A Kiwi family from Morrinsville are fuming after being bumped from an overbooked flight to Rarotonga on May 31, costing them a day of an eagerly-anticipated five night trip.
When Roy Chandler, his partner, his mother and her partner arrived at Auckland airport to depart on their $999 per person holiday, which covered flights and accommodation, they discovered they couldn’t check in because the flight was overbooked.
“We were told to wait for approximately half an hour and then the lady came back to us with letters and said you have been volunteered to give up your seats due to overbooking with letters we had to sign,” Chandler told NZME
The family was then given $350 each, as well as a few coffee vouchers, and were told to come back for the 8.45am flight the following morning.
“Part of the reason I flew Air New Zealand was I thought we would get looked after better than this.”
Chandler told NZME he believed his family were selected to be bumped because the tickets they purchased were on special.
An Air New Zealand spokesperson said in a statement that they “sincerely apologise” for bumping the four passengers from flight NZ46 to Rarotonga.
The airline confirmed that all four passengers received a $350 voucher as compensation and travelled to Rarotonga on the next available flight the following day.
“Air New Zealand takes a highly conservative approach in its booking system,” the statement said.
“Our policy is to first ask for volunteers. If there are no volunteers, then staff make a selection taking into account a number of factors, including the value of the fare paid, any requests for assistance associated with a booking and Airpoints loyalty tier status.”
Airlines are legally allowed to overbook flights in New Zealand. However, Consumer Protection said there are a number of clear rules that airlines must abide by when bumping passengers, including providing reasonable compensation.
An airline is required to compensate passengers for delays that are caused by overbooking and cancellation due to internal issues, such as mechanical problems or staffing issues.
However, Consumer Protection said if the delay was caused by factors beyond the airline’s control, such as poor weather conditions or complying with instructions given by an air traffic control service or a law enforcement agency, they don’t have to pay compensation.
Air New Zealand says on its website that specialist forecasting and careful planning means that denied boarding due to overbooking rarely happens.
“If it does, we are committed to providing a fair and consistent approach to how we compensate and determine boarding priority.”
A spokesperson for Jetstar said they “very rarely overbook flights.”
“In the unlikely event that this happens, we commit to always try to get you to your destination on the next available Jetstar flight on the day you were due to depart; or if we cannot do so, we will arrange another flight option for you on another airline on the same day, or the next available Jetstar flight, or a refund.”
As part of Jetstar’s customer guarantee, if they fail to meet this commitment passengers can be provided with a $100 Jetstar travel voucher.
WHAT COMPENSATION IS AVAILABLE?
Consumer Protection said passengers can be compensated for any reasonably forseeable additional costs incurred as a direct result of the delay, including meal costs, taxi fares, missed concerts or missed connections.
In New Zealand, bumped passengers are entitled to receive “10 times the price of your ticket, or the actual cost of your delay, whichever is the lower.”
If you are bumped from a flight overseas, the laws surrounding your rights to compensation can vary.
In the United States, passengers who are “involuntarily denied boarding” (i.e. bumped) can be compensated up to US$675 (NZ$945) if the airline offers alternate transportation or up to US$1350 (NZ$1890) if it does not offer alternate transportation that reaches the intended destination less than two hours after the arrival time of the passenger’s original flight.
United Airlines, who recently came under fire after a passenger was dragged off an overbooked flight, have recently updated their overbooking policy to offer up to US$10,000 (NZ$14,000) to passengers who volunteer to give up their seat on an overbooked flight.
Passengers flying from countries in the European Union who are bumped from a flight with a destination less than 1500 kilometres away are entitled to €250 (NZ$394) compensation, €400 (NZ$631) for flights travelling a distance of up to 3500km and €600 (NZ$945) for all flights that don’t fall under the former categories. – Stuff
Read the originally published story at: stuff.co.nz