Bali airport closure- Best way to handle if you’re affected

If you’re already there in Bali and affected by airport closure, or if your trip is affected by Bali airport closure this post tries to help you with various ways to minimize the impact or deal with the situation better

It is bad indeed, but you can still make the most of it or take some steps to minimize the impact.
Malindo Air taking off from Bali, Nov 2017
Step 1: Don’t panic or let frustration get to you.
Yes, it is bad, let us face it. It is an act of god no humans could predict it and control. Volcano ash is not a life n death situation- like say a hurricane or earthquake. Prepare yourself mentally to deal with it. If airport is closed for 2-3 days, it may take up to a week to return to normalcy, assuming no repeat closures occur. You've to now figure out how best to spend this 1 week in Bali while being ready to fly out at very short notice.

Step 2: Be kind to airline/airport staff/authorities who are trying to help. They are just as informed as you are and may not have any power beyond what they’ve been told to do. There’ll be already thousands of angry/anxious passengers in the airport venting their anger on these helpless employees. Be kind to them.

Step 3: Update your right contact information in your airline profile or ticket. If you had given your home country phone number which is not active on international roaming, airline may not be able to reach you. Get a local SIM Card, update number on your airline account or ticket, so that airline can call you if required or communicate with you via email/SMS for an update.

Step 4: Communicate to airline via all available channels that you are affected by this airport closure and flight cancellation, and looking to be put on first available flight out, so that there’s clear evidence that you took all the initiative. If airport is closed for 2 days and the airline had say 4 flights to Bali per day, that is a backlog of 1000 passengers per day. Once airport resumes operations they've to take care of regular passengers + backlog- depending on how many extra flights they can deploy and what is your number in the queue of 1000s of stranded passengers, you may have to wait for several days. Not sure if regular follow up or requesting will help you board sooner, but no harm trying.

Step 5: Use social media, form a group of passengers of same airline/flight:
Create a WhatsApp or FB group for passengers of your airline/flight. This will help exchange vital information and may be put some pressure on airline through collective bargaining. Of course finding details of other passengers is not easy- you can either physically meet n connect with them in airport or use the power of social media to get attention of such passengers.

Step 6: Communicate to your employer and friends about the delay. If you have work from home option you might want to avail it now. Keep your colleagues and loved ones informed so that they don't panic. Get yourself a hotel room for couple of nights and relax while situation returns to normal. No point sleeping in airport- won't help anyone.

Step 7: Keep an eye on news. Authorities may open up nearby airports if deemed safe. Buses are already being provided for airline passengers who wish to go to nearby towns/airports [News here and here]. There could be ferry options to elsewhere in Indonesia from where you might be able to take a flight. If you can't afford to wait till DPS airport reopens, you can explore these options.

Step 8: Consider it as an extended holiday. Explore more places in Bali you couldn’t visit earlier.

Step 9: Check for alternate options:
1. May be you can reach nearby airports such as Surabaya by road/ferry (500 kms). Most budget airlines will NOT entertain sector change and you may have to buy fresh tickets. If there's a flight out then this might work. Indonesia has many other airports fully operational, though it will take long journey by road from Bali to reach there. If you're desperate to get out, these could be considered
2. Fly to some other country to where you have visa. For example, there're several airlines flying between Australia and Indonesia than Indonesia and India. If you have Australia visa, might be good idea to see if you can get a ticket to Australia, fly there n then plan your trip to India from there. Of course this will cost a lot of money but is an alternative, if you manage to get a ticket.

Step 10- Keep stock of basic essentials: In case of disruptions like this, supply of essential goods may be disrupted or vendors will create artificial scarcity to hike prices. You might want to have some essential supplies for couple of days- water, medicines, snacks, masks etc.

My best wishes with you. Stay safe. Did I miss any point? Do you have some tips? Do comment.

If you’ve not left for Bali yet but have a flight coming up soon
Option 1: Hope that airport reopens in time
This is a bit of a gamble- can work in your favor or may backfire. Tourism is very important for Bali and they don’t want to close the airport unless absolutely necessary. The current closure is already affecting thousands of tourists and everyone are keen to resume normal routine asap. Re-opening/closure again depends on how the volcano responds and how winds behave. If the threat perception goes down, authorities will have confidence to re-open the airport.

If your trip is weeks away, I see a fair chance that airport will re-open by then and things will be back to normal. If it is late this week, or early next week, wait for another 24 hours to see how situation impoves/worsens.
Above: Ghatotkacha-Karna war statue near Ngrah Rai International Airport, Bali

Option 2: Work with your airline to reschedule your tickets
If you’ve decided not to continue with your planned visit, work with your airline to reschedule your trip or seek refund. Most budget airlines will refuse giving refund n losing money, most offer free rescheduling or credit back to wallet that needs to be used sooner to book fresh tickets. Full service airlines are usually more responsive in these situations.

Read my experience from 2015 Bali airport closure with Air Asia * Understanding Bali's volcanoes and its impact on tourism


  1. In fact we are struck in Bali since yesterday. No way out. We have been trying all the options, but not lucky.

    1. that's unfortunate. Which airline? Lambok airport is reportedly open-you've an option out of there?

      Hopefully DPS reopens tomorrow. unless you've some urgent work back home, best to relax for few more days till situation turns normal

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