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Fair Go: March 20

Published: 4:55PM Wednesday March 20, 2013 Source: Fair Go

Reporter: Mark Crysell
Podcast: Ever missed a connection because your flight was delayed and wondered what to do?

Early last year Fiona Anderson of Levin found a sister she had never met was living on a farm in Rockhampton, Queensland. They made contact via Facebook and Fiona booked flights through Flight Centre to go to Australia to meet her. She and her 6 year old son, Liam would travel Wellington/Auckland on Jetstar, Auckland/Brisbane on Emirates and Brisbane/Rockhampton on Qantas - it's known as interline ticket. She had two hours on the ground in Auckland to catch the connecting flight to Brisbane but unfortunately the Jetstar flight was delayed by an hour and 40 minutes. She missed her flight to Brisbane but Jetstar organised accomodation and meals near Auckland Airport. Unfortunately when Fiona and Liam arrived at the hotel there was a note at reception saying she would have to organise further flights herself. Fair Go finds out who's at fault here and Jetstar makes a rare appearance on the programme.

Fair Go would like to thank Andrew Olsen from the Travel Agents Association of New Zealand for their help in resolving this matter.

Here's some advice from Andrew;

Fiona and her son through no fault of their own were delayed arriving into Auckland and missed the on-going connection. The disruptions caused them unnecessary stress and she had to spend more money than she had intended when she made the booking. She seemed to be a bit stuck on what to do next so when we were contacted by Fair Go we wanted to help out. The good news is the airline worked with us to help put this right. When an issue involving travel agents, airlines and customers is in the public domain it's important to make sure it gets resolved and the right facts and information are provided to the public.

What could have been done to ensure this didn't happen? Did the travel agent make an error?
No, not at all. The travel agent did what it should have. It allowed the minimum connection time that is permitted. Unfortunately the delayed arrival of the aircraft made it physically impossible to make the next flight. From time to time all airlines will experience mechanical faults that delay flights. Nobody really wants a plane to depart that is mechanically unsound besides which it won't. The airlines has had a look at the circumstances and taken responsibility for its part. It's most unfortunate the way it played out at the airport. The airline appears to recognise that.

What is the recommended minimum time for connection to an international flight?
Travel agents work on a 2 hour minimum connection. Each situation will be assessed differently - terminal locations, immigration processing, industrial action that might be occurring for instance and give advice that balances the questions of cost and value with the reality of making the flight. If you are booking online yourself with different airlines it's not that evident. You'd need to be quite experienced and take a lot of factors into consideration to make sure the itinerary was achievable let alone competitively priced and considerate of all options.

Some airlines are involved in code share arrangement, some in interline arrangements. What is your message to the public about the complexity of connecting different airlines?
Definitely seek a travel agents advice for international travel, particularly planned itineraries that involve multiple stops and potentially multiple airlines. We get a lot of enquiry from members of the public about issues that have occurred when they booked online themselves and have not correctly allowed for minimum connections or understood the interline arrangements of one airline to another. Luggage gets lost, travellers get lost and worse, end up on their own and out of pocket.

Fiona's insurance didn't cover this issue. Why is that?
Each case is different. Policies vary from brand to brand and exclusions can be different. A rule of thumb -weather disruption to flights will be covered. Mechanical failure disruption will not and is the responsibility of the airline. Anyone travelling internationally should ask their travel agent about insurance and what will best suit their needs.

And your advice to travellers caught in this situation or something like it?
Find out what you need to know from the outset - ask the travel agent and they'll help give you some pointers that will help in the event something goes wrong. Anyone who experiences a situation like Fiona's should contact their travel agent as soon as possible so the agent can start making plans around the disruption. The agents details will usually be on the itinerary and it's a good idea to save them on your phone too. Disrupted passengers need to also work on the ground with the airlines to find out when or whether there is another suitable flight and what accommodation and out of pocket expenses they will be covered for that might arise. Above all, as hard as it might be at the time, keep a calm level head and a fully charged phone. There is every chance the travel agent will be trying to call.

Why use a TAANZ Travel agent?
Because they are bonded for consumers' protection. Without one, you're on your own.

And some travel tips from Jetstar;

1.         Read the fare rules properly - you need to understand what you are agreeing to when you enter into a contract with an airline.
2.         Take your time when you make a direct booking online - don't rush. Mistakes can cost you to change them. Names should match your ID, such as passport.
3.         Be at the airport earlier than you think you need to be - there may be traffic issues, car parking hold ups, queues at check-in counters, security or customs. More time = less stress.
4.         If you are booking a trip that involves different airlines leave plenty of time just in case there is a weather or engineering delay if you miss your connection. There are various tickets  you might be on - direct bookings, interline bookings, code share bookings. In some cases you will be looked after by the airline in a disrupt but in others you won't be.
5.         If you buy insurance, be clear about what it covers.


Reporter: Pippa Wetzell
Podcast: Why don't we ask for discounts more often and how do the best hagglers do it?

We all like a bargain but it turns out a lot of us aren't that comfortable asking for a discount.  We send some of our brazen colleagues out to try their luck haggling, meet Gary Oakes who always gives it a go and find out what it is about asking a retailer to "sharpen their pencil" that makes us feel so awkward.

If you're keen to give it a shot& here are some tips from some expert hagglers.

            Be confident and polite.
            Do your research, if a shop has had a sale the week before, it might be perfectly reasonable to ask for the same discount.
            Shop around, know what the cheapest price is and ask retailers if they can beat it.
            Buy in bulk... You'll often get a discount if you're buying more than one item... even if that means going shoe shopping with a girlfriend.
            Put the ball in the sales assistant's court by asking "what's the best you can do".
            Ask to speak to a manager if you're not having any luck with the sales assistant.
            Don't be afraid to use silence as a negotiating tool.
            If a discount's looking unlikely, ask if they can throw something in with your purchase. ie a pair of socks with your new trainers.

And remember it costs nothing to ask.

Reporter: Gordon Harcourt
Podcast:  If a  tradesman goes bust can they hold onto your goods under repair?

So you've taken your car, your lawnmower, your watch in for repair.
the repair outfit goes under, owing money round town.
what happens to your stuff?  will you lose it?
a young bloke in Hamilton did, and what he lost is far more precious than you might think.



Blame Canada
Reporter: Gordon Harcourt
When do you cease to be an airline's problem?

Visko Laus is a big Emirates fan.  Was a big Emirates fan.
Visko is significantly disabled after two serious neck injuries and needs a wheelchair.
Late last year he went to Brisbane to see the grandkids, all good.
When he got back his own wheelchair was waiting for him with a ground staff person to push him out to a waiting car. 
There was a little accident.
The chair hit a bump and Visko hit the ground, face first. Not pretty - broken glasses, cut nose, serious abrasions, lots of blood.
Visko doesn't have a beef with the lady pushing the chair, it was just an unfortunate incident.
But who is responsible?  Visko contacted Emirates.  He didn't want a payout, he just wanted his glasses replaced - his insurance excess is $400, twice what the glasses are worth.
And what did Emirates say?
They said - basically - sorry but it's not our problem because of the Montreal Convention 1999, Article 17.
Have you ever heard of it?  Here it is ...

Article 17 - Death and injury of passengers - damage to baggage
1.         The carrier is liable for damage sustained in case of death or bodily injury of a passenger upon condition only that the accident which caused the death or injury took place on board the aircraft or in the course of any of the operations of embarking or disembarking. 

No glasses for Visko from Emirates.  They've handed it to Menzies Aviation, the ground handling company.
We think that's unfortunate.  We think a passenger's relationship is with the airline they pay, not some third party company hired by the airline.