(CNN) — After 16 hours in the air, Air New Zealand’s first-ever direct flight to New York City arrived at JFK airport on September 17.
“As one of the world’s largest cities, Air New Zealand is proud to add the Big Apple to its list of 29 international destinations,” Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran said in a statement, adding that the struggles are two favorite cities in the world.
New Zealand will reopen to international tourists on July 31, 2022.
The airline’s desire to secure a slot on 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.
Since 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 transit to North American and European hub cities.
Everything on board was specially made for the inaugural voyage.
Meals on board included New Zealand cured meats, wines and produce, including paua saucisson (abalone sausage), which was making its aviation debut.
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 participate, but instead had to go to London for Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral.
However, there was an unexpected ripple over the weekend.
Some passengers on the NZ1 route from New York to Auckland discovered upon landing that their luggage hadn’t made it through the journey.
“Unfortunately, due to the additional fuel needs due to the inclement weather, some of our customers’ bags could not be loaded in New York and we will bring them to New Zealand as soon as possible,” Alex Marren, COO of Air New Zealand told CNN Travel.
“We are in contact with customers to keep them informed and to reunite them with their bags. We apologize for the inconvenience this has caused.”
The airline assures CNN that this was a one-time issue, adding, “We have processes in place to ensure our customers reach their destination safely and to minimize disruption during extreme weather conditions.”
Air New Zealand faces stiff competition for the world’s longest passenger flight.
The airline ordered 12 Airbus A350-1000s aircraft, with hopes that ultra-long-haul routes could begin in 2025. These flights will last more than 19 hours, making them the longest non-stop flights in the world.