Ash Cloud Grounds Australian Flights - Travel Alert
The ash cloud from Chile's Puyehue volcano has returned to Australian airspace affecting services in and out of several airports including Adelaide, Canberra and the nation's busiest airport, Sydney. Melbourne may also be affected later in the day.
QANTAS has announced it will suspend ALL DOMESTIC SERVICES at Canberra from noon, and at Sydney from 3pm June 21st. The airline has already suspended services in and out of Adelaide, as has Jetstar.
Tiger Airways has grounded ALL of it's Australian services today.
QANTAS says international services at Sydney are under review, but QF1, QF5 and QF31 WILL all depart from Sydney at 2:15pm today.
Where's the Ash?
The volcanic ash advisory centre in Darwin says the cloud of ash from the June 5th eruption in Chile is circling the southern hemisphere from west to east, and has returned for a second time. Yesterday services in South Africa were affected.
This is the VAAC forecast map for the ash cloud.
Click here to take you to the VACC website and a larger version of the map.
The continuous line shape shows the estimated position of the ash cloud at FL 200 - 400, that's Flight Level 200 - 400, or 20,000 feet to 40,000 feet.
While the ash coud won't be generally visible from the ground in Sydney, it is sitting at the cruising altitude for jet aircraft.
In Europe aircraft are allowed to fly through areas of low to medium ash density, and BELOW areas of high ash density. In Australia QANTAS has taken the decision not to fly through or below any ash clouds for safety reasons.
At the present time Jetstar and Virgin Australia have not announced any plans to suspend flights to Sydney (indicating they ARE prepared to fly below the cloud).
The airlines are all posting information of delays and cancellations on their websites, and you can read the latest by following these links:
What Can I Do?
Each of the airlines is offering passengers the opportunity to change their flights, re-schedule to another time, or obtain a refund, without paying any penalty fees.
Virgin Australia has details of accommodation reimbursement if the delay means you need to find a hotel. They'll give you up to $200 per room per night for a maximum of 2 nights - but you'll need to keep all receipts.
Details are on their flight information page (use the links above).
Am I Covered as a World Nomads Policy Holder?
Maybe, we'll get to that in a moment, but you may not need to call on your travel insurance, because all of the airlines are doing their best to pick up the pieces for you.
All of them are waiving fees for re-scheduling, or changing flights, changing destinations, re-routing and they're even offering full refunds or letting you put the value of the lost fare towards another one in the future.
Virgin Australia will even pick your hotel bill for a couple of nights if you're stuck because of the delays. The full details are on their information page (see the link above). If you're travelling with another airline and you're stuck - ask them about reimbursing your accommodation costs.
As always, the first thing you should do if you're affected is call your airline and make arrangements through them.
Please read the following information regarding coverage for Natural Disasters for your policy.
Emergency Assistance Contacts
Call the emergency assistance hotlines should you need immediate attention (phone numbers below for WorldNomad's policy holders).Please have your name, location and phone number ready when you call (and policy number if available)
Author: Phil Sylvester
Australia's airlines continue to be affected by the volcanic ash cloud from Chile - as Virgin, Jetstar and QANTAS cancel all services to and from Tasmania and New Zealand - and terminate some others. The airlines hoped to see a full return to the ... read more »
UPDATE: 1:30PM AEST June 20: The ash cloud from Chile's Puyehue volcano - having caused major disruptions to airports around the world - has moved across the Atlantic and is grounding flights in Cape Town, South Africa, and is giving Australia ... read more »
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