Passengers on Air New Zealand’s new New York service should be prepared that their luggage will once again be left behind, aviation commentators have said, with a warning that unscheduled layovers could also be considered.
Passengers on the flag carrier’s inaugural flight from New York arrived in Auckland on Monday to find their luggage was still in the Big Apple.
Air New Zealand’s chief operating officer, Alex Marren, said the airline took the unusual step of offloading around 65 bags in New York because flight NZ1 needed to take on more fuel to get around a forecast cyclone.
“The temporary closure of our regular alternative airport, Ohakea Air Force Base, also meant that additional fuel was needed should a diversion need arise from Auckland International…We know our customers were incredibly thrilled to take the whole thing. first flight from New York to Auckland and we’re sorry it wasn’t all smooth sailing.
* ‘Sad they don’t have systems in place’: Baggage fails to arrive on first Air NZ flight from New York
* Auckland to New York with Air New Zealand: the first direct flight
* ‘I’ll be home before my bags’: the fury of Qantas passengers after being left in Britain without bags
Describing operating long-haul flights as ‘difficult’, Marren said Air New Zealand had made some adjustments to the number of seats sold on the 17.5-plus-hour flight from New York to Auckland to compensate for fuel additional required. cover so much ground. The airline does not fly cargo on the southern leg, he said.
Aircraft may need more fuel if flying into strong headwinds. Passengers or baggage may need to be unloaded accordingly to keep the aircraft within its payload (the amount of weight it can carry and fly safely).
Aviation commentator Irene King said the Boeing 787-9 used on Air New Zealand’s New York service was approaching the upper limit of its flight envelope, which reflects maximum speed, altitude, payload and d other parameters for which it was designed.
When the winds are favorable, the plane would have no problem getting passengers and their luggage to their destination, she said. But when they are unfavorable, more fuel will be needed and the bags will have to be sacrificed.
“The problem with New York is that the plane is just at the upper limit of its flight envelope, so there is less room for compromise. You have to remove the bags and fill up with fuel.
Aviation expert Peter Clark said the pilots on the New York flight could have decided to stop somewhere like Fiji to refuel instead of leaving the luggage behind. However, he said they would have been reluctant to do so as the flight would have been late, the return flight to New York might have been delayed and the airline would have the added cost of retrieving fuel from an island. of the Pacific.
King, however, said that under certain circumstances the plane might have to stop in a Pacific island nation.
“Passengers expect to go point-to-point between New Zealand and New York, but it is entirely possible that if the winds are really unfavorable, they will have to stop in traditional spots like Hawaii or Fiji. Or that there are adverse weather conditions here in New Zealand that mean they have to divert elsewhere.
As such, she said Air New Zealand should make it clear to travelers that its “non-stop” service to New York can sometimes involve baggage delays or stopovers.
“I think they need to pick up customer service messages about potential risks,” she said.
Passengers on flight NZ1 did not discover that their luggage had been left behind until they arrived in Auckland, which King said was not enough.
“They probably would have known an hour to an hour and a half (before takeoff) that they were going to have to leave luggage behind, so they could have sent messages to say ‘We’re sorry, we have to leave bags behind’ so this wasn’t such a shock when they got to the end.
King said it appeared the airline was unprepared for the level of disruption caused by the delayed baggage.
“I think there have been several failures. People were queuing (at baggage claim at Auckland airport) and obviously queue management wasn’t great. Usually there can be a handful of passengers whose bags don’t show up, but it was a bunch of people, and (Air New Zealand) knew they had 5.5 hours to get ready for their arrival… He there were a few quite angry passengers at the end.
NZ1 passenger Chad Selbert said he and others waited at the baggage carousel for around 40 minutes before being told they had to go to baggage services.
Everyone then rushed and waited in line for about an hour to share their contact details so they could be reunited with their bags, he said.
Another passenger, who preferred not to be named, said Air New Zealand called her around midday on Tuesday to tell her her bags would be dropped off today.
“It’s good that we heard from them, but we still haven’t received an apology.”
Both Clark and King said passengers booking the service from New York should be prepared for their luggage to be delayed.
“Be prepared and pack a few extra treats in your carry-on bag, along with a toothbrush and a change of clothes,” King said.
She is certain that Air New Zealand made the right decision by exchanging the bags for extra fuel.
“Nobody ever complained about a bag dying,” she said.
With an expected flight time of 17 hours 35 minutes, the New York-Auckland flight is one of the longest in the world.