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Flying foul

Published: 6:48PM Wednesday November 11, 2009 Source: Fair Go

Reporter: Libby Middlebrook

Lee Shelton's been flying with Air New Zealand for years.

But the Wellington man says he'd rather walk or swim than ever fly with our national carrier ever again, after what they put him through over a trip to China.

Lee's troubles began after his wife booked herself and the kids a four month-long holiday to Beijing. That's where her extended family live.

Lee had to stay behind in New Zealand and work, but four months is a long time away from your family. So he made plans to join them for the final two weeks of the trip, buying return fares from Wellington to China - flying domestically to Auckland and internationally on to Beijing.

Then all of a sudden he had to relocate from Wellington to Auckland, after landing a flash new IT contract.

Lee called Air New Zealand to cancel the domestic leg of his trip, and to let them know he'd be checking in Auckland.

But the company refused, informing Lee that he'd have to pay some kind of penalty for the privilege of boarding the same plane, at the same time at the same place.

First, they suggested he rebook his entire trip to China for an extra $500. Lee wasn't happy with that, so Air New Zealand told him to buy a new one way ticket down to Wellington, in order for him to catch his original flight from Wellington back up to Auckland again.

In the end, Lee was given one final option. Pay $50 to change his itinerary, or stay at home.

That's what Lee eventually did, although he's still not happy with Air New Zealand.

But the company told us they did the best possible job for Lee, saying he had to pay a penalty for the simple fact that he altered his travel plans, as per the terms and conditions of his ticket.

They said the reason they suggested Lee rebook his ticket, or fly to Wellington, was to demonstrate that paying fees was the most cost effective way for him to go.