Air NZ mercy mission saves man's life

A Gisborne man who was left without essential medication when his luggage went missing on a Pacific Blue flight to Rarotonga says he owes his life to rival airline Air New Zealand.

Liver transplant patient Robert DeLong packed $1500 worth of essential immune suppressant medication in his checked-in luggage on the flight from Auckland in February.

It never arrived at his destination and there were no Pacific Blue staff in Rarotonga to help him out. The airline's call centre in Manila did not return his calls.

"I think it is irresponsible and outrageous," he said.

He contacted his doctors who told him he could last about three days without the medication.

Facing the prospect of flying home, he called Air New Zealand, who hatched a plan. His neighbour Allison Lynch delivered replacement drugs to Gisborne Airport where it was given to a pilot who was flying to Auckland, who then passed it on to another pilot flying to Rarotonga.

The medication arrived the next day, free of charge.

"They literally saved my life," Mr DeLong said.

Despite the compensation, Mr DeLong is not happy with how his problems were handled.

"It was the holiday from hell."

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