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Britain's flight ban LIFTED!


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Britain's flight ban to be LIFTED tomorrow (but now the battle begins to clear the massive backlog)



By Sophie Freeman and Richard Simpson

Last updated at 6:49 PM on 19th April 2010





  • Scottish airspace to open at 6am, Midlands at 12pm, South at 6pm
  • British Airways to resume some London flights from 7pm
  • Still 150,000 Britons stranded abroad, thousands miss school and work
  • Heathrow ramps up security amid fears of passenger deluge

The blanket ban on flying to and from the UK will be lifted as early as 6am tomorrow, airport sources revealed this afternoon.

Scottish airspace will reopen first, followed by the Midlands around midday and airports in the South at around 6pm.

British Airways also confirmed they will be resuming some flights to and from London from 7pm.


The news will come as a massive relief to the thousands of British travellers stranded abroad - although the backlog of flights is likely to take days to clear.




Dramatic: The Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland continues to erupt today, causing widespread air traffic disruption with its clouds of volcanic ash



Choking: Smoke continues to billow from the Icelandic volcano today as it was revealed British airspace will reopen tomorrow

British Airways, who confirmed flights will be resumed as quickly as possible, said: 'We are working on detailed plans to help as many customers as possible who have been unable to fly due to the unprecedented circumstances that have faced all airlines operating in northern Europe over the last five days.

'We will aim to give customers as much notice as possible of our flight programme.






'Tomorrow, we will aim to operate long-haul departures that were scheduled to depart after 4pm and short-haul departures scheduled to depart after 7pm. This will however be subject to the full and permanent opening of airspace. All flights before these times have been cancelled.'

BA said it had more than 80 aircraft and almost 3,000 cabin crew and pilots out of position overseas across its global network.


The airline continued: 'All of these aircraft will require detailed checks before they are cleared to enter service again.

'Inevitably, this will mean some delays and we ask for our customers' patience and understanding in these very difficult circumstances. Customers should check their exact flight details on ba.com and only come to the airport if they have a booking and their flight is operating.'


Electric: The volcano still looked lively today - despite claims its activity has 'dramatically decreased'


But security at all airports is likely to be heightened following the volcano eruption.


A source at Heathrow told the Mail: 'At between 6pm and 7pm tomorrow night, we will have a controlled opening of Heathrow.


'Every door of every terminal will be manned by police and airport security. Unless you have a print-out of a document which proves you are on a flight leaving on Tuesday night, you will not be allowed in the terminal.

'There will be an airline representative on each door of each terminal. Each passenger will be ticked off from a list before being allowed to enter.

'Flights will operate through the night. The night restriction will therefore be lifted but there will be a slower rate of flights per hour - 25 flights per hour compared to the usual 50 flights per hour. There will be fewer flights taking off and fewer landing by half.

'There will be no flight transfer facilities.


'From that point onwards, BAA (the airport's operator) hopes to operate a normal schedule with the working day starting at 4.30am. The night flight ban is being lifted from Tuesday night for one night only then we will be resuming a normal service from then onwards.

'We're obviously concerned about being swamped and that is why we have ramped up security.


'If police and security cannot deal with the deluge of passengers turning up, the airport will be closed again.

'Each airline knows where their flights currently are and where their crews currently are. They have had to submit to the air traffic control operators and to BAA which flights they will operate tomorrow night. It is up to each airline which flights they will be putting on.'

Air traffic control company Nats confirmed they would be lifting restrictions for Scotland and part of northern England from 7am tomorrow.


Nats said in a statement: 'The volcanic eruption has reduced and the volcano is not currently emitting ash to altitudes that will affect the UK.


'Assuming there are no further significant ash emissions, we are now looking at a continuously improving situation.


'This is a dynamic and changing situation and is therefore difficult to forecast beyond 7am tomorrow.


'However, the latest Met Office advice is that the contaminated area will continue to move south, with the possibility that restrictions to airspace above England and Wales, including the London area, may be lifted later tomorrow.




Manchester Airport will be open from 9am tomorrow.

