SAN FRANCISCO - Air New Zealand is delving into the gay and lesbian market with a special themed flight that will feature drag queens, pink cocktails and a cabaret performed by the flight crew.
The destination for the airline's one-time "Pink Flight," scheduled to depart San Francisco International Airport on Feb. 26, is the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in Sydney, Australia, one of the world's most well-attended gay events, said Jodi Williams, an Air New Zealand marketing director.
"We are looking at tailoring the inseat entertainment and having gay-friendly movies and contests and different music and things like that," Williams said. The airline also plans to throw a "Get-Onboard-Girlfriend" going away party for its passengers, who will pay an average of $1,000 roundtrip.
The flight will be modeled after an Auckland-to-Sydney trip Air New Zealand made this year for the gay Mardi Gras, according to Williams. Before that full flight, the crew put on pink feather boas and sang for its couple hundreds passengers, she said.
"Even the pilot was wearing fairy wings and got into it," Williams said.
Michael Wilke, executive director of a New York-based advertising advocacy group called the Commercial Closet Association, said that while American, Air Canada and other airline companies have become visible sponsors of gay pride events, none had so far used campy programming to appeal to gay and lesbian travelers.
"They could probably do very well with it," Wilke said. "It really sounds like someone put together the idea of what a gay cruise is and just applied that to the air. And even gay cruises don't feature employees in particular outfits or gay-themed movies."
Air New Zealand's Williams said the airline still is working out some details of the flight plan, such as what will go inside the goodie bags passengers will get. Since it takes 14 hours to get from San Francisco to Sydney, the airline also plans to schedule in some down time during the overnight flight.
"We had to think about keeping people entertained while knowing they will want their beauty sleep," she said.