Travellers and airlines from around the world are being thrown into turmoil as the jet fuel crisis continues to cripple Auckland Airport.

As of today, a further 28 flights - six of which are international - have been affected after a rupture in the jet fuel line from the Marsden Pt refinery, believed to have been caused by a digger working some months ago in farmland near Ruakaka.

The Herald got in touch with a few of the key players in the travel industry to work out what options travellers had, if any, during this chaotic situation.

The affected and unaffected


Flight Centre's general manager of retail Sue Matson said there were two groups of travellers - those affected and those not affected because not every flight had been disrupted.

"It's firstly being really aware if your flight has been affected. What we're doing is keeping constantly in contact with the myriad of airlines that fly in and out of New Zealand and across the country and advising our customers as soon as we know of anything."

It's all about timing

Travel insurance provider Allianz says for those who purchased a policy before 10am on Sunday, September 17, there is likely to be cover if travel plans have been altered.

However, if the policy was bought after 10am on that day, there would be no cover as the customer would have been aware of the jet fuel crisis at the time.

Matson says having a timeframe is standard for insurance cover and likens it to crashing your car - you can't go out and get insurance as your car lays in a crumpled heap on the side of the road.

Allianz says customers need to keep all their receipts for additional transport, food or accommodation expenses and will also need to prove what their original plans were to get any cover.

Any compensation offered by an airline would be deducted from the claim.


Matson says Flight Centre uses which covers all out of pocket expenses for its travellers.

Air NZ spokeswoman said the airline was offering "special ticketing flexibility" - or full refunds - for customers whose flights were cancelled due to the fuel issue, even if it was a non-refundable ticket.

"As this situation is outside of Air New Zealand's control, customers will need to contact their insurance provider for assistance with any accommodation or other out of pocket expenses incurred."

'Absolutely unforeseen'

Matson says there's a lot of complacency with travellers around buying insurance.

"I think people think 'oh nothing will happen, last time I went away I didn't get sick'. But it's this sort of thing which is absolutely unforeseen.

"Those people who aren't insured the one thing they need to be aware of is that the airlines don't have to do anything because it's not their fault. It will depend on the airline and exactly what they're doing."

Book well before you travel

Insurance Council chief executive Tim Grafton said the incident highlighted the importance of buying travel insurance when you pay for your tickets.

"We can't stress enough that travellers need to purchase their travel insurance when they book and pay for their tickets and not just before they are about to travel if they want to enjoy the benefit of cancellation cover. Likewise, if you book a trip and buy insurance after events like a fuel shortage have been publicised, you will not have cover for those events" he said.

He said it also paid to check the wording of your insurance policy cover to check exactly what you are covered for.

Unheard of in 29 years

Matson says the jet fuel shortage affecting travellers and airlines is something she's never come across in her 29 years in the travel industry.

"No, I haven't experienced anything like this in New Zealand before ... my biggest thing is the disappointment in that people have to go through this when they're trying to go on holiday or to an event."

Although the company's call centre staff had been busy it hadn't had to put in extra staffing measures as not every flight had been affected.