Kiwi returnees from London have complained of being left waiting for up to five hours in Auckland, without food or water before boarding a flight to stay in managed isolation (MIQ) in Christchurch.
The passengers arrived on a Singapore Airlines flight into Auckland International Airport on Tuesday.
Rosel Labone had to return to New Zealand urgently because of a family situation, and said, after a pretty seamless transit through several international airports including Heathrow and Changi Airport in Singapore, the arrival in Auckland was a rude awakening.
She said after the initial greeting, passengers were left confused about what to do and where they were going.
"There was an attempt to make an announcement over a loud-speaker on the plane, but very few people could even hear it, it was so faint. No one knew definitively which direction we were heading in, no one could state confidently we were going to Christchurch."
Those on board were taken to a room where Labone said there was no attempt made to keep social distancing, with some having to sit on the floor because there weren't enough chairs.
"We waited and waited and we were there about an hour and a half to two hours, before we were then herded onto a bus. The exposure to Covid was growing minute by minute. There weren't enough seats on the bus for a start, people were elbow-to-elbow."
The weary passengers were then taken to another room, where they waited for another two hours.
"One of the passengers spoke up and said, 'could we get something to eat?', one of the women, who was supposedly managing the situation, then came forth and said 'well, we've got the water fountains, you can have access to those'. That sent us reeling even further."
After arriving at 9.30am they finally boarded the plane to Christchurch after 2pm.
"When we finally did get on to the Air New Zealand flight to Christchurch, we discovered there would be no snacks or drinks on that plane either. We had been promised we would be fed and watered, and this didn't eventuate sadly."
Labone said the Defence Force staff in Christchurch were fantastic and really helpful and the hotel staff were wonderful.
She has since found out the holding area in Auckland was separate from the airport's main terminal building and believes that's where the problem is.
She has laid complaints with the Ministry of Business, Employment and Innovation (MBIE) and the airport.
MBIE have told her they were disappointed to hear about her experience and had raised concerns with the organisations that run MIQ at Auckland airport.
"They told me it's been running for less than two weeks and the processes are constantly being refined and improved and passenger feedback is an important part of improvement."
In a statement, MBIE said the introduction of quarantine-free travel has impacted the efficiency of processing transfers from international carriers at Auckland Airport.
But it said people going hungry and thirsty is not okay and as a result of recent feedback from returnees about their experiences during transfers, they are reviewing their refreshment offering to ensure its suitable given the potential for delays and disruption.
Air New Zealand wouldn't comment on the matter, and referred a request for information to MBIE.
Labone said she would like an apology.
"At this stage that's what I care about, so that other people don't have to go through this when they arrive back home."