A Nightmare Honeymoon Flight to Tahiti

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Joe Jones

An Air Tahiti Nui Airbus is seen at the Narita International Airport in Narita, Japan.

Everyone says the first year of marriage is the hardest. For Jeninne and her husband, Keirn, things got rocky from the first day.

Offending Party: Air Tahiti Nui

What's at Stake: $2,500 for missed nights aboard a yacht and at a resort on Tahiti

The Complaint: The couple was supposed to fly nonstop from New York to Papeete, Tahiti, aboard Air Tahiti Nui in August for their honeymoon. Some 17 hours before the flight — which they had purchased using American Airlines (AA) miles — they got an email telling them it had been canceled. An Air Tahiti Nui rep told them the next flight wasn't for another two days, which is no good when you've got a honeymoon booked and prefer to be sitting on a beach instead of in an airport.

The couple ultimately worked out with American a plan to fly to Los Angeles, then on to Tahiti. However, seats couldn't be secured with Air Tahiti Nui, so a more circuitous route had to be taken: from New York to San Francisco to Sydney to Papeete. That itinerary would have the couple traveling some seven hours out of their way and crossing the International Date Line twice. Not the wedding gift they'd hoped for.

After two long flights, they arrived in Sydney to find that their flight to Tahiti had again been canceled. They waited in vain for an Air Tahiti Nui rep but none materialized. Eventually, they gave up and booked a flight to Papeete aboard another airline.

They finally arrived at their destination a full 24 hours later than planned. Worst of all, they missed out on a night in a pricey resort and a night aboard a yacht that Keirn had chartered. Let's all raise a glass to the happy couple!

The Outcome: We've all had vacations nearly ruined by canceled or delayed flights, but to have a honeymoon cut short by a full day seems almost criminal. Feeling their marital pain, the Avenger went straight to Air Tahiti Nui to see about figuratively knocking someone upside the head with a coconut.

Nick Panza, the airline's vice president for the Americas, was aware of the couple's, er, "unusual" journey and apologized. He said the plane had been canceled due to mechanical difficulties and that most of the other passengers had been booked on the flight to L.A. then on to Tahiti, arriving between seven and 18 hours later than scheduled. (I guess that's the best you can hope for with the airline industry these days.) "Unfortunately, Jeninne and Keirn, who did not come to the Air Tahiti Nui counter at JFK, spoke with AA directly. It was AA who rerouted them via Sydney. AA did their best, but it was not the routing we would have used," Panza says.

But why would anyone show up at the airport counter after their flight had already been canceled? (The couple say they tried rebooking tickets on the phone with an Air Tahiti Nui rep, but were punted back to American.)

Air Tahiti Nui says it cannot reimburse passengers for lost time, hotel and other expenses due to delays, but Panza did offer the aggrieved couple $200 cash, plus $500 in travel vouchers. The newlyweds accepted the compensation, but their nightmare experience won't soon be forgotten. Ah, well. Hope that new gravy boat eases the pain.

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