As the world holds its breath and hopes this recent Icelandic eruption isn’t going to paralyze passenger air traffic like the one 12 months ago did, there are still many thousands that have been left stranded. So, here’s the very latest ash-related news…Scotland’s airports are still closed. Germany is taking a no-nonsense stance and closing its airspace today. Air traffic in Norway, Denmark and the UK has also been disrupted, with Northern Ireland and northern England especially badly hit.
However, the Met Office has confidently said the ash cloud is