'I can't do anything but wait': Families left in limbo over Air New Zealand strike

It could be Christmas chaos for 100,000 travellers if the three-day strike by Air New Zealand engineers goes ahead.

The airline and unions have just finished a third day of mediation, and stress is mounting for families whose plans are up in the air.

Solo New Plymouth mum Tamara Jensen and her four children are planning to see the grandparents in Perth for Christmas  that's if their plans can go ahead.  

"I have only been home once for Christmas - that was with the kids and that was eight years ago," she told Newshub.

"It's been a really long time and my parents are aging, so it's very special."

They were shouted the trip, and now can't afford to change the tickets.

"I have a non-refundable ticket that was funded by my parents, and it's not covered by insurance so I can't do anything but wait," says Ms Jensen. 

It's the same situation for tens of thousands as they wait to see whether the three-day engineers' strike starting on December 21 goes ahead.

"It's a really difficult one for customers and that's why they are feeling pretty grumpy at the moment," says House of Travel's Brent Thomas.  

"They just want to know, 'What can I do and at the moment?' And we just can't give them that advice."

Some passengers have tried to change flights, but there's limited seats. 

"If people do look to rebook, the costs may be their own and it will be expensive," Mr Thomas adds. 

And that cost may not be covered by insurance.

Tim Grafton of the Insurance Council says some people may be thinking they'll re-book now just in case, but if the strike doesn't go ahead "then there was no disruption that was caused by that, and you would not be covered".

However putting the country in limbo has prompted the Prime Minister to get involved.

"I've conveyed my strong desire that they find a resolution in mediation, no one wants to see this go ahead, it would cause severe disruption for a huge number of  families," said Jacinda Ardern. 

Air New Zealand and the unions have been in mediation all day and there's no word so far as to any progress.

Both sides are staying tight-lipped in this game of Christmas brinkmanship.