As travellers and agents dealt yesterday with yet another round of Bali flight cancellations caused by Indonesian volcanic ash – in the school holidays this time – an insurer has revealed the impact of such disruptions.
The latest Indonesian volcano to blow its stack is Mt Rinjani. If it seems just last week that the same volcano erupted and caused the same hassle, it wasn’t – it was actually last month. The latest eruption stranded thousands of travellers on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Airlines were getting flights moving again yesterday, though as Jetstar pointed out: “As it is school holidays our whole network is extremely busy, so it will take us some time to get everyone on their way. If they choose to, customers booked on flights to or from Bali on 27 and 28 September will be able to get a credit voucher for their flights or move their flights to/from Bali within the next 28 days without paying a booking change fee or fare difference.”
Southern Cross Travel Insurance chief executive, Craig Morrison, said that in July last year, the insurer recorded a 47% increase in calls from Australians as a result of the volcanic ash cloud that caught out thousands of travellers.
Indonesia has more volcanoes than any other country. Many are centred in the region around Bali and Lombok and they erupt frequently.
Morrison advised travellers affected to keep all documentation relating to their flight delay or cancellation, including all emails.
“Long delays also come with unexpected costs, from having to pay for accommodation, to feeding the family and keeping everyone entertained while flights are resumed. Expenses quickly mount up so make sure you keep all your receipts to submit a claim to your travel insurance provider.”
Such sudden events give Asian airlines an advantage. As Ben Sandilands notes in his Plane Talking blog on Crikey.com.au: “The Asia-based airlines will have dozens of jets within short flying times of Denpasar at any moment, and are ‘agile’ at sending enough of them to Bali at short notice to take advantage of brief periods when favourable winds take the ash risk away from the approach and departure paths used for the airport.”
In contrast, Australian carriers, with jets available at the Melbourne or Sydney ends of routes that take more than six hours to fly, often find they have flown more than five hours toward Bali “only to discover the safe window for ash free arrivals and departures has closed”.
Morrison of Southern Cross Travel Insurance said that all customers who took out travel insurance before 28 September 2016 6am AEDT with Southern Cross would be covered up to AUD 30,000 for delays and cancellations.
“We also automatically extend all policies until you are able to return home on the next available flight.”
“If there’s a lesson to be learnt, it pays to always be prepared for the possibility of volcanic ash cloud, or other factors that may cause flight delays and cancellations. While a travel insurance policy won’t take the boredom out of a delay or the worry of not making it back to work in time, it will take the stress out of added costs,” Morrison added.
Written by Peter Needham