It’s a traveller’s worst nightmare: there has been a freak natural disaster and all out-going flights have been suspended indefinitely. You’re facing a sea of angry tourists, bickering with frazzled attendants at airline desks in various dialects, with a chaotic line forming behind them. You are armed with nothing but a passport and a few crinkled foreign dollars. What would you do?
Such is the situation dozens of Australians in Nepal are facing. Mitchell Pedavoli, a 25-year-old Blacktown man, said he has been in contact with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade but that there is little they can do to help the stranded tourists.
“I spoke to them on two occasions yesterday and they will offer no assistance to get anyone out of Lukla, that’s plain and simple, that what they said,” Mr Pedavoli said.
Don’t be one of those people arguing at the desks, or being shoved around in the jumbled queue. Keep your cool use these simple tips as your survival guide.
1. Be prepared.
It’s the Scout’s motto for a reason. By signing up to receive text message alerts regarding delays or flight cancellations, you are less likely to end up stranded at the airport in the first place. Also save all important numbers (airlines, travel agents, insurance) in your phone. Keep a phone charger in your carry-on- batteries die when you need them the most. Have a full change of clothes in your carry-on (yes, this means socks and undies).
2. Know your rights.
Volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, hurricanes or any freak weather events are considered “force majeure“- that means it isn’t in the airline’s control. If your flight is cancelled due to a natural disaster, they are not usually obligated to refund your ticket. Check your airline’s policies. You should be allowed to rebook without a penalty within a timeframe, though. Don’t be afraid to ask if the airline can put you up in a hotel or offer a food voucher. The worst thing they can say is “no”.
3. Social media is your friend.
Twitter and Facebook are public platforms, meaning they are more likely to respond quickly (and favourably) to complaints or queries.
4. Find a hotel
As soon as you find out you’re spending the night, find a hotel. You don’t need heated floor tiles or a view of the ocean, you need a place to sleep and shower. Also ask if you can add extra nights without penalties. If a hotel realises they can start upping their prices to take advantage of stranded passengers, you want to have the upper-hand.
5. Stake your claim
If a hotel isn’t an option, while everyone else is in chaos find a space to wait it out. Consider somewhere it will be possible to sleep and preferably somewhere close to a powerpoint.
6. Remember: it could be worse
Today, the Twitter-verse had its own ideas of #WorstPlacestoBeStranded.