British Airways said it would aim to resume some flights in and out of London's airports from 7pm tomorrow.

Both Gatwick and Heathrow airports warned passengers not to turn up until they had checked first with their airline.


Thomson Airways said it was cancelling all UK outbound flights due to operate up to and including Wednesday.

Airline bmi said it planned to resume UK domestic flights from Heathrow at 7pm tomorrow and from regional UK airports from 1pm.

Virgin Atlantic Airways said it planned to operate 'a number of flights tomorrow once airspace has re-opened'.

Airline Flybe said it would start operating services again from Aberdeen, Belfast City, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Newcastle airports from 10.05am tomorrow. The first flight will take off from Belfast City airport at 10.05 heading for Edinburgh.

Irish airspace restrictions are to continue until 5am local time, Tuesday 20th April 2010, according to an update from the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA).

All passengers are advised to check the status of their flight with their airline before travelling to any airport.




'It is now for airports and airlines to decide how best to utilise this opportunity. Passengers should contact their airlines to find out how this will affect their travel plans.'

Forecasters said that the eruptions from the volcano responsible for the aviation chaos had 'virtually ceased' but that time was needed to ensure that the ash cloud was sufficiently dispersed.

They also predicted that the winds currently coming from the north east would switch to the south west later in the week, taking any potential ash plume away to polar regions.


Before the announcement of the resumption of some UK flights, fears were expressed that airline workers could be laid off.


Ferry, cruise and coach companies all reported a surge in bookings.

While travel organisations warned that it would be some time before travel and airports were back to normal, airlines were counting the cost of the disruption, which has seen a shutdown of UK airports since the end of last week.

BA said the flight ban had cost it around £15 million to £20 million a day.

The news comes as British Airways today demanded an end to the blanket ban on UK air travel, claiming evidence from its own test flights proved the restrictions were 'unnecessary'.

Pressure has been mounting on the Government to end the ban which was introduced last Thursday and has left more than 150,000 Britons still stranded abroad.

Transport Secretary Lord Adonis today said there had been a 'dramatic decrease' in the volcano's activity, adding 'iIt may be possible to start opening some UK airspace tomorrow.

At an emergency meeting of BAA bosses at Heathrow's Terminal 3 this afternoon, one manager asked whether the flight ban was being lifted because the volcanic ash 'had cleared'.


The answer came: 'That and other reasons.'


Those reasons remained unclear yesterday, however the Government has been under mounting pressure from airline chiefs angry that the flight ban has cost them some £200 million a day.

Finer details of the airport opening will be decided at a raft of top-level talks between the Government, BAA bosses, airline chiefs and air traffic control operators in the hours running up the ban being lifted tomorrow.


Travel experts say it could take up to a fortnight for flights to return to normal after the ban if lifted.

BA's chief executive Willie Walsh took to the skies yesterday in a bid to prove the cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland does not prove a danger to flying.

He joined a crew of four in a three-hour test flight from London to Cardiff via the Atlantic - flying as high as 40,000ft - and said there had been 'no variations in the aircraft's normal operational performance'.


In particular, the plane's 'black box' flight data recorders showed that all four engines had performed 'without fault for the duration of the flight'.

He said: 'The analysis we have done so far, alongside that from other airlines' trial flights, provides fresh evidence that the current blanket restrictions on airspace are unnecessary.


'We believe airlines are best positioned to assess all available information and determine what, if any, risk exists to aircraft, crew and passengers.

'Since airspace was closed on Thursday our assessment is that the risk has been minimal and can be managed by alternative procedures to maintain the highest, safest standards.

'We believe that we should be allowed to take the same responsibility over safety issues over the recent volcanic eruptions in Iceland.'


Today three of the Royal Navy's most illustrious ships were deployed to rescue stranded Britons from France and Spain.

After a meeting of the emergency planning committee Cobra in Whitehall earlier today, Gordon Brown revealed the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal, and the helicopter carrier HMS Ocean will be made available for the massive relief effort.

Both ships are on their way to the English Channel.


