Page last updated at 14:21 GMT, Tuesday, 20 April 2010 15:21 UK

Day 6: Brits stranded by ash delays

BBC News website readers from the UK who are stranded abroad due to the volcanic ash cloud have been describing their experiences, as the travel crisis enters its sixth day.


I am running out of medication, which I have been taking since my kidney transplant.

My flight today was cancelled, which was no surprise.

Darren Jones and his wife
I'm not sure what will happen if my flight is cancelled again
Darren Jones, Fuqing City, China

Cathay Pacific could only rebook me on a flight on 12 May, but I phoned them and explained that I had a transplant recently and only have three days of tablets left.

I can get five days' worth here in China but it will cost £200 ($307, 228 euros).

They have now booked me on a flight on 26 April but I have to fly to Hong Kong on the 24th and stay at the airport for a day.

I'm not sure what will happen if my flight is cancelled again.

Gordon Brown said he is doing everything to get Brits home and talked about using Spain as a hub. But how do we get to Spain?

Will he help us get to Spain or does he expect us to pay for that ourselves?

I'm starting to get a little stressed now.

Luckily I am with my Chinese wife. There are no other Western people here at all.


It is shameful how this travelling crisis is being handled here.

We were due to travel from Madrid on Saturday with BA, but were given no information then.

We had to make our own way by train to Santander, where we arrived yesterday.

A serviceman watches civilians boarding the HMS Albion in Santander, Spain
My wife is recovering from breast cancer and ran out of medication. I had to persuade a pharmacist to give her some emergency supply
Orlando Menendez, Santander, Spain

Since then, we have not been able to get any information on how we can board one of these vessels.

It is frustrating and disorganised.

The military ship (the HMS Albion) arrived, and the embassy officials were very unhelpful and ignorant to the needs of people like us trying to travel back to the UK.

We heard that the priority was given to soldiers, which we understand, but then all embassy and civil servants' relatives were boarded and we, the taxpayers, were left behind.

My wife is recovering from breast cancer and ran out of medication.

I had to persuade a pharmacist to give her some emergency supply.


I am travelling in a party of seven including my four-year-old son and four-month-old baby.

We were due to fly home to Newcastle on 17 April with Jet2.

The Bolton family
We feel utterly abandoned by our airline and our country
Gemma Bolton, Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt

We were transferred onto a flight on Monday when we eventually managed to get through to the call centre.

Our hotel wanted £180 ($276, 205 euros) per night for each room that we originally paid £50 ($76, 57 euros) for, so we have been forced to move to a cheaper hotel.

When Monday's flight was cancelled and I got through to Jet2 after a day of trying, they transferred us to a flight on 6 May.

Our additional costs have now surpassed £5,000 ($7,657, 5,687 euros) .

We feel utterly abandoned by our airline and our country, as we cannot contact either the foreign office or the British consulate in Cairo.

It's a really stressful and desperate situation.


I've been stuck in Hong Kong since Saturday morning.

I was travelling back to London from Melbourne after visiting my sister.

Pamela D'Cruz
I am totally devastated and totally alone
Pamela D'Cruz, Hong Kong

Once I found out about the problems, my airline, Cathay Pacific, didn't give me the option of not travelling and told me I had to fly to Hong Kong.

When I got here, they said that I had to find my own accommodation.

They refused to return me to Melbourne to be with my sister, and said it would cost me £1,500-£2,000 to do so.

I now have a flight to London booked for Friday 23 April, but feel that this will not fly out now, due to the ongoing volcano ash.

I am a teacher, so am worried about my job, and am totally devastated. I am totally alone and haven't met one other Brit in the same situation.

I did, however, meet one other person who I met on my outbound flight to Melbourne.

She got an earlier flight from Melbourne top Hong Kong and is being put up in a hotel and treated like royalty.

Their hotel is lovely and they provide food for the stranded passengers.

I, on the other hand, am now staying at a backpacker's hostel, paying for my own food, and running out of money. I am also worried I will run out of my medication.

