Air New Zealand changes refund policy after Consumer NZ complaint about its practices

The airline is now offering refunds where previously it was only giving credits.
The airline is now offering refunds where previously it was only giving credits. Photo credit: Getty Images

Air New Zealand has made changes to its refund policy within hours of Consumer NZ lodging a complaint with the Commerce Commission which pushed for an urgent injunction to stop the airline's practices.

In a statement issued on Monday, Air NZ said COVID-19 has "wreaked havoc" on airlines worldwide, but also on its customers.

Earlier in the day, Consumer NZ lodged a complaint with the Commerce Commission relating to accusations the airline had been avoiding paying refunds to passengers whose flights to or from the US had been cancelled due to the pandemic, which would be a breach of US Department of Transportation (DoT) rules.

Among the changes Air NZ are making as a result are to do with NZ1 and NZ2 flights - the airline will now provide customers a full refund for these services, if requested.


"We have taken the extraordinary step of pro-actively placing all air fares on cancelled flights, including non-refundable airfares that would ordinarily be forfeited, into credit," said Air NZ.

"We are also enabling customers who have not had their flight cancelled to elect to receive a credit. Customers have until June 2021 to book with their credit and until June 2022 to complete their travel. The credit can also be used across several separate bookings."

The airline said it is still "seeking clarity" from the US DoT on how its rules apply to transit flights.

"To date, we have been providing refunds to customers with cancelled flights to and from the USA (including Hawaii), and for the majority of cancelled flights transiting through the USA, with the exception of NZ1 and NZ2," said Air NZ.

"We are not yet in receipt of the clarity requested from the US DoT, however from today, in respect of cancelled NZ1 and NZ2 flights, we will provide customers a refund upon request. Customers should contact the original booking agent for a refund."

It's not known if Air NZ's changes will be enough for Consumer NZ to drop its complaint to the Commerce Commission.