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Plane passengers stuck in Hawaii for 3 nights get public apology, cash from Air New Zealand

WELLINGTON, New Zealand - A group of Air New Zealand passengers were stranded for a third night Monday after being repeatedly told their plane was delayed due to mechanical problems.

The upside?

They're in Hawaii. And every passenger is getting 1,000 New Zealand dollars ($850) in compensation.

Flight NZ9 was due to depart late Saturday from Honolulu for Auckland, but airline officials told the 227 passengers the plane was unable to leave because of problems related to an engine sensor.

They trekked out to Honolulu Airport twice more only to be told a similar story. Some took a flight on another airline. The Air New Zealand flight is now scheduled to depart Tuesday morning — barring any further delays.

The airline has issued an unusual public apology and promised every passenger will be compensated with cash or equivalent in a rewards program.

"Due to the lengthy nature of this disruption, the difficulty we've experienced in adequately communicating with customers and the fact we have repeatedly let them down, we have made the decision that in addition to our unreserved apology we will also be compensating each customer," Carrie Hurihanganui, the airline's general manager of customer experience, said in a statement.

Airline spokeswoman Kelly Kilgour said the problem lay with an engine indicator which was giving a false reading. She said a supplier subsequently sent an incorrect replacement part, but that the correct part was now on the way.

Not helping the airline's public image is the fact that Tim Murphy, the editor-in-chief of the country's largest newspaper, The New Zealand Herald, is one of the stranded passengers and has been posting on Twitter about his experiences.

Asked if the weather was hot in Hawaii, Murphy responded: "beautiful when you get out into it. Not so much when you're queuing perpetually and feeling like Tom Hanks living in the terminal!"

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