Transit passengers at Auckland Airport (AKL) in New Zealand were left waiting for hours in a corridor after being denied entry into a departure lounge with seats.
More than 100 Air New Zealand passengers en route to Australia had flown in from Samoa during the early hours of October 2, 2022. The flight arrived at 02:00 local time, and because AKL airport only operates until 23:00, the transit passengers were told they could not go into a departure lounge until 05:00 when the airport opened.
One of the transit passengers, Elizabeth Nanai, told The New Zealand Herald that there were only 12 seats in the corridor, so most of the 100 passengers were expected to sit on the cold ground.
“We could see the chairs on the other side of the big windows. The lounge was right there. There were over 100 of us and only 12 seats available,” Nanai said.
Nanai added: “It was 2 o’clock in the morning and we had elderly and children on the flight. Yet they expected us to sit on the ground in this cold area – we’d just arrived from the islands, we started looking for blankets and clothes to use to sit and lie down on.”
“There was just no customer care. It was all about the rule book – commonsense had gone out the window,” Nanai said.
Anna Cassels-Brown, Auckland Airport’s operations general manager told Morning Report they found out that the flight had a late departure from Apia, Samoa so the flight therefore arrived late in Auckland.
“I wouldn’t want to say that [this problem was foreseen], I don’t operate the airline obviously,” Cassels-Brown said.
“What I do know is that at the time it arrived, unfortunately, the aviation security transit screening point – which many listeners won’t even know exists unless they’ve transited through Auckland, it’s deep within the international terminal – was not staffed by AvSec at the time,” Cassels-Brown said.
“It’s open under a contract between AvSec (Aviation Security) and the airlines, between the hours of 5am and 11pm.”
A statement from AKL Airport seen by The New Zealand Herald said that airport authorities are currently working with airlines and Aviation Security on a solution to ensure the timely screening of transit passengers regardless of their arrival time.