Weight limit riles passenger

By Lori Nims

File photo: Dean Purcell
File photo: Dean Purcell

An Auckland woman's island holiday has been cut short after Air New Zealand stopped her from boarding because its plane had reached its maximum weight allowance.

Alex Catchpole-Ozpinar arrived for her flight to Tonga on Monday but was told at check-in she could not board.

"After speaking to the manager, apparently they book the plane to its full capacity and then if it weighs too much they kick off anyone that was last to book online," she said on Facebook.

She had booked in February and had tried to check in two-and-a-half hours before her departure time.

"This is such a screw-up, I expected way better from Air New Zealand," she told the airline on its Facebook page.

Air New Zealand responded to her post and said while it was "sorry to hear this happened" it is a risk as stated on its conditions of carriage.

But Ms Catchpole-Ozpinar said she had lost two full days from her original five-day holiday in Tonga and that her accommodation was non-refundable.

"I rarely travel due to an anxiety disorder, and this stress was unexpected. I was hoping for a positive experience, but I feel discouraged to fly with you to the Pacific again."

Air New Zealand advised her to talk to her insurance provider about the loss of accommodation.

It also said that from time to time operational reasons beyond its control could lead to weight restrictions.

Poor weather or having to land at an alternative airport were among some of the reasons a plane might be needed to carry extra fuel and lead to having to offload some passengers and cargo, the airline added.

"On this occasion our preferred alternate airport was not available which meant that we needed to carry additional fuel and reduce the weight of the aircraft in order to do this."

This was something that only occurred close to the time of departure, a spokeswoman said.

Customers who were offloaded were accommodated on alternative services. "Air New Zealand apologises for any inconvenience this has caused."

- NZME.

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