Tigerair commits to refunds for Bali cancellations

13 January 2017 | Travel insurance may also come into play.

Bali bungle counts as services not delivered

Tigerair has promised affected ticketholders a full refund after shutting down flights between Australia and Bali earlier this week while it came to terms with new administrative requirements imposed by the Indonesian government.

And that's a good thing, given that Tigerair sold the tickets for the dates in question while the issue remained unresolved.

The commitment to refund passengers is also welcome news as it reduces the need for concern over the Indonesian government's denial of Tigerair's claims that the cancellations are due to "new administrative requirements" being imposed. "The suspension of Tiger Airways' flights to Denpasar is due to the carrier's failures to meet the existing requirements on Indonesia's flights regulations," the Indonesian government said in a statement.

Regardless of whether the administrative requirements were "new" or "existing", section 60 of the Australian Consumer Law says services must be delivered with due care and skill. If an airline fails to deliver the service you paid for, the appropriate remedy would be a refund. 

CHOICE is calling on Tigerair to post refunds without delay and not charge fees for delivering them.

The incident highlights the limited number of rights afforded to Australian travellers. If it had occurred in Europe, Tigerair would have been required to re-book people on another airline to get them to their destination.

What about travel insurance?

Administrative disputes between air travel authorities is a bit of a grey area, but there are a few categories in travel insurance that may provide some benefit for "expenses due to transport provider caused cancellation, delay or re-scheduling".

If this incident has caused you to cancel your entire trip, not many insurers would reimburse you in full for cancellation expenses. Instead, they would likely look to pay expenses incurred as result of the cancellation, known as additional travel and accommodation expenses, so you can get to your destination.

Cover for travel delay expenses may also apply depending on your insurer, which generally amount to a couple of hundred dollars a day up for a limited number of days if your plane has been significantly delayed.

In the case of the Tigerair bungle, your cover would likely fall under additional travel and accommodation expenses, but your insurer would likely want make sure you've sought compensation from Tigerair first.

Tigerair will contact you

"Customers booked to travel on Tigerair services to and from Bali today are advised not to go to the airport and that the airline will contact them directly with their options," the airline said in a statement yesterday.

If you've purchased a Tigerair flight to or from Bali, go to the travel alert section of the Tigerair website for the latest advice from the airline.

For what it's worth, Tigerair says it "sincerely apologises for the inconvenience caused by these cancellations".

Update: Tiger back in the air

20 January 2016: Tigerair announced scheduled flights will resume to Bali from 3 February 2017. Virgin Australia will continue to rescue Tigerair passengers returning to Australia from Bali until 2 February but flights from Australia to Bali will not operate in the meantime, passengers with flights booked to Bali in this period will be contacted by Tigerair with an offer of a full refund.