A third Royal Navy vessel, the amphibious landing ship HMS Albion, is already on its way to Santander in northern Spain to pick up troops and 'may be able to be of help', the Prime Minister said.


But airlines have slammed ministers for their approach to the crisis, claiming the blanket ban on flights was an overreaction to the potential threat posed by the cloud of volcanic ash without assessing the actual risks involved.

One air trade body described the reaction by European governments as a 'mess' and an 'embarrassment'.

Giovanni Bisignani, director-general of the International Air Transport Association, told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: 'This is a European embarrassment and it's a European mess. It took five days to organise a conference call with the ministers of transport.

'Europeans are still using a system that's based on a theoretical model, instead of taking a decision based on facts and risk assessment.


Long wait: Passengers queue to board a ferry bound for England at the Ouistreham harbour, northwestern France, today





Homeward-bound: British tourists wait to board a ferry at a port in the northern Spanish city of Santander today

'This decision (to close airspace) has to be based on facts and supported by risk assessment. We need to replace this blanket approach with a practical approach.'

But speaking on Sky News, Lord Adonis denied that the European approach to the problem had been 'crude and simplistic' and had 'cost us dear'.

'That's not the case,' he said.


Independent aviation research group The Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation has also questioned whether the restrictions could be 'a massive overreaction of super-cautious politicians and bureaucrats who are far more concerned about their own liability' while suffering none of the 'financial carnage' caused by the ban.

Pilots, former pilots and airlines have added to the pressure on authorities to relax the ban by suggesting that they would be willing to fly.



There was good news for the British tourism industry today as it was revealed hotels in the capital were fully-booked with stranded visitors.

Sally Chatterjee of Visit London, the tourist office for the capital, said: 'Hotels are seeing additional bookings by passengers unable to take flights out of the capital, which is balancing the visitors who have been unable to fly into London.'



Dutch airline KLM and German carrier Lufthansa also carried out test flights over the weekend without incurring any issues.

A spokesman for KLM said: 'We have not found anything unusual and no irregularities, which indicates the atmosphere is clean and safe to fly.'

But Max Sukkhasantikul, commercial aviation consulting analyst with business research and consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, said the test flights were 'more of a publicity stunt' than 'proper' test flights.

He said: 'The public are deceived as airlines such as KLM, Lufthansa, and British Airways have conducted so-called 'test flights' of which they claim the volcanic ash has not jeopardised flight safety.

'These flights, in reality, are far from test flights - more of a publicity stunt - as the flights do not have any testing equipment and they needed to be flown on those segments anyway.


'For example the British Airways flight to Cardiff needed to be flown regardless, as the aircraft needed to conduct maintenance there.


'The Lufthansa and KLM 'test flights' were merely repositioning of aircraft to best resolve the crisis once the flight ban is lifted.'

Germany's aviation authority said it had granted Lufthansa permission to fly 50 long-haul planes back home with about 15,000 passengers.

Lufthansa spokesman Jan Baerwald said the planes, scattered around the world, would start getting ready 'right now'. The first flights will be from the Far East, with others following from Africa and North America, he said.


Dirty: Volcanic ash - which can have devastating effects on jet engines - settles on cars in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik



Dark skies: Livestock gather together as a plume of ash from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano blackens the air around them

The planes will fly to Frankfurt, Munich and Duesseldorf, he said, adding that 'we have an exception that allows us to fly so-called visual flight rules'.

Mr Baerwald noted that air traffic control is still keeping its restrictions on German airspace.


British Airways said the flight ban was costing the company between £15million and £20m a day in lost passenger and freight revenue as well as costs incurred supporting passengers abroad unable to fly home.

Easyjet said it had ltaken a hit of around £40 million so far after having to cancel 4,500 flights over the past five days, while travel organisation Abta said the current problem was the biggest operational issue the industry had faced in living memory.


BA today revealed that several airlines have asked the European Union for financial compensation for the closure of airspace.


