Air New Zealand’s 16-hour flight to nowhere ends ‘wild’ journey

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These are things from nightmares. You try to achieve something, you prepare and plan, you do your best, but in the end you end up back where you started.

This is roughly what happened to frequent flyer Brian Gottlieb and his Air New Zealand fellow travelers on Thursday when their scheduled trip from Auckland to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport was derailed due to Power outage at the airport.

Kennedy Terminal 1 was closed and some flights that were supposed to land there had to be changed. 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 taking off from the same airport. Flight tracking site FlightAware registers total flight time 4:25 pm, with the plane returning about halfway on schedule.

“I slept pretty soundly and woke up feeling like I was going to land at JFK soon,” Gottlieb said in a CNN Travel post. Then “the passenger next to me patted me on the shoulder and said, ‘Did you know we were almost back in Oakland?’”

Gottlieb said that his fellow traveler gave him the news two or three hours before the plane was due to land. The diversion was not announced until the flight was almost back to New Zealand, he said, although “you could see our itinerary on the tracker and word got out.”

He said when the pilot made the announcement, “he acknowledged that part of the decision was based on the efficiency of the airline’s schedule, and that a lack of crew at the JFK airport would have resulted in further delays for the airline.”

The passengers were unhappy.

“Everyone on this plane would rather be at any US airport, let alone Newark or LaGuardia, right in the same area,” said Gottlieb, a game designer returning home from a five-week business trip. to join the end of his brother’s bachelor party.

Air New Zealand said Thursday in a statement to CNN Travel that “a rerouting to another US port would mean the aircraft would remain on the ground for several days, impacting a number of other scheduled flights and customers.”

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

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

Gottlieb, who lives in New York, spent eight hours at the Oakland airport, waiting for his next flight to Los Angeles, where he was scheduled to transfer to Kennedy Airport. Air New Zealand gave him $100 worth of meal vouchers, but he had no luck buying his way to the Loyalty Club Lounge to cool off in Auckland. He did not hear about other compensation when he spoke with CNN.

The rejected flight was Gottlieb’s second attempt to return home. His original flight back to the States on Monday was canceled due to a devastating Cyclone hits New Zealand This week. His wife’s plans to join him during the last two weeks of his stay were thwarted when her flight was canceled due to Airport flooding in Auckland at the end of January.

Because of the 16-hour delay from Auckland to Auckland, he missed the bachelor party altogether. As for the trips, then “it was definitely wild!”

Gottlieb is frustrated with the airline’s reaction “at the corporate level” and said their decision to reroute to Oakland was due “to their profits, not to their passengers’ plans”.

But the airline staff was very helpful.

“This is by far the worst trip I have ever had but at the end of the day these things happen and I always try to remember that none of the people I talk to had anything to do with the decisions that detained me. “They’re all just doing their best, and they’ve been legitimately kind.”

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

“The people and the region are wonderful. Although I really wish it was a little closer.”

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