Air New Zealand passenger claims flight attendant vaped on plane
A passenger on a recent Air New Zealand flight has claimed he witnessed a flight attendant vaping and texting mid-flight, activities prohibited by civil aviation laws.
Mike Georgantis was travelling with his wife on flight NZ8884 from Wellington to Napier on Sunday (26 March) after celebrating the birthday of a friend.
To their disbelief, they claim to have watched a member of cabin crew sitting down to vape after performing a safety briefing instructing passengers to refrain from smoking or using their phones.
The Napier-based private investigator says he was “absolutely positive” of what he saw, the New Zealand Herald reports.
Mr Georgantis said that the sole member of the Dash 8 Q300 prop-plane service went to the small galley and drew the curtain.
“We thought they were eating, helping themselves to cookies,” he said. “Then we saw the little blue light and it was clear they were vaping.”
He added that the offending flight attendant “did the safety briefing holding the PA phone upside down – we had to tell them we couldn’t hear”.
“No sooner had [they] finished the safety briefing, [they] sat down in the little jockey seat at the front, turned [their] phone on and began texting,” he claims.
Attempts to contact the New Zealand flag carrier were unsuccessful, after he received automated responses and had his call disconnected.
After trying to email the airline’s CEO, Greg Foran, but receiving no reply, Mr Georgantis decided to go to the media.
He stated he felt compelled to report the incident, which he saw as particularly brazen after instructing passengers to comply before immediately falling foul of aviation regulations.
“It’s a serious safety issue,” said Mr Georgantis.
“If a member of the public was caught vaping, they’d be met by police.”
A spokesperson for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said crew or passengers caught smoking or vaping on a flight face a maximum fine of $2,500 (£1,264).
“The CAA would follow the same process in investigating the alleged breach regardless of whether or not it is a staff member or a passenger involved, as section 65N of the CA Act applies to every person,” they said.
The Independent has contacted Air New Zealand for comment.
Vapes and e-cigarettes were banned from airlines in over 45 countries in 2015 after incidents of the devices causing fires and explosions.
In early March, a Spirit Airlines flight was forced to divert after an e-cigarette battery caught fire on a flight from Dallas to Orlando.
After the blaze was spotted, passenger and retired New York firefighter Rocco Chierichella worked with crew members to put it out.
And in 2019, a man was given a lifetime ban from Spirit Airlines after his onboard vaping caused the smoke alarm to go off during a flight.