Domestic flight rights: delays, cancellations and lost baggage
Domestic flight cancelled or delayed? You’re often entitled to a refund and can claim back other costs if it’s the airline’s fault.
The airline cancelled my flight. What are my rights?
Flight cancellations within the airline’s control
You’re entitled to a refund if your flight is cancelled due to an event within the airline’s control – for example, staffing and mechanical issues.
When the airline is at fault, the Civil Aviation Act (CAA) says you’re entitled to reimbursement of up to 10 times the cost of the ticket or the actual cost of delay, whichever is lower. So, in addition to flight costs, you may be able to claim other expenses, such as meals, accommodation and any additional costs you incur in getting to your destination.
Flight cancellations outside the airline's control
Unfortunately, if your flight is cancelled due to circumstances outside the airline’s control, such as bad weather, the CAA doesn’t require the airline to refund your ticket or reimburse your costs.
Your rights will depend on your fare type and the airline’s terms and conditions:
Refundable fares: you have a right to a refund regardless of the reason for the cancellation or delay.
Standard fares: your rights will depend on the terms and conditions of your ticket. The airline will usually rebook you on another flight or offer you a credit.
My flight has been delayed. What can I do?
Delays within the airline’s control
If your flight has been delayed due to reasons within the airline’s control, the CAA says you’re entitled to claim reimbursement from the airline of up to 10 times the cost of the ticket or the cost of delay, whichever is lower. If you need to pay for food, accommodation or transport due to the delay, keep your receipts and claim this back from the airline.
Delays outside the airline’s control
The airline doesn’t have to refund or reimburse your costs if the delay couldn’t have been avoided. For example, if a volcano or wild weather prevents the flight from taking off. If you haven’t purchased a refundable fare, you’ll be entitled to be rebooked on another flight or to a credit.
The airline has overbooked the flight and I’ve been bumped. What are my rights?
Overbooking is within the airline’s control, so you’re entitled to claim reimbursement under the CAA of up to 10 times the cost of your ticket or the cost of the delay, whichever is lower. Keep your receipts for any expenses and lodge a claim with the airline for reimbursement.
The airline has rebooked me on another flight, but the time doesn’t suit me. What can I do?
You don’t have to accept the new flight time if you’ve been rebooked because the airline has mucked up. You can ask for a refund instead. You can also claim reimbursement for any expenses you incur (up to the limit) under the CAA.
For events outside of the airline’s control, ask for a credit or to be rebooked on a different flight.
Can I get a refund if I change my mind and no longer want to travel?
In this case, you’ll normally only be entitled to a refund if you paid for a refundable fare. Otherwise, you could consider changing your flight to another date – though you may have to pay extra – or try asking for a credit.
I cancelled my fully refundable fare, but I’m still waiting for a refund eight weeks later. Is there anything I can do?
We believe that’s too long to wait for a refund. Unfortunately, the CAA doesn’t specify timeframes for refunds. However, Airlines, like other traders, have to carry out their services with reasonable care and skill.
If the airline is dragging the chain and you paid by credit or debit card, you’ve got grounds to ask your bank for a chargeback.
The airline lost my bags on a domestic trip. Do they have to cover the cost of replacing my stuff?
Yes, but there’s a limit. When you’re flying domestically, your rights for lost baggage are set out in the Contract and Commercial Law Act (CCLA). Under the CCLA, the airline is liable for loss or damage to your bags up to $2,000 per bag. So, if you’re travelling with pricey gear, it’s better to keep it with you rather than stow it in your baggage.
Under the CCLA, you have 30 days to make a claim. However, the airline is allowed to specify a shorter period in its contract. Air New Zealand gives you 30 days to report partially lost, destroyed, or damaged baggage. However, if your bag goes missing altogether, you only have 21 days to report it (from the date of arrival). Jetstar gives you 21 days to report a lost checked bag but only three days to report a damaged bag or issues with carry-on baggage.