Rants, Raves, Reviews

AirNZ are painful

By Gary R, in , posted: 4-Dec-2006 15:46

Last Friday I flew to Auckland for a specific job that ended up only taking 2 hours. Because I wanted to be prepared I booked my return flight for later in the afternoon in case the job didn't go smoothly. As it was I was left with 4 hours up my sleeve, stuck out in Manukau on a rainy day.

My return flight cost nearly $500 which is a 'FlexiSaver'. I am not really sure what they mean by 'Flexi':
- Changes permitted until day before departure with payment of $50 change fee per adult fare
- Service fee applies unless changed online
- Fare upgrade may also apply

What it does not say in the online conditions is specifically that if you want to change your flight on the day, which for me was flying home earlier, you need to purchase a new ticket! Come on AirNZ I know you have capacity. I would have paid a $50 service fee but a new ticket now that is ridiculous. I am sure there would have been plenty of spare seats on the earlier flights.

There are '3 classes' of AirNZ fares:
- Smart Saver (approx $115 one way)
- Flexi Saver (approx $208 one way)
- Flexi (approx $282 one way)

The only difference in the T&C's of 'SmartSaver' and 'FlexiSaver' is that 'FlexiSaver' accrues Airpoint Dollars. That is a difference of nearly $100 with no additional benefit except Airpoint dollars. Flexi is fully refundable, accrues Airpoint Dollars and changes are permitted at any time however a 'service applies if not changed online'.

So, there is nothing flexi at all about a 'Flexi Saver'. If you don't want the Airpoints Dollars always choose Smart Saver.

I used to enjoy flying AirNZ domestic. These days no meal, no free booze, no magazines, instant coffee, crap service and budget flights at a not so budget price. Having flown Easy Jet for 13 quid from UK to Europe I do know that budget does not have to equal crap service, dirty planes and grumpy crew.

I wonder where we are in the OECD for quality and value of domestic airline services? Probably number 30 and going ever backwards.

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Permalink to AirNZ are painful | Add a comment (11 comments) | Main Index

Comment by sbiddle, on 4-Dec-2006 17:20

I can't understand why Air NZ don't give AirPoints on all tickets booked. The purpose of such a program is to create customer loyalty -  give me 50% less AirPoints $$ if I book a cheap flight but still give me some reward for chosing your pitiful onboard product over Qantas who have a far better inflight product on both NZ Domestic & Trans Tasman services.

Comment by freitasm, on 4-Dec-2006 18:45

No Air Dollars for the Smart Saver is a stupid marketing decision. I mean, it's guaranteed money in the company's pocket, the traveller can not change the ticket and if the traveller misses the trip, the company pocket the money without providing services. For these Air NZ should give the Air Dollars.

As for the in-flight service, that is a joke. "Enjoy the water"... And now the bar is a paid service and they charge even coca-cola. How lower could it go?

Comment by alasta, on 4-Dec-2006 18:54

Customer service was always good on domestic flights when Ansett were around, but I feel that things have really gone downhill in recent years. I always favour Qantas for domestic flights these days, not just because of the more complete service, but also because I was so disgusted that so much taxpayers' money was wasted bailing out Air New Zealand so that we could have an airline with a New Zealand identity, then they go and make a whole lot of their staff redundant and shift the jobs to Fiji! What a joke.

Comment by edge, on 5-Dec-2006 14:10

I don't disagree with any of the above but you will notice that only the Flexi is changeable right up until the time of departure (nominally with a $15 fee but I have never been charged anything when I do it at the airport!), as opposed to the Flexi Saver which can only be changed up to the day before (I once struck exactly your situation Jama - spent 3 hours in the Koru Lounge).  It is  a harsh change from the "good old days" when pretty much anything went - unfortunately the strategy generally works for business travellers like me who, when uncertain as top return time (as in your case Jama), are essentially forced to take the highest priced Flexi fare for convenience (I am seldom able to drink the difference at the Koru Lounge at my age!).  Doesn't mean I have to like it, but limited choice unfortunately (Alasta's point).  Roll on more competition (unlikely?)

Comment by sbiddle, on 5-Dec-2006 16:55

It's interesting that a lot of corporates are now booking the chespest available tickets rather than the fully flexi fares. Why? If your flights don't change regularly it's cheaper throw the old ticket away and buy a new ticket if need be if you do change rather than paying full price for every ticket.

