(CNN) — After 16 hours in the sky, Air New Zealand’s first direct flight to New York City arrived at JFK Airport on 17 September.
“As one of the world’s greatest cities, Air New Zealand is proud to add the Big Apple to its list of 29 international destinations,”[ads1]; Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran said in a statement, adding that the flight connects his two favorite cities in the world .
New Zealand reopened to international tourists on 31 July 2022.
The airline’s desire to secure a slot machine at JFK was never a secret.
When the flights were announced earlier in 2022, Foran said “Traditionally, flight numbers 1 and 2 are used for an airline’s flagship route. And that’s what New York will be – our flagship route.”
In addition to New York, Air New Zealand flies to five other destinations in the United States, including San Francisco and Honolulu.
As New York is the airline’s first (and currently only) direct flight to the East Coast, it will be easier for passengers from New Zealand to connect onward to North American and European hub cities.
Everything on board was made to feel special for the first voyage.
Meals on board consisted of New Zealand meat, wine and produce, including paua saucisson (abalone sausage), which made its debut on the airline.
Some New Zealand notables were on board the flight, such as Stuart Nash, New Zealand’s Tourism Minister, former Prime Minister Helen Clark. Current Prime Minister Jacinda Arden reportedly planned to attend, but had to travel to London for Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral instead.
However, there was an unexpected wrinkle at the weekend.
Some passengers on the NZ1 route from New York to Auckland discovered on landing that their luggage did not make the trip with them.
“Unfortunately given additional fuel requirements due to adverse weather, some customer bags could not be loaded in New York and we are getting them to New Zealand as soon as possible,” Air New Zealand COO Alex Marren told CNN Travel.
“We are in contact with customers to update them and reunite them with their bags. We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.”
The airline assured CNN that this was a one-off issue, adding: “We have processes in place to ensure our customers arrive safely at their destinations and try to minimize disruption as much as possible during an extreme weather event.”
Air New Zealand has stiff competition in the battle for the world’s longest passenger plane.
The airline ordered 12 Airbus A350-1000 aircraft, with the hope that the ultra-long-haul routes could begin operating in 2025. These flights will clock in at over the 19-hour mark, making them the world’s longest non-stop flights.