Air New Zealand customer with $850 in flight credits for canceled trip in 2020 says she was sent in circles when she tried to ask for her money back under the airline’s compassionate refund policy .
However, following an investigation by Stuff tripthe airline indicates that it has reconsidered the customer’s request and has accepted the refund.
Full-time student Steph Wall booked flights to Rarotonga in January 2020, planning to have a family vacation later in the year. She had booked the vacation using the money she had received for Christmas, and since she was in her first year of health studies at the time, she was able to take a break.
Due to Covid-19, Air New Zealand canceled the flights and credited them. Two years later, and with the borders now open, Wall is no longer able to take time off due to graduation requirements and doesn’t have the money to cover the extra vacation costs.
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Wall said she originally considered trying to rebook this year, but found her credits had gone down in value due to the difference in airfares between January 2020 and now.
“I was going to have to add more money than my credit allowed because the thefts have increased so much.”
Believing the credits were due to expire at the end of June, Wall called Air New Zealand’s contact center last week to inquire about the possibility of having them refunded.
Wall said the staff member told her “abruptly” that was not an option and informed her that the validity of the credit had been extended until the end of January 2023, so she had to rebook until there.
Wall then explained that she was unable to book new flights even with the extended deadline. But the staff member was unfriendly.
“What it meant was she was saying, ‘Sorry, you have until January, if you can’t make a plan with this, you’re wasting your money,'” Wall said.
“I was like, ‘Surely they can’t just take my money?'”
Wall said she was told she could sell her credits, but she said she didn’t know anyone who would be willing to buy them from her, as most people already had their own credits that they had to use. .
The staff member then directed Wall to a page on the Air New Zealand website which she said had more information on eligibility for compassionate refunds and how to apply. Wall said she agreed to look at him because it was obvious the staff member wasn’t going to help her any further.
When Wall hung up and checked the website, she found the section where it says you can request a “one-time discretionary compassionate care refund.”
The website says those no longer required to travel due to “ill health on the advice of your doctor” or “financial hardship” as a result of Covid-19 are eligible to apply for a refund, but offers slightly more details.
Customers who meet the criteria are asked to call the contact center – something Wall had just tried without success.
“I thought I’m just going to find myself in a no-win situation here,” Wall said.
“I just felt like at that point I wasn’t going anywhere – I was just being sent into a circle that wasn’t going to work out.”
Wall filed a complaint on the Air New Zealand Facebook page on Thursday and received a response on Tuesday, following an investigation by Stuff trip about his complaint.
But she was skeptical that the situation would have been resolved so quickly otherwise.
“Would I have been reimbursed without the intervention? I don’t know… I think there would have been a long process around that.
Air New Zealand customer and sales manager Leanne Geraghty said the airline’s specialist Covid refunds team were handling requests on a case-by-case basis.
“By reviewing this customer’s request, we can confirm that a refund has been agreed and is being processed,” she said.
Since June 2020, the airline had reimbursed more than 8,000 customers for humanitarian reasons.
“The majority of customers who made claims met the criteria and were reimbursed,” Geraghty said.
Geraghty acknowledged that for customers with credits to use, airfares may differ from those originally booked.
“We are committed to keeping fares as affordable as possible for our customers, but we are not operating in the same environment as in 2019. There is the complexity of the new travel landscape and costs across our business have grown significantly.”
Customers wishing to apply for a compassionate refund were encouraged to first visit the Air New Zealand website to see if they would meet the criteria and then call the contact center on 0800 747 800 for further assistance. along the process.