More than 100 passengers transiting through Auckland Airport, forced to wait in a cold corridor


More than 100 passengers transiting through Auckland Airport over the weekend were forced to wait in a cold corridor overnight.

The NZ Herald reported that the passengers, who had flown from Samoa and were on the way to Australia, had arrived about 2 am on Sunday.

Passengers were reportedly told they could not go through the security screening point because it was not staffed until 5 am, forcing them to sit and wait in a cold hallway until the area opened.

Elizabeth Nanai, who was among those waiting in the corridor, said seeing elderly people lying on the floor was heart-breaking.

The 47-year-old arrived with a group after a church conference in Samoa, and they were shocked when they were not allowed in the departure lounge, Nanai said.

“We had quite a few of us, the younger ones, that walked back towards where the gates where our flight arrived because we knew there were chairs [there]. The rest of them, the elderly just couldn’t walk back that far, so [they] just decided to camp on the floor, no other option.”

There were only 12 chairs available in the space they were allowed in, she said.

Auckland Airport operations general manager Anna Cassels-Brown told Morning Report they found out later the flight was late to depart Apia and therefore late to arrive in Auckland.

In a statement, AvSec operations group manager Karen Urwin said they were expecting the Air New Zealand flight to arrive earlier, with the transit point open for half an hour at 1.30 am.

Although the flight arrived at 1.55 am, it was believed the passengers made it to the transit point after 2.30am because their arrival gate was the furthest at the airport, Urwin said.

“By then the transit point was closed and staff deployed to other duties and setting up the main screening point equipment for processing of departing passengers which starts at 0400.”

Staff were rostered according to demand but AvSec did not get any information from the airline about the delay nor a large number of transit passengers onboard, Urwin said.

“Unless we are advised of additional demand in a timely way we are unable to recall staff to manage the additional work.

“In this instance had AvSec diverted staff from other duties to open the transit screening point there would have been major delays in processing passengers for the early morning departing flights including the flight that these particular passengers were connecting on to.”

Urwin said once the screening point was open at 5 am, they processed the passengers as quickly as possible through two lanes.

Avec also said the onus was on the carrier and airport company to manage passenger welfare.

Nanai said the airport had failed its duty of care.