Air New Zealand compensation for broken armrest?

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Air New Zealand compensation

For my return AKL-SFO segment in Business Premier, my seat had an issue in which the armrest would not retract in lieflat mode.  As I mentioned in my SFO-AKL review, Air New Zealand's Business Premier seats are unique in that the backrest folds downward, so you need be out of your seat and out of the way in order to convert it from recliner to lieflat mode.  In lieflat mode, the left armrest is supposed to retract all the way down, affording your upper torso a decent amount of width when sleeping.

In the recliner position (left seat), the armrest is up.  In lieflat mode (right seat), the armrest retracts all the way down.
After the flight attendant configured my seat to lieflat mode, I noticed that the armrest was not retracted.  I mentioned it to the flight attendant, who attempted to retract it but noticed that it was jammed.  She signaled the purser, who also attempted to fix it to no avail.  They both apologized, and I asked if there was another empty Business Premier seat.  Unfortunately, Business Premier was full so my wide shoulders (thanks to overhead military dumbbell lifts and lateral raises) would need to "suffer" through an elevated armrest.



Upon my return, I decided to file a complaint with Air New Zealand customer support, which just requires a simple online form submission.  I received an instantaneously automated response stating that the customer relations team would respond within 10-15 days.  After just 3 days, I received the following response:


Yeah, any other e-mail asking for your bank account info for a direct deposit would be shady spam.  But having checked the fineprint and the reply-to address (and how else would they know my flight number?), sure enough it was Air New Zealand customer support.  So I replied with my bank account info.


Bottom line

I had originally booked this roundtrip flight by using 120k Virgin Atlantic miles, so I was not expecting to receive anything but an apology.  But the $200 was definitely a welcome compensation.  Normally, U.S. carriers compensate in the form of miles or travel credit with restrictions and that expire within 12 months, and you would be lucky to receive anything at all if your used their partner carrier's miles to book their flights.  I'd take straight up cash over travel credit or miles any day, and $200 was a small price to pay for my wide shoulders in lieflat mode.

One of the lessons here is never be afraid to file a complaint to the operator if something doesn't go right.  The least that'll happen is that you get a formal apology.  In my case, I was surprised to receive $200 in cash even though I had used a partner carrier to book that flight.  Air New Zealand miles or travel credit definitely wouldn't have done much for me, so it was definitely a gesture of goodwill on their end.  So if there's anything, Air New Zealand's customer relations team does excel in both response time and compensation.


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