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Kiwi airline apology over stereotyping

Air New Zealand has been forced to apologise for a training manual which advises crew members to keep a close eye on Tongan passengers in case they “drink the bar dry”.

The manual, published in New Zealand's Sunday Star-Times, was roundly criticised for its generalisations about some nationalities.

Koreans, it warned cabin staff, demanded good manners, while Thais expected a souvenir. Hong Kong Chinese were said to be demanding, while mainland Chinese were not fussy. As for Samoans, they were said to “appreciate a rug” because of coming from a hot country.

But it was the stereotyping of Tongans as “uncontrollable alcoholics” in the handbook — which also featured grooming standards for the crew, banning blue eyeshadow, monobrows and nasal hair — that caused particular offence.

Melino Maka, chairman of the New Zealand-based Tongan Advisory Council, told the New Zealand Herald: “I don't think Tongans are any different from others when there's free access to alcohol.”

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