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Low-fare blunder by Air NZ triggers widespread angst

January 29, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

A human error by Air New Zealand has resulted in international long-haul fares being mistakenly discounted by 90% and sold to delighted consumers through online travel websites.

Consumer delight quickly turned to outrage when the carrier abruptly cancelled the tickets. Hundreds of people were affected reportedly and many turned to social media.

New Yorker Brandon Calhoun wrote on Facebook: “Travel gone bad: book a ticket to Auckland on Air New Zealand through Expedia. They book the ticket. Issue the ticket. Assign seats. Let me change the seats.

“Then 2 days later I get a notice that my flight has been cancelled. I called customer service, and they tell me that a sale fare was published by human error. Their fault, my loss. No compensation, or anything else to remedy the situation.

“In most business, if an employee makes an error, the company doesn’t get to just say, ‘Sorry for you. We’re going to take a mulligan on this one.’ Shame, shame Air New Zealand. I’m appalled at the complete lack of corporate integrity. I’ve travelled on dozens of airlines to more than 80 countries, and never experienced such complete disregard and disrespect for one’s customers.”

The New Zealand Herald cited the case of another American, a woman who bought round-trip flights from Atlanta to Sydney and Auckland to Atlanta for USD 540 (AUD 665) from US travel booking website StudentUniverse.

Brandon Calhoun: “Shame, shame Air New Zealand”

“Such a good deal!” the buyer enthused. A few days later she was shocked to receive a call from the airline to say a pricing error meant that the flights she booked were no longer valid. Air New Zealand had refused to honour the bookings as it had “accidentally priced their tickets too low”.

“I really have no interest in booking with Air New Zealand again after that experience,” the aggrieved consumer said.

Twitter user ‘Marissa’ from Canada told Air New Zealand: “Absolutely unbelievable that I have fully paid for and CONFIRMED ticket and you’ve just cancelled my entire reservation more than 48 hours after I booked.

Similar comments flowed fast. “@airnewzealand very sad to see our dream vacation to New Zealand cancelled less than a month away with zero explanation 🙁 ,” wrote Liz Zellner.

“What kind of incompetent company is Air New Zealand that cancelled my tickets after 24 hours of being bought?” demanded Susan R.

“If I made a change to my tickets after 24 hours they would have charged me but @FlyAirNZ can do that after 24 hours?”

Susan R posted the notice she had received, as follows:

“We were notified recently by Air New Zealand of a fare filing Issue which resulted in Invalid fares being ticketed for certain markets. Due to this airline fare filing Issue, Air New Zealand has cancelled your itinerary for travel on 5th of June and invalidated your airline ticket(s). 

“We are currently In the process of refunding all Impacted tickets In full. We will refund the full purchase price to your original form of payment. If you require additional assistance, please contact Air New Zealand directly 1-800-262-1234. Or you can contact us at 1-300-774-2354. We regret any inconvenience and appreciate your understanding regarding this airline fare filing issue. Best Regards.”

Another customer who booked an Air New Zealand flight through Expedia had his tickets cancelled with the note: “We have been made aware by Air New Zealand that they had an issue with the pricing of their tickets, which caused a number of tickets to be sold at prices significantly lower than their actual value.

“Due to the error, Air New Zealand have taken the decision to cancel all tickets affected by this.”

Air New Zealand issued the following statement when questioned on the matter by the New Zealand Herald:

“For a short period of time on Tuesday US time, some fares for travel from cities in the United States to New Zealand were mistakenly made available through third party websites and travel agents for approximately 10 per cent of their intended value.

“This meant that some one-way fares were available for travel from the United States to New Zealand for about USD 100 [AUD 123].

“These fares were available at that price as a result of a genuine human error in the data entry process. They have been cancelled and customers will receive a full refund from their travel agent.”

Air New Zealand added that any legitimate out-of-pocket” expenses that customers had incurred would also be reimbursed.

Written by Peter Needham

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