A family who reported their son's chicken pox to Air New Zealand three days before they were due to fly believe they have been "punished" with the extra costs involved in rebooking their travel.

Steven van Gelder told the airline about the medical condition and was told his son could not board the flight.

Staff told him the booking fee could be reimbursed with a medical certificate, but he was quoted a price of over $500 to exchange his family's tickets for new ones.

Mr van Gelder's wife flew home on her old ticket but he was charged $300 for new tickets for himself and his son, though a $50 booking fee was waived.

An Air New Zealand spokeswoman said the family would have been irresponsible to have travelled knowing their son had chicken pox, and the airline had followed health recommendations. Mr van Gelder said his son appeared healthy and would have been "hunky-dory" on the Rotorua-Christchurch flight.

The airline said passengers were recommended to take out travel insurance to cover unexpected situations, but the family had opted not to do so when they booked their flights.

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