Story of woman turned away from flight weighs heavily on minds of commentators

    A report about a woman who lost a day’s holiday after she was turned away from her flight to Tonga on Monday  because the aircraft had reached its maximum take-off weight has raised a storm on Facebook.

    Some readers thought Air New Zealand was being unfair, some thought she should have read the small print on her ticket while one reader said she should be glad she was spending less time in Tonga.

    A report by John Anthony on Stuff said Alex Catchpole-Ozpınar had been put off the plane on Monday because the Air bus A320 had reached its weight limit.

    The 168 seat A320s has a maximum take off load of 77 tonnes.

    Catchpole-Ozpinar said she had booked her seat in February, but was told that in such circumstances the last person to  book online was removed.

    She said she was told she was not flying at 6.30am, three hours before the flight was supposed to depart.

    As a result of the incident she lost a day’s holiday in Tonga. She was re-booked on the Tuesday flight, but said her accommodation was not refundable.

    Air New Zealand said that it could refuse to carry any time for safety reasons.

    It said she should talk to her travel insurance broker about getting money back for her missed hotel night.

    The story attracted a barrage of online comments, including one from a writer signing themselves J.Edgar who said she should be glad she only had to spend four nights in Tonga rather than five.

    “Tonga is a horrible place for a holiday,” he wrote.

    “Samoa is much nicer, or Rarotonga if you just want to do nothing on a beach.”

    Other on-line commentators speculated that Air New Zealand had oversold the flight, that it was carrying more freight than expected or that it was carrying too much fuel because it had to be able to divert to Nadi.

    The reality is that flight are sometimes oversold and people are bumped off.

    When this happens some airlines – but not, in this case, Air New Zealand – ask for volunteers and offer to pay cash as an incentive, or even to put up people in a hotel if necessary.

    Others will leave behind passenger luggage, especially if there is a flight immediately following.

    The fact is, however, that many airlines weigh passengers individually before each flight, especially if there are concerns about critical take-off weight.

    And the reality is that some airlines in the Pacific and elsewhere do charge passengers by how much they weigh.

    Samoa Air started charging passengers per kilo of body weight rather than per seat in 2013.

    Central Asian carrier Uzbekistan Airways followed suit in 2015.

    The airline claimed at the time that its policy was making people more aware of obesity as a health issue.

    The Stuff report quoted former Air New Zealand employee Irene King as saying the airline used to calculate passenger weights for Tongans as higher than other passengers.

    “It used to be pretty challenging because the standard passenger was not standard for the Tonga community,” King said.

    What do you think?

    Should airlines charge passengers by weight?

    And would that discriminate against Tongans and Samoans?

    If people can’t fly, should the airline compensate them?

    Should it call for volunteers from people who would be happy to accept a reward for waiting for a later flight?

    And is Tonga really an awful place to have a holiday?

    Let Kaniva News know what you think.

    The main points

    • A report about a woman who lost a day’s holiday after she was turned away from her flight to Tonga on Monday  because the aircraft had reached its maximum take-off weight has raised a storm on Facebook.
    • Some readers thought Air New Zealand was being unfair, some thought she should have read the small print on her ticket while one reader said she should be glad she was spending less time in Tonga.
    • A report by John Anthony on Stuff said Alex Catchpole-Ozpınar had been put off the plane on Monday because the Air bus A320 had reached its weight limit.
    • Catchpole-Ozpinar said she was told she was not flying at 6.30am, three hours before the flight was supposed to depart.

    For more information

    Air New Zealand denies woman from boarding heavy Tongan flight (Stuff)

    Fat passengers hit in the pocket (New Zealand Herald)

    Airline announces it will weigh passengers before boarding (Daily Mail)

    1 COMMENT

    1. ʻOku hoko ha vālau he Feisipuká tuʻunga ʻi ha līpooti ʻo ha fefine ne iku taʻofi ke ʻoua ʻe heka ki he vakapuná ʻo ʻikai lava ai ʻene ʻaho mālōlō ki Tongá koeʻuhī ko hono fakahā ange kuo aʻu e mamafa ʻo e vakapuná ki he ngataʻanga taupotu taha ke ne utá.

      ʻOku pehē ai ʻe he kau lau ʻi he talanoá ni ʻe niʻihi ʻoku ʻikai fea e ʻEa Nuʻu Silá, niʻihi ne nau pehē ne tonu ke ne lau ʻa e fanga kiʻi tohi mataiiki ʻoku ʻasi heʻene tikité lolotonga iá ne pehē ʻe ha tokotaha lau talanoa ʻe taha naʻe tonu ke fiefia he siʻi e taimi ke ne fakamoleki ʻi Tongá.

      ʻI ha lipooti ʻa John Anthony mei he Stuff naʻá ne pehē ai naʻe ʻikai tali ke heka ʻa Alex Catchpole-Ozpinar he vakapuna ʻo e ʻaho Mōnité koeʻuhi kuo ngata e uta ia ʻa e Air bus 320. Naʻe pehē ʻe Catcpole-Ozpinar naʻe tala ange ʻe ʻikai lava ke ne puna he vaka ʻo e taimi 6.30am ʻa ia ko e houa ia ʻe tolu ki muʻa he taimi mavahe ʻa e vaká.

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