embrace a new “normal” with the virus; full containment policies are much easier for geographically isolated nations like New Zealand, but even there are ultimately unworkable.
That said, I have to respect Air New Zealand for recognizing the logical inconsistency of an onboard mask policy that allows everyone to lower their masks to eat and drink at the same time. I’ve never called the mask mandate worthless and the idea that partial coverage is better than no coverage at all seems very clear.
At the same time, if we are going to be making cost/benefits allowance to allow the temporary removal of masks for eating and drinking, it seems to me that masks should be optional on airplanes as a general policy, reflecting both the relatively safe environment that airline cabins represent and the idea that passengers, at this point in the game, can weigh their own risks and travel accordingly. Want to best safeguard yourself from COVID-19? Wear a N95 mask and get boosted.
Air New Zealand has suspended food and drinks onboard its domestic flights, citing a desire to reduce the risk of omicron spread. While Air New Zealand casts its policy as short-term, we’ve seen that some service reductions have been very slow to return onboard.
image: Air New Zealand