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Thousands of holidaymakers stranded by Bali volcano threat – your travel rights

Know your rights if your holiday plans are affected

Thousands of holidaymakers stranded by Bali volcano threat – your travel rights

Indonesian authorities ordered a mass evacuation of people from an expanded danger zone around an erupting volcano on Bali on Monday.

Mount Agung has been hurling clouds of white and dark grey ash about 9,800ft (3,000 metres) into the atmosphere since the weekend, and lava is welling up in the crater, sometimes reflected as a reddish-yellow glow in the ash plumes.

The island’s international airport was forced to close, leaving tens of thousands of travellers stranded. Ash clouds have caused disruption to flights in the region.

The authorities are monitoring the situation closely and airports in the region are likely to continue to be closed for periods of time.

Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice

You should confirm your travel arrangements directly with your airline or travel agent before travelling to the airport.

The FCO advises that you should monitor local media reports, follow the advice of the local authorities and stay outside the existing exclusion zone, which extends between 8 and 10km from the crater.

Volcanic activity may escalate. Volcanic ash clouds could continue to cause flight disruption and may result in further airport closures in the region.

My package holiday booking has been affected

If the FCO says it’s unsafe to travel, most tour operators will cancel your trip and find you a suitable equivalent holiday or give you a refund.

If your tour operator refuses you can argue that your enjoyment and relaxation will be ruined and that you’d be entitled to compensation under the Package Travel Regulations.

If you’re already abroad and your holiday is affected by the volcanic eruption you should contact your tour operator. Regulation 14 of the Package Travel Regulation obliges your tour operator to:

  • Make suitable alternative arrangements, at no extra cost to you, for the continuation of the package and will, where appropriate, compensate you for the difference between the services to be supplied under the contract and those actually supplied.
  • If it’s impossible to make arrangements, or these are rejected by you for good reason, your tour operator must, where appropriate, provide you with equivalent transport back to the place of departure or to another place to which you have agreed and will, where appropriate, compensate you.

My flight has been delayed or cancelled

The Mount Agung ash cloud could affect flight routes throughout Indonesia

Because the disruption is outside of the EU the Denied Boarding Regulation only applies if your delayed more three hours or more in the following circumstances:

  • Departing from an EU-based airport
  • Flying into an EU-based airport on an EU-based airline

If you answer yes to any of these airlines are obligated to provide drinks and refreshments, and you could also be entitled to meals, free phone calls and overnight accommodation.

If your flight is cancelled, regardless of the reason, you should be rerouted to your final destination as soon as is possible.

You can also claim a full refund, but if you’re already abroad we strongly advise against you doing this, because your airline’s duty of care towards you will stop if you take the money.

If your flight falls outside of EU protection, speak to your airline and check its terms and conditions to find out what it can do for you.

Can I claim flight delay compensation?

Even if your flight is coming into the EU, departing the EU or on an EU-based airline it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll be able to claim compensation.

Airlines don’t have to pay compensation if they can show that the delay or cancellation was caused by extraordinary circumstances.

Extraordinary circumstances are situations beyond the control of the airline, for example, political instability, security alerts or indeed a volcanic eruption.

Can I claim on my travel insurance?

If you’re travelling over the next few weeks, check your policy to see whether you’re covered for eruption.

A lot of standard travel policies may not cover protection in this event.

There is also the risk that because the volcano has been increasingly active for a while, insurers will be able to use this as a reason not to pay out. This is because they can argue the potential eruption is now a ‘known event’.

See our guide if you’re having problems claiming on your travel insurance.

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