Passengers caught up in Sunday's fuel crisis have described hours-long delays, cancellations and flight switches in their struggle to get to their destinations.

Auckland woman Anna Firdousi was among passengers affected over the weekend after a fuel pipeline burst leaving Auckland Airport with only 30 per cent of its normal aviation fuel available.

The 25-year-old was scheduled to board a Virgin Australia flight from Samoa to Auckland at 9.55pm on Sunday.

However, at 1pm local time that day, she received a text informing her the flight had been cancelled due to a fuel shortage at Auckland Airport and that she should keep an eye on the airline's website for updates.


Firdousi, who was due back to work on Monday, contacted the airline searching for another available flight out of Samoa.

"They took my number and said that they'd contact me back. I didn't get a call back within five hours and so I gave them a call.

"When I called them back ... they said they couldn't get me on any flights that night and that the next available was in the morning (on Monday) at 6.10am with Virgin Australia to go to Sydney.

"I said: 'Is that the only flight you can get me on?'"

A flight from Samoa's Faleolo Airport to Auckland International Airport takes about four hours.

However, Firdousi was required to take a six-and-a-half hour flight to Sydney and to wait for about three hours for a connecting flight to her home in Auckland.

The flight to Sydney, however, was delayed for two hours.

By the time she got to Sydney, she had missed a connecting flight and would have to wait for just over five hours after yet another flight - to Auckland - was delayed because the aircraft had to divert to Christchurch to refuel.


Firdousi finally touched down in Auckland about 10.30 on Monday night.

"It was a nightmare."

She said the only time she was offered a food voucher was when she left Samoa, when passengers received 20 tala for breakfast.

Retired Auckland engineer David Hanson, 72, was bumped off two cancelled flights to Melbourne, both times when he was about to board, before finally getting a seat on a third flight.

He was booked on a Qantas flight leaving Auckland at 7.30pm on Saturday night on a trip to see his daughter in Melbourne.

"We got to the gate and they said it was cancelled, just go back and re-land and get your gear and go to the Qantas desk," he said.

"We had to fill out a landing card and say how many days we'd been out of New Zealand. It wouldn't let us use the automatic thing because we hadn't been out of the country long enough, it didn't work, so we had to wait and go through manually."

Passengers were offered a night in a hotel, but Hanson bought a new ticket on a Jetstar flight. This was a day before news came out about the burst fuel pipeline and he was not told anything had happened.

However, once again he got to the Jetstar gate at boarding time and he was told that the flight had been cancelled - this time because of a fuel shortage.

Jetstar then offered him a seat on a Jetstar Dreamliner that was flying to Melbourne shortly afterwards. He took the seat and finally got to Melbourne at 1.10am Melbourne time or 3.10am NZ time, three and a half hours later than originally planned.

He was tired and "very hungry" because in the rush he hadn't realised that he needed to pay extra for a meal.

"I was just pleased to get a seat and get to Melbourne," he said.