What makes me angrier is that I asked the airline to take me back to Melbourne to stay with my sister but they said no.

Naomi Brittain
Naomi Brittain came to Jacksonville for a wedding - now she's stranded

I would do anything to be back in Europe right now.

We came over here to Jacksonville on 8 April to attend our friend's wedding. We started our journey back home on 14 April.

When we landed in Chicago ready to catch our transatlantic flight we saw that our flight was cancelled.

We went to the American Airlines check-in desk and no one really knew what was going on. They offered us a voucher for a local hotel at a "distressed passenger" rate, so the following four days we have been back and forth between hotels and the airport to try and find out the situation.

It came to the point where I had just had enough, and the next available flight they could offer was on 26 April, which is our current flight booking.

I was quite upset, with major concerns over our funds as we had just spent $300 on hotels and food. So American Airlines agreed to put us on a flight to Jacksonville again (free of charge) so we can stay with our friends until we catch our flight home.

We are trying to have a laugh and joke about it, but really we are in a scary situation
Naomi Brittain, Jacksonville, US

By the time we get home - if the flight on 26 April actually leaves - we will have been away for three weeks rather than one.

My work has been very understanding, but we have commitments at home. We have a four-month-old dog in kennels, which is now costing upwards of £250, a car in the garage which we need to swap a courtesy car with, a tax disc I left in my pocket for our other car to put in the window, the list goes on.

I have been on the NATS and BBC websites each time an update is due to come out, and each time the deadline just gets pushed back. We thought there was light at the end of the tunnel today, but that update has changed again.

There is story after story about people stranded in Europe - how the government is helping them by sending navy ships. Will the government send some form of help here to us, 4,000 miles away?

We have met many other Brits trying to get home - some very large families with several children and they were all in the same position as us - no solid information to go on and getting very little help from anyone other than each other.

We have all been supporting each other, trying to have a laugh and joke about it, but really we are in a scary situation.

Steve Hathaway
Steve Hathaway from Wimbledon is stuck in Chicago, having been to Las Vegas

I am with 5,000 other Brits, stuck in Chicago after having been to a conference in Las Vegas.

There are people from our conference stranded all over USA, all glued to social media, trying to glean the slightest information.

We have formed a network of friends - passing on any clues we might hear that could help us get home soon.

People are getting very frustrated and fed up by the UK government's handling of this situation. There is no information on when flights might resume.

Collectively this is costing us a huge amount in lost business revenues, as well as additional hotel and accommodation costs while we wait. I run a small business in Reading - and I'm not around to run it productively.

We are all thinking creatively about other ways to get back to the UK and sit here amazed at the UK government's lack of ingenuity in the situation.


I feel like we've been forgotten about.

We are stuck in Denver. I'm here with a small group of friends. My wife and children are at home and starting to get quite distressed.

Typical isn't it - you come away to get de-stressed and end up getting distressed.

United Airlines have been truly awful. They have been making us pay nearly $90 a night to be put up in the hotel they sent us to.

Martin Smith
Yesterday we were told to go and get a boat if we want to get home
Martin Smith, Denver

They don't update their website and they run away from us when we go to the airport to get news.

Yesterday we were told to go and get a boat if we want to get home. We said: Who's paying for it? They walked off!

There are dozens of UK nationals in our hotel. Some of them have been completely abandoned by their insurance company, but none of us is in line for much of a payout.

Locals have been very kind and are mildly shocked at our treatment. The local mayoress has been great. She has been to our hotel and invited several of us out for a meal at her home. Unbelievable kindness.

Today we had to check out of hotel and go to check in for a flight but we learned that it was cancelled before we even boarded the shuttle. We knew in our hearts that United would cancel it as they practically said as much yesterday when we went to their airport desk, but we still had to go through the motions.

One or two people are having their credit cards blocked because the companies think their holiday should be over and can't understand why payments are still being made in the US.

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