Page last updated at 14:38 GMT, Friday, 30 April 2010 15:38 UK

Iceland volcano ash: Britons still stranded abroad

British passengers stranded in Thailand on Tuesday
People are still to return to the UK after flight restrictions were lifted

There are still "large numbers" of Britons stuck abroad due to volcanic ash but the true figure is very hard to quantify, the Foreign Office has said.

It said trouble hotspots included Hong Kong, Pakistan, Thailand and Orlando, Florida, but the situation was easing.

The Association of British Travel Agents said the majority who had booked with its operators were now home.

But it said those awaiting chartered flights could take a few more days and those on scheduled flights even longer.

Hotel bill

On Sunday Abta said about 35,000 Britons had booked with travel operators but were yet to board flights at airports around the world.

Haimes family
Martin Haimes, stranded in Orlando
It's big, front-page news for a few days and then everybody says it's back to normal.

In actual fact it isn't, people are still here, still stranded.

A lot of people would say "How fantastic to be stuck in Florida", but the truth is you have to watch what you spend; we budgeted for the holiday, not 11 days on top of the holiday.

We got a hotel which gives us a kitchen, so we went to Wal-mart and spent about £120 on food, trying to really be self-sufficient. But you can only do that to a certain extent, and of course you can't sit around your hotel for 11 days either; you need to get out and about or you'll go stir crazy.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "While there are still British Nationals stranded, there are no longer large numbers concentrated in one place.

"Where there are individuals that are still facing difficulties or are vulnerable, we are continuing to work with airlines to get them home as soon as possible."

She added that many people had rebooked flights and might not be known to them.

Bill McDougall, of Blackheath in London, was visiting South Africa with his two children and due to return on 17 April, when the ash cloud changed their plans. He now faces a bill of £6,000 in hotel costs.

Martin Haimes, of Stoke Climsland, Cornwall, told BBC News he felt "forgotten" now the ash cloud disruption has fallen off the news agenda.

Bill McDougall in New York
Bill McDougall, stranded in Johannesburg
I came out to Johannesburg with my son and daughter on 1 April for a couple of weeks.

We had our holiday, visiting Kruger Park and Swaziland and were supposed to fly back on 17 April. It was only when my daughter was looking things up we realised what had happened with the ash.

We've had to pay for ourselves in the hotel and so far have spent £6,000, so I'm hoping we get that back.

We've been chatting in French together, me with my schoolboy French and my daughter [due to sit her A-levels during the disruption] with her A-level French. It's actually coming back to me.

He and his wife and daughter have been stranded in Orlando, Florida for 11 days longer than they planned, running up bills of about £3,000. They are due to return to the UK tomorrow.

An Abta spokeswoman said: "The vast majority have already come back and the remainder who booked with chartered airlines will be back in the next few days.

"People on scheduled flights could take longer... the airlines are assisting their passengers."

The flight restrictions, which began more than two weeks ago, were caused by ash from Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano.

On Wednesday some British families were still waiting to get on a flight from Bangkok after flights were cancelled due to the cloud.



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