Airline disputes disgruntled woman’s account of cherry incident

Jetstar has denied its staff ate a woman’s cherries after they were taken from her before boarding a domestic flight from Queenstown to Auckland but admits it should have disposed of them.

A Jetstar spokesman yesterday told the Otago Daily Times investigations showed the goodwill of a staff member meant the cherries had been stored in a fridge at Queenstown Airport after the woman went through the departure gate to board her flight home last month.

Many aspects of Jetstar’s investigation which include notes made by staff at the time of the incident match the woman’s account but differ when it comes to payment for excess baggage.

The woman, who did not want to be named, said she, her sister and two nieces were about to board their flight when staff said their carry-on luggage — including the cherries — was overweight.

She claimed they offered to pay for excess baggage but staff had declined to take cash.

The spokesman confirmed her carry-on luggage was overweight but the woman had declined to pay the excess and had gone to the gate assuming she would board.

She had discarded some cherries immediately before this, but her baggage was still overweight, the spokesman said.

"It was time to board and staff again offered to upgrade her luggage for a discount, at the online rate. She declined to pay that also."

A staff member stepped in to take the cherries and keep them until other arrangements could be made, the spokesman said.

The box was closed and never opened by staff. Cromwell orchardist Martin Milne had investigated the following day and a wrong assumption was made that cherries had been eaten by airline staff. The woman had actually removed some from the box herself, the Jetstar spokesman said.

The staff member had done the woman a favour. "We probably should have just disposed of them."

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