Late plane from Brisbane keeps loved ones apart on special day

Passengers expecting to arrive in Auckland in time for a Christmas reunion with family had their festive plans foiled after their flight from Brisbane was delayed. Many passengers arriving at Auckland's Airport yesterday afternoon reported missing out on celebrations, instead spending Christmas Day in airports and hotels.

Emirates apologised for the inconvenience and said flight EK843 from Brisbane was delayed up to 20 hours by a technical fault.

But for one couple, the experience was the last in a series of delays that pushed their original Christmas Eve arrival time out by two days.

Engaged couple Tessa Young and Dan Fastnedge endured about 78 hours of travel after bad weather delayed their London to Dubai flight and kick-started a domino effect that led to them missing connecting flights to Brisbane and Auckland.

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Young said it was like "hell on earth".

"We had friends who left after we had and arrived before us."

Fastnedge had hoped to arrive in time to celebrate with his family for the first time in four years.

"We thought we timed it well to get home in time to see the new nephew and spend Christmas with the family, but we didn't make it."

When the pair finally walked through Auckland's international arrivals hall 30 minutes after their flight landed at midday, they were greeted with hugs and cheers.

Fastnedge's parents, Dave and Maria, spoke of how they had had 30 guests, including Dan's grandma, to see them at Christmas.

But Dave Fastnedge said he was "just happy to know they are safe".

Young's mother, Fiona, was waiting with husband Larry and her younger son, James. "We are all happy, we are very excited," she said.

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Lorraine Glanville was waiting for her daughter Ursula Adeane who left London on December 24.

"We had family waiting at home to have Christmas, but it will happen today."

Rotorua woman Rangi Hudson's Christmas reunion with her eldest daughter, Sonni, had also been disrupted by the delayed flight.

She said her youngest son, Reuben, had been excited about his sister coming home for the first time in just over a year.

"Reuben has been making little things and putting it in a shoebox and on Christmas Eve put it under the tree."

For Anne and Selwyn Lowther the delay meant they spent their first Christmas without family.

"It's just a bit sad. We've never had a Christmas without our family," Anne Lowther said.

For first-time flyer Angela Milillo the experience was "pretty devastating", but she was happy to finally arrive.

"My husband was upset because he couldn't spend time with his family on Christmas Day.

"It took us two days to get here so we're pretty happy. I can't wait to get home."