As Iceland volcano ash lingers over Europe, stranded travelers' patience wanes
Planes across most of Western Europe were grounded for a fourth day Sunday as a cloud of ash from last week's Iceland volcano continues to hang in the air above. Stranded travelers are losing time, money – and patience.
The massive, meandering clouds of ash from last week's Iceland volcano continued to blanket wide swaths of Europe's air space for a fourth day Sunday, bringing the total number of flights canceled since Thursday to well over 63,000.Skip to next paragraph
For some airlines, that's an estimated loss of more than $200 million a day.
It may still be days, which is bad news for any business heavily reliant on air freight and for anyone trying to travel to, from, or through Europe. But for the tens of thousands of stranded travelers, it may be even worse.
The novelty of their predicament – "Volcanic ash?! No way!!" – wears off fast. As does the whole “we are all in this together” thing.
Long lines, long faces, and lots of Muzak
What you are left with is masses of frustrated travelers stranded around the globe – their movement thwarted by a volcano named Eyjafjallajokull – searching for alternative routes, standing in long lines, shelling out money they do not want to spend on food and hotels, and listening endlessly to Muzak on their cellphones, on hold for an airline representative.
The billboards at Heathrow, the airport with more international travelers than any in the world, said it all: Madrid: Cancelled. Dallas/Ft Worth: Cancelled. Istanbul: Cancelled. Hong Kong: Cancelled. Toronto: Cancelled. Sydney via Singapore: Cancelled.
And Costa Rica? Yes, yes, those flights are canceled, too.
Most travelers, advised of the situation, had left Britain’s airports, but those who were unclear about what was going on, or who had no money to go anywhere else, or who were simply desperate – milled around for a third day Saturday, lugging suitcases from here to there and back, and hoping the bizarre turn of events that messed up their plans would reverse itself and become right as suddenly as it had gone all wrong.