Air New Zealand passenger finds airline 'very difficult to deal with' after being stranded at Singapore Airport

An Air New Zealand passenger is finding the airline "very difficult to deal with" after getting stranded at Singapore Airport following the Auckland floods.

Jamini Patel, 20 was supposed to fly to Auckland on Friday, January 27 but after sitting in the plane for around an hour, she and other passengers were told the flight was cancelled.

When Newshub spoke with Patel on Monday, she said she had been stranded at the airport the entire weekend.

Patel told Newshub she had managed to book a flight out to Brisbane and arrived there on Monday morning.

"It was my first time travelling alone on a long-haul flight so I was already nervous and quite anxious about it all. When the news of the flooding and flight cancellation came it was even more worrying because I had only come to Singapore with enough money for my layover [which was enough] to eat about two meals," Patel said.

"There was no way I could fork out enough to stay in a hotel and pay for food for the amount of time they were saying we may need to stay."

She said she was also supposed to start a new job on February 1 but won't be able to make it back in time for it.

"It was very emotional for my family because they couldn't do anything to help and I had a couple of breakdowns about it too because being in a different country alone was very overwhelming," Patel said.

She also said she did meet some "lovely people" who helped looked after her.

When Newshub asked Patel how many people wanted to get to New Zealand she said she understood two planes were cancelled - around 600-700 people.

"Some of which have given up with Air NZ and have either returned to their home country or booked another flight," she added.

Patel told Newshub after their flight was cancelled Air New Zealand emailed to say their flight would be rescheduled between 24 to 48 hours later.

The letter Jamini Patel received from Air New Zealand.
The letter Jamini Patel received from Air New Zealand. Photo credit: Jamini Patel

Patel said they didn't hear from the airline during that time period or even afterwards.

"They kept hanging up our calls and saying that there was nothing they could do.

"Some people managed to rebook at the 48-hour mark by visiting the airport but were not able to get one on the same day," Patel said.

"Some families are waiting till at least February 10 as it's the next available direct flight."

Patel said Air New Zealand only paid for one night at a hotel which was NZ$260 a night and they were told to pay from the second night onwards.

"Most people left and other cheaper places to stay. We had to look for food on our own. [Air New Zealand] were very difficult to deal with when we were trying to rebook flights too," Patel said.

Air New Zealand chief customer and sales officer Leanne Geraghty told Newshub in a statement on Tuesday the airline is working extremely hard to rebook the 9000 passengers who were disrupted by the flooding on Friday.

"The team have made great inroads working around the clock to rebook the 9000 disrupted customers onto alternative travel. We have around 1200 customers left to finalise travel for which is a great effort in a short time period," Geraghty said.

"Our friends at Singapore Airlines have upgraded a 777-300 to an A380 adding around 200 seats for our customers needing to get into or out of Singapore tonight."

Geraghty said they also understood there would be customers who rebook flights later than they would've liked.

 "Our next phase of recovery is to work through our schedule and see how we can get them home on earlier services, where possible," Geraghty said.

She also said the airline has added an additional service from Los Angeles set to depart on Tuesday evening.

"[This] will get nearly another 300 customers back to Aotearoa New Zealand on top of the extra Niue flight scheduled for February 2.

"Our New York service tonight will stopover in Fiji to collect another 111 passengers on the way through," Geraghty said.

"We know this has been a distressing time for some customers, but rest assured we are using every available option to get them back into the skies and to their destination as quickly as we can."

Geraghty also said Air New Zealand is keeping a close eye on the weather over the next few days and is working closely with Auckland Airport to reduce any further flooding where possible.