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Impact of the Volcanic Debris

In a special edition of You and Yours, we're examining the widespread impact of the volcanic debris which has shut down UK airports.

Some people are having to go to extraordinary lengths to beat the grounding of planes around Europe because of volcanic ash, read some below and add your opinion.

Traveller Tales

Clare Funnell
The emphasis is on getting people back to the UK but what about people due to travel? We are due to fly to Cape Town for a two-week holiday. We are at risk of the volcano erupting again and us being stranded in two weeks' time. It seems irresponsible to risk going on holiday at this time.

Mat Watkinson
Some of our own family is stuck abroad but we need to realise that this is just a natural problem and we cause many more that are stoppable. We are causing the seas to rise yet ignore the warnings What does it take to convince us to get cracking on reducing pollution?

James Dexter
Something not mentioned so far about the volcanic ash situation is that the ash is very rich in minerals and trace elements essential to human health so volcanic activity forms part of the natural fertility cycle in soils. Some experts are suggesting that due to intensive farming over the last 100 years we have lost over 50% of these essential nutrients in our agricultural soils which could in turn lead to human health issues. Basically, if any of this ash falls to earth then we can expect a bumper harvest next year!

Fiona Addison
Please stop suggesting that UK inhabitants are 'stranded' in Europe and thus promoting flying as the only way to travel. Many of us use the fabulous European train network to travel all over Europe and beyond - I have recently visited Morocco by train and ferry and loved every minute of the trip. I won't even start on the carbon emissions debate.

Angela Hasselgreen, York
While I have every sympathy with Brits stuck abroad, I hear nothing of all those stuck IN the UK. As director of the Norwegian Study Centre at York University, I am coping with many desperate students who cannot get home. Please be aware of the many thousands in this situation. Norway is VERY hard to get to!

Bryan Rayner
Whilst the present position is undoubtedly a major issue for people who are stranded, it is in no way a "national emergency" as some in the tabloid press and the airline industry have been trying to claim. If the number stranded abroad is in the tens of thousands this is less than 0.1 per cent of the population. A sense of perspective is needed!

It's not all bad

Fred Thompson of Kegworth in Leicestershire has been campaigning for years to get the number of night flights from East Midlands Airports reduced. He and his neighbours are enjoying the best sleep they've had in years since the flight ban.

Alan Norgrove of Hyde in Cheshire
A "glorious five days so far with no jet aircraft noise or con trails across the sky. We can sit in the garden and talk without interruption. We can listen to the birds. Maybe the UK carbon reduction targets have been met!"

Richard Walder
"My trip to Kew Gardens this weekend was wonderfully quiet. Other visits have been ruined by screaming jets. Most flights are unnecessary and people living around airports have had a blissful Easter break."

Richard Heaton lives on the Kent/Sussex border near the Gatwick approach and is enjoying the tranquillity
"It has been a real surprise and treat, coupled with bluer skies and a brighter sun. We should look closely at lessons learnt from this and invest in less damaging alternatives for travel and issues such as flying in perishable foods."

Passenger Stories

Charlotte Moore of London
"My mother and I successfully made it back from Rome yesterday evening. It took 36 hours of travel - seven trains, four taxis, three buses, one ferry and a tube ride and cost us around £1,200 but we're delighted to be home!"

Desmond & Melanie Whyms of Penzance were supposed to return from Barcelona last Thursday and got back this morning. After forking out 1,500 Euros for a day's car hire.
"All concerned have displayed poor imagination and flexibility trying to help us, and it seems some companies are taking advantage of the situation at the expense of the victims. Yet again we are hearing of plans to bail out affected companies with tax-payers money, but little to help the travellers who have been stranded and/or impoverished by this episode."

Jo recently got back from France via ferry after clocking up three hours of mobile phone bills - but failing to get through to BA.
"The calls were on hold for as long as an hour. I never did get to talk to anyone. I therefore used my initiative. Advice to contact one's airline is irrelevant if their phones are not sufficiently manned. I saved BA a great deal of money by not turning up at the airport demanding to be looked after."

Chris Hunt who lives near Lichfield in Staffordshire emailed to say his partner is stuck in Hong Kong. Her flight home yesterday was cancelled. KLM have re-booked her flight - but not until 5th May. In the meantime her hotel rate is going up by the day.
"I would like KLM to clarify what costs they will cover but their UK service centre call line are not answering calls and my e-mails to them have so far gone unanswered."

Lucinda Grimes was among a party of 14 returning from Salzburg. She says "Easyjet put on a coach which left at 15.00hrs (10 minutes late!!) and got us to Calais 15 hours later. No ferry had been booked but the coach managed immediately to get a place and we arrived at Gatwick less than a day late. I would like to let people know that yesterday morning Calais and Dover were running superbly well. Easyjet and P&O ferries could not have done more. (By the way none of us are employed by these companies!)

Yasmin Jones's husband is stuck in Shanghai. She emailed us to say that "Apart from a notional 1st flight date 28th April, he's been given no info, no assistance. He's running low on money, his credit card was swallowed by an ATM, and Shanghai hotels are full because of the Expo. He's OK, largely due to support from his employer and the kindness of individual Chinese people who've got him into a hotel not normally open to the public. But it's a reminder of how fragile are the connections that keep 'normal' life going."


John Morrison of London says
"My daughter is stuck in Singapore trying to get back to London on a BA ticket. BA are telling her that their responsibility to help her survive in Singapore while she waits lasts no longer than three days and is "a courtesy". How does this fit with Lord Adonis's claim that EU airlines have a responsibility to provide stranded passengers with accommodation and food?"

Gayle Lonergan of Oxford says:
"I'm stuck in Barcelona and could easily have got a train to Paris and then to London on Wednesday or Thursday, so alternative arrangements were not a problem. However the underwriters of my travel insurance company have decided that this is a natural disaster not adverse weather conditions. Isn't this really a case of insurers trying to wriggle out of their responsibilities to their customers?

Martyn Wady of Riseley, Bedford is trying to get a refund for cancelled flights on BA.
"...but when you try it leads to a phone number that gives a message about assisting passengers with current travel problems and then cuts off. There's no way to do it online. I booked a business flight with my personal credit card which my company would have reimbursed. I am going to have a real problem covering the credit card bill unless I get a refund before it's issued. Surely by letting people get refunds now they'll avoid an even bigger backlog later."


Bryan Rayner
"As a scientist, I am very cross with IATA over the slurs against the safety authorities. I have no doubt that the most thorough risk assessments have been carried out. I also believe that British immigration policies have not helped - I suspect that it is their rules that constrain the ability of ferries to convey foot passengers (resulting in the ludicrous situation of people having to buy children's bicycles to ride aboard ferries as a cyclist because the foot passenger allocation was full - quite ridiculous!)

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