After a passenger overindulged, she was then denied boarding.

Air New Zealand Queenstown takeoff
Photo: stockphoto mania / Shutterstock

It’s one thing to have a couple of beers before takeoff. It’s another to get so hammered you’re unable to board. Unfortunately, this was the case for a passenger indulged at the Dunedin International Airport (DUD) Air New Zealand lounge.

At the airline’s larger domestic lounges, a manned bar is available for beverages, from coffee to bourbon, gin, or whiskey. However, the carrier’s regional lounges usually don’t have enough traffic to sustain a manned bar, where self-service drink options are available.

Air New Zealand - Auckland Queenstown Lounge-1

Photo: Air New Zealand

In November last year, a passenger from Dunedin went overboard and hit the spirits too hard. It led to her being denied boarding for her flight. Since then, the New Zealand police canterbury alcohol harm reduction team has discussed with the carrier a better solution to ensure travelers who may not be able to moderate their intake safely can limit that temptation.

Air New Zealand recently decided to remove all spirits from self-service locations, and those looking for a vodka soda will need to request these from the bar where possible. Inspector Ian Paulin, the national coordinator for alcohol harm prevention, made this statement to the New Zealand online newspaper Stuff:

“Following an incident in November 2022 where a Koru Lounge [sic] 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

”Following that conversation, Air New Zealand decided to remove the spirits to ensure they could be adequately monitored.”

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No spirits in Dunedin

Following the discussion with Air New Zealand, spirits are now available at Queenstown from behind the bar. However, those in Dunedin will miss out completely, as the airline has decided to remove spirits altogether.

Air New Zealand - Dunedin Airport

Photo: Dunedin Airport

Rebecca Williams, from New Zealand’s Alcohol Healthwatch, noted that free, accessible alcohol not carefully monitored is common, such as at sporting events or airline lounges. However, it does become a risk if individuals cannot monitor their consumption. Williams went on to highlight that for the airline:

”If you’re providing alcohol, you do have responsibilities to ensure that people are not becoming intoxicated.”

In the last few years, Air New Zealand has spent over NZ $150,000 ($93,000) in upgrading all nine of the airline’s regional lounges, so it’s integral that if the airline wishes to continue its self-service beer and wine, it can uphold the expectations of its liquor license and provide a safe environment for all that access the airline’s lounge network.

Air New Zealand Lounge

For those calling it the ‘Koru Club,’ it’s officially named the ‘Air New Zealand Lounge’ to represent that not all guests belong to the airline’s frequent flyer program. Lounges are available in these locations:

International Lounges

Auckland, Brisbane, Christchurch, Melbourne, Nadi, Perth, Rarotonga, Sydney, and Wellington

Domestic Lounges

Auckland, Christchurch, and Wellington

Regional Lounges

Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hamilton, Invercargill, Napier, Nelson, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Tauranga, and Wellington


  • Air New Zealand, Boeing 787, Paint issue

    Most of the missing bags found their way back from New York to Auckland via Los Angeles. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

    Air New Zealand

    IATA/ICAO Code:

    Airline Type:
    Full Service Carrier

    Auckland Airport, Christchurch Airport, Wellington Airport

    Year Founded:

    Star Alliance

    Greg Foran

    New Zealand


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