Where two next?

Antipodean travelogue through the eyes of two - one textile and one building lover. It'll be hard to differentiate the two!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Air New Zealand

We got back yesterday and before I get into what we did up north I have decided to have a little rant. Before I begin I would like to say that we have taken several Air New Zealand flights since we arrived here and yesterday was the first time we have encountered a problem. My annoyance has as much to do with what appears to be a lack of regulated passenger rights as much as the air line in question.

We were due to get a 2.30pm flight yesterday, which would have had us back in Wellington at 3.30pm. We knew we had to drive for about four hours from the Bay of Islands to Auckland Airport and we would be tired after the drive and flight. We would therefore get home in plenty of time for a rest before heading out later that night for Sharon's birthday.

We got to the bag drop desk to be informed that our flight and another Air New Zealand flight had been cancelled due to mechanical problems. After the check in lady tapped at the key boards for a while she informed us that the first available flight would be 5.00 pm! Not part of the grand plan and certainly not the way Sharon wanted to spend her birthday!!!

We did the usual sulking and tutting but it was either accept the 5pm flight or stay in Auckland. Needless to say we decided to opt for the later. After we were finished Sharon enquired about compensation. We were informed that we could each get a voucher for a cup of coffee to the value of $6 each!!!!!!!!!!!

There are a number of things that really got to me about this.

1) It is obviously Air New Zealand's fault i.e. not an "act of god"
2) We had to ask for the compensation i.e. it was not offered.
3) We only got $6 each. (As the 5 pm flight was delayed! We didn't get into Welly until 6.30pm. Therefore the compensation works out as $ 2 per hour!!!!!!!!!!).
4) There does not seem to be any recourse left open to us in relation to items 1-3 above!

As I am sure you can appreciate we managed to spend a bit more than $12 by the time we got something to eat, bought a magazine- you get the idea- to try and combat the mind numbing boredom of having to wait in an airport for three hours ( I know it wasn't the end of the world and lots of people have much longer waits in airports over delayed flights but it was Sharon's birthday and anyone reading this who knows Sharon in real life will empathise with me!)

The EU brought in new passenger rights some time ago. There's an article on it here although it's not great. Basically the new passenger rights doesn't let airlines away with blue murder anymore and stops situations where airlines cancel flights for more cynical reasons! There are posters up in airports all over the EU making people aware of their rights along with freephone numbers and so fourth. Is there any similar passenger rights in NZ? Someone might point me in the right direction if there are.

Perhaps if the NZ government didn't own 80% of the company you might put it down to the usual exploits of big private companies. Although if the government didn't know that Air NZ were flying troops to Iraq (ish!), I doubt they are aware of the more trivial matters I have outlined above! (See caption borrowed from Stuff NZ below)

Don't get me wrong Ireland decided to remain neutral in relation to Iraq also, but lets the US air force refill in our airports. Rumour has it that some rendition flights have also refueled in Ireland bringing it's own share of controversy.

On a lighter note, as we waited in the departure lounge, the NZ Prime minister Helen Clarke was escorted past as she proceeded to get onto the 4.30 pm flight. I couldn't help but wonder what would have happened if she was on the 2.30pm flight!


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