Your rights if your school holiday flights are grounded

What are your flight rights and will travel insurance cover you if you've been stranded by a natural disaster in Bali?

A bumpy start ahead of the Christmas school holidays

Ash clouds from Bali's Mount Agung volcano have affected Bali and Lombok international airports but weather conditions are on the improve as Jetstar, Qantas and Virgin return to normal schedules to and from Bali as weather permits.

With the Christmas school holidays on the horizon, what are your rights if your school holiday plans are up in the air?

School holiday rights on flights

Australian airlines don't guarantee their timetables. Their contract is to get you from A to B (or Australia to Bali) on their schedule. If the delay or cancellation is out of the airline's control, like with the volcanic eruption in Bali, they'll usually help you get to your next destination, but they bear no responsibility for compensation if you miss a connecting flight or lose a few nights accommodation. 

For passengers with flights to Bali now, the airlines are offering alternatives such as receiving a travel credit or a re-booked flight to an alternative destination. The 1963 eruption of Mount Agung lasted more than a year, so don't get too hung up on travelling to Bali right now.

If your flight is delayed or cancelled due to the airline's own fault, they'll generally do their best to put you on the next flight or refund you, and if they're feeling kind, they might even compensate you for meals and accommodation. But unlike in Europe, our airlines aren't obliged to compensate you for flight delays or cancellations that are their fault. You're at the mercy of the airlines delays and cancellations policies.

For more information, read our article on your rights in flight.

Volcanic flight alerts

Flights to Denpasar and Lombok airports are affected by the ash cloud. Stay in close contact with your airline and if you've booked via a travel agent, ensure the airline has your mobile phone number so they can notify you of any changes.

Get the best cash rate, phone rates, phone apps for maps and currency conversions, and why you should thank Steven Spielberg when your phone works in Fiji - check our Fiji travel pages or download the Fiji travel guide.

Travel insurance

The status of the Mount Agung volcano is a known event, published widely in the media and on smart traveller, so travel insurance may not cover you for this event. Taking it out to cover for a known event would be the equivalent of taking out car insurance after you've had an accident. 

Insurers announced cut off dates for cover, which vary from June to November 2017 because some insurers re-instated cover for the event between the eruptions in September and November. If conditions ease, some insurers might also re-instate cover in the future, so check with them. If you haven't already bought travel insurance, you still need it for any future unseen events.

Some insurers re-instated cover for the Mount Agung volcano between the tremors in September and the eruption in November. So check with your insurer if you bought your policy when the eruption was covered.

All of the insurers in our travel insurance review cover medical expenses as a result of a natural disaster, but we hope you don't get that far. You're more likely to require cover for cancellation expenses, if the airline cancels your flight before you leave, or additional expenses, if your flight is cancelled or delayed and you're stuck en-route or on your way home.

In our travel insurance reviews, there are several insurers that don't cover this scenario, so check with your insurer if you're covered. The same goes if you're using your credit card travel insurance or an annual multi-trip policy, all the insurers in our review cover medical expenses for a natural disaster but not all of them cover cancellation expenses or additional expenses. So check with your credit card travel insurance provider before incurring additional expenses.

If you're stranded on your way home, don't presume your insurer will cover an extra few nights sipping daiquiris at the Le Meridian resort pool bar.


Like many large organisations, airlines don't like receiving complaints, so they make complaint forms and telephone numbers difficult to find. If you believe you have a right to be compensated for your delayed or cancelled flight use our complane form, and we'll forward the complaint to the airline for you.

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