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Snaps to Air New Zealand

NEW ZEALAND | Thursday, 6 August 2009 | Views [889]

Air NZ with view of mountains in Christchurch (thanks to zagispirit on flickr)

Air NZ with view of mountains in Christchurch (thanks to zagispirit on flickr)

It's not very often one the best travel experiences happen at the check in counter of an airline. However, I am very pleased to say that I was so pleasantly surprised by the level of service recently from a staff member from Air New Zealand, that it deserves a mention. I think everyone should travel with them on the off chance you'll get the same customer service guy (whose name I have now inconveniently forgotten) that was so helpful in Christchurch airport.

He was friendly and enthusiastic about his job, and was a real ambassador not only for Air NZ, but for New Zealand tourism in general. He approached me with a smile and the offer to take my bags to send them down the shoot into the bowels of the building and onto the flight. Now this may not seem that special, but it was the whole set up of this check in area, and his generosity, which was the icing on the cake. Let me explain:

Normally, checking in at the airport is best forgotten and more likely the first story recalled as you rant about how nasty or grumpy that check in person was or how much they stung you for excess luggage*. And God forbid, imagine a luggage handler/ airline check in customer service person that actually carries or touches your bags? They are a dying breed thanks to OH&S regulation, which seems to prevent them from lifting a finger but doesn’t stop them barking orders to tell you’ve got the bag up the wrong way ‘cause they can not get at the handle closest to them (the poor dears!)

With Air New Zealand, you can check yourself in at one of many handy little kiosks, to print both your boarding pass and luggage tag. These booths and the instructions are quick, easy and painless. Now, self service check in kiosks are not new, I know this, but the difference is how easy it was to drop off your luggage once you've checked in. Whoever it was that designed the layout of Air NZ’s Christchurch domestic check in area is definitely a traveller: they get that when you've got heavy luggage (particularly a long roller bag that holds skis or an overloaded trolley that doesn't go straight) that it's REALLY difficult to negotiate those stupid queues which, to save space, corral those of us in cattle class back and forth between taped bollards.  Instead, they just put one of the big travelators right near the kiosks, so you can just put your bags straight on. No queuing, no hassle.  Plus, they put some of thee most friendly and congenial customer services people there to help (and it works!).

It wasn’t the kiosks or the layout of the check in that made my day. It was the that aforementioned customer service guy who, when I showed him the printed boarding pass as I handed over my bag, went above and beyond to change my allocated seat “as I was a visitor to this country, and should get a great view when flying into Queenstown”. This all happened without even the slightest request or comment on my behalf, so it was totally surprising, and for that reason, so memorable. (He was right, when flying into Queenstown, it’s worth having the last window seat of the plane – it’s first on, first off and has stunning views as you skim the mountains to land!)

To all other airlines: it’s not rocket science people, just a travel experience – it’s true that people just want to get to their final destination, sometimes their tired, hungry and probably forgot to pack their manners and brains, but all it takes is a bit of common sense and well trained, genuinely helpful and happy staff to make checking in painless, and getting on with the travelling part so much more enjoyable.

Snaps to Air New Zealand and their cool check in counter guy (who’ll unfortunately remain nameless) – guess how many people I have told already about your quality service, and still I feel compelled to write this to tell more.  I will be back!

(* and as an aside while I am at it - boo to the reduced check in limit for Qantas international – do you really think it is possible to pack skis, boots and snow skiing gear for under 23 kg? those extra 2kg we used to have makes all the difference)

Tags: air new zealand, flying, new zealand, qantas

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