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Stranded half-way around the world due to disruption to UK flights from Iceland Volcano

I’m writing this sat in a hotel in India not knowing when I will be coming home to the UK. This is a problem effecting thousands of UK travellers.

I remember watching the volcano on the news earlier in the week. I watched the news with the same feeling of detachment that most of us do when watching news in a far off country. The news showed people being evacuated from their homes and whilst I felt sympathy for those effected I didn’t dream that it would effect me directly. After all why would a volcano 1000 miles away from home airport and in the opposite direction that I travelled effect my travel plans?

That all changed yesterday when restrictions were placed on English airspace due to the volcanic cloud from Iceland. My journey back is not due to start until the early hours of tomorrow morning, but at the moment it’s looking that I’ll be spending at least one more day before flights start departing and perhaps much longer until I get home.

I haven’t started towards the airport yet. It looks like I’ll be staying the stay at my hotel, until I get confirmation from my airline that I should start the journey home.

Whilst under most circumstances the thought of having a free weekend to explore India sounds appealing the uncertainty over when I’m coming home means that I’m unlikely to relax and properly enjoy the time here. I will have childcare issues if I’m not back in the UK on Monday and more importantly I’m missing my family and can’t wait to see them again.

It’s the uncertainty that is really frustrating me. I phoned the airline this morning who were not able to provide any useful information. They took my mobile number and promised to call with more information, but 6 hours later I’m still waiting to hear back. I have BBC world news at the hotel and I’m regularly checking the BBC News website which is being updated, but with no real idea of when this will end.

At one point I did think whether there was an alternative route, but with Charles de Gaulle airport closed there is not even any opportunity to get an alternative flight and train. I’d even drive from a city in Europe to the ferry if only I could get to Europe, but with the rest of the airports in Europe closing that’s not an option either. For now it sounds like I’ve just got to sit wait.

Then what happens. When the flights start again there will be a huge backlog of passengers that are waiting for flights that didn’t happen. How long will I need to wait to get a seat and when will I get back in the UK? At the moment it’s anyone’s guess.

2 Responses to “Stranded half-way around the world due to disruption to UK flights from Iceland Volcano”

  1. Stewart Says:

    I have an Update.

    Emirates Airlines were not as helpful as I would expect. They basically told me that my flight was cancelled and that I had to make my own alternative flight booking. They offered the next available flight as next Friday – one week after my scheduled return.

    Fortunately the staff at American Express travel were much better. It took a long time to get through on the phone. After I’d been waiting on hold for an hour I had someone based in the UK call and got through much quicker – maybe he used a different number to me though. The agent I spoke to bent over backwards to find alternative flights as early as possible. As a result I now have a return flight booked for Tuesday. He did find some flights a bit sooner, but the first wouldn’t accept the booking (suspect the seat was grabbed by someone else first), and then the next flight was via Nairobi. I wasn’t over keen on the Nairobi option in case a sudden change in situation in the UK got me as far as Kenya and then didn’t connect onwards. At least with my new route it goes via Frankfurt where there are other options for getting back if needed.

    Compared with my original plans it’s a longer route with an additional stop-over and significantly increased cost, but if it gets me back then I’ll be happy.

    Fortunately this is a business trip so I can stay at my current hotel and then fly back without it costing me anything directly. Otherwise I’d be at the mercy of the airline and/or insurance which may not have been so good.

  2. » Getting home after the volcanic ash cleared - Watkissonline Says:

    […] (Children, IT, first aid and other ramblings …) « Stranded half-way around the world due to disruption to UK flights from Iceland Volcano […]

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