Lombok quake: Most travellers go ahead with trips despite worry; travel agencies received no cancellation requests

Travellers standing in line at Changi Airport, where flights to Lombok and Bali were operating as usual on Aug 6, 2018.
Travellers standing in line at Changi Airport, where flights to Lombok and Bali were operating as usual on Aug 6, 2018.ST PHOTO: JAN LEE

SINGAPORE - A day after a powerful earthquake rocked the Indonesian holiday islands of Lombok and Bali, Mr Jimmy Wang and his wife were spotted at Changi Airport on Monday morning (Aug 6) checking in for their flight to Bali, where they are due to hold their wedding.

Mr Wang, a 31-year-old Singaporean who works in IT infrastructure, told The Straits Times that he is going ahead with the trip despite being worried, as the couple had spent a year planning for the wedding and are expecting some 50 guests.

"Of course we are worried, but we're hoping that it'll be fine after the quake," he said.

"We have a group of guests, a family of three, who won't be able to come to the wedding, because they are currently in Lombok and now they can't fly out. But they are fine," he added.

Most flights to Lombok and Bali were operating as usual on Monday morning. When ST visited the airport, many travellers turned up at the airport from about 8am.

A check of Changi Airport's website showed that only Garuda Indonesia flight GA840 departing from Singapore at 10am to Denpasar International Airport in Bali was cancelled, though it is unclear if the cancellation is related to the quake.

When contacted, local travel agencies said that they have not received any requests from customers so far to cancel their trips to the two destinations.

Ms Justine Koh, a spokesman for Chan Brothers Travel, said that the agency it is in touch with its airline partners and ground operators to assess developments.

"If required, necessary changes to flights and itineraries will be made in order to allow our travellers to continue their programmes as scheduled, as far as possible," Ms Koh said.

She added that tour groups are led by tour leaders and have 24/7, on-the-road assistance, while those on free-and-easy packages can call a 24-hour hotline for emergency support.

Dynasty Travel spokesman Alicia Seah told ST that several customers have already re-routed parts of their holiday plans to Malaysia and Vietnam since the last earthquake in Lombok on July 29.

She added that customers will receive help to re-book, re-route or get a refund of their trip depending on terms and conditions.

Meanwhile, she encouraged them to buy comprehensive travel insurance that will cover a change of holiday plans due to natural disasters.

Some Singaporean holidaymakers have chosen to be cautious and return home early.

Friends Rebecca Tan and Natasha Lim landed at Changi Airport on an AirAsia flight at about 11.30am on Monday, after just one day of a planned week-long vacation.

The pair were in Seminyak, Bali when they experienced the aftershocks and tremors.

 
 
 
 

"We felt two tremors on Sunday evening which lasted about a minute. The water in the pool was moving as well," said Ms Lim, a 21-year-old undergraduate.

"We were quite scared so we decided to come back earlier."

Ms Tan, 25, who works in advertising, added: "We thought it was too big a risk to take, and we will keep wondering when another aftershock will hit."

She added: "We have travel insurance. We will try and see what we can claim."

On Monday, the first flight from Singapore to Lombok following the earthquake departed as scheduled at 3.45pm, with few Singaporeans on board. 

Most of the 30 passengers seen waiting for SilkAir flight MI128 at the departure lounge were tourists. 

Among them was British national Matt Sherriff, 33, and his 28-year-old wife, Poppy, who flew in from London on Monday morning and had a transit in Singapore before their flight to Lombok.

They had planned the trip six months in advance and found out about the quake only when they landed in Singapore.

The couple chose to go ahead with their holiday, as they will be staying in the western part of Lombok, which Mr Sherriff said will be away from the main epicentre of the earthquake.

"We just wanted to go somewhere new, and to do literally nothing for a week," said Mr Sherriff. “It’s not an adventure without any risks."

Also unfazed was Chinese tourist Li Cheng Lin, 30, and her husband Liu Jian, 35, who had transited in Singapore en-route to Lombok.

“Lombok is a big island and the tsunami warning was lifted, so we aren’t too concerned.” said Ms Li, who has planned a 10-day trip.

However, Ms Li said that if the situation takes a turn for the worse, they may fly to Bali for the rest of the trip.

On Monday morning, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) advised Singaporeans to defer travel to Lombok during this period, in view of the recent frequent earthquakes and aftershocks in the Lombok area.

Those who are currently in Lombok are advised to make the necessary arrangements to leave the area via commercial flights, which are still operating out of Lombok International Airport, MFA added.