Air New Zealand

Add Karl du Fresne as an Air New Zealand hater

Property investor Sir Bob Jones and broadcaster Gary McCormick have both fallen foul of the airline for not complying with what Jones trenchantly calls its infantile nanny-statism. Both were banished to the naughty corner.

Jones ended up buying his own plane. McCormick has been banned for two years, an extraordinary act of arrogant corporate bullying that he intends to challenge.

I banned myself from flying Air New Zealand if I could possibly avoid it after an experience several years ago when I was booked on an afternoon flight to Sydney. I had to catch a bus to Canberra and made sure I had hours to spare, because experience had taught me to expect delays.

So it turned out. As the afternoon wore on, I sat through countless announcements of delayed departure times. I can’t recall precisely what reason was given: “servicing requirements” or “engineering requirements” or one of those familiar bland excuses that airlines use to cover up their slackness.

At one stage we were grudgingly given vouchers for the airport café, the value of which seemed to have been fixed so as to ensure we couldn’t actually buy anything edible. Otherwise the airline’s ground staff were characteristically missing in action.

In the event, our flight arrived in Sydney several hours late. I missed the last bus by minutes and had to make hurried arrangements to spend the night in Sydney, at considerable inconvenience both to me and the people who were expecting me in Canberra.

But what lingers in my mind was what happened when it became obvious, halfway across the Tasman, that I was at risk of missing my connection.

I approached three flight attendants who were idly chatting at the front of the cabin. I wanted to ask if they happened to know where the bus pickup point was at Sydney Airport – a piece of information that might save me vital minutes – or, failing that, whether they could suggest any other way of getting to Canberra at that late hour.

As they saw me approach, their conversation ceased and their demeanour changed. They looked at me with a mixture of alarm and suspicion. A passenger, doubtless wanting something … a problem, in other words.

When the most senior of the attendants opened her mouth to speak to me, it wasn’t to ask how she could help. It was to reprimand me, in headmistressy tones, for stepping across a line on the floor of the cabin beyond which passengers weren’t permitted. It seems I could have been a hijacker trying to get into the cockpit.

She had all the charm of an SS concentration camp guard. Needless to say I hadn’t noticed the line on the floor (who would?) and had no idea I had suddenly become a security risk. No matter. Rules are rules, and I had to be put in my place.

It was one of those moments when you’re so taken aback that you don’t think of an appropriately witty response until much later. (The French have a term for this: l’esprit d’escalier.) But I proceeded to seek the flight attendants’ advice anyway.

They not only couldn’t help me, but showed no interest in doing so. In fact they reacted as if it was downright impertinent of me to interrupt their chatter, although it was their airline that had caused my predicament.

Such things stick in your mind for years. It became my defining Air New Zealand moment, even superseding the memorable time my luggage – and that of most other passengers – was removed from an Air New Zealand flight to Tonga without our knowledge because the plane was overweight. The pilot casually informed us of this only when we were halfway to our destination.

Everyone has their negative airline stories, but almost all of mine involve Air New Zealand. It’s an airline that does a lot of things well, but it often appears unwilling to accept responsibility for the inconvenience it creates for passengers when it fouls things up.

That’s how McCormick fell out with the airline. He had been stuffed around by flight delays and decided that the least Air New Zealand could do was allow him a glass of wine in the Koru Club as a quid pro quo, even though he wasn’t a member.

I understand his exasperation, but that’s not the way things work with Air New Zealand. It determines the rules, and unfortunately they don’t include anything about getting passengers to their destinations on time or recompensing them if it fails to do so. Read more »

Can corporate weasel words cause strokes?

Did Christopher Luxon's corporate weasel words cause Bob Jones to have a stroke?

Did Christopher Luxon’s corporate weasel words cause Bob Jones to have a stroke?

National treasure, Bob Jones, thinks that corporate weasel words can cause strokes.

Worse, he thinks Air New Zealand’s CEO caused his stroke.

