Family struggles to claim costs after Air NZ flight cancellation

A family forced to spend an extra two nights in Fiji after Air New Zealand canceled their flight faces a month-long wait to be reimbursed for $1,600 worth of out-of-pocket expenses, and the airline suggests they use your travel insurance instead.

Air New Zealand has confirmed that its customer service team is experiencing “a backlog of requests” for expenses related to airline schedule changes.

Jacinda Thorn said they sent the airline a bill for additional costs incurred for lodging, meals, airport parking and childcare fees after her vacation was unexpectedly extended.

The family of four was due to fly back to Wellington on Saturday, August 13, but when Thorn tried to log into the booking to update a meal preference for Thursday’s flight, he found that it no longer existed.

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They were then notified via Google Calendar that the flight had been cancelled.

After spending more than two hours trying to contact the airline’s contact center to find out what had happened, a customer service agent called later that day and confirmed that the flight had been canceled and that they would be transferred to a new flight. via Auckland on Monday night. .

Thorn said during the call that they were assured the airline would be able to reimburse them for the reasonable costs incurred for the two extra nights.

Later that day, the airline sent an email confirming her new itinerary. The Thorns responded by asking where they should send their refund request.

A customer service agent responded, sharing an email address where they could submit receipts for refund consideration. But they said they noticed the Thorns had purchased travel insurance on their ticket and suggested the extras could also be claimed through the insurance provider.

Thorn responded by saying it was up to the airline to cover the costs, under passengers’ rights under the Civil Aviation Act when a flight is canceled for reasons within the airline’s control.

After sending their receipts to the email provided, they received an automated response saying staff would be in touch within 20 business days.

Thorn said the whole experience left her frustrated and she felt the airline was trying to evade responsibility by suggesting they use her travel insurance. She said other customers need to be aware of what they may find if they are in the same boat.

The Thorns were to fly back to Wellington, but had to go via Auckland instead.

Jericho Rock Archer

The Thorns were to fly back to Wellington, but had to go via Auckland instead.

Others may not have been in a position to cover the extra costs up front: Thorn said they were lucky to have the extra money at the time, but weren’t happy about having to pay out of pocket for up to a month while Air New Zealand evaluated your claim.

They were also lucky that the resort they were staying at would have been able to accommodate them for another two nights as it might have been a different story if it had been booked.

“Everyone was like, ‘It’s great that you have two extra days in paradise.’ I’m like, that’s great, but we also wasted hours of our vacation not knowing what we were going to do, then it took my husband another two hours to go through all the receipts the other night,” he said.

“It really ruined the end of our first vacation abroad in three years.”

An Air New Zealand spokesperson apologized for the disruption to the Thorns’ trip, which was due to the airline proactively reducing its schedule due to staff illness.

The spokesman said that the airline had been unable to book the family accommodation through its “disrupted” accommodation provider, and had advised them to book their own accommodation and that the airline would cover reasonable costs.

“We say reasonable because it depends on the airport, destination and availability.”

The spokesman said that when it came to paying expenses, the team was generally prompt “but unfortunately with the recent outage they have a backlog of requests.”

“We are working hard to bring more people onto our customer teams so we can get back to the level of care people have come to expect from Air New Zealand. Therefore, to manage customer expectations, we recommend that you allow up to 20 business days to respond to complaints.

“Once again, we are sorry for the disruption caused to the Thorn family and will process their claim as soon as possible.”

Air New Zealand did not respond to a question as to why it suggested the Thorns use travel insurance, but the spokesman said “we recommend that all travelers purchase travel insurance as this will ensure they are covered should it happen.” an event beyond the control of the airline that interrupts not only your flight but also your vacation.”

Consumer NZ spokeswoman Jessica Wilson said it was not the first time they had heard of an airline trying to direct customers to travel insurance for costs they were responsible for.

“If the airline cancels or delays a flight for a reason that is within their control, they shouldn’t just delegate passengers to their insurers,” he said.

“You must comply with your obligations under the Civil Aviation Act (CAA) or Montreal Convention. If airlines imply that they are not responsible for covering a passenger’s losses, when they are, they are potentially misleading their customers and violating the Fair Trading Act.”

Wilson added that travel insurance policies typically include terms that require passengers to first recover their losses from other parties, such as airlines. Insurers may also request proof that the loss will not be covered by the other party.

“Therefore, passengers whose flights have been canceled or delayed due to something within the airline’s control should first contact the airline and insist that the airline fulfill its obligations under the CAA (for domestic flights) or the Montreal Convention (for international flights)”.

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