Auckland Airport jet fuel crisis: Passengers caught up in the chaos

Many are finding the uncertainty surrounding flights stressful.
NICOLE LAWTON/STUFF

Many are finding the uncertainty surrounding flights stressful.

It's not a good time to be planning any travel to or from Auckland Airport, let alone the trip of a lifetime. 

While thousands of Kiwis are caught up in the jet fuel crisis, there are some for whom missing a flight could mean missing a longed-for trip or celebration.  

Auckland woman Angela Pantano is among them. Booked to fly with a girlfriend to Ho Chi Minh on Saturday, she is worried she won't make it to the birthday celebration they're headed there to attend. 

"We are watching it very closely. I spoke to Air New Zealand this morning because the Ho Chi Min direct flight today was cancelled," Pantano said.

Have your travel plans been disrupted by the jet fuel crisis? Email newstips@stuff.co.nz

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She has heard that passengers on the cancelled service have been transferred to her flight so understands that it is "full and still destined to go". 

However, a flight to Hoh Chi Minh on Tuesday that was rerouted via Wellington, Canberra and Singapore, has her worried her 11-hour flight could stretch to nearly 22 hours. 

Pantano, who booked her flight in May, said a route like that would mess up her holiday "for sure". She would miss the connecting flight to Ha Long where she and her friend are booked on a boat cruise.

"If the flight doesn't go and we end up on a flight like that, it won't serve our purposes at all.

"While you have travel insurance to compensate for cost, no-one can compensate for the loss of enjoyment if you do miss out.

"Those people who had their flight cancelled today have lost four days of their holiday."

She said Air New Zealand has been good but is finding the uncertainty a strain. 

Couple stressed about ultra-long journey with baby 

Simon Jones and Aurelie Meurice are dreading their extra-long flight to Manchester via Melbourne and Dubai with their ...
AURELIE MEURICE

Simon Jones and Aurelie Meurice are dreading their extra-long flight to Manchester via Melbourne and Dubai with their four-month-old baby.

Auckland couple Aurelie Meurice and Simon Jones have also worried the jet fuel crisis would ruin a much-anticipated holiday. 

Wanting to introduce their four-month-old daughter to family in the UK and France, they booked the most direct flight they could find a month ago. 

However, Emirates sent them a text message on Sunday to let them know their flight via Dubai had been cancelled.

"It was quite cheeky because they just mentioned the change on the way," Meurice, who is originally from France, said. 

"They said you will go through Christchurch so you will miss your connection and have to be moved to another flight.  

"It was huge for us as we are first-time parents travelling with a little baby."

They were told they could either get a refund or choose from one of three alternative flights, all of which would add an extra stop to their journey. 

The pair decided not to take the refund as they were afraid they wouldn't find a flight with another airline at such short notice, particularly with a bassinet for the baby. 

One of the offered alternatives was soon cancelled, another turned out to be full and the third could not be confirmed.

Meurice said she spent five hours on the phone with Emirates trying to resolve the issue. 

She finally managed to get them onto a flight to Dubai via Melbourne, adding five hours to what her partner called a "huge 26 hours of travel and transit".

"We wait for two hours in Melbourne where we can't disembark and we have two hours in Dubai," Meurice said. "Hopefully my daughter will be asleep, otherwise I don't know how it will work."

"Honestly, I'm disappointed. At the end of the day we don't have a direct flight. I have been asking the airline if there's anything they can do to make it easier - but there's no upgrade, no access to the lounge, nothing at all," she said.



Passenger questions why international flights are being cancelled

Thousands have had their travel plans disrupted as a result of the damaged jet fuel pipe to Auckland Airport.
PHIL WALTER/GETTY IMAGES

Thousands have had their travel plans disrupted as a result of the damaged jet fuel pipe to Auckland Airport.

Keith Young, a retired Palmerston North resident, also questions airlines' handling of the situation. 

Young booked his tickets to fly from Palmerston North to Auckland and then direct to Houston with Air New Zealand "months ago" to attend his son's wedding on September 30.  

While the airline texted him to let him know his Houston flight had been cancelled, he said he's "fairly confident we'll get there". 

All airlines flying into and out of Auckland are rationing fuel as a result of the shortage.
DAVID GRAY/REUTERS

All airlines flying into and out of Auckland are rationing fuel as a result of the shortage.

His son and his American fiance are booked to leave this weekend and his sister is leaving Wednesday.

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"It's not Air New Zealand's fault," Young said.

"I'm not entirely surprised it came. The issue for me is which flights are they prioritising for cancelling?"

Young asked why international flights are being cancelled when it is easier for those travelling domestically to find another way to get to their destination. 

"Within the country there are other options (to travel). Cancel flights between Auckland and Wellington and stick a few trains on."

Air NZ has yet to reconfirm when Young will be able to travel.

"What they are saying is they will re-book at a later date."

Have your travel plans been disrupted? Let us know in the comments.

 - Stuff

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