A French-born traveller claims she and her children were "physically attacked" by another passenger as she waited for an Air New Zealand flight to Auckland. To make matters worse the altercation meant both families forced to spend "36 hours in a sweltering airport with no access to showers or as little as a cushioned chair" and rebook their flights, which she claims cost her $3300.
Laura Georgioff, who is based out of Florida, had been travelling to New Zealand with her husband Chris and three children on January 24. Waiting to catch flight NZ43 from Pape'ete to Auckland, Georgioff shared her version of events to her Instagram page Frugal for Luxury about how her trip "did not go to plan."
She describes the moment, tired and waiting in departures for the Air New Zealand she got into an altercation with another family over their children's toys.
"A family with 2 kids was there when we arrived and as kids are, they did not want to share the building cubes," she wrote.
Georgioff watching the interaction in the airport play area, told the kids they "needed to share and all play together."
However she said at this point one of the other mothers intervened, and things got violent.
According to Georgioff one of the other mothers "ran and jumped on me. She went on to pushing me with a large block against a wall, violently.
"Out of fear and in self-defence, I hit her in the nose, with the only arm I had to defend myself," she wrote. Georgioff insisted that hitting another passenger was not something she had done before and that other traveller's nose "wasn't bleeding until much later when she called the police."
"Our kids were in total shock and crying at the scene."
Both families were told they would not be allowed to board the flight over security concerns.
"When trying to rebook, at 3AM, with our kids sleeping on the airport floor, we were told that Air New Zealand marked us as no-show," meaning they were not covered by their travel insurance policy.
"Our tickets were lost and we had to purchase entirely new ones."
New tickets cost the family US$2100 (or, about NZ$3300) on top of expenses of waiting for the next service which did not depart for another 48 hours.
Having this unexpected cost for new fares the Georgioffs spent 36 of these hours in the airport, sleeping on "dirty" floors and "sweating to roaring 30-degree-plus temperatures…"
New Zealand was just the second country on what the family hoped to be an 18-moth round the world tour, causing money worries.
A spokesperson for Air New Zealand confirmed that "Two customers were involved in an altercation in the departure lounge at Pape'ete Airport on 24 January and subsequently denied boarding."
The airline told the Herald that the passengers' tickets were marked "offload" rather than "no-show" and onward travel could have been refunded.
Being offloaded or "bumped" from a plane does not carry the same penalties as missing a flight, and in certain circumstances can lead to passengers being able to claim compensation from the airline for being denied boarding under the Montreal Convention.
"Both parties were advised on the evening of the incident to contact our Tahiti travel centre to be rebooked on an alternative service. Air New Zealand has no record of this party contacting our travel centre," said the airline.
"The safety of all passengers and crew on board is paramount and non-negotiable at Air New Zealand."