Bad behaviour from Air NZ

Stuff reports:

refused to let a woman board her flight to Tonga because the aircraft had reached its upper weight limit.

Auckland woman Alex Catchpole-Ozpınar was supposed to board her 9.30am flight to Tonga on Monday for a five day holiday but was turned away at the Air NZ check-in counter because her aircraft had reached its weight limit.

Catchpole-Ozpınar said she was told by a manager that if an aircraft weighed too much they kicked off the person who was last to book online.

The flight was not fully booked, Air New Zealand said.

Catchpole-Ozpınar said she booked her airfare in February. She tried to check in two-and-a-half hours before her departure time.

“This is such a screw-up. I expected way better from Air New Zealand,” she said in a post on the airline’s Facebook page.

Her mother, Leanne Catchpole, was already in Tonga waiting for Catchpole-Ozpınar to arrive.

She said the airline had only saved about 70kg by excluding her daughter and her carry-on bag from the flight.

“They didn’t try to contact her either to let her know not to bother to make the trip out to the airport,” she said.

Air NZ responded to the Facebook post with a link to its conditions of carriage which outline that it may refuse to carry any item for safety or operational reasons.

Catchpole-Ozpınar’s five day holiday in Tonga was shortened due to the disruption and her accommodation was non-refundable.

“I was hoping for a positive experience but I feel discouraged to fly with you to the Pacific again.”

She was rebooked on a Tuesday flight but Air NZ said she would need to contact her travel insurance provider regarding accommodation expenses.

This is really bad customer service from Air NZ.

Sometimes flights may be overbooked or be at weight capacity.

But what a good airline should do (and is common in the US) is offer rewards (such as free upgrades or airpoint dollars) to passengers willing to delay their flight. Not just destroy’s someone’s travel plans who has done nothing wrong.

In the US I’ve happily accepted a flight delay in exchange for an upgrade and/or free accommodation.

I’d be ropable if an airline ever simply refused to let me board a plane I had a paid ticket for, simply because they have over booked or are at weight capacity. You should pay people to volunteer to delay in those circumstances.

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