4 Jun 2020

Customer 'flabbergasted' at difficulty of using Air NZ credits

From Checkpoint, 5:49 pm on 4 June 2020

Air New Zealand customer Alexa Bell has been forced to shell out hundreds of dollars for new flights even though she has thousands in credit with the airline.

Air New Zealand cannot afford to offer refunds to everyone impacted by flight cancellations during the Covid-19 outbreak without dipping into its $900m government loan, Air New Zealand's chief revenue officer Cam Wallace told Checkpoint on Wednesday.

Following the interview Checkpoint was inundated with feedback from listeners. Many said they do not think they will be able to travel again, or to the destination they had originally booked.

Other listeners said they cannot see their credit and do not want credit in the names of people who will not be able to fly again.

One Air New Zealand customer, Alexa Bell, was forced to shell out hundreds of dollars for new flights even though she has thousands in credit with the airline.

After Covid-19 scuppered Bell's international trip Air NZ refunded the section of her flights through America, but gave her a credit for the remaining $2000-worth.

She told Checkpoint while she would have preferred all her money back, she decided to take the government advice and support local business by shouting her family a trip to Queenstown using the Air NZ credit.

But things quickly got complicated.

"My husband and I decided we would go on a trip of a lifetime with the family and bring them all down to Queenstown.

"We went online to book with Air New Zealand and realised we had to get a call to speak to a person to get this credit. Long story short, they told me that I'm the only one that can use the credit, and we'd have to pay cash for my husband and the rest of the family," she said.

"We assumed that the nine of us could use the credit and go down and have a great holiday and help the economy."

"We thought it would be such a great idea to use that credit up and really support Air New Zealand because we really like Air New Zealand. They've always been fair and everything.

"And now we've had to actually buy those tickets for everyone else except me."

Bell said that cost at least $400 per couple.

"We would have used a chunk of that credit, and that was the whole point of the trip – to do what we'd been told to do. To travel in New Zealand and help the economy.

"I'm just flabbergasted. The man I spoke to from Air New Zealand was really lovely, and he understood the dilemma. He just said his hands are tied.

"He did say that Air New Zealand is trying to rectify all the problems but there's just so many of them that this is not one they're fixing right away. This is something that he's had to tell everybody, and he said people are not happy.

"I'm just I'm just blown away that they can refund you easily on one ticket but then not on another. It just doesn't make sense."

It has changed the way she feels about Air New Zealand, she said.

"I'm a Canadian New Zealander, I love New Zealand. I hope Air New Zealand is going to set this right. I believe they will. I really want to believe in it. I want to be positive. And anyway, who else am I going to fly with down there?

"It would have been a lot easier to get a refund and just re-book. I did ask for that a few times and it was impossible.

"It was only after he said, 'You can only have the credit,' that I said okay I'm going to book these next nine people, and he went, 'Oh sorry you can only book yourself', and then I really… I didn't lose my temper, but I thought that is wrong."

Bell is urging Air New Zealand to fix its systems so that using credit is easier.

"The technology's there. Work with the people and don't just keep their money in your coffers. You've got to sort this out.

"I wasn't even saying 'give it back', I just wanted to use it properly. It's a pretty simple."