I was perusing the Herald’s farcical annual supplement, “Mood of the Boardroom,” in which various public company chief executives’ platitudes on the state of the nation are aired. That the Herald thinks these characters have anything meaningful to say says plenty about journalists’ naivety.

Worldwide, the primary qualification for such positions is possessing a “safe pair of hands,” and a kick-for-touch approach to everything. Having opinions on anything beyond established orthodoxy would mean automatic disqualification for the job. The exceptions are the likes of, say, Rod Duke who actually created their companies.

Anyway, there I was; someone who, according to my GP, has the fitness of a 40-year-old, regular health checks, satisfactory blood pressure and a strong heart, this all pertinent to what occurred, reading this guff when I encountered a heading, “Strategic Thinking from Air New Zealand’s Chief Christopher Luxon,” this arguably the most banal nonsense ever to see the light of day since Gutenberg invented the printing press. I ploughed through with increasing outrage and, as my horror mounted, suddenly my brain turned to mush and I had a stroke.

Oh no, a stroke…caused by the NZ Herald. Read more »

Cry Baby of the Week: NOTHING on that plane was suitable?

A media luvvie is kicking up a stink because her fussy eating habits weren’t able to be catered for on Air New Zealand…by mistake.

So she has taken to the media to whinge. She’s obviously lived for so long in the UK she has picked up the whinging gene.

An Air New Zealand passenger went hungry for more than 24 hours of flying after crew forgot to pack her meal.

While Johanna Pitot used to be a fan of Air NZ, she says she will never fly again with the airline: “Normally [Air NZ] is really accommodating, but this time it was truly horrendous.”

Pitot paid around $5000 for return flights from London to New Zealand so she could be there for her brother’s wedding in Dunedin.

As part of her return flight on February 4, she paid £590 (NZ$1280) to upgrade from economy class to premium economy. About five days before her flight, she called to order her special meal.

“I needed a gluten-free meal. Essentially, I can’t eat gluten, dairy, sugar, fish, pork, and a few other things. Going for a gluten-free meal is about the least offensive for me, anyhow.

“You have to order it at least 24 hours in advance so I thought with five days’ notice, I’d be fine.”

Read more »

Air NZ rated number two in the world for safety behind Qantas

Seems Air New Zealand is doing well in the safety stakes…must be all those cringe-worthy inflight safety videos.

An annual survey of the world’s biggest airlines has seen Qantas named the world’s safest for the third year running.

The Australian carrier was praised for its “extraordinary fatality-free record in the jet era”, while Virgin Atlantic was the only UK airline to make it into the top 20.

In a separate ranking for low-cost airlines, two British carriers featured – Flybe and Thomas Cook.

The lists (see below for a full breakdown) were compiled byAirlineRatings.com, an independent plane safety and product rating website.

The website provided safety ratings for 407 airlines, awarding them up to seven stars for safety. Of those surveyed, 148 were given the top seven-star safety ranking but almost 50 had just three stars or less.    Read more »

Air New Zealand calls Jetstar out

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I love attack ads in politics, and I equally love seeing them in the commercial sector.

Jetstar’s new regional services are due to start today but the airline is flying into flak from rival Air New Zealand, which has placed a pointed advertisement in today’s New Zealand Herald.

Jetstar’s 50-seat Bombardier Q300 is due to take off from Napier around 9am and get a water arch welcome from fire trucks on the runway at Auckland Airport an hour later.

The Napier-Auckland-Nelson service will be followed next February with flights to Palmerston North and New Plymouth as the Australian-owned airline challenges Air New Zealand on regional routes that have been very lucrative, depending on the number of full-fare passengers aboard. Read more »

Is the Air NZ pilot seeings things? Drone, stealth drone or no drone?

I smelled a rat with this story yesterday

Drone operators are questioning what an Air New Zealand pilot may have seen which led the airline to complain lives were put at risk on a flight out of Christchurch.

