Volcano Ash Still Threatens Europe – Delayed Flight Tips

And we thought it was all over – all that ash spewing from an Icelandic volcano that became better known as, “The Ash that Shut Down Europe”.

It’s not – as I will tell you – and I also provide tips for ash-delayed fliers (or for any delays or cancellations such as those caused by weather).

Unfortunately, it’s not over. In fact, just this week, airports in Ireland and Britain were closed for several hours as the ash drifted south from Ireland. Ash, as I’m sure you know by now, can get sucked into airlines engines, causing them to fail.

At the moment, all the shut down airports have re-opened, but European authorities say “watch out” – the forecast could bring northerly winds that do not bode well for passengers as it may again spread volcanic ash. And as the Vancouver Sun reports, authorities believe this could happen again and again.

“We could be faced with this periodically during the summer,” Irish Aviation Authority Chief Executive Eamonn Brennan said. “We are probably facing a summer of uncertainty due to this ash cloud.” Vancouver Sun, 5-4-10

That said, chances are if you travel to Europe this summer, you won’t run into any problems. But bad stuff happens, so here are some tips:

Consider trip insurance. I personally cannot recommend any particular company, but this I will say: do not purchase any policy before reading it thoroughly and you are sure it covers what you need it to cover. Talk to someone who can answer all your questions, and request those answers in writing. Do not leave this task until the last minute – it should be researched before you purchase your tickets.

When delays or cancellations occur, contact your airline ASAP:

  • If you’re at the airport, go to the nearest gate agent: for unknown reasons, they are often a bit more helpful than ticket counter reps, but get in line to speak to any airline agent if no gate people are available
  • While in line, get on your phone: call your carrier while you wait – it will all be first-come, first-served so make sure you get served
  • Follow your airline on Twitter: the airline industry has embraced social media in a big way, and often provide the quickest updates to their followers
  • Contact the airline if you’ll be late to the airport: the sooner you get on a standby list, the better
  • Plan ahead in case you miss your connecting flight: if weather delays your ability to make that second flight, let the airline know ahead of time; the earlier you contact them, the better your chance at getting one of the all-too-elusive seats on the next available flight

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Published: May 4, 2010