Page last updated at 15:00 GMT, Tuesday, 20 April 2010 16:00 UK

Ash causes 10-day delay to flight home from New York

Thousands of travellers stuck overseas are attempting to make their way home as planes take to the skies over England for the first time in six days.

David Schaffer
BBC journalist David Schaffer is not able to fly home for another 10 days

Among them is BBC journalist David Schaffer, who has been left stranded in New York by the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland.

Mr Schaffer and his wife Jane were enjoying a short break in Manhattan to celebrate his 40th birthday, and were due to arrive back in the UK on Monday morning.

But the couple, from Birmingham, have learned it will be another 10 days before they can get a flight home.

"We've finally managed to get seats on a replacement flight on 30 April," Mr Schaffer said, adding that he and his wife had spent days trying to contact Virgin Airlines before getting through.

'Hammering the phones'

"All the advice was saying not to go to the airport, but it took four days of trying before we could get through to Virgin on the phone. We kept getting disconnected, which was so frustrating.

"At one point we gave up on the mobiles and tried using payphones to get through.

"For about 45 minutes we were both stood hammering the number into the payphones at Grand Central Station, but we kept getting cut off."

Mr Schaffer eventually spoke to someone at the airline on Tuesday, and the couple managed to find accommodation at a hotel in Soho while they wait for their replacement flight.

"Trying to find an internet cafe in New York is virtually impossible," Mr Schaffer said.

I can definitely think of worse places to be stranded
BBC journalist David Schaffer

"Eventually we went to the Apple store on Fifth Avenue, which has big banks of laptops, and it was just full of people trying to book hotels - we definitely weren't in a unique situation.

"Virgin have actually said they will reimburse the cost of hotels up to a three star rating, although there are no guarantees."

After finally securing a flight home the couple have decided to make the most of their extended stay in the Big Apple.

"We've already done the Rockefeller Center and the Empire State Building is next," Mr Schaffer said.

"I can definitely think of worse places to be stranded."

Students from Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Ashbourne, Derbyshire, are also stuck in New York.

The school's head teacher, four other members of staff and 32 pupils have been unable to make it back from an art trip.

Scott Garrity, the school's deputy head teacher, said on Monday those stuck in New York were "coping very well".

Flight restrictions have also left BBC Radio 1 breakfast presenter Chris Moyles stranded in New York, forcing him to broadcast his breakfast show from the city.



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