Air New Zealand wouldn’t refund customers the value of their cancelled flights, instead offering them credit to book new ones. Now, after a long wait, a tool has been developed that lets them do it online.
What’s all this then?
Many months in the making, Air New Zealand has developed a tool that allows customers whose flights were cancelled due to Covid-19 to redeem their credit and book new trips. Customers have already redeemed $1.36 million worth of credits using the online tool less than 24 hours after it went live at 10am on Monday.
It follows a turbulent period for the national carrier, which has downsized immensely in the wake of Covid-19. It courted controversy in April when it announced it would be crediting some customers, rather than refunding them the value of cancelled flights where it wasn’t legally obliged to.
Air New Zealand chief commercial and customer officer Cam Wallace told RNZ’s Checkpoint the value of the credit was in the hundreds of millions.
Who can use it?
Not all Air NZ customers with outstanding credit can use the digital tool; it is limited to around 300,000 customers who booked single point-to-point flights in New Zealand dollars. However, Wallace said the tool would eventually be rolled out to other customers with more complex flights.
“This is the first tranche. This covers 300,000 customers, and then we’ll be extending it for even more complex bookings and for people booked in different markets over the next weeks and months.”
He said in the meantime, customers with bookings in overseas dollars still had access to the customer call centre, which now had significantly shorter wait times and more staff to handle queries.
Does it combine multiple flights?
No. In its current stage the tool does not combine the value of multiple flights into a single pool of credit for customers. To combine the credit, customers must still go through the customer call centre.
However, Wallace said the tool would eventually include this function in the coming weeks.
Customers did not need to use the full value of their credit in one booking, and the remaining balance would be available to view and use for as long as the credit was valid.
Where can you go?
With the borders still closed and a pandemic still raging across large swathes of the world, travel options are severely limited. Wallace said the most popular destinations being booked with credit so far were Queenstown, Auckland and Christchurch.
However, because the credit is valid until December 31, 2021, customers could wait until borders reopened to redeem it for overseas flights or a combination of domestic and international flights. So far, Wallace said 38,000 customers had used the tool to review their credit and decide on a destination.
If customers really wanted to travel overseas immediately, Wallace said there was a current daily flight from Auckland to LA that is mostly used to transport cargo, which passengers could book. Typically there weren’t many people on those flights, he said.