Kiwi passengers on a new flight route direct to Auckland from Los Angeles were forced to spend a night at the terminal when the flight was delayed by 16 hours.

The American Airlines flight was scheduled to depart LAX airport at 10.40pm on Sunday (local time) but a series of delays meant it left the airport at 2.19pm (local time) the next day.

It is scheduled to arrive into Auckland at 10.28pm (NZ time) this evening.

Vinson Pakipaki and two children - his 10-year-old sister Abigail and his 2-year-old daughter Reign - were forced to sleep in the terminal.


Auckland-based travel agent Cardyff Hill told the Herald, her client and good friend Pakipaki waited about two hours in a queue at the airline counter.

"He was saying it was taking 30 to 40 minutes to serve one passenger," Hill said of the delay at Los Angeles Airport.

"There's about 280 passengers on the flight.

"By the time he got to the front, they said the hotel they usually use to accommodate passengers was now full and he had no option but to sleep in the terminal.

"They were treating passengers with no regard."

Hill said she called the airline contact centre but the staff didn't give her any information on the delayed flight.

"The supervisor refused to put me through to their staff at LAX.

"Their operation in Auckland is a shambles."

Hill also had a problem with another client recently, where her American Airline flight from Los Angeles to Auckland was delayed by 14 hours.

"I'm not going to sell any American Airlines tickets until they have some type of infrastructure which can accommodate New Zealand passengers.

"As a travel agent, if something happened to passengers, I need to know how they [airline] are protecting [them]."

Keith Richards said his wife Rose Souza-Richards was waiting to board the plane to return home from a business trip.

However she ended up sleeping in the airport terminal.

Speaking from his home in Cambridge, Richards said American Airlines staff were inconsistent with why the flight was delayed.

"They were giving different stories to different people.

"Some were told it was because of a delay in a flight coming in from New York.

"But others were told there was a technical fault on the plane," he said.

He said Souza-Richards tried to get overnight accommodation from the staff but was told she would be reimbursed US$150.

"You probably won't get much more than a hostel in LA," he said.

In the end, Souza-Richards said she met up with a couple of other Kiwis on the flight and slept inside the terminal.

Because of this delay, she had also missed her domestic flight from Auckland to Wellington.

"It felt like American Airlines abandoned their customers," he said.

The Herald has approached American Airlines for comment.

Last month, American Airlines launched daily services between Los Angeles and Auckland.