Your rights if your school holiday flights are grounded

A bumpy start to the school holidays

It’s the start of the school holidays and the alert level for Bali’s Mount
Agung Volcano has been raised to the highest level with the Bali governor
declaring a natural disaster. Meanwhile, Sydney airport entered shutdown
mode due to an airport system failure.

So 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 your
flight is delayed or cancelled due to their 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.

If the delay or cancellation is out of their control, like with the
imminent volcanic eruption in Bali, airlines might help you get to your next
destination, but again, they bear no responsibility for compensation if you
miss a connecting flight or lose a few nights accommodation. 

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

Volcanic flight alerts

As of Monday 25 September, flights are still running as scheduled in spite of the Mount Agung
volcano but stay in close contact with your airline. If you’ve booked via a
travel agent, ensure the airline has your mobile phone number so they can
notify you of any changes.

Travel insurance

The status of the Mount Agung volcano is a known event, published widely in
the media and on
smart traveller, so it’s too late to take out travel insurance if you haven’t already got
it. Taking it out now would be the equivalent of taking out car insurance
after you’ve had an accident.

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 flight use our
complane form, and we’ll forward the complaint to the airline for you.

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