Bali’s beautiful beaches and tropical landscape have made it a top travel destination during the winter holiday season, but the island is currently on high alert as Mount Agung nears volcanic eruption.
This week, the Bali’s volcanic alert level was raised to four (the maximum level) as Mount Agung, a volcano located about 40 miles away from Bali’s popular destinations Kuta and Seminyak and 25 miles away from Ubud, began to tremor and spew ash. The last major eruption from Mount Agung was in 1963, and officials began to take notice when the volcano became more active this past September. As molten rock and gases have crept up the volcano, ash and steam have risen to nearly two miles above the summit of Mount Agung, causing Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Authority to order evacuations for more than 100,000 locals from 22 villages.
So what does this mean for tourists in Bali? Fear of volcanic ash damaging airplanes and obscuring pilot visibility has lead to the shut down of Bali’s international airport, and as a result, more than 120,000 tourists are currently stranded in Bali after 900 flights servicing the island were canceled. European travelers are in luck: carriers like KLM must provide accommodation and meals for passengers until they can fly out under the European passenger rights’ rules, but those on South East Asian and Australian airlines must check to find out their rights during such emergencies. Those traveling with tour groups are advised to inquire with their tour operator to find out their options, and solo travelers with travel insurance are likely to receive some sort of compensation under their provider. As flights resume from Bali, priority will be given to those already booked on flights before seats are made available to those with canceled flights.
If you have plans to go to Bali before the end of the year, you may want to wait. Singapore Airlines is offering refunds and postponing trips for travelers scheduled to fly to Bali in the coming days, though many tour operators and airlines have yet to announce their plans for providing refunds or rescheduling as the island is still unsure of what will become of the imminent eruption.