Air NZ says no evasive action was need on Friday afternoon when the pilot, flying an Airbus A320 with 166 people aboard, believed he spotted a red drone at 6000 feet above Kaiapoi, well above a 400ft limit.

However, it was “reckless behaviour” by a drone operator who has so far “not had the courage to come forward and address their behaviour with authorities”, said safety officer Captain David Morgan.

But some commercial drone operators are sceptical.

Jared Waddams, owner of Christchurch’s Helicam Pro, says he has been monitoring industry chat rooms about the incident.

“The general sense is the pilot doesn’t know what he’s talking about or has some kind of agenda to get rid of drones,” he told NZ Newswire.    Read more »

Bob Jones wins

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In the war of words and deeds between Air New Zealand and Bob Jones, Bob wins.

NBR has a column from him about his latest efforts to avoid Air New Zealand.

For more than half a century I’ve travelled everywhere – but no airline, not even in the worst Soviet Union days, matches the infantile nappy-statism of an Auckland-Wellington Air New Zealand flight.

The incessant and unnecessary hostess babble over the intercom, the utterly childish and pointless screeching safety video, the absurd seat-by-seat check that we’re an inch or two upright at exactly 20 minutes before landing, and worst of all, the “this is your captain speaking.”  You’re not our captain, sunshine, nor is it our fault you’ve chosen a mind-numbingly boring occupation. Lacking the wit to having anything meaningful to say, we endure your mumbling nonsense about the bloody weather and your planned airport approach, as if anyone gives a damn. How long before there’s fingernail inspection?    Read more »

NZ First’s Richard Prosser thinks an airline and a coal mine are the same thing

There must be times when Winston needs a quadruple bypass before facepalming himself over the idiotic public statements that come from his colleagues.

But hey, if only the Government would put some more money into it, then Solid Energy would be saved.  Because that will make people buy more coal.

The Government should rescue Solid Energy the same way its predecessor saved Air New Zealand, NZ First says.

The state-owned coal miner is crippled by debt and an announcement on its future is expected within weeks.

One of the options is liquidation – the Government doesn’t favour that but says banks will make the call.

NZ First’s Richard Prosser says Air New Zealand’s recovery is proof Solid Energy can be turned around.

“It’s lucky National wasn’t in government when Air New Zealand nearly went to the wall,” he said.    Read more »

Air New Zealand pilot sits in emergency exit and reads book during safety demo

Last week Bob Jones was all the news because he dared to sit where he was told and then read a book while the safety announcement was playing.

When he refused to put his book down he was turfed off the plane and ended up being news for it.

Air New Zealand reacted in an over the top manner, and then sanctimoniously declared that no one was above the rule no matter who they were… except their own pilots of course… they can sit in the emergency exit row and read books till the cows come home.

Read more »

Bob Jones is awesome…that is all

Bob Jones got chucked off an Air New Zealand plane yesterday after ignoring the trolley dollies insisting he listen to their boring safety announcements, who in most cases are standing there trying to not look like extremely rancid mutton, dressed as mutton.

Property magnate Sir Bob Jones was ejected from an Air New Zealand flight after refusing to take instructions from cabin crew, according to Businessdesk news wire.

The 75-year-old Hutt Valley resident had boarded flight NZ421 from Auckland to Wellington when cabin staff attempted to instruct him in his duties as an emergency exit row passenger, where he was seated in row 12, in a window seat.

Jones kept reading when the staff member sought to deliver him and other passengers a routine safety briefing.

Told he could be moved to another seat if he was unable or unwilling to assist in an emergency, he refused to be moved and asked to be left alone, according to passengers in the same row, who witnessed the incident.

Two Civil Aviation Authority staff were summoned to the plane to escort Jones.

The flight was delayed some 20 minutes, prompting an apology from the flight’s captain, who said “no matter who you are”, passengers had to obey CAA regulations, which included paying attention to safety briefings.

Read more »