Air New Zealand sometimes gets a bad rap; though not as bad as Jetstar, of course. But we saw the good side of Air New Zealand yesterday.
We were supposed to be flying to Christchurch early yesterday afternoon. But because of the chaos caused by fog in Auckland over two days and in Christchurch yesterday, flights out of Palmerston North became piggy in the middle.
Air NZ's regional services routinely fly Chirstchurch-PN-Auckland-PN Christchurch. But because planes couldn't get in or out of Auckland yesterday, and for a time Christchurch, the services were copping it at both ends.
We were originally told our flight had been delayed by an hour. That eventually became three hours, by which time we were pleased that we had recently joined the Koru Club! But the Air New Zealand staff at Palmerston North Airport lived out the words of the poster that has been doing the rounds; Keep calm and carry on. They displayed a level of composure and professionalism that the company should be proud of. And we will be contacting Air New Zealand to pass that view on. Schedules were constantly changing, but the staff managed the situation with applomb.
Finally two flights arrived from Auckland in the space of a couple of minutes to drop off passengers from Auckland and pick up those of us heading south. A plane from Wellington arrived at the same time, and a fourth plane (from Christchurch) sat on the tarmac waiting for a parking space until the first Christchurch-bound flight departed.
We eventually left Palmerston North more than three hours later than scheduled, but the fun wasn't over. The cabin crew had to inform passengers going on to Dunedin and Invercargill that connecting flights had left without them and that new arrangements would need to be made on the ground at Christchurch. Then as we neared Christchurch, we were told that the fog was settling at Christchurch Airport, and that the flight crew would have a go at landing, but no promises. The thought of flying on to Dunedin and travelling back to Christchurch by bus did not appeal by this stage!
Fortunately, we landed at Christchurch without incident; the fog was around but it hadn't settled. It stuffed up our dinner plans, but nothing worse. So here's a huge thank-you to Air New Zealand whose staff did the airline proud yesterday, managing a difficult situation as best they could.