Love her or hate her, you’ve got to give Kathy Griffin credit for hard work. During the shirtless hot man contest near the end of Air New Zealand’s historic Pink Flight from San Francisco to Sydney, the comic couldn’t help stealing the show. She took off her shirt and ran through the aisles wearing only her bra.

Griffin and a handful of New Zealand drag queens were the entertainment on board the 14-hour flight to attend Sydney’s Mardi Gras, which touched down in Sydney on Thursday morning.

It was Air New Zealand’s first non-stop flight to Sydney, according to the airline’s marketing director, Jodi Williams. More notably, it was their first Pink Flight designed to take passengers from San Francisco to Mardi Gras in style. Last year they tried a special Mardi Gras flight from Auckland that was so popular the company decided on a more ambitious version.

Despite extensive internet, billboard and print advertising, 50 of the 300 seats in the plane were unsold. Williams hoped that the airline would schedule the flight again next year. Roundtrip ticket prices started at US$1,000, with the average passenger paying about US$1,200.

Williams noted that Pink Flight was considered a plum assignment for employees. Those with exemplary records were pooled in a lottery to be chosen to participate.

All passengers received generous giveaways, and prizes for in-flight competitions included an Atlantis gay cruise and tickets to the sold-out Mardi Gras party. About 80% of passengers were men. There were several single women, some women couples, and at least one affectionate heterosexual couple.

Crews were on board from the US gay TV channel, Logo, and from Griffin’s Emmy-award winning Bravo TV series, My Life on the D List. If you want to have an inside look at the Pink Flight, highlights can be viewed on Ed Walsh’s videoblog, www.pinkflight.blogspot.com.

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