A 16-hour Air New Zealand flight to nowhere is a ‘wild’ trip for one frequent flyer

(CNN) It’s the stuff of nightmares. You’re trying to get somewhere, you’ve prepared and planned and you’re doing your best and yet you end up right back where you started.

That’s pretty much what happened to frequent flyer Bryan Gottlieb and his fellow Air New Zealand passengers Thursday when their planned trip from Auckland to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport was disrupted by a power outage at the airport.

from JFK Terminal 1 was closed and some flights that were supposed to land there had to be diverted. Some international flights landed at other airports: Newark, Washington Dulles, Boston Logan.

Gottlieb’s flight, ANZ2, turned around mid-flight and landed back in Auckland more than 16 hours after departure from the same airport. Flight tracking site FlightAware records a total flight time of 16 hours and 25 minutes, with the plane returning about halfway through its planned journey.

“I slept pretty well and I woke up feeling like I was definitely going to land at JFK soon,” Gottlieb said in a message to CNN Travel. Then “the passenger next to me tapped me on the shoulder and said ‘did you know we’re almost back in Auckland?’”

Gottlieb said his fellow passenger told him the news two or three hours before the plane was due to land. An announcement about the diversion did not come until the flight was almost back in New Zealand, he said, although “you could see our route on the tracker and word had spread.”

He said when the pilot made the announcement, “he acknowledged that part of the decision was based on scheduling efficiency for the airline, and that the lack of crew at an airport near JFK could have put the airline ahead of further delays.” would have taken care of.”

The passengers were not happy.

“Everyone on that plane would have much rather been in any airport in the US, not to mention Newark or LaGuardia in the same general area,” said Gottlieb, a game designer on his way home from a five-day work trip. to soften. to join the capstone of his brother’s bachelor party trip.

Airline apologizes

Air New Zealand said in a statement to CNN Travel on Thursday that “altering to another US port would have meant grounding the plane for several days, impacting a number of other airlines and customers.”

At the time, the flight was still on its way back to Auckland and the airline said its team was on hand to help customers rebook to the next available service.

“We apologize for the inconvenience and thank our customers for their patience and understanding,” the statement said. CNN contacted the airline on Friday for more details, but did not immediately hear back.

Gottlieb, who lives in New York, spent eight hours at the Auckland airport waiting for his next flight to Los Angeles, where he would transfer to JFK. Air New Zealand gave him $100 in meal vouchers, but he had no luck making his way to a loyalty club lounge to freshen up in Auckland. He hadn’t heard about any other compensation at the time he communicated with CNN.

The diverted flight was Gottlieb’s second attempt to get home. His original flight back to the United States on Monday was canceled due to the devastating cyclone that hit New Zealand this week. His wife’s plans to join him for the last two weeks of his stay were foiled when her flight was canceled in late January due to flooding at Auckland airport.

With the 16 hour delay from Auckland to Auckland, he missed the stag party altogether. As for travel, “it sure was a wild one!”

Gottlieb said he is disappointed with the airline’s response “on a corporate level,” but he met with very helpful airline staff.

“This is definitely the worst travel experience I’ve ever had, but eventually these things happen and I always try to keep in mind that none of the people I interact with had anything to do with the decisions that have slowed me down.” – they’re all just doing their best and they were deservedly nice.”

And New Zealand is one of Gottlieb’s favorite places.

“The people and the region are both beautiful. I wish it were closer.”






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