Today we have a Reader Question regarding the rather chaotic and sad situation in Sri Lanka, in particular potential or existing reservations on Sri Lankan Airlines.
The country is currently in a political and economic crisis, suffering from inflation and shortages of petroleum products which might at some point also impact flight operations.
With that being said, people are increasingly worried that flights operated by SriLankan Airlines are eventually being canceled due to the infrastructure of the country no longer being able to support airport operations.
As the BBC reported this morning, the government fell today as protesters stormed the presidential residence and set the prime minister’s house on fire.
Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has announced he will step down after protesters stormed his official residence and set the prime minister’s house on fire. Neither the PM nor the president were in the buildings at the time.
Hundreds of thousands descended on the capital Colombo, calling for Mr Rajapaksa to resign after months of protests over economic mismanagement.
Mr Rajapaksa will step down on 13 July. PM Wickremesinghe has agreed to resign. …
After Saturday’s events, the United States appealed to the Sri Lankan leadership to act promptly to resolve the country’s economic crisis. …
Sri Lanka is suffering rampant inflation and is struggling to import food, fuel and medicine amid the country’s worst economic crisis in 70 years.
It has run out of foreign currency and has had to impose a ban on sales of petrol and diesel for private vehicles, leading to days-long queues for fuel. …
So far the shortages affect private consumers only but for how long will that remain the case? Much is the world is suffering from an energy shortage, leading to high prices for oil, gas and electricity. Paired with a high inflation these aren’t the best conditions.
This brings us to a question Jason from the UK has sent me:
Hi Sebastian, a few months ago I booked round trip tickets on Sri Lankan for my whole family from London to Bangkok via Colombo. The country is now in shambles and I’m afraid that the airline is either going to fold or there are other factors that will make the trip difficult. As we’re traveling with two young children I wouldn’t like to get stranded in Colombo or be unable to return home. Any advice?
These are valid concerns. While SriLankan is operating as normal right now there is no guarantee that the airline or Colombo Airport won’t be affected by what’s going on in the country.
As far as what there is to do right now, that’s a very good question. My advice would be to not book any more tickets on SriLankan Airlines for the time being. If you have existing reservations with them it depends on the kind of ticket you have.
Mileage tickets can usually be canceled and refunded for a small fee. Before doing so I’d make sure to have a viable alternative to rebook yourself on. Revenue tickets, especially saver fares, are often non-refundable, and canceling means the traveler would lose the bulk or all of the value. If the ticket conditions allow for a refund with a penalty the same principle applies as I mentioned before: Make sure you find another flight option first and then make a decision if you’re willing to “eat” the penalty in favore of booking another carrier.
In the worst situation of flights being canceled by the airline, customers are due a refund. If you get one is another question depending on the airline’s financial health at the time. Make sure you book with a credit card so a chargeback is possible if push comes to shove. Ideally, one that has decent travel protection such as the Amex Platinum Charge Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve.
As far as assurance is concerned, consulting the pages of your home country’s Embassy in Colombo and your Ministry of Foreign Affairs is a good resource. However, diplomatic missions tend to always be calm and easygoing until the proverbial excrement has already hit the fan. Reading between the lines and forming your own opinion based on what’s available in the media is always a good idea.
Right now everything is fine as far as SriLankan Airlines operations are concerned. It doesn’t hurt to apply a bit of foresight and caution though as (I think) it goes without saying that flying the national airline and transiting a country in deep crisis is something that should at least provide a basis for concern.
SriLankan Airlines usually has good deals from Europe to Asia (and vice versa) which is why many have booked this carrier. I remember flying them a couple of times between Bangkok and Hong Kong. It’s a beautiful country and I have fond memories of my visit there. Hopefully, there will be a solution at some point that provides a part to prosperity for these people or at least stabilize the situation.