Page last updated at 14:48 GMT, Wednesday, 21 April 2010 15:48 UK

Day 7:Travellers hit by ash delays

BBC News website readers who have been left stranded due to the volcanic ash cloud have been describing their experiences, as the travel crisis enters its seventh day.


Scott English
Scott English was rescued by stranger's act of kindness

I'd like to say a grateful thanks to the man in Brussels who had chartered a bus from London to take people home via the Eurotunnel.

After a very long journey flying from Malta to Rome and then overland on slow trains across Italy and central Europe, I finally arrived in Brussels. I was hoping to travel the final bit by Eurostar but the options were limited.

Taxi drivers in Brussels were offering between 800 - 1000 euros ($1,070-$1,337, £695-£869) to take people to Calais.

Two men appeared and one asked if anyone wanted a lift back to the UK on his coach. At first I suspected he might want a steep fare. When I asked he just wanted to cover his costs of hiring the coach. So we all paid him 40 euros ($53, £34) each.

Police in Brussels
Angry Brussels taxi drivers try to blockade the coach

He managed to get 30 or so very tired people home days earlier than expected and also had to deal with a load of angry Brussels taxi drivers who tried to blockade the coach as they were furious at missing out on exorbitant fares. The police were called and the blockade was moved.

I never got to the bottom of why this man undertook this mercy mission but I believe he was in Calais on Saturday night and after realising how desperate the situation was he decided to undertake his own initiative to help.

Stuart, if you read this thanks once again.


Neil Cronin and his family
Neil's and his family moved to the island of Bintan to find accommodation

I've been stuck in Singapore with my wife and two children for nearly a week now, after a trip to Australia.

My daughter Maddie, 10, had brain surgery for epilepsy a year ago and this was meant to be a celebration holiday.

We are running out of one of the medicines she takes, which is not available in Asia.

We've contacted a British doctor on the advice of the British High Commission here. He told us to slowly reduce her medication to make it last longer. But this is obviously a worrying situation for us.

We moved to an island called Bintan one hour away from Singapore. There are only few places left to stay in Singapore itself, and we thought it would be better for the children.

We're fortunate that we are now in safe accommodation. But it's our fourth week out here and we just want to get home.

Our flight was cancelled last Sunday and the earliest return our carrier can offer is 9th May.

We're trying to stay strong, but our mood goes up and down.

I can appreciate the economic side of things, but can't the airlines try to fly out priority cases - like the sick, the old and young? This is an unprecedented event, so surely the airlines can do more to help stranded people.


Beijing"s Central Business District
David Helliwell: "It's difficult to live in Beijing for less than 100 a day."

I am extremely annoyed that airlines are not treating stranded passengers as a priority and are selling tickets to new customers first.

The earliest flight BA can offer me is 8 May yet there are new tickets available for up to ten days before this. It is a scandal.

I work for Oxford University and am on a business trip to buy Chinese materials for the Bodleian Library. I was supposed to fly back to the UK on Monday 19 April.

It's difficult to live in Beijing for less than £100 ($154, 115 euros) a day. If I have to wait three weeks, that's a lot of extra expense. I'm lucky because hopefully my employer will help but I have seen plenty of tourists stuck in the same situation.

Airlines should get stranded people back first, even if it means cancelling new bookings

It has been very difficult trying to get information. I tried calling the customer services number but it's impossible to get through. The only option is to take a 45 minute taxi ride to the BA office in Beijing. The staff are very polite but they can't really do anything.

My company have been trying to help me and found that BA is selling new outward flights for April for just over £1,000 ($1,542, 1,148 euros). I asked the local BA office if my flight could be moved forward but they weren't allowed to do this.

It's terrible that stranded passengers are not being treated as a priority. I think the airlines should concentrate on getting the stranded people back first, even if it means cancelling new bookings.


Martin Richer and partner Lin Tompkins
Martin Richter made it back to Hastings from Malaga by train, taxi and ferry

Have we just spent 60 hours getting back from Malaga, spent hundreds of pounds, not washed, slept or eaten to be told that we may have been able to fly out anyway?

And secondly our "cancellation insurance" may not even pay out.

On Sunday it looked like we could be stuck there for another week, so we headed back by train, taxi and ferry.

Our first train - from Madrid to Palencia in northern Spain - cost 250 euros a head. Madrid was in chaos. The train station was full of hundreds of people trying to get a ticket. The system there is confusing at the best of times and, of course, many of the staff didn't speak English.

Having spent the night in Palencia, we made it over the border to France by another train and a cab. The next leg of the journey was to Bordeaux. It was fast TGV train, but it was totally packed with people and luggage - you simply couldn't move. And many people were sitting on the floor. At every single stop another 50 people tried to get on, angrily trying to make it to their reserved seats - which were already taken up.

We got a train from Bordeaux overnight that arrived in Paris in the morning. From there we headed out to Calais. When we finally got a ferry over to the UK - which was another 65 euros.

We did the best we could with the information we had, but its annoying that now planes are starting to fly.

Still, we covered 1,400 miles in 60 hours - an average of about 25 miles an hour, which isn't too bad.

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