25 September 2017
With thousands of Australian passengers facing delays or cancellations following an air traffic control system failure at Sydney Airport and the ongoing issue with the Bali volcano, consumer advocacy group CHOICE is reminding people of their travel rights.
"Getting stranded on the first day of the school holidays is a painful situation for anyone who is getting ready to hop on a plane," says CHOICE Head of Media and spokesperson, Tom Godfrey.
"In Australia, payments for accommodation, transport, meals and phone calls if your flight is delayed or cancelled is at the discretion of the airline but it's always worth asking if you need any assistance.
"If the issue is out of the airline's control, like volcanic ash clouds or an air traffic control problem, airlines will usually try to help you get to your destination but they may not pay for any costs or expenses you may incur as a result of the delay or cancellation ."
"Now that the status of the Bali volcano is a known event, meaning it's been published widely in the media and on the smarttraveller website, it's too late to take out travel insurance to cover delays for the volcano if you haven't already got it. If you're still planning to travel, you still need insurance but know that you may not be covered for some delays," says Mr Godfrey.
"Taking it out now would be the equivalent of taking out car insurance after you've had an accident."
"It' a different story if the airline is at fault, such as a staffing issue. We believe the airlines should take responsibility and compensate travellers for any costs they may have incurred," says Mr Godfrey.
Choice has renewed its call for Australians to receive fixed-dollar compensation when an airline makes a mistake. 
"We're also encouraging travellers who do experience mistakes that are within an airline's control to lodge a complaint through our Complane.com.au tool ," says Mr Godfrey.
"Consumers can help put the pressure on the airlines to do the right thing by their passengers."
- If you are out of pocket because of flight delays or cancellations in Australia, keep your receipts but try to keep your expenditure as low as possible – you may never get the money back.
- Airlines will often address claims for reimbursements on a case by case basis so if you're stranded or in need of assistance, approach the counter or call your airline to see if they can offer you assistance.
- Check if your travel insurance covers you for flight delays or cancellations – good policies will cover you when something goes wrong.
- Keep all receipts to lodge a claim with your insurer if you get stuck.
Media contact: Tom Godfrey, CHOICE, Head of Media and Spokesperson: 0430 172 669