“Canceled” an inside look at the eruption disruption from ‘across the pond’

Posted By: Selma Al-Faqih on April 22, 2010 9:37 am

Some 40,000 Americans were caught in the United Kingdom alone due to the recent activity of a certain mischievous volcano.  102,000 flights were cancelled worldwide in the last week.  The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said Wednesday airlines have lost $1.7 billion.  Stranded passengers are having to

shell out big bucks for hotel rooms and food.  The Ski Channel got in touch with a family stuck in Ireland for a first hand account of what it’s like across the pond.  She was able to email us through her iPhone, for a little Q&A:

 

Why did you travel overseas originally?
We’re in Ireland for a 6-day vacation, which was a belated honeymoon.  I’ve never been off the continent.  We brought our 13-year-old daughter since we thought the trip would be a good experience for her.

(Belated honeymoon?!  Slight understatement.)

When were you supposed to leave, how long is your delay?
We were scheduled to leave on Monday, April 19th at noon. Right now we’re scheduled to leave the following Monday, April 26th.

What happened the day of the eruption?

We first learned of the volcano affecting flights on Friday evening (4/16) but the news showed UK, Scandinavia, France, etc. covered with ash. According to their map, only Ireland and Portugal were clear. We felt that we had dodged a bullet!

How does the airline communicated info to you?
Late Saturday, when we returned from a road trip to Belfast, the news showed that airlines in Dublin might soon be affected. I checked the Aer Lingus website for information and it still showed our flight on schedule. On Sunday evening our flight status was changed to “cancelled” so I called our travel agent in NY and left a message. I still haven’t heard from them. We were staying in the Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt for the duration of our trip. On Monday, we checked out and

moved to a Travelodge in Swords (near the airport) at our expense.

After many phone calls to the airlines and travel agency, I finally found a number for a local branch of the agency. They recommended going to the airport if I couldn’t change my flight by phone with the airline or NY agency. The local agent also offered us a special rate at a hotel downtown. We took her advice, figuring the rental car and Travelodge combined were way more than the new hotel.

 

 

On Tuesday morning we turned in our car and took a shuttle to the airport. The soonest available flight we could get was a week after our original departure date. From there, we shuttled to our new hotel (Burlington), a huge upgrade from the Travelodge who didn’t even give us soap for the shower!

Does the airline cover any of your expenses?
We are paying all expenses. Only tonight watching the news did we discover that the airlines are supposed to cover food and lodging?? Hotels costs are about €600 and we’ve been spending at least €100 per day on food. I estimate by the end of the week we’ll spend at least €1,500 combined. (That’s about $2,300 US)

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[page] Have flights resumed?
The last flights out of UK were to Washington and Spain. It’s been VERY difficult to find any information specific to Ireland. The only updates I was ever able to gather were from the Aer Lingus website on my iPhone.Flights resumed Wednesday, according to BBC and Sky News. Again, we’re not hearing any local reports so fingers are crossed that Dublin is up and running. And by Monday we can finally go home.

What do you do all day, are you able to work remotely?
I didn’t bring my computer, expecting to be on vacation. I paid for an international data package on my iPhone but it’s limited to 50MB so I’ve been careful with my time online and trying to use mostly Wi-Fi connections. At least I’m able to send email.

Has this caused any impact on your personal or business life?
I’m trying very hard not to think about the deadlines at work, Costco Auto, I’ve missed. Luckily I have a remarkable staff so I don’t have to worry too much but I never take vacations. In 9 years, this is only my second so at least I have vacation hours to spare!

Your most memorable moment?
I think finally seeing “flight cancelled” on the Aer Lingus website.  Up to that point I believed we were going home. All the news up to then indicated Ireland was free and clear. We had gorgeous weather, blue skies. We were feeling very lucky and just hoping for the best.

Any interesting notes?

We’ve found people to be pretty friendly, more so after we were stranded.  Our first day stuck, we saw the Eye of Ireland and took a long walk along the Irish Sea out to their lighthouse. It was really amazing and we were quite grateful for the recommendation from a local.  We’re trying to make the best of this forced vacation. We went to see Clash of the Titans in 3D that night, and for a couple hours we forgot that we weren’t back home.

Have a safe and speedy journey home!

Thanks!  (signed)
Josie and Chris Herschel and our daughter Zoe :)

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