Mr Walsh said there is a precedent for compensation because it was paid after the closure of U.S. airspace following terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

The blanket ban was imposed on Thursday by Nats, in line with advice laid down by the International Civil Aviation Organisation in 1982 following a near-disaster involving a BA flight over Indonesia which lost power after flying through a volcanic plume.

But the closure of British airspace has caused massive disruption for hundreds of thousands of people.


With the end of the Easter break today, many classrooms will be missing both pupils and teachers as families struggle to return home from holidays.

Students about to sit crucial GCSE and A Level exams have the most to lose from missing school, while absent teaching staff face docked pay in some areas of the country.

NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said school leaders will have to determine if a school can stay open or if staff shortages are so severe that it is forced to close.

'Unfortunately, there will inevitably be some employers whose first thought is not focused on service delivery but on penalising teachers for failing to attend work,' she added.

'Reports have already emerged that one authority in the West Midlands, Coventry, apparently has stated that teachers who fail to report to work will be docked pay and expected to reclaim it from their travel insurance.

'This situation is affecting workers and workplaces nationally and internationally. To single out teachers is totally unreasonable and unnecessary.

'Employers should be warned that they are vulnerable to a legal challenge for unlawful deduction of salary if they seek to penalise teachers in this way.'

Cllr John Blundell, Coventry City Council's cabinet member for children, learning and young people, said he was not aware of such a policy and did not yet know how many teachers would be affected.

A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said the situation was being closely monitored, adding: 'Schools have contingency plans in place and headteachers are best placed to decide how to cover for absent staff effectively and support pupils forced to miss classes catch-up quickly.'

Europe's flight ban has also prevented some life-saving transplant tissue from reaching patients, while other operations have had to be cancelled because surgeons are stuck overseas.

Henny Braund, chief executive of the Anthony Nolan Trust, which finds matches for patients who need bone marrow transplants, said today that at least 16 British patients had already been affected.

They include a toddler waiting for marrow cells to get to her from Canada.

'It has been a nightmare, said Miss Braund. 'We have cells sitting in North America while patients in the UK are being kept in isolation waiting for their transplant to arrive.'


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1267257/Iceland-volcano-eruption-UK-flight-ban-LIFTED-tomorrow.html#ixzz0lZPygMUG

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New volcano ash cloud heading towards UK throws plans to open Britain's airports into chaos



By David Williams, Vanessa Allen, Ray Massey and Ian Drury

Last updated at 1:27 AM on 20th April 2010




A new eruption of the Icelandic volcano threw into chaos plans last night to get Britain flying again.

Passengers who were told flights would resume today had their hopes dashed after more cancellations were announced.

A new ash cloud heading towards the country has forced all London airports to stay closed.

Others in England might be open from 1pm, but this is not certain. Scottish airports were due to open at 7am.



The after-effects of the volcano eruption in southern Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull glacier is likely to cause further chaos for a fortnight

BA had intended to resume flights from London airports today but last night it had to cancel those plans.

A spokesman for the air traffic control service Nats said: 'The volcano eruption in Iceland has strengthened and a new ash cloud is spreading south and east towards the UK.






'This demonstrates the dynamic and rapidly changing conditions in which we are working.


'Latest information from the Met Office shows that the situation is worsening in some areas.'

The Met Office itself said strong high-altitude winds were blowing the new cloud towards the UK more quickly than the one which followed the first eruption.



Frustrated passengers are likely to have to wait longer for their journey home




The travel chaos is also expected to affect those using ferries to continue their onward journies

But the weather experts were facing increasingly hostile attacks from airlines accusing them of using faulty data.

Nats planned further updates at around 3am and 7am today. Manchester Airport said it was sticking with plans to open at 9am, but would monitor the updates.

A meeting of the government's emergency planning committee Cobra, chaired by Gordon Brown, was held last night to discuss the latest updates on the ash. Cobra will meet again today.

Last night the Met Office was accused of unnecessarily triggering the six-day closure of British airspace which has cost passengers, airlines and the economy more than £1.5billion.

Critics said the agency used a scientific model based on 'probability' rather than fact to forecast the spread of the ash cloud.

