Lets start at the time of booking. I used a popular website to compare various flight options. Most airlines had cheaper offers to Christchurch but only Air New Zealand operated a direct flight. Sitting on an airport with two tired teenagers is not my idea of an holiday and I decided to pay the premium for the direct flight.
Onto the Air New Zealand site and started the bookings. Adding a meal and a movie added several hundreds to the price, and if you wanted to allocate your seat you had to hand over even more. This was like milking a cow and I decided we will bring our own entertainment and snacks and did not include movies and meals. I understand that a meal will cost the airline, but how they can charge you extra for the movie is just wrong. I closed my eyes and made the booking, forking out additional money to allocate our seats.
One week before we fly I get an email. Your flights have been cancelled due to engine problems with the 787. Several days later I got an update that we have been transferred onto a Virgin flight via Melbourne. I phoned Air New Zealand and asked if they could again allocate our seats and was told that they could only do this for the Melbourne - Christchurch leg. At this stage I was not a happy camper because I paid extra to allocate the seats and to fly direct. Tried to contact their customer service department but they only worked office hours. Send them an email asking them to contact me about this. Lets just say I received an "we are very sorry" reply 7 days after our flight. Took matters into my own hands and the nice people at Virgin were able to allocate us some seats.
So we flew via Melbourne and eventually got to Christchurch 4 hours later than the direct flight and dead tired. What a way to start your holiday. The flight to Melbourne on Virgin was great as I expect from and airline, but the Air New Zealand leg from Melbourne not as much. They started serving us water from a jug. This was a first for me as I usually just take the bottle of water and consume it during the flight. You now had to sit with a plastic cup on your tray. Probably what you would expect from a low cost airline.
I was looking forward to the flight back, but this was not any better. The flight was full, I think there were one or two seats open, lots of people with little kids. Again they served us water from a jug. Later they came round with tea. I got served but they ran out of tea trying to serve my son. They said they will come back with more, but this never happened. Low cost airline? The cherry on the cake was that they did not have any Australian Customs Declaration Forms on board. Arriving in Perth you had moms with bubs sitting on the floor trying to complete these so that we could get through the airport. Very poor.
As a rule I try to be open and not to criticise, but this has been the worst airline that I had the pleasure of using and will go out of my way not to use again.