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

2017-11-29 12:55 - Kavitha Pillay
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Deane Dubber ferry ride to Bali

Cape Town - Bali's airport re-opened on Wednesday afternoon, 29 November, after an erupting volcano forced its closure on Monday, 27 November.

However, according to Associated Press (AP), the country's president says the danger had not passed and urged anyone within the mountain's exclusion zone to get out "for the sake of their safety."

SEE: PICS: Travellers upbeat despite Bali volcano risk, airport to re-open

Volcanic ash reaching 7.6 kilometers in the air began drifting south and south-east of Mount Agung, leaving clean space above the airport for planes to land and take off, says airport spokesman Arie Ahsannurohim.

"Despite the all-clear from authorities, flights are unlikely to rapidly return to normal levels and a change in the direction of the ash or a new more powerful eruption could force the airport's closure again," warns AP.

South Africans travelling to/from Bali

While conditions are favourable for flights, Thompsons Holidays says that Singapore Airlines will be operating two flights on Wednesday night from Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport in Denpasar.

“We have just received news that Singapore Airlines has a scheduled flight departing Singapore today on SQ 947 at 20:05 and SQ949 at 21:45. The airport will be operating as normal from this afternoon,” says Angela Wood, Marketing General Manager Thompsons Holidays.

Meanwhile, Club Travel Marketing Manager Luana Visagie says that passengers already in Bali and those due to travel in the next two weeks are being dealt with as a priority. “We are in close contact with the relevant airlines and ground operators in Bali to ensure the safety of our clients and to assist as far as possible to avoid disruption of clients travelling in the near future,” says Visagie.

She also highlights the importance of comprehensive travel insurance. “Even though not all policies cover travellers in the event of travel disruptions due to an ash cloud, it is crucial to know exactly what you are covered for.”

MUST-SEE: Think your Bali festive season plans are dashed? Here's what you need to know

According to Simmy Micheli, Travel Insurance Consultants (TIC) sales and marketing manager, if the scheduled transport is cancelled and/or pre-paid accommodation is damaged to an uninhabitable extent as a direct result of weather conditions, "TIC will reimburse the non-refundable portions of travel and/or accommodation arrangements paid by the traveller or for which the traveller is legally liable, as well as the reasonable additional travel and accommodation expenses (three-star accommodation and economy-class travel expenses) incurred by the traveller."

SEE: SA writer trapped in 'paradise', fears the worst for locals in Bali volcano danger zone

Nicky Potgieter, Flight Centre's Leisure Marketing Leader, says that while all residents and visitors in the evacuation zone area are advised to leave immediately, "Kuta, Ubud, Seminyak and other popular beach areas are not affected by the volcano".

Potgieter advises that Semarang Ahmad Yani Airport and Lombok International Airport are open with flights operating. “Buses are leaving Kuta for Surabaya’s Juanda International Airport, which is a 12-hour journey from Kuta, so that travellers can fly home via Jakarta, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. If you are flying to Bali over the coming days, check with the travel agent with whom you booked to assess whether you qualify for a refund.”

SA tourist shares lengthy journey to Bali ahead of airport re-opening

South African tourist, Deane Dubber, who is currently in Bali after a long journey including many detours, describes the travel experience as “quite fun”.

The recent med-school graduate who jetted off to Bali as a graduation gift from his mum, told Traveller24 that he landed in Hong Kong on Sunday morning, 26 November, and found out that his flight Bali was cancelled.

“Cathay Pacific was very nice,” he says, explaining that the airline arranged accommodation at a hotel for the night in Hong Kong.

Getting to Bali

The solo-traveller says he made friends with travellers from around the world, after overhearing some of them discuss travel arrangements when they found out Denpasar Airport was closed the next morning.

Together with his new group of friends, they took a 5-hour flight to Surabaya in East Java. “Cathay Pacific was very kind. They offered multiple flights in south-east Asia at no extra cost,” he says.

They took a taxi from Surabaya to Banyuwangi, followed by a ferry across to Bali, and another 5 hour taxi ride to Kuta which is just east from Denpasar. The lengthy travel by taxi and ferry took 17 hours, says Dubber.

Deane Dubber on a ferry ride to Bali. (Photo: Deane Dubber)

‘Rest of Bali is quite peaceful’

“In the end I was keen to come to Bali and since we’re here, the locals have been great,” says Dubber whose return flight to SA is on 7 December. “By then I’ll see if the situation has changed but it’s very peaceful and everyone is still having a good time,” he adds.

While Dubber confirmed he is staying staying at a new backpackers called Cara Cara Inn in Kuta and is out of the danger zone, with the volcano not affecting the region he is in saying, "everyone is going on as normal. 

“The rest of Bali is quite peaceful,” he told Traveller24, advising that people planning to visit Bali soon “must just plan accordingly”.

“Otherwise most airlines have been helpful in possibly diverting to other places,” he says.

What to read next on Traveller24:

PICS: Travellers upbeat despite Bali volcano risk, airport to re-open

Think your Bali festive season plans are dashed? Here's what you need to know

SA writer trapped in 'paradise', fears the worst for locals in Bali volcano danger zone