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31 March 2023

Waiting for a refund from Air New Zealand? Know your rights

Your refund rights and how long you can expect to wait.

Around 20,000 people are waiting on a refund from Air New Zealand, Chief Customer and Sales Officer Leanne Geraghty confirmed to Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report on Friday. This comes after NZ Herald reported one consumer was told they might have to wait five months for a refund.

So how long should you expect to wait for a refund? Here are your rights.

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What to expect if you're waiting on a refund from Air NZ

I purchased a refundable ticket

Geraghty told Radio New Zealand that consumers who purchased refundable tickets could expect refunds within 10-12 days, which was standard procedure.

If you’re still waiting after this time, ask your bank for a chargeback.

Air NZ offered me a refund of a standard ticket

After recent severe weather events, Air New Zealand has gone above and beyond legal requirements by offering refunds on standard non-refundable tickets for passengers who have experienced cancellations due to adverse weather.

Geraghty told Radio New Zealand that these kinds of refunds were “complex, they do need to be done manually one-by-one.” NZ Herald reported the average wait time for a refund was five to six weeks.

For anyone in this situation waiting for a refund, unfortunately, you might have to sit tight and wait it out. If you’re relying on the money or there are extenuating circumstances, Geraghty told Radio New Zealand that “we ask our customers to reach out to us and we will try and push those ones forward.”

Our civil aviation laws are letting us down

Normally, airlines aren’t legally required to refund passengers impacted by adverse weather. However, both Air New Zealand and Jetstar went above and beyond their responsibilities in the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle. Unfortunately, neither the Consumer Guarantees Act nor the Civil Aviation Act specify timeframes for refunds, leaving consumers in the dark about what to expect.

We think our civil aviation laws are letting us down. Consumer NZ made a submission on the Civil Aviation Bill to strengthen protections for passengers when weather impacts flights. This would bring New Zealand into line with EU and US consumer airline protections.

Our submission was not picked up.

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Flight rights campaign

We’re calling for airlines to communicate honestly with passengers about the reason for cancellations and delays, and clearly display their rights.

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