Page last updated at 16:32 GMT, Monday, 19 April 2010 17:32 UK

Brits' volcano ash travel stories

Passngers attempt to board a ferry in Santander, northern Spain
Passengers remain stranded at airports and ports around the world

EU transport ministers are holding emergency talks by video conference on easing the air travel crisis caused by a volcanic ash cloud in European airspace.

Thousands remain stranded as restrictions on flights in European airspace extended into a fifth day.

BBC News website readers from the UK describe their experiences of being stranded and the extraordinary lengths they have gone to to get home.


We were due to travel from Berlin to London with Ryanair last Friday.

We were told there would not be any flights until Tuesday and that they would not offer any help with food or accommodation.

Then they simply closed their desk at the airport.

We have met many Easyjet passengers who have been given hotels and meals to help them but there are many Ryanair passengers who are penniless and have nowhere to stay.

Things have got worse since with some hotels doubling their pre-crisis rates. We had to leave our hotel by the airport because they doubled the price of the room.

A man looks at a map of Europe at Hauptbahnhof train station in Berlin,
Passengers are exploring all sorts of means to get home

There is still no way of contacting Ryanair. Their desk at Berlin airport remains unstaffed, the website gives no real information and their phone number costs over one euro per minute and after hanging on for maybe an hour you get a recorded message.

We went to the British embassy today, who were also not much help. Again they told us to go away and watch the internet. It is a pretty dire situation overall and we feel totally abandoned.

There are lots of people walking around Berlin stranded with no money. I was due back at work on Saturday and my daughter was due back at school and has her A-levels coming up.

We came here for a short half-term break and can't afford to be here any more. We are spending hundreds but we can't leave.

There are no hire cars, no buses at all and I am afraid to go to the coast, as there will be a much higher demand for accommodation there and we may not get on one of the ferries.

We have now found a room in an apartment building but have to be out of here by Thursday. We need help.

Peter Fields
Peter Fields had an epic journey back from Hamburg

My return flight from Hamburg to Manchester was cancelled on Thursday. I was rebooked on a flight to Brussels the next morning.

I arrived to check in on Friday morning just as the German authorities closed their airspace. My only choice was to get a train to Brussels.

I got a connecting train to Cologne. There, it became clear that people were desperate. I tried to board the Brussels train, along with 1,000 other people.

I saw a lady who was probably six months pregnant, pushed over by a businessman in his 50s.

When I eventually arrived at Brussels Midi, home of Eurostar, there was further confirmation of the chaos.

I took a ticket for the queue for information (number 2502) and then saw on the screens that they were calling 2107, so I worked out that this was going to be pointless and ended up staying the night in a hotel.

The next day I realised my way forward was to hitch a ride in a car that was already booked to go on a ferry.

With the mounting pressure in Brussels Midi station, I decided to get on a train to Gent - only 150km away from Calais.

From there I had to take a taxi. The initial asking price was 250 euros ($335.75, £220) but after a bit of haggling, the driver agreed to take me to Calais for 175 euros ($235, £154). It felt good to be making some progress.

In Calais I took the A4 paper sheet out of my bag that I had written on: "SPACE? £50", and after only three minutes, I saw a Renault Espace with only one passenger in.

The driver let me in and I was ecstatic. Within 30 minutes I was onboard the Eurotunnel train with my new friend Rachael.


I am a businessman stuck in Baku, Azerbaijan.

I've decided to wait here a few days, rather than start a long overland journey, and wait for the situation to clear.

There are about 30 foreigners stuck here with me - 10 Brits, as well as Indians, Norwegians and Italians.

Our discussions on what to do must have sounded like a meeting of World War Two prisoners of war trying to decide the best way to get home.

It is difficult and challenging but adaptation to the situation is the only way
Michael Pruchnie, Baku, Azerbaijan

It's not despair, just a realistic assessment, with free and open comments and suggestions about what to do.

The preferred routes were to get to Spain via Istanbul or Dubai, or a train via Istanbul to France.

But I have decided to stay here and wait.

There are good communications to allow business to continue. It's a nice city with nice food and a friendly population.

It is difficult and challenging but adaptation to the situation is the only way. My thoughts are with families with children in such situations.


Mike Gore and family
Mike Gore (L) was forced to pay for a cab to get his family home from France

We arrived home on Sunday after a 2,200-euro taxi ride from Courchevel in the French Alps to Birmingham.

We were due to fly back from Geneva with Easyjet, but once we found out our flight was cancelled, we asked our driver to keep going.

His journey then went from about four hours to three days round trip.

There were eight of us - five adults and three young children.

It was a tough decision to part with the extra cash, and it has put me significantly out of pocket.

But with the deteriorating prospect of a flight home and the prohibitive cost of hotels and food in France, we were just relieved to be able to get home.

It also looks like it cannot be recovered from insurance, as our insurers said they cannot cover us for this - which begs the question: if they can't cover you for something like this, then what can they cover you for?

The taxi driver, Matt, is still on his way back.

We saw plenty of other French and Italian cabs at Calais but no buses, so it seems we were not the only ones being left to our own devices.

Suzy Christopher and Matt Goodman
Suzy Christopher and her boyfriend Matt Goodman are stuck in Hong Kong

My boyfriend and I were due to arrive home on Saturday, having been in Australia for five weeks.

BA are paying the cost of our room and food.

I called Trailfinders, who we originally booked with, who have booked us on a Qantas flight for Friday morning.

But if that flight is cancelled, then what?

We have met another couple who have to wait until 5 May for flight.

By Wednesday we might start thinking of a Plan B. I have relatives in Zurich, so we may go that route.

Every time you see a British person, you talk to them and find out what they know and what information they have.

There are lots of rumours, but no one knows what is really going on.

It is a very strange feeling and I go from making the most of it and sightseeing one minute, to crying the next minute.

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