Air New Zealand staff member Errol Hardy waved a customer’s ticket in his face saying “did you not read the terms and conditions of your ticket?”

Air NZ ‘left me humiliated’

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A Nelson man says Air New Zealand has let itself down with rude staff, ridiculous rules and over-the-top cancellation fees.

Steve Page took his nine year old son on a trip to Auckland earlier this month and because he was on crutches, packed one bag for the two of them so it would be easier to get around. The bag weighed 1.4 kg over the 23kg limit, but well under the 46kg the two passengers were allowed.

But Air New Zealand staff wouldn’t allow the bag on, unless he paid an extra fee of $60. Steve refused and says the staff member waved his ticket in his face saying “did you not read the terms and conditions of your ticket?”

The staff member was Errol Hardy, a supervisor for Air New Zealand in Nelson.

Steve – who is also the publisher of Nelson Weekly – says the actions made him both embarrassed and humiliated, before unpacking the offending 1.4kg from their bag and taking it on board as carry-on luggage. “Both my wife, who although not travelling, was helping us get aboard, and I were extremely embarrassed and humiliated. We couldn’t believe the lack of professionalism and the lack of empathy shown for what we believe was a genuine case for some staff discretion with regard to the ridiculous tiny extra weight when we were in fact still 20kgs short of our combined allowance. We found the whole atmosphere at the Air NZ counter to be unhelpful, grumpy and condescending to us and other passengers.”

He says he wanted to tell his story because many can’t. “I have since understood, by a number of frequent fliers comments, the gentleman I dealt with is a bit famous for this type of condescending behaviour and would benefit greatly by some extra staff training, or even just a damn good slap,” he wrote. “Funny thing is, Air NZ fly exactly the same kind of aluminium airplanes every other world airline does. However previously it was service and people that made it Air New Zealand.”

Air New Zealand was given an opportunity to comment on the incident six days before deadline but had not responded directly to it.

And more stories of anger directed towards Air New Zealand has also emerged. Nelson woman Jackie Cooper says she and her daughter flew to Wellington return late last year for an important interview, only to have it cost them $797. She says she booked the flights eight days out. “I just felt they’re taking advantage of having the market to themselves,” she says.

Air New Zealand is currently advertising one way flights to Rarotonga from Auckland for $310, and $236 to fly from Auckland to Brisbane. To fly from Auckland to Nelson can cost $399 but Air New Zealand says the cost of running smaller planes means they have to charge more. “An Auckland-Nelson journey involves travelling on the smaller aircraft. The operating costs for these aircraft are higher and the costs are shared by fewer passengers and this is reflected in the ticket prices.”

Other Air New Zealand horror stories from Nelsonians include a $460 charge to change one way flights to a different time on the same day. The original cost of the tickets was $189 each. And that of a boy who took his skateboard on a plane to Wellington but when he flew back to Nelson he was told he couldn’t bring it on the plane and was forced to leave it in Wellington with his older brother, who he was visiting.

Steve says the whole thing smacks of no competition. “I think Air New Zealand are treating Nelsonians like they are a bit thick and meek, and we are not. In my view Air New Zealand is not the airline for New Zealanders.”

•  Have you had a bad experience with Air NZ? Let us know by emailing your details to [email protected].