Matthias Ruete, the European Commission's director general of transport, said the ban should have been restricted to a 20 to 30-mile limit around the volcano.

He said: 'The science behind the model we are running is based on certain assumptions where we do not have scientific evidence.'








The results of 40 or so airline test flights at the weekend, including a British Airways flight on Sunday, suggested the risks were not as high as the computer models predicted.


None found evidence of any ash in engines, windows or lubrication systems.

Airlines are losing an estimated £130million a day in revenue because of the ban.

Giovanni Bisignani, head of the International Air Transport Association, said: 'The chaos, inconvenience and economic losses are not theoretical.


'They are enormous. We must make decisions based on the real situation in the sky, not on theoretical models.'


In a joint letter to Transport Secretary Lord Adonis, 11 British airlines said the official response to the eruption presented a 'clear case' for compensation from the Government and the EU.

BA alone estimates the crisis is costing it up to £20million a day.


Enlarge article-0-09347C45000005DC-670_634x359.jpg


Mr Brown announced yesterday that three Royal Navy ships - the aircraft carrier Ark Royal, HMS Ocean and HMS Albion - will join a Dunkirk-style rescue.


Albion was due to pick up some 300 troops, including men from 3rd Battalion The Rifles, returning after a gruelling six-month tour in Afghanistan, from the northern Spanish port of Santander this morning.

Ark Royal and Ocean will use French Channel ports. It is likely people wanting to board will have to show a a British passport.

While the decision to call in the Navy was welcomed, there were questions over whether the ships should all have been sent to Spain and not France where ferry companies said they were coping with the massive demand.



Eurostar has put on at least an extra 28 trains and says it has 30,000 standard class one-way seats available from today at £89.

The Government is also discussing a plan to create an air hub in Madrid for flights from outside the ash zone.


Passengers would be transported by road and rail to Calais and other French ports.

Even before the situation worsened last night, thousands of Britons stranded abroad had been told they could face two more weeks of chaos and uncertainty.

Tour operators and airlines said the backlog caused by the erupting volcano Eyjafjallokull is so great that it will take up to 14 days to clear.

British Airways said it had 80 aircraft and almost 3,000 cabin crew and pilots out of position across its global network.

Tour operator Seasons in Style said: 'Despite airspace beginning to open up, it will still take around two weeks for airlines to bring home the vast majority of stranded Britons.

'Airlines will need to get planes back into position and prioritise last week's passengers, and many of Europe's rail companies are reporting their trains full until the weekend.'

Most airlines promised to prioritise those who had been waiting in airports around the world for days.

There were suggestions last night that some airlines might pay passengers who do not need to return urgently to wait for a later flight.

Airlines have provoked fury with calls for the abolition of the regime that requires them to help passengers stranded by flight cancellations.

EU rules state that where a flight is cancelled, the airline is required to provide hotel accommodation, meals and other essentials such as the cost of phone calls.

But there are reports that many people have been left to fend for themselves.

Michael O'Leary of Ryanair said it was 'nuts' to impose such a responsibility and a bill of possibly millions on airlines.

The unwilling exiles desperate to come home




Among the Britons trapped abroad were some having trouble convincing friends and family that their enforced stay in luxurious destinations was an ordeal.

In Barbados the Griffiths family from Lymington, Hampshire, faced an extra week's stay at the cost of at least £500 a night.


£3,000 bill: Alex and Sophie Griffiths with Kit, Charlie and India


ALEX GRIFFITHS and his wife Sophie, both 35, arrived two weeks ago with their three children, Charlie, seven, India, five, and two-year-old Kit.

Flying with Virgin Atlantic, they spent around £20,000 on a fortnight's stay at the five-star Cobblers Cove hotel on the island's west coast, but now face travelling home in two groups.

Mr Griffiths, a businessman, said: 'This will cost us £3,000. Everybody at this hotel has got an issue that makes being stuck in paradise slightly less appealing and some people are getting angry.

'I'm sure everybody at home thinks we are having a wonderful time, but after two weeks we are ready to come home.'

