The long awaited Air New Zealand online credit redemption tool is now live, allowing customers who hold credit directly with the airline to manage their credit online.
The new online tool will enable more than 300,000 customers who purchased a ticket with New Zealand dollars to view a breakdown of their credit, including seat selection or carbon emissions offset, and use that credit to book new flights.
The airline's Chief Commercial and Customer Officer Cam Wallace says the functionality is a massive step towards streamlining the way the airline deals with people left with credits due to the COVID-19 crisis.
"We know this hasn't been quick to resolve, and we would like to thank our customers for their patience. Pre-COVID-19, we didn't have the systems in place for customers to redeem credits at this scale, so our teams have had to build this long-term solution from scratch," Wallace said.
"There are a lot of Kiwis who are keen to get out and explore New Zealand so for customers to be able to use their credit from their own device, booking flights will be much easier.
For weeks, Air NZ customers have been left frustrated due to lack of access to information such as their credit balance and what it could be used for, resulting in massive demand on its call centre.
"Customers now have more flexibility with using their credits, including the ability to use credit from an international flight to book a domestic one and vice versa, and for the credit owner to choose who the credit is used for."
The airline has also extended the period in which customers can use their credit – they have until December 31, 2021 to book and a further 12 months after booking to travel.
Throughout June and July, around 57,000 customers who had paid in full using Airpoints Dollars had the value of their fare returned as Airpoints Dollars.
Wallace told The AM Show in June that transferring credits into Airpoints dollars was a complex process due to possible tax implications.
For example, a flight to Shanghai is tax-free - however, a flight to Queenstown will include GST.
At the time he signalled that a solution was being worked on but was some weeks away.
Air NZ Chief Digital Officer Jennifer Sepull said after months of development, the solution has arrived.
"We wanted to create a solution that was intuitive and able to manage the large number of customers needing to redeem credit. Over the next few months, we'll be working to evolve this credit tool to increase its self-service capability.
"At this stage, the online tool can only process credit from single bookings and we are actively working on extending this so credit from multiple flights can be combined and used. In the meantime, customers with multiple flights will still need to call our contact centre."
If customers do not use the full value of their credit in one booking, the remaining balance will be available to view and use for as long as the credit is valid.
The airline will begin contacting customers who have credit with the airline from today.
The airline is currently working on a solution for its international customers and those who have booked through a travel agent.
A solution is also being worked on to allow access to credits which have arisen from group bookings.