First and foremost, a big thanks to everyone who read my Air India blog and making it by far the most popular blog so far with a total of 118 views. As promised here is another blog sharing my experience flying with another airline. This time it is Air New Zealand.
Funny enough this is related to the same time as the Air India flights. We had flown over to Melbourne on Air New Zealand to get on our Air India flight and flight back to Auckland from Melbourne on our way back. The day we were to depart India and make our way home, President Obama was scheduled to arrive in India. Due to this we were delayed by a few hours, meaning we would have missed our connecting flight to Auckland.
Let’s fast forward to when we arrive in Melbourne. After our 12 hour-long flight we finally arrive in Melbourne. We find the nearest television that displays the information regarding the flights and their gate numbers. We had been advised that we were put on the next flight home, which was to take off very soon. Yay! We made our way to the gate and sat down waiting for the boarding call. Then, the thing that everyone dreads happened. The ground crew announces the names of a few passengers and yes we were included. It couldn’t possibly be good news. When is being called out ever good?
The crew breaks the news to us; we cannot be put on this flight as it was overbooked. Why was it overbooked? The flight that was scheduled in the afternoon prior to this one had been cancelled and all the passengers from that flight had priority and were put on to this flight. How many more hours were we going to have to stay?! We were exhausted! Then came the grumpy staff member, who might have been stressed due to the situation and a lot of passengers complaining, but hey if you’re in the travel and hospitality industry this is part of the job. Some arguing happened, a bit of riff ruff because the next flight was going to be at 9pm.
However, the younger staff member was quick to jump in. They all felt for us and to compensate for the time we had to spend at the airport, they gave us two things:
1. Vouchers to purchase food at the airport only.
2. Access to the Koru Lounge for as long as we wanted.
Since we were given access to the Lounge we thanked them for the vouchers and returned them. One of the perks of staying a few extra hours at the Melbourne airport was seeing the sunset.
We were generously given access to the Koru Lounge where we got a chance to freshen up as we’d been in the mindset of travelling for over 24 hours and had not had a chance to clean up. That feeling was so tiring. We got food, drinks and the main thing free Wi-Fi. This was gracious of the Air New Zealand crew.
The time quickly passed and we were a lot more relaxed and made our way to the gate for boarding. Whilst we were in the Lounge, the Air New Zealand staff checked all the passengers in and individually went to each passenger and handed them their boarding cards, so that we wouldn’t have to worry about it.
Once we boarded the flight, the airhostess made her announcements and that is when we found out that, due to their earlier cancellation of the scheduled flight and the chaos with the stranded passengers, Air New Zealand had specially sent in this aircraft with the crew so that they could get us home. This flight was not a regular scheduled flight. It was sent in especially for us.
The Air New Zealand pricing is such that when a passenger is booking their flights they can either select just a seat and no meal, or they can also add a meal to their booking. In other words, they try to cater to people with varying financial situations. That night regardless of who made what type of booking, each and every passenger received a warm meal and a drink of their choice.
Towards the end of the flight, the airhostess announces that they will be giving out vouchers for all those who had pre-booked transport and have missed out on it. These vouchers would cover the entire distance regardless of how far or near you had to go. Not only that, they also offered accommodation for all those who were supposed to get on connecting flights and had missed out on those.
When we landed at 3am, the Air New Zealand ground staff at Auckland Airport had set up a desk just outside the boarding gate in order to assist all those who require taxi vouchers or accommodation assistance. They gave us a voucher and we proceeded to pick our luggage, get through immigration and make our way home. Our flight was the last flight to arrive as all the scheduled flights had already landed and were processed. Therefore only our flight needed to be processed.
There was not a single soul at the airport and all the staff was eager to go home as well but not until they had helped every single passenger who had just arrived. There were Air New Zealand staff members at the exit who guided passengers to taxis as they exited. Something they didn’t need to do but did to ensure the safety of their passengers. We finally got home and got the rest that we so eagerly waited for.
Often times we are quick to complain when something doesn’t go according to our wishes, but we are hardly ever thankful when someone does something nice. Air New Zealand staff went above and beyond in ensuring their stranded passengers were well kept and were safely brought home. I don’t remember the name of the crew who had been called out that night to fly us home, but whoever you are, and if you are reading this, thank you for all that you did. Best of all, the captain from the time we boarded the flight till the time we landed, repeatedly announced that their main priority was getting us home safe regardless of how late it was. The ground staff of Air New Zealand at Melbourne Airport and Auckland Airport, thank you for the hospitality.
Until next time,