AirNZ pilot frustrated with airport security screening strips off in protest

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Every traveler dreads the tedious rigmarole of going through airport security: liquids out, laptops out, and in some cases, belts and shoes off as well.

One pilot appeared to have had enough of the stringent security process and stripped off more than what was asked at Queenstown International Airport (ZQN) in New Zealand.

Neil Abbott, a senior pilot for Air New Zealand, arrived at the airport for a duty flight to Auckland Airport (AKL) when he got into a heated argument with airport security staff during the routinary screening process.

Abbott reportedly became frustrated when he was asked to remove his boots as he was going through security. 

In frustration, Abbott, who is described by his peers to be a “bit of a character”, started to strip off his clothes in public view. 

Aviation security then called for police assistance, who tried to de-escalate the situation.

After the incident, Air New Zealand’s Chief Flight Operations and Safety Officer Captain David Morgan released a statement seen by local NZ media, saying the flight was delayed by “one hour 39 minutes due to a change of crew being required”.

Although Morgan did not specifically confirm that the change of crew involved Abbott, he went on to say that the carrier’s pilots undergo rigorous medical and psychological checks to ensure they are fit to perform their role.

According to local NZ media outlet The Press, there had been complaints from pilots over double standards and deficiencies with airport security during COVID-19. This had reportedly created tension due to some security staff overly scrutinizing pilots.

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