For some weekend fun I thought I would transcribe funny complaint letters Air New Zealand chief executive Rob Fyfe received and shared during an address at the National Aviation Press Club in Sydney last year.
Fyfe preceded the tales by noting he generally receives four compliments for every complaint and that he personally responds to ever letter and e-mail he receives.
As Fyfe says, his responses to these letters “give you a sense things are little different at Air New Zealand.”
A lounge worse than McDonald’s
The first letter came from Simon in Hong Kong in 2010.
I’d like to know how such incompetence occurs in the so-called airline of the year. I have a ticket in front of me on the same itinerary. How can you grant Airpoints on the way down to Christchurch from Hong Kong but not on the way back to Hong Kong?
How does this occur in the computer system?????????? [With ten question marks after it.]
What do I need to check? I never have this problem with a real airline.
Fyfe: “The thing goes on to say, and I’m about to censor this,”
The eff’ing lounge you use in Hong Kong is a joke and embarrassment to Air New Zealand and the people of New Zealand. You share with domestic airlines of mainland eff’ing China and third world countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
Why do I pay for this? McDonald’s in Hong Kong airport is nicer downstairs. Why not use that you tight ass mother eff’ers? Eff’ing joke. Never again.
I will switch back to Cathay if the airline of my country is an eff’ing joke.
Fyfe read us his response:
I’m in receipt of your note and wholeheartedly support your proposal. I far rather someone so offensive fly on the competition than Air New Zealand. If there’s any chance you could change your citizenship at the same time, that would also be an excellent idea as it embarrasses me someone purporting to be a fellow New Zealander would engage with anyone in such an offensive and derogatory manner.
“It turns out he had gone to the wrong lounge,” Fyfe told us.
“The story goes on through several emails and he responded…saying he was offended by my response and was seeking legal advice. The end of that particular story was Simon apologising for what he termed ‘mis-communication’ in his first e-mail and he still flies with us today.”
(Fyfe never addressed the Airpoints issue, which I agree with Simon is a thorny issue.)
‘Service lower than a snake’s scrotum’
Fyfe next told us of a:
chap that wrote to me describing to me how he was incredibly pissed off his flight had been delayed because of a problem with a heater and he was heading down to Dunedin from Auckland and said even though it was quite cold, I’m sure we could get by without a heather. His last line in his e-mail was that Air New Zealand’s services were lower than a snake’s scrotum.
“I’ve got an aversion to snakes. I’ve never studied them that closely but I got the hunt it was quite low,” Fyfe recalled to us.
Fyfe investigated the problem and found the heater problem was with a pitot tube that measures aircraft speed and is a critical component. Fyfe relayed this to the writer, Grant, and noted Air New Zealand had good on-time performance.
So he challenged me that, “I bet you one bottle of fine French wine that my next two flights won’t be on time.” So I happily took up this challenge.
I duly went into the system to see when his next few flights were and we had several hundred people making sure his flights were on time. In fact, we had a spare aircraft on standby.
Grant’s next two flights were on-time and, as promised, he sent Fyfe the bottle of wine.
“He sent me an e-mail two weeks later saying ‘Have you drunk it yet? What do you think?” Fyfe recalled. “I said I haven’t and in fact if I had to share it with all the people involved in looking after your flight it would be a bit like communion.”
Fyfe was participating in a charity auction in which the winner got spend a day with him. He threw in the bottle of wine, and Simon donated some more, and Fyfe ended up raising NZ$17,000. The winner did not drink wine so she re-auctioned it and raised another NZ$1,000–an amount all together that is surely higher than a snake’s scrotum.
As for Grant, Fyfe says Grant “goes down to the Koru lounge at Dunedin saying I’m his best friend.”