Page last updated at 12:16 GMT, Saturday, 24 April 2010 13:16 UK

Volcanic ash: Still stranded abroad

UK airlines are seeking volunteers to give up seats so the thousands of people still stranded after the volcanic ash disruption can get home.

British Airways (BA) has asked customers who are booked on long-haul flights up to 2 May to make way for those who were stranded.

Many of you still stranded abroad have been getting in touch with details of your situation.


Andrew Bishton and his three children
We are a family of five who originally came here on a family holiday.

We were due to fly back on Friday 16 April from Cape Town on an SAA flight. We have been constantly on the phone and have attempted to get flights at the airport to no avail.

Dealing with SAA has been a fairly long and involved process.

SAA have stated that we do not need to rebook our flights and will be given "top priority" over other passengers who have not been stranded.

To date only a single extra flight has left Cape Town laid on by SAA and we heard this was not full. Had we been told about this flight we could have taken this. But no one got in touch, even though I have called and left my contact details with staff who then added them to their computer system.

From what I can gather, the repatriation flight was only for people who were in the airport at the time.

We do not feel like we are being prioritised as stranded passengers. We are here with our three children, my eldest daughter who is 17-years-old should be sitting exams and our 11-year-old is due to be doing his SATS. It's a disaster.

Today we are going to drive to the airport try and get on flight

I haven't heard anything about SAA asking people to give up their seats to stranded passengers like other airlines. We have been told we have to rebook our flights, and have been given a date of 6 May for our flight.

But today we decided to drive to the airport try and get on an earlier flight. If they see us in person and see our plight, they may be able to do something more for us.


My wife is stranded in Italy. We travelled there together about six weeks ago by car but I returned earlier.

Ryanair say they have 'cleared the backlog' but if this is the case why can my wife not get a flight back until the end of April?
She was due to come back last Sunday with Ryanair. Initially when she tried to change her flight, the online system would not allow her to do so as she had bought a return to Italy.

She wasn't able to get through to talk to anyone at Ryanair on the phone because no one was answering. Eventually she did manage to rebook her flight online a few days later at no charge, but the first available date was for the 30 April.

Ryanair say they have 'cleared the backlog' but if this is the case why can my wife not get a flight back until the end of April?

It seems to me that they have planned the clearing of the backlog but they have not actually cleared it.

I tried to rebook my wife on an earlier flight, after hearing that the backlog had been cleared, but the earliest I could rebook for was the 28 April.


The fact that we have booked the tickets nearly a year ago with our Skywards miles means that we are effectively being treated as fourth class passengers
My partner and I are very much still stranded, and Emirates say that the first available flight home is on the 4 May - that is a 17 day delay.

Apparently the fact that we have booked the tickets nearly a year ago with our Skywards miles means that we are effectively being treated as fourth class passengers.

We were supposed to leave Dubai last Saturday. Emirates keep telling us to ring back every day to check for flights. So far we have had no joy.

We were offered a flight yesterday at 0250. We were then put on hold by the operator and when he came back on the line he said we could not have the flight because our original booking was made through Skywards - the air-miles equivalent. It looks like we won't be able to get anything earlier.

From what we can gather there are a certain number of flights they offer to Skywards passengers. Everyone has been helpful but we haven't managed to speak to anyone who has been willing to take up the problem.

When you call, staff are helpful to certain extent then they realise we are Skywards passengers, then things change.

We are not happy with the Skywards service and not happy with the way Emirates have dealt with this either. The rebooking line says there are extra seats but Skywards don't appear to have access to these.

We needed to be at a wedding today, Kevin was supposed to be one of the ushers and I am due to start a new job on Monday.

We have moved in to the cheapest hotel we could find. It doesn't feel like a holiday now, just a waiting game.


We are still in Durban after our flight was due to leave on 20 April. Information has been really poor. We booked through Expedia and after no information on their website we started calling. Hours of holding on only to be cut off - added to our frustration.

South African Airlines in Durban do not seem to have any coherent plan - it is now Saturday so they are not putting on an extra flight as it's the weekend! they are only announcing flights on a daily basis and once we hear we will have to rush to leave Durban and then get to Joburg in time for the flight home.

We can't book a scheduled flight until 2 May and if we commit to that then we can't rebook onto an emergency flight - so stuck not knowing whether to risk the rescue extra flights or give up and just book for a weeks time - no one can advise. Plus we're not sure the extent to which the insurance will cover our extra costs. Any clues? Any advice?
Vicki Wusche and Bob Parsons, Uxbridge, UK and Durban, South Africa

Still stuck in Florida but Virgin Holidays have been excellent. Our hotel have been brilliant too, extending our rooms, offering discounted food etc, and even laying on a party for stranded Brits!
Richard, Dorset, UK

I was an American Airlines customer stranded at Heathrow. My experience was that you needed to call and recall the airlines to see if a seat had opened. I was last rescheduled for this upcoming Sunday but called again to find a seat - three hours prior to take off - on a flight last Wednesday. I boarded the flight to find at least six other open seats. This maybe due to American Airlines policies or due to the stupidity of Heathrow management who were only letting customers into the airport if they had printed tickets in their hands which is ridiculous given the reality of e-tickets and this crisis.
Gary Makredes, Boston, USA

Few seem to be aware of the numbers of passengers trapped in Australia and New Zealand who have booked low cost via Asian hubs. Carriers are clearing their hub passengers, perhaps because accommodation and food is at the airlines' expense.

Those who need the feeder service and the inbound flight are frankly at the back of the queue. My son and his partner have been lucky. They have been in Brisbane for a week longer than planned. Royal Brunei have blocked out all their seats on inbound flights to new bookings (their computer system appears to allow this) and have laid on extra flights from Brunei to London and my son and partner arrived home on Monday night.

It's enough goodwill to make me question my cynicism?
John English, Berkshire, UK

We managed to get back from Lanzarote on Thursday. Ryanair still have six flights/seats booked for next Monday in our name, that we have paid for, and they will not refund us or cancel. These seats could be used for other stranded passengers!
Ian Hill, Frimley, Surrey, UK

My family and I were due to fly home to the UK on the 16 April, but ours was one of the first flights to be cancelled. We are now waiting for the earliest flight we could get, on the 1 May!

We are fortunate enough to have relatives nearby to stay with, but many others have had to pay for expensive hotel rooms or stay at the airport. However, three of us are missing work and one will be missing her final year university exams next week!

Air France-KLM were initially very helpful in providing transport to a hotel and two nights accommodation. However, after that it took us three days of calling the phone number they had provided before getting an answer. Air France-KLM do not appear to be scheduling extra flights to South Africa, so I imagine the backlog here will take a long time to clear.
Ryan, Johannesburg, South Africa

We were stranded in Cyprus for six days. We flew back on Thursday - everyone we spoke to on the flight was a new customer, we were the only strandees on it. Surely, it should have been full of the stranded? The airport was!
Simon Prinsep, Leeds

We had a flight for April 17th landing early on the 18th that had been cancelled. Our four children who were on a holiday in Switzerland got home on Monday. They have been home alone since then! Qantas first said we were booked on a flight for the 21st and have now moved it to the 27th! We feel let down. We supervise the children via Skype which is a relief but not a solution :-( This has been a little bit of a holiday in hell as we were in Thailand from the 3rd to the 14th and were in Bangkok on the night of the first big clash. No one seems able to help us. But we have learned one thing for the future: Travel with an EU company!
Kira Leith-Ross, Skelton, Cleveland, UK - but currently still in Singapore

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