Comment by TinyTim, on 6-Dec-2006 10:31

Trouble with Qantas is they have so few flights so if you do finish early you're still likely to have to take the same flight.

Despite not giving points on SmartSaver, the airpoints dollars is a much better system than other airlines (like Qantas). Ever tried to redeem a domestic flight on Qantas? You still have to pay just about half the fare in taxes and fuel surcharge. It's just not worth it.

Thank goodness the flights are so short.

Comment by mia yealands, on 10-Feb-2007 23:20

I have to agree air nz have gone downhill from what they use to be, where are the friendly faces and the helpful service. I flew with a 4months old baby by myself from Auckland to Perth. A long flight in itself plus on my own thats alot of luggage to carry , when I asked for help the ground staff at Auckland simply told me they were not baggage carriers. Once I arrived in Perth the ground staff there were amazing, they got me a trolley for my luggage and wheeled it out to my family while I carried my baby, theywere not air NZ staff.

Comment by Aucklander, on 13-Feb-2007 16:14

Get over mate. When you take the time to understand transport pricing / yield management - then feel free to complain!

Comment by sipow, on 8-Mar-2007 12:30

Its all very well to bag air nz for everything they do and bring up the whole 'I'm gonnna fly Qantas from now on on' thing, but do you not think Qantas have the same crappy policies?? No, of course not, they love letting you do what ever you like, feel no need to run a competitive business and pander to the travellers every waking wim. The system of tickets was created so everybody doesn't pay a thousand dollars one way to Auckland, and with the cheaper tkt system, they created clauses. You knew that when you brought it. Air Nz has a lower tolerance than Qantas for excess luggage, but Qantas charge a handling fee for anything bigger than a suitcase. Air NZ might be cheaper one day, or another carrier the next. Qantas have huge problems with on time performance in nz because if they have a fault with an aircraft, they usually have no plane to replace it with. To look at the airline departure screen, it is not surprising to see their flights delayed by two hours, or more, while they fix a problem.
Fair enough, it is a sad reflection on our changing society that staff in akl may not be helpful, but don't try and tell me its because they work for air nz. Its never nice to receive bad service, but I can assure you, it is often frustrating to have to namby pamby to people, who, live their whole lives quite happily, but become completely helpless once they walk through the airport doors.
Finally, as most are obviously not aware, air nz is the handling agent for Qantas in nz. If you fly with them, you are served by somebody who works for air nz. Think of that next time you ramble on to the checkin agent, who has just told you you have missed you flight cos you arrived 5 minutes before departure, that the staff at QF are so much nicer and more polite...

Comment by H, on 1-Jun-2007 16:57

I too have found the Air NZ service to have declined over the past 19 yrs that I've used their services, I too would be happy to pay charges if they were transparent and available to the consumer. Beware booking online, you cannot access the terms and conditions for your ticket if you wish to refer back to them retrospectively although this information is available to call centre staff at the click of a button. Information on their website about ticket changes ($NZD 50.00) only applies to DOMESTIC changes, the charge for changing an international ticket is $NZD100.00 + $NZD 25.00 + the difference in ticket price whatever they say that difference may be due to "available seats" (even on a 1/4 full plane), they don't tell you about this on their site or electronic ticket, you will alledgedly find this info in terms and conditions before you click the "accept" button but from that point on it is hidden from you. Difficult when you got given the ticket as a gift from friends. Try pointing this out to Air NZ that customers would like to see the penalty charges on their website - they simply do NOT want to know about it. I've been fobbed off by their call staff, ignored by the email help service and had no response their Chief Executive and Marketing Managers. "Getting there is everything" and I'll get there on an airline that treats its customers with a little more respect.

Comment by Jason, on 6-Jul-2007 13:17

In 2005 Air NZ stranded me in Queenstown, with only the new ticket purchase option. I called Qantas, who sold me a new ticket at half the price, when the AirNZ girl, waddled over to the Qantas desk give me my new ticket, I knew that day never to fly Air NZ again. So I fly Qantas and what a difference. When flights are delayed, and things go wrong, the service is exceptiional, they crack open the bar and are very generous. The Club check in at AK International is super user friendly. I flew Air NZ to Invercargill this year 2007 on a $50 fare. Totally got what I paid for, which is a nimble Air line offering water from AK to Invercargill - and it seems that is all the staff are prepared to do too.

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