An Auckland couple missed out on Christmas celebrations with family, including grandchildren, after their Jetstar flight was delayed by several hours.

John and Rosemary McGregor were looking forward to the big day, booking their flights to Christchurch three months ago.

But after the third delay and no guaranteed departure time, they thought they were unlikely to make the trip, opting to cancel their trip and accept a refund.

The couple's plight was one of many to occur on Christmas Eve after engineering and staffing issues struck the airline on Christmas Eve resulting in lengthy delays for passengers. The delays and cancellations continued on Christmas Day leaving many passengers frustrated.

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The McGregors were booked to travel to Christchurch on the 4.05pm flight on Sunday.

However, as they approached the airport the couple received a text to say their flight had been delayed by three hours until 7.10pm.

Given they live two hours north of the city, the couple carried on their drive to the airport and parked their car.

After they arrived they were told there would be a further delay until 8.40pm.

John McGregor said they waited until 8.40pm until being told there would be a further delay for 10.30pm.

McGregor said they went to the Jetstar customer support desk to find out what was going on only to be told there would be no guarantee the flight would leave at 10.40pm and it could be postponed again until about midnight and possibly 6.30am on Christmas morning.

He said they were again told there would be no guarantee the flight would leave at 6.30am, and as the airline wasn't offering any accommodation for those who lived out of town, they decided to cancel their much-anticipated week-long holiday with their two daughters' families.

The couple accepted a refund on their flights. They tried to get a seat on an Air New Zealand flight but were quoted $644 one way.

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McGregor said while they could understand the airline endured technical difficulties it was the way they were treated that upset them the most.

"They were pretty blase about it. My major concern was that they really didn't care, that this is what's happening and you've just got to put up with it. There was no offer to put us up in a hotel."

The couple ended up spending Christmas with John McGregor's Auckland-based brother but were disappointed to miss out on much-anticipated time with grandchildren in Christchurch.

"They were looking forward to it and we were looking forward to it too."

Meanwhile, Auckland man John McCarthy said his son's flights to and from Wellington were both delayed. While he flew to Wellington McCarthy said he ended up having to cancel his son's return flight this morning and rebooking him on Air New Zealand due to more delays.

A Jetstar spokeswoman confirmed JQ237 did depart for Christchurch at 10.30pm.

The delay was caused by engineering issues with other aircraft at Auckland Airport earlier in the day.

"Due to an earlier engineering issue with an aircraft at Auckland, there were some rolling delays out of Auckland during the afternoon. There were no flight cancellations as a result.

"We apologise for the delayed flight, and our teams worked hard to get people moving as quickly as possible and keep everyone up to date with regular text messages and emails."

The seriousness of the technical issue meant replacement parts for the aircraft had to be flown in.