Family of four 'frustrated' with Air New Zealand after luggage lost on New York to Auckland non-stop flight

A family of four is frustrated with Air New Zealand because they "haven't been proactive" in helping them out after having issues following the airline's first non-stop flight from New York to Auckland.

The 17-hour flight from the John F Kennedy International Airport landed at Auckland Airport at about 8:30am on Monday. 

Hadley Slade-Jones, his wife and 12-year-old twins were expecting to travel to New Zealand to be with their extended family after 15 years, but instead had the stress of trying to locate their luggage.

Slade-Jones told Newshub the check-in process for the flight at JFK airport worried him because he said it seemed like no one knew what they were doing.

"It was like they just plucked people off the street to check people in."

He also said the people checking the bags in weren't Air New Zealand staff members but were being supervised by them.

He added that one person tried to load a bag without a luggage tag and an Air New Zealand employee had to rush over and put one on.

After waiting an extra hour to board, Slade-Jones said the flight itself was very smooth sailing, however, when they arrived it was a different story.

He said he and several other passengers were waiting for an hour for their luggage before he decided to go to the baggage handling kiosk to ask what the hold-up was.

"There was no announcement made, they just made people wait," he told Newshub.

Slade-Jones claimed there were at least "100 people in the queue", not 40 or 50 as Air New Zealand had said in an earlier statement.

When the passengers found out their bags were nowhere to be found, Slade-Jones said the crew appeared to be shocked by the situation.

"It was like a surprise to everyone."

Slade-Jones and his family had to travel to Hawke's Bay with no clue where their luggage was.

"I had my father's 80th last night and everyone else was in formal attire but my family were in T-shirts and jeans from Kmart," he said.

He said he didn't want to go out and buy expensive clothes as he didn't know how much Air New Zealand would reimburse him.

The frustrated passenger was upset with how little Air New Zealand had done to help them.

"No one has reached out [and] they haven't been proactive about it."

He said he knows people make mistakes and he knows people get things wrong but Air New Zealand needs to be held accountable.

"They have never come out and said anything, [I have] no confidence in them."

When Newshub approached Air New Zealand for comment, a spokesperson said they wanted to contact Slade-Jones before speaking on the issue.

At around 4:30pm on Wednesday, Slade-Jones told Newshub he had been told one of his bags was in Whanganui with his mum, but his other bag was nowhere to be found.

In an earlier statement to Newshub, Air New Zealand said weather conditions meant they couldn't bring every passenger's bag on the flight. 

"We're sorry we weren't able to bring all of our customers' bags on this historic flight. Given the forecast cyclone and other conditions on the day, we prioritised getting all of our customers safely to where they needed to be," an Air New Zealand spokesperson said. 

"The team then worked hard to reunite customers with their bags as quickly as possible. This is not the way we wanted things to run for our customers and we'll be reviewing what lessons we can take to make sure this doesn't happen again."

The spokesperson also apologised to the customers who were affected.  

"We have contacted all impacted customers individually to offer an additional goodwill gesture for the inconvenience caused on this occasion."  

Slade-Jones said he and his family were upset because he was the one to talk to them and try and sort something out. 

"They haven't held up their end of the bargain."

He said their luggage was filled with presents for his nieces and nephews but he can't give them to them.

"We just want to have family time."

Slade-Jones and his family go back to New York on Monday and he doesn't think his bags will be there either.