Passenger scalded by hot coffee after severe turbulence hits Air New Zealand flight

Two people onboard an Air New Zealand flight were injured after the plane encountered severe turbulence in the latest such incident.

A passenger suffered moderate burn injuries after a full coffee pot fell on her while she was strapped into her seat, reported Radio New Zealand.

A crew member also reportedly hit the cabin’s ceiling while the Air New Zealand flight from New Zealand’s capital Wellington to Queenstown suffered severe air turbulence on Sunday afternoon.

The turbulence jolted the passengers about 15 minutes into the flight while the cabin crew was in the middle of service. The airlines said in a statement that a customer and a crew member were injured during turbulence on NZ607 from Wellington to Queenstown.

Chief operational and safety officer Captain David Morgan said: “From time to time, clear-air turbulence can occur where rough air is not visible to the flight crew. We’re always reviewing our operating procedures in line with both regulation and international best practice to ensure the safety of our customers and crew is prioritised.”

Clear-air turbulence (CAT) is a type of turbulence that occurs in clear skies without any visual warning, such as clouds or thunderstorms.

The passenger who was injured was identified by her first name Suze by RNZ. She told the outlet that it was first a “small jolt and then a massive jolt”.

The trolley was shaking in the aisle, causing the coffee pot lids to come off and spill hot coffee onto her.

"There’s nothing you can do. You’re strapped in, you want to stay strapped in, there could be more turbulence and then you’ve got to deal with the level of burns you’ve just received," she said.

“It was actually pandemonium,” she said.

Another passenger on the flight informed Central Otago media outlet Crux that a crew member mentioned the intense turbulence was the worst she had experienced in her career.

They also said that another crew member told them they had hit the ceiling.

The Independent has reached out to Air New Zealand for comments.

Severe turbulence is caused by an erratic wind current occurring in cloudless regions of the sky at the cruising altitude of passenger jets. It is generated by wind shear, which is a change in the direction and velocity of winds that can displace aircraft abruptly from their intended path.

Emerging evidence suggests the temperature changes caused by the climate crisis are disrupting the flow of air currents in the atmosphere due to changes in wind speed and direction.

In March, at least 50 people were injured when a LATAM Airlines LA800 flight travelling from Sydney to Auckland experienced a sudden drop in altitude due to a “strong shake” of turbulence.

In March, a British passenger died and 101 people suffered injuries after a Bangkok to London flight plunged 178ft and people were thrown off their seats, hitting the roof of the cabin.