Page last updated at 12:24 GMT, Thursday, 22 April 2010 13:24 UK

Volcano voices: 'Better safe than sorry'

BBC News website readers describe their protracted journeys home and respond to accusations that the flying ban due to volcanic ash was over-cautious.

Toshiya Kutsukake, full-time father, Oslo, Norway
Toshiya Kutsukake

We are stranded in Kiev with our one-year-old daughter at my wife's parents' home. We were supposed to fly back to Oslo, where my wife works, last Friday. Our flight has been rescheduled for tomorrow.

We are still not sure if everything will be fine, because the airspace in western Norway has been closed. Oslo is fine for now, but we'll see what will happen tomorrow. If there are any signs of uncertainty, we'd rather stay here a bit longer than be stuck in Amsterdam with a small baby.

Compared to the thousands of stranded people all over the world, we are lucky because my parents-in-law are providing everything we need.

I think all the players involved - governments and airlines have done their best. But I still haven't heard a declaration of safety from any governmental bodies, yet planes are returning to the sky.

Whatever tests have been done - the results haven't been made publicly available and I fear that one of the reasons behind the decision to open airspace could have been pressure from airlines.

I think safety should be the most important consideration. As for who should pay - well, I have a problem with the word compensation, it implies that the current situation is the fault of governments. On the other hand, governments saved financial institutions, why not help airlines?

Georgios Vekinis, research scientist, Athens, Greece
Georgios Vekinis

I was stranded in Paris from 16 April and I slowly made my way down to Rome and then on to Athens. All international trains were booked solid, so I had to use small regional trains.

After I travelled for three days, I eventually reached Athens. During my journey I didn't meet anyone who did not agree with the flight ban.

We all took it in our stride and felt that it was better to err on the side of caution. Better to be safe than sorry. An ash cloud can hardly be expected to behave and remain thin for our convenience.

Imagine the long-term result if any airplane had flown through the ash and found itself in trouble. The long-term damage to the airlines would have been a multiple of the compensation they are called to pay now. The airlines have no case and better shut-up and pay-up what's legal.

It feels a little bit rough for taxpayers to have to bail them out. The airlines should be insured and the insurance should compensate them for their losses.

I think it was right to close airspace. But as a scientist I think there should have been more explanation about the minimal amount of dust that can be tolerated.

Wim Hoebert, stranded in Shenzhen, China

I have been stranded here on business for a week, but will leave from Hong Kong for Amsterdam tonight.

If we want safety first, we cannot start complaining when it costs us money

My airline, Cathay Pacific, has kept me informed by e-mail, but has not offered to pay for anything - and I think this is logical.

You cannot blame other people for the forces of nature. These days we litigate for everything, so we start to believe that we don't have to take responsibility for ourselves.

One cannot expect someone else to take over the risks of one's own life.

In the same way, airlines cannot expect governments - the taxpayer - to take over their risks.

We always want safety first, and that's right. So we cannot start complaining just because this costs us money.

Olof Embl Eyjolfsdottir, from Iceland studying in Oxford, UK
Olof Embla

I have just flown back from Iceland on the first flight to the UK since the ban was lifted.

The flight was full of stranded people, happy finally to be going home.

I've been in Iceland since Saturday. And the irony was - Reykjavik airport was actually open. The ash was being carried in the other direction, towards the UK, so I had to wait to fly back.

I'm a graduate student at Oxford, but I came home to Iceland for a few days to sort out my wedding plans for this summer. I was staying with family in Reykjavik, so I was lucky, compared to some people.

There were a lot of jokes in Iceland about the volcano. People said this was Iceland paying the Brits back with ash! (After the banking crisis).

But apart from that, people in Iceland weren't paying too much attention to the volcano. They are only worried about the possibility of a second, bigger eruption.

Steve Merrett, Briton stranded in the Philippines

I am in Cebu City in the Philippines. I am here with my wife, son and friends from England. We were supposed to fly last Sunday with Asiana Airlines via Seoul.

The airline has said we are on a waiting list and the earliest confirmed flight it could offer us was on 29 May.

I really cannot afford to spend another day here, let alone another month. Even if the airline or the government offered to pay my expenses it wouldn't compensate me for all the time I haven't worked.

I run a gym and I thought the school holidays - being quiet - would be the best time for me to go on holiday. My gym is currently locked. When I go back home in a month, I'll have to reimburse membership fees.

I just cover my business costs at present, if I cannot work for another month I fear my business will go under and I will join the growing list of unemployed in Britain.

Airlines should talk to each other in times like these and make sure there are no planes going out with empty seats while there are people stuck on waiting lists.

The government also should make sure there is a better way to handle things. We were all happy with a week-long delay under the circumstances. Beyond that, we need help.

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