Shortage throws shadow on travellers’ plans
Benjamin and Ana Sila
Benjamin and Ana Sila were angry last night over their treatment by Virgin. Ana flew up from Dunedin for a quick meet-up with husband Benjamin, who was on his way from a conference in Thailand back to Samoa.
The one-day stopover in Auckland has now turned into three days as the next flight to Apia isn’t till Tuesday.
Ana was fuming last night and critical of Virgin’s communication policies. She spent hours trying in vain to rebook Benjamin’s flight after staff manning the Virgin phones knew nothing about the fuel shortage and no one at Auckland would do it for her.
The couple had been offered only a $16 food court voucher as compensation, Ana said. “They said if you can’t find a booking and he gets hungry tomorrow, he can come back and get another $16 voucher,” she said.
“We asked for accommodation, we asked for a transport allowance . . . We were told they were just following Virgin Australia policies.”
They have a 4-year-old daughter living back in Apia with relatives; he said he just wanted to get home to see her. “I’m bloody disappointed.”
Wayne Morgan, Tony McKechnie
Wayne Morgan (right) and Tony McKechnie are visiting for a business trip, but nearly missed half of it.
McKechnie got a text just before 10pm on Saturday to say their 7.10am Qantas flight from Sydney to Auckland was cancelled. The company initially offered several late-night flights, which he refused before finally they were offered an earlier LatAm flight.
Their flight attendant wondered aloud why her flight was packed full — nobody had told the staff about the fuel-related cancellations.
“It worked out all right but the company was very quiet about it,” McKechnie said. “Qantas are normally good at telling you what’s going on.”
“We were hoping for a nice afternoon at the Viaduct — we wanted to relax and enjoy Auckland,” Morgan said. Instead they were stuck at the airport pub. No one has apologised to them.
They hope to return to Sydney on Wednesday, and Morgan has a tight deadline — he’s meant to be catching a cruise for his wedding anniversary. He said his wife “will kill me” if he did not make it.
Ian Cui and Iris Li
Aucklanders Ian Cui and Iris Li (above) are off to Beijing for a holiday in China and Thailand. Their Air China flight had to go through Sydney to fuel up because it can’t refuel in Auckland — adding three hours to their flight so they’ll miss their link to Shenyang, putting a key part of their trip at risk.
“The tickets are already bought and the motels are already paid so I don’t know what we can do,” Cui said.
“I asked if they could book us a new flight but they said they can’t do it.”
It’s high season in China because everyone’s on holiday, so Cui is worried he won’t be able to book any new flights when he gets to Beijing.
They will be back in three weeks — and they’re hoping the fuel shortage will have been solved by then.
“When we checked in they gave us a paper and . . . they said there was a fuel line problem,” Cui said. “At first I thought they were making it up.”
They were offered no vouchers or other compensation, Cui said — and Li said they “didn’t even say sorry”.
Iris Li, left, and Ian Cui.