A Melbourne couple have been fined NZD 1600 for sharing a beer they had managed to sneak onto an Air New Zealand domestic flight.
The couple were flying from Wellington to Dunedin on Tuesday night. According to a report in Dunedin’s Otago Daily Times, the woman said she was “left shaking” by the “over-the-top” response by police in Dunedin.
The man and woman were each issued NZD 600 fines by police on arrival for allegedly being intoxicated on the flight. The couple strongly deny they were intoxicated and claim local police repeatedly refused their requests to be breath-tested.
A NZD 600 fine is currently worth about AUD 583, with the currencies moving increasingly closer in value.
Police said the couple had been issued an infringement notice after causing a disturbance on a flight from Auckland via Wellington.
“The notices were issued under the Civil Aviation Act after the passengers failed to comply with crew and pilot orders,” police told the paper.
“The people involved displayed a range of behaviours and physical symptoms that indicated an advanced level of intoxication.
“Police actions were consistent with how similar incidents of this nature are managed and the actions of the officers were influenced by the pair’s level of intoxication.”
Police could not comment further, saying the pair were free to appeal the infringement notices through the courts.
The couple are aggrieved at being described as intoxicated or creating a disturbance and say they will fight the charges. The woman says all they did was share a beer they brought on board, which they did not know was illegal.
Air New Zealand told the paper Air New Zealand flight NZ 463 from Wellington to Dunedin was met by police on arrival at the request of the captain. The airline would not elaborate, saying the matter was now with police.
Written by Peter Needham