Know your rights
Airlines, promoters and ticket agents must comply with the service guarantees in the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA). This means:
- they must use the reasonable skill and care of a competent and professional airline, promoter or ticket agent
- their services must be fit for your particular purpose.
If a flight is delayed or cancelled, an airline may need to refund your airfare and pay for losses you suffered as a consequence. However, it depends on how serious the fault was and there are exceptions for factors beyond their control. If your loss relates to lost or damaged luggage, their liability is determined by the Contract and Commercial Law Act and the carriage contract.
Bumping is a common airline practice. You are entitled to compensation if this happens to you.
Airlines, promoters and ticket agents must not mislead or deceive you in your dealings with them or make false or misleading representations under the Fair Trading Act (FTA). This is particularly relevant when they advertise airfare prices or premium tickets etc. If they do mislead or deceive, you can claim compensation under the FTA and report any misleading conduct to the Commerce Commission to investigate.
Cancellation and postponement
An airline has to compensate passengers for delays under Part 9B of the Civil Aviation Act(external link). This includes delays that are caused by overbooking (‘bumping’) and cancellation due to internal issues, such as mechanical problems and rostering.
You are entitled to receive 10 times the price of your ticket, or the actual cost of your delay, whichever is the lower. The actual cost of a passenger’s delay includes any reasonably foreseeable extra costs they have incurred because of the delays, such as meal costs, taxi fares, missed concerts or missed connections.
If the airline misleads you about their obligations, this is an offence under the FTA and they can be investigated by the Commerce Commission (if you report the airline to them).
If the delay was caused by factors beyond the airline's control, they don’t have to pay compensation. For example, weather conditions such as ash clouds, complying with instructions given by an air traffic control service or a law enforcement agency, or taking action to save or try to save lives. These factors should be covered by travel insurance instead if you have it.
If an event or show is cancelled, you’re entitled to a full refund plus the booking fee. The same applies if a show or event is postponed and the new date doesn't suit you. But this won't apply if the postponement was allowed for: for example, if it's an outdoor event held over to the advertised 'rain day'.
Delays or cancellation caused by events beyond a promoter’s or ticket agent’s control (force majeure) are also excused from liability under the CGA.
Read Changing contracts or quotes to find out more.
Wrong seats, refused entry or bad seats
If you have been double booked or refused entry for a valid ticket, you are entitled to a refund and compensation for any reasonably foreseeable consequential losses, such as travel and accommodation costs.
If you have paid for premium seats and these are restricted or not good views, complain on the spot to get new seats. If they don’t agree, contact the ticket office the next day, and if necessary put your complaint in writing.
Ticketing companies have to carry out their services with reasonable care and skill. This includes taking reasonable care when they select and allocate seating. Unless you were told when you booked that your view of the stage would be restricted or that the sound quality wouldn't be great, you can seek compensation under the CGA.
Selling a ticket privately for an inflated price (often called scalping) is not illegal. However, some ticket sellers have special terms and conditions, so if they know the ticket has been scalped, the holder will be refused entry.
Buying a ticket from an unauthorised seller puts you at risk of being supplied with a fake ticket, resulting in being denied entry to the event, or the ticket not being provided at all.
The only law preventing reselling of tickets is when an event falls under the Major Events Management Act(external link). Examples include the Rugby World Cup 2011 and the Cricket World Cup 2015.