Short­age throws shadow on trav­ellers’ plans

The New Zealand Herald - - NEWS -

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”.

Pic­ture: Ja­son Ox­en­ham, John Stone, Google maps / Her­ald graphic

Iris Li, left, and Ian Cui.

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