Flights continue through Bali volcano's plume of steam - what South Africans need to know

2017-12-04 13:09 - Kavitha Pillay
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Photo: AP Photo/ Firdia Lisnawati

Karangasem, Indonesia — Bali's airport has opened as gushing ash from Mount Agung's volcano dissipated into a wispy plume of steam.

Associated Press (AP) reports that Australian airlines that cancelled some flights to Bali over the weekend have returned to near-normal schedules. The region's volcanic ash monitoring center in Darwin, Australia, stopped issuing advisories for Agung, saying that "it's currently posing no threat to aircraft" and would resume advisories if there's another eruption.

SEE: Stranded Australian tourists in Bali lampooned online for complaints

According to AP, Indonesia's disaster mitigation agency says on Monday, 4 December, that the volcano remains at its highest alert level but most of Bali is safe for tourists. Indonesia's disaster agency says desperate times are forcing a re-think, suggesting the possibility of turning Agung into a disaster tour venue.

"The exclusion zone around the volcano still extends 10 kilometers from the crater in some directions. More than 55 000 people are living in shelters," says AP, adding that tens of thousands of tourists were stranded when ash closed Bali's international airport for nearly three days last week.

Meanwhile, Indonesian government volcanologists say Agung's crater is about one-third filled by lava and there is still a high risk of more eruptions.

David Boutelier, a geologist at the University of Newcastle in Australia, says the chance of a violent explosion is still "very high" but possibly not as high as several weeks ago because pressure is being released.

Changing flights after Bali airport reopened

Airlines Jetstar and Virgin Australia, which cancelled flights over the weekend even as the ash cloud shrank dramatically, say they were resuming services on Monday.

However, not all airlines cancelled flights resulting in some South Africans facing grief as they have been unable to reschedule flights and holidays.

Dr Anton and Candice Coetzee told Traveller24 that Ina Kuta Hotel and Flight Centre "are happy" to change their booking dates from December to January, however Qatar Airways "wants to charge a massive fee for change of dates" because Bali's airport is now open.

Coetzee says that there's no guarantee that their holiday will not be ruined by flight delays or that their safety will not be risked if the volcano erupts. She adds that "the reasonable thing" to do is allow them to change flight dates. Coetzee expressed shock that their "safety and the enjoyment of our holiday has not been taken into consideration" by the airline, adding that she is not asking for a refund but merely wants to change dates.

ALSO SEE: UPDATE: Flights set to resume as Bali's airport re-opens, what SA travellers need to know

Shannon Goosen, Marketing Executive at Qatar Airways says that since Bali's Denpasar airport has been reopened, "Qatar Airways plans to resume its flights as per scheduled".

"Qatar Airways feels that passengers booked to travel to and from Denpasar Bali may want to reconsider their travel plans and therefore Qatar Airways has issued a policy that will give passengers more flexibility to re-book to alternate dates or flights," she says.

"This applies to those passengers who hold a confirmed Qatar Airways reservation and confirmed Qatar Airways ticket issued on or before 29 November 2017 for travel to/from Denpasar Bali between 26 November to 7 December 2017, both days inclusive. 

REBOOKING OPTIONS

  • Maximum 1 free of charge re-booking change permitted on alternative Qatar Airways operating flight(s) from/to the same destination for the entire unutilised trip and within the same transaction.
  • New dates of travel must be within 21 days of original ticketed date of travel.
  • Re-booking should be made in the same Qatar Airways booking class or lowest available Qatar Airways booking class within the same cabin.

REFUND OPTIONS and PENALTY WAIVERS

  • Waiver permitted for booking change, no-show fee and refund fee.
  • Any applicable service fee in case of re-booking to be waived.
  • Receive a full refund of unutilised value as per applicable Fare Basis rules and procedures.

Goosen advises that more information can be obtained on website and travel alerts page.

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