Risk assessor MARK FIELD flew to the Caribbean to examine a new resort. But he is now trapped on the island of Antigua after being due to return home on Thursday.

The earliest flight available for the 45-year-old is Saturday, and he says that being stuck on a paradise island alone is not much fun.

The father of two said: 'I've got fantastic views across a little cove lined with palm trees. But I have daughters aged nine and six and a wife and I'm missing them terribly.'

JUNE WELLS, 69, has spent the last four nights attempting to catch a few moments' sleep curled up in a seat at one of Heathrow's departure lounges after her Air Canada flight to Ottowa was cancelled.

Despite her age, airline staff did not offer her a blanket or even a refreshment during the first three days. But yesterday both BA and American Airlines handed out sandwiches and hot drinks.

The retired hairdresser, who had been visiting her mother and sister in Hertfordshire, said that after more than two months away from home, she is desperate to return, and has chosen to remain at Heathrow in the event that the ash cloud clears.

A short break in Alicante has turned into a nightmare for LORRAINE SWALLOW, who is desperate to return home with her daughter and teenage niece.





June Wells, 69, slept at the airport while Philippa Wills (right) and daughter Milly hired a bus


The three, from Basingstoke, Hampshire, had travelled to Spain with easyJet early for a few days in the sun, but have now been told the first available return flight is on April 29.

Pensions administrator Mrs Swallow, 47, said: 'The only alternative is to try to reach Santander in the hope of getting on one of the Royal Navy ships.'

PHILIPPA WILLS spent £2,500 of her life savings to hire a minibus for her family to get home from the Algarve.

Short of cash, all eight family members - including a couple in their seventies - spent an uncomfortable night sleeping in the minibus in Calais. Mrs Wills, 40, and her daughter Milly, seven, slept in the boot.

The group had been due to fly back from Faro in Portugal last Thursday but airport staff said that the earliest flight would be in ten days' time.

It took them three days to make the 1,500-mile journey to London. Today they will complete the final 120 miles to their home in Grantham, Lincolnshire.

When paradise turns into hell



How fast can heaven become hell? When does paradise lose its seductive, palm-fringed charm and turn into a fight for survival, red in tooth, claw - and haemorrhaging the credit card?

Here I am, stranded in the sultanate of Oman with my friend Joanna, my daughter Evie and her friend, Chloe. A girls' own treat has turned into an unwanted adventure.

Granted, our plight is hardly on a par with those who have been sleeping on railway platforms, or clinging to bus rooftops for a 600-mile journey across the Alps. I expect no sympathy.

We are stuck in a beautiful resort hotel, along with several dozen other pampered Prisoners of No Conscience.




While Allison Pearson is stuck in a luxurious resort, it is anything but fun

Hell, it seems, hath no fury like a City banker who thinks the whole world of aviation should jump to his command, just as the hotel pool attendants do.

We were meant to fly back with BA on Friday night. The flight was cancelled. Luckily, we were not caught out like those passengers who had gone through security, were turned back on the tarmac and had to re-apply for a visa.

We had wished that our holiday would never end. Now that it couldn't end, we changed our view.

Instead of feeling we had a whole new lease on paradise, the minute you know you are trapped things start to niggle.

You packed just enough stuff - contact lenses, medication, knickers - to see you through a week's holiday, plus a few extra for emergencies.


Those things start to run out, adding to the sense of panic that rises like the tide. Home, where orange juice comes without local tax and a service charge, suddenly feels a very long way away.


Instead of treating yourself to the hotel's laundry service - more expensive than the original M&S pants - you start rinsing things out in the room basin and hanging them over the balcony.

At the breakfast buffet, I am one of the anxious British mums who snaffle up spare rolls and muffins, and look both ways to check no waiters are watching before smuggling the emergency rations into a basket. These supplies will be eked out later for lunch, so hungry kids don't add to the charge sheet at the pool bar.

As your extras bill rapidly approaches four figures, the mind turns to desperate measures. A future, perhaps, as an assistant to that nice camel trader who looks like Omar Sharif's raddled auntie?

