Agents with clients in Bali continue to scramble to make
accommodations for their travelers after a multi-day closure of the airport due
to a volcano Mount Agung's eruption.
Pina Azzaro, an adviser with Executive Edge Travel, a
Virtuoso member agency in Melbourne, Australia, is one of them: She got a
surprise call on Monday morning from one of her VIP corporate clients.
"He just called me Monday morning my time and said, 'Pina,
I'm in Bali at the moment. I'm here on my own personal time, and I need your
help, please, because I need to get out,'" Azzaro recalled on her drive
into work Thursday morning in Melbourne.
Azzaro immediately got to work examining ways she could get
her client back to Australia, and she hit road blocks.
She considered chartering a private helicopter, but they
weren't operating. She also considered getting her client to Surabaya in East
Java, where there is an airport, via private boat from his location in
Seminyak, toward the southern tip of Bali.
"Unfortunately, because of the high tides because of
the cyclones in the area, you can't even do that," she said.
Finally, Azzaro landed on what seemed to be the only
solution: Traveling by car, then a short ferry ride, then car again to the
airport in Surabaya. Normally, the journey would take 10-11 hours. But her
contact on the ground told her it was taking up to 17 hours because of traffic,
delays and some flooding in East Java.
"We tried to look at all solutions for him to try to
make it as quick and comfortable and efficient as possible," she said, but
the long journey seemed the only one possible.
On Wednesday evening in Australia, Azzaro's client agreed to
However, she got word about the airport opening that
evening, and on Thursday morning was headed into the office to book her client
on the first possible flight out.
"Fingers and toes crossed that it works out," she
In the interim, her client has been enjoying time at the
beach and golfing, making the best of the situation. Azzaro said he has been
patient, calm and understanding, the best kind of client to ask for in such a
She has been in touch with him every day this week to help
get him out of Bali.
"Our priority is our client," she said. "At
the end of the day, as long as the client is happy, that is most important,
because it's not a matter of commission or the money you make or anything. If
the client's not happy, that is the worst advertisement in the world, the worst
marketing you could do."