How to stuff up air travel

I always tend to fly Air New Zealand when travelling internationally – whilst they are sometimes a little more expensive, the service has historically been good, the flights on time and the planes tend not to fall out the sky (not looking at you, Qantas).

However I’ve been pretty unimpressed with my latest experience whilst flying from Wellington to Brisbane where AirNZ managed to entirely forget my meal preference.

I figured this was a once-off mistake with their phone booking systems rather than a systematic fault…. so I logged in this evening to make sure my return flight is set to vegetarian.

Except that I can’t.

Instead my preferences are already defined, thanks to my use of my airpoints number from every single other time I’ve travelled as a vegetarian – which is the way it should be.

But hang on, this is the same for my earlier flight to, which didn’t have the correct meal preference! So either they fucked up on the earlier flight, or they have some larger fault that has a booking stuck as eating meat….. which can’t be changed.

Clearly set as being a vegetarian. Which has been the case since 2007....

In the past you were able to click on a flight to be able to adjust settings specific to it, whereas now it’s just a popup of mostly useless information. You can still change your seat by using the “Seat Request” button up above, but that has no meal options I could see.


Ugly, ugly flash UI


I’d also like to take this time to rant about the hideous use of flash on AirNZ’s booking management page.

Flash is a horrible application – it consumes CPU, it crashes and it violates the use of open standards on the internet. Some vendors aren’t even shipping with flash installed any more (such as Apple with the Macbook Air) and I even remove it from all but my work computer.

A user of an ipad would not be able to use this interface on the basis of flash not being available, although I haven’t tested if the site degrades to a different UI if flash is lacking or not. Mostly because I can’t be bothered debugging their website for them.

Oh and also:

Look mum,I broke it!

So I’ve thrown a tweet at Air New Zealand, hopefully they come back with a solution – will keep you posted.

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5 Responses to How to stuff up air travel

  1. Jethro Carr says:

    Oh and I appear to have been charged a service fee for changing flights to Brisbane even though AirNZ issued a news notification that Brisbane related flights changed due to flooding would not have service changes applied.


  2. Jethro Carr says:

    Oh and my idle AirNZ profile page screen has just hung into a gray tab in the background. That’s flash for ya.

  3. John says:

    My personal favourite is their $4 card fee unless you use POLi, which is — oh wait! — Windows-only. Their response on Twitter was “well, you can use Airpoints or go to an Air NZ Holidays shop”. WTF.

  4. Jethro Carr says:

    So had feedback from AirNZ – apparently the airpoints preferences are kind of broken and haven’t done anything for quite some time.

    I guess it takes their IT department many years of development effort to figure out how to query one field and default select a dropdown from that and that expecting a functional online system from a supposedly leading airline is a bit too much to ask.,,,,

    So when making your booking, ensure you select vegetarian – if you miss that, you’ll have to call the customer support helpdesk, since it can’t be changed (or checked) anywhere else.

    Oh and if your customer support rep changes your flights at all, your meal request gets lost…. they are supposed to remember and re-add it for you, but this clearly doesn’t seem to always be the case going by my experience.

    Pretty unimpressed really, trying to see what AirNZ has to offer over discount airlines and I’m kind of coming up short here….

    • FWIW, airlines with a buy-on-board model — that’d be Pacific Blue (or Jetstar if you *really* don’t care about Airpoints) if you’re travelling trans-Tasman — are more likely to stock suitable Vegetarian food without your prior asking for it (and surprisingly, a greater range of other things to eat as well).

      Having spent the last 5-6 years flying on buy-on-board airlines domestically (and one trans-Tasman trip) and only recently doing an NZ trip on QANTAS/Air NZ, I’m really not convinced of the benefits of the “full-service” lines on that sort of journey length.

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