Monday, May 23, 2011

Iceland Says Kiss My Ash Once Again. What Travelers Should Do

Ash plume from last year's Iceland eruption (photo by NASA)
Okay, maybe that was a little vulgar. But, alas, history is repeating itself, with the eruption of yet another Icelandic volcano. This time its the Grimsvotn volcano (and isn't that the most appropriate volcano name ever??) that's having a historic eruption, its biggest in 100 years, which is causing ash, smoke and steam to shoot up 12 miles up into the atmosphere.

Europe-bound vacationers need to construct some Plan B's and quickly.

I'm writing this post Sunday evening, and the latest news is unsettling. Though the ash has so far only shuttered the Reyjavik Airline, experts are predicting that the cloud could darken the skies over Great Britain by Monday (with Scotland effected first). Airlines that service the continent of Europe have been warned the ash cloud could disrupt service to the continent (Spain and Britain first, in this case) later this week. Click here for a detail-rich article on the current eruption.

On the positive side, officials are saying they expect fewer airport closings this time, noting that the winds aren't nearly as strong as they were during the last eruption. This, hopefully, will mean that the ash doesn't spread as broadly.

Still, I'd be worried if I were visiting Europe right now; or planning to visit over the course of this week. Those who need to fly in and out and can be flexible with their schedules may want to get on the phone with their airlines and see if they can switch to an earlier flight. This will likely incur a hefty change fee--sorry, I don't know any way around that--but the peace of mind this could bring may be worth it.

Susan Stellin wrote an excellent piece of the New York Times in the wake of the last eruption on what lessons travelers should take away from that episode. In it, she gives good advice on passenger rights; the different policies governing those who booked directly with the airlines vs. through third party websites; and the strategies travelers employed to get home. Rather than repeat her findings, I'll suggest you click on this link to read the piece.

Let's all keep our fingers crossed that this eruption is less disruptive than the last.

1 comment:

  1. Iceland is the happiest place in this world, everyone there is so happy.