Reader Question: Is it advisable to fly and rely on bookings with SriLankan Airlines?
So far, the shortages are only affecting private consumers, but how long will this remain the case? The world is suffering greatly from an energy shortage, leading to high prices for oil, gas and electricity. Combined with high inflation, these are not the best conditions.
This brings us to a question that Jason from the UK sent me:
Hi Sebastian, a few months ago I booked return tickets to Sri Lanka for all my family from London to Bangkok via Colombo. The country is now in shambles and I’m afraid the airline will fold or other factors will make the trip difficult. As we are traveling with two young children, I wouldn’t want to get stuck in Colombo or not be able to get home. No advice?
These are valid concerns. Although Sri Lanka is operating normally at this time, there is no guarantee that the airline or the airport in Colombo will not be affected by what is happening in the country.
As for what to do now, that’s a very good question. My advice would be to stop booking tickets on SriLankan Airlines for now. If you have existing reservations with them, it depends on the type of ticket you have.
Mileage tickets can usually be canceled and refunded for a small fee. Before doing so, I would make sure I had a viable alternative to rebook you. Recipe tickets, especially discount fares, are often non-refundable, and cancellation means the traveler would lose most or all of the value. If the ticket conditions allow for a refund with a penalty, the same principle I mentioned earlier applies: first make sure you find another flight option, then decide if you’re ready to “eat ” the penalty in favor of booking another carrier. .
In the worst case, the flights being canceled by the airline, customers must be reimbursed. Whether you get one is another matter depending on the financial health of the airline at the time. Be sure to book with a credit card so that a chargeback is possible if needed. Ideally, one that has decent travel protection like the Amex Platinum or Chase Sapphire Reserve charge card.
Regarding insurance, 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 quiet and easy-going until the proverbial poop has already reached the fan. Reading between the lines and forming your own opinion based on what is available in the media is always a good idea.
At present, all is well with regards to the operations of SriLankan Airlines. It doesn’t hurt to apply a little forethought and caution, because (I think) it goes without saying that flying with the national airline and transiting through a country in deep crisis is something that should at least elicit some concerns.
SriLankan Airlines usually offers good deals from Europe to Asia (and vice versa), which is why many have booked this carrier. I remember flying them several times between Bangkok and Hong Kong. It is a beautiful country and I have fond memories of my visit there. Hopefully there will be a solution at some point that will bring some prosperity to these people or at least stabilize the situation.