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August 2022

Your wins: The ongoing saga of flight cancellations and delays

Our team received complaints from 36 people whose flights were cancelled, delayed or rescheduled.

Flight dilemmas are a frequent source of complaints to our office and last month was no exception. Our team received complaints from 36 people whose flights were cancelled, delayed or rescheduled.

In a number of these cases, the airlines didn’t comply with their obligations under the Civil Aviation Act or Montreal Convention to cover the extra costs passengers incurred (such as the cost of new flights or accommodation) when their flights were cancelled or delayed for reasons within the airline’s control.

In other cases, the airlines misled passengers about their rights, telling them they weren’t entitled to claim additional costs from the airline, when in fact they were.

We understand that July presented the ‘perfect storm’ of issues for those in the air industry. Nonetheless, we’re taking up these issues with the airlines.

Lynda was one of the unlucky customers to have her flight cancelled. She had just finished treatment for breast cancer and had planned a trip to Melbourne to visit her son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren.

She was booked to fly with Air NZ from Dunedin to Melbourne (via Christchurch) on the morning of 31 March.

Christchurch airport.

“However, at 2.38pm on the 30th of March, I received a text from Air New Zealand saying they had cancelled my flight to Christchurch because of operational requirements! That set me into a real spin as [to] how was I going to make my flight from Christchurch to Melbourne – not surprisingly, Air NZ had provided no solution whatsoever and I was stressing out majorly.”

Lynda spent 30 minutes waiting on hold to talk to someone at Air New Zealand, then gave up as she felt she was running out of time. She managed to find a flight to Christchurch that evening which cost her an additional $263, and frantically got packed, organised a motel for the night ($151.47) and raced to the airport to make the flight in time. She also had to pay for parking until her husband could retrieve her car later that evening.

She didn’t get to the motel until later that evening, and with limited food options she had to order a pizza. Thankfully, Lynda made it Melbourne the following day to visit her family.

“So all in all, I have never been so stressed – no thanks to Air NZ, who had made no attempt whatsoever to rebook me on this new flight despite knowing there was no way I was going to make my flight from Christchurch to Melbourne the next morning.”

After returning to New Zealand, Lynda contacted Air NZ in writing but didn’t receive a response within the promised timeframe. So, she contacted us and we emailed Air NZ on Lynda’s behalf. The airline then contacted Lynda and apologised and agreed to reimburse her for the cost of her flight, accommodation, transport and food costs.

We’re pleased we were able to help Lynda get back the additional costs she incurred.

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