Take the daughter and her 14-year-old friend down to the Muscat souk and sell them into white slavery? That should raise a few dollars. One trader has already offered me nine camels for Evie. If camels could fly me to Stansted, I might be tempted.

The previously hushed breakfast room has become a bazaar where beleaguered Brits desperately trade information. Jim and Kate from Maidenhead report that they were offered plane tickets to Casablanca. At 6,000 quid!

We all gasp, but such is our desperation we start to do the sums. And the geography. How to get from Casablanca to Britain? Where IS Casablanca anyway?

Another family is momentarily triumphant when their agent back home manages to find some

tickets from Muscat to Munich, but minutes later German airspace is closed. Rats in a trap, we scurry down one path only to see the exit cut off.

Those who do manage to plot an escape route are subject to whispering campaigns behind their backs. How come they managed to get a flight out, while the rest of us are still stuck? The spirit of the Blitz is competing with the spirit of 'every man for himself'.

are like characters in an Agatha Christie novel, thrown together by fate. We are all trying to second guess the airlines, that damned volcano and the direction of the wind we desperately want to blow away the ash and carry us home.

Earlier in the week, the four of us took a sensational sunset trip into the desert and were riding camels when a sandstorm blew up.

Within seconds, the sky disappeared and the only illumination came from bolts of lightning. The Bedouin guide said the sand particles rub together and create electricity. It was dangerous.

We groped our way back to camp, eyes and mouths filled with dust. Sipping tea in a tent, we laughed at our narrow escape, but we had felt the brutal, indiscriminate power of nature.

Back at the hotel, we learned that the sky of Europe was also filled with dangerous particles. Nature was teaching us another lesson, and we didn't like it one bit.

The local British Airways office promised us a flight home on the 28th. A full 11 days after our stress-busting break was meant to finish. Thrumming with anxiety, like a desert lute, we decide to make a break for it.

My travel agent phones with an escape plan. Tonight we will get a 2am flight from Oman to Istanbul. Then we take a connecting flight to Barcelona, praying the ash hasn't migrated south and closed that airport.

In Barcelona, we will check into a small hotel, catch a few hours sleep, then try to get on a train heading for Avignon. With impeccable Gallic timing, French railway workers have gone on strike. Sacre bleu! We just have to pray that the strike will be over by the time we get there.

At Avignon, we must get a fast train to Paris. When - or if - we arrive, we will join the wailing crowds trying to board the Eurostar.

Plan B is to travel to Santander and take a ferry.

Plan C? Well, Plan C is to float out on a lilo into Iranian waters and hope to be taken hostage, then there's a chance the Navy will come to our rescue. Or to tie together our Agent Provocateur bras and catapult ourselves across the Channel.

It is some comfort to know that, all over the world, there are hundreds of thousands of Britons just like us, who must be piecing together such mad plans.

With no wings to travel on, we fall back on prayer. Me, I'm off to the souk to buy one last souvenir. Do you think they sell magic carpets?


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1267348/Iceland-volcano-eruption-New-ash-cloud-heading-UK-throws-plans-open-Britains-airports-chaos.html#ixzz0lb4afy9T

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i'm still not sure about this, not at all. so tell me what you think.


i went to liverpool on tuesday last week and was supposed to fly back to germany on saturday. as you all know, that wasn't possible. i had to re-book my flight and the earliest one i could get was thursday - tomorrow. as the situation didn't seem to improve during the week, i booked a bus from liverpool to london and then from london to hannover/germany for the end of this week - bus from liverpool to london also goes tomorrow, same time as the flight.


my flight got cancelled yesterday, but now ryanair says they expect all planes operating as normal from 5am tomorrow. BUT they're also sure that there will be more delays and cancellations during the next days. so what the heck am i gonna do?!


i could go to the airport tomorrow, but if my flight gets cancelled again on short notice, i remain stuck in liverpool. or i could simply choose the bus, although it would take about 20 hours to go home.


HELP! any opinions?

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