Our Flight Checkers share their stories of delay, desperation and occasional terror from last week's storm
Simon Pound flies aboard NZ401 from Auckland to Wellington
We were very lucky on our flight — one of the last to land before the runway was closed on Tuesday night. The whole crew did amazingly to land us safely and with no fuss at all.
Applause for pilot upon landing:
It wasn't a massively bumpy landing but the passengers clapped and I've only experienced that before for Wellington landings.
Chris Aldworth flies aboard JQ386 from Palmerston North to Auckland
A 50-seat Bombardier Q300.
I was in Palmerston North on a course. A number of us were due to fly back to Auckland that evening and we received text messages from Jetstar saying our flight had been cancelled. Most were reschedueled for the following day—luckily I was offered a flight out within the next hour. I took it. The delayed take-off (because of extra refuelling) was pretty much terrifying. The plane was shaking and getting thrown about the place and the twin turboprops were heaving. The landing wasn't much better, as we were going into a tremendous headwind.
Applause for pilot on landing:
6/10 — I don't scare easy.
Ashleigh Cropp and Annika Doggett fly aboard Air Chathams CV700 and CV709 from Auckland to Whanganui (and back again that afternoon)
Saab 340 prop (hereinafter "The Mighty Battler").
After a leisurely breakfast at Auckland Airport, we heard that our flight was slightly delayed, and that a preceding flight to New Plymouth was being cancelled. On board, the wonderful service by Violet of tea and a Tim Tam was rudely interrupted by the worst turbulence of our lives while the Mighty Battler unwittingly got caught in nature's spin cycle on our descent into Whanganui. Relatively seasoned flyer Ashleigh was graciously given extra "turbulence bags" by other punters, all of which were used. Annika multi-tasked by taking care of Ashleigh while also trying not to be ill. And then we did it all again on the flight home as the bad weather headed north with us.
Applause for the pilot on landing:
Loud (at least according to Annika—Ashleigh was busy trying to get off the Mighty Battler to regain some dignity). Shout out to the amazing Violet, who remained calm and compassionate throughout. And the Mighty Battler, of course.
Low, but gross rating 10/10
Bree Tomasel flies Air New Zealand NZ570 from Christchurch to Auckland
Where do I start? We had already flown from Hokitika to Christchurch on a Q300 and the Alps weren't kind so we were already shaken as we landed at Christchurch. It was a mad dash through security as we boarded the Airbus A320 to Auckland. As it was a larger plane, the take-off and much of the flight was calm. However, after the crew said, "prepare for landing", the 40 minutes that followed were truly terrifying. You could feel the plane being thrown around from side to side like a rag doll and you could tell the pilots were up against it as the plane descended quickly and then thrusters would come on to take us up again . . . the pilots tried to land the plane twice, the second time more terrifying than the first. An announcement followed that, due to the weather, size of the plane and amount of water on the runway, they were not able to land. It was reassuring to hear we had enough fuel to turn around and head back to Christchurch. We landed, exhausted and scared, to be welcomed by giant queues and havoc at the airport. We managed to get one of the last rooms available in the city forthe night. The next day we caught a flight to Wellington, Wellington to Hamilton and then drove to Auckland as all other flights were full. All of these flights were also terrifying, especially after the previous day's experience.
Applause for pilot on landing:
No, because we didn't land.
8/10 — pretty horrible.