Travellers trying to rebook flights from Monday could be in for a fright.
Air New Zealand’s domestic flexible fares policy is due to expire on Halloween, 31 October.
The booking policy which allowed travellers to “change their domestic booking or opt into credit at any time” was ushered in in 2020, following the ongoing disruption from Covid 19.
It was put in place “to ensure customers’ had flexibility and choice” during the early days of the pandemic said the airline’s chief of customer and sales Leanne Geraghty.
After the prolonged disruption domestic travel this scheme was extended, but the airline has confirmed that this will finally end on Monday.
“The application of normal fare rules for domestic travel are set to resume from 1 November,” said Geraghty.
Instead passengers will have to book fares with cover for either cancellation or rescheduling.
These new fare types ( “flexichange” or “flexirefund” ) were launched at the end of last month for passengers booking fares from November onwards.
While it may be a shock to some flyers who have been used to the flexibility as standard, it is perhaps a vote of confidence that we are over the worst of the Covid related disruptions?
Air New Zealand will continue support via its online credit tool for flights directly affected by Covid but not for “voluntary travel changes”, where customers no longer wish to fly.
“Our Covid policy which is specifically applied in times of flight disruption due to Covid remains in place, however, our new fare structure offers more flexibility from the outset, something our customers have been telling us they want,” said Geraghty.
Events and festivals over the summer continue to be cancelled or postponed due to local travel restrictions with Auckland. Passengers are likely to find themselves unable to cancel flights they no longer need.
What can you do?
While the cut off is Monday, there may still be some flexibility on the airline’s part say event managers.
Large events in November which have been rescheduled have advised participants to get in contact with the Airline’s customer support line.
The Queenstown Marathon which has been postponed from 20 November to 19 March 2022 is one of the events affected.
A spokesperson for the even which has 10,000 participants says that runners have had no problem with rescheduling their flights.
“We have heard of some who may not initially have qualified for a flight credit to move to the new date, but they’ve been in contact with Air New Zealand and it has been resolved.”
While you might end up paying the fare difference or a change fee, you can still change your flights for a different date or destination. However, the no-questions asked credit scheme is over for domestic travel.
The fare flexibility scheme for international flights is due to end in February.
Yesterday, Air New Zealand apologised to customers whose flights to Auckland were cancelled at the last minute.
Air New Zealand’s GM of customer Leeanne Langridge wrote to explain options to affected passengers.
“We took the view that open travel into and out of Auckland before 6 December was unlikely. Because of this, we made the call to cancel those flights giving you more time to re-organise your travel for a date when flying is more likely,” she said.
Langridge said passengers rebooking flights will not have to pay more for later flights. The airline is helping rebook essential travel for those who still need to travel.
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