Being the editor of a news publication see’s you on planes more often than you’d like, trains on the odd occasion and so many automobiles you wish for the ones that are self-driving. So, the thing that you crave most when travelling for work is the need to be as comfortable as possible, the process to be smooth and if a little bit of love is thrown in on the sidelines then that would just be the icing on the cake. But, reality is a wicked master and as every business traveller will tell you it’s not all roses and unicorns.
So, imagine this; You’ve just had a week on the road meeting people across a multitude of communities and with a flight set for midevening you think you scored when you have the potential to have some down time at the airport – strange thing this down time buzz because on the one had this could have been a story revolving around meeting old friends at an airport that you hadn’t seen in decades as we all passed through within hours of each other or it could be a story of how the airline you were flying did just about everything they could to make you feel anywhere else but home. Obviously its the latter.
For the record I have flown on Air New Zealand more than a hundred times within the last decade which would have been a minimum of about ten return trips between Australia and New Zealand with the odd domestic flight thrown in, so when turning up to Wellington Airport this morning to check in for my evening flight I was more than a little surprised that no one really want to help me out (or cared).
As I flustered around the robot kiosk, responsible for taking the jobs of human beings, and while struggling to keep my bag zipped up, the two Air New Zealand check in attendants were more interested in discussing why you don’t want to be caught in an overnighter in Christchurch. All of this after I was told to use the kiosk for check-in as opposed to the premium lane – even though I was a premium member of a partner airline. This defeated the purpose of using the premium lane to see if it was possible to fly earlier. After throwing my own bag on the conveyor belt and the huff and puff of the male attendant (to which a colleague asked him if was “alright”) I thought maybe I’ll have better luck going through security and getting to the Air New Zealand Lounge (all the while getting excited about meeting up with some long-time friends).
Well, that hope was dashed when I was denied entry. Not because I wasn’t qualified to enter its just I was too early – come back in say six hours. After explaining to the Air New Zealand representative that I was just there to meet some old friends who were coming in on a different flight I was told “its policy….”
Back down the escalator and back out past security to the confines of now the overpriced Wellington Airport…. where there are few charging ports, the coffee is expensive and let’s just say “what the hell is the point in being a member of a frequent flyer programme if you can’t use it?”
And now back to the business traveller side of this little explosion of anger. When you get little down time as I do all you want is a quiet place, a plug to charge the laptop and phone and a WIFI connection. I don’t drink alcohol in lounges or treat them like all you can eat buffets. What I value is the time to get work done.
As for Air New Zealand, the airline where I have never asked for nor received an upgrade, and the airline that was once known as the home of the world’s greatest travellers – this traveller is over it. It’s not me Air New Zealand, it’s you. I never wanted to break up … but I just feel there is but one of us working on this relationship and I think there is probably someone else out there who will love me just as much or more.
When there is a break down with one part of your businesses customer service that’s ok. But when it’s at three different points around the same airport that’s a trend.
By the way - I still don't get the goose on an ad about flights or have any idea what Cuba Gooding Junior has anything to do with "god", New Zealand or travel.
Matthew Tukaki is Editor in Chief of EntreHub and NewsNow, Host of Talking Lifestyle Second Career across the Macquarie Radio Network. You can follow him on @tukakimatt
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