Blog: Leonie BarrieEruption disruption

Leonie Barrie | 19 April 2010

Travelling out of London's Heathrow airport last Thursday felt a little like being caught up in a real-life disaster movie. As the volcanic ash cloud descended slowly across the UK from Iceland, our plane to New York left the runway with just minutes to spare before the airport's mid-day closure, fellow passengers clapping and cheering as we rose into the air and the runway behind us eerily empty of queueing planes.

With hindsight, of course, we should never have boarded the flight, cutting our losses and heading for a long weekend somewhere in the UK instead. At the time though, information was thin on the ground, and never in our wildest dreams did we think we were about to get caught up the global grid-lock that has since engulfed the world's travel networks.

So, here we are in one of the world's exciting cities, trying to find a way out and hoping that it's not going to take too long. We're better off than many since our hotel has been able to accommodate us (for a price, of course) pretty much on a day-to-day basis, with rooms becoming available as incoming visitors fail to arrive. But we were only intending to be here for three days, so clothes have run out, I didn't even bring a phone with me - and our dogs are looking at a long (and unwelcome) break in kennels! But at least we have a bed and a shower, unlike those stranded at the airports, in transit without their bags, and in some cases their medication.

News is also particularly hard to come by, there's scant information available from the airlines, and the uncertainty about what's going to happen next is the real worrier. We're currently booked on a flight home next Tuesday, but if that fails to leave then we get pushed to the back of the queue to get on the next available flight - and that's currently adding a further delay of between one week and 10 days. Alternative routes into countries like Spain are all full of course, and reports suggest we wouldn't find it much easier to get home from there either.

It's got to the point where I'm trying to work to take my mind off things - and even wishing there was an industry event here in Manhattan this week that I could attend. If you know of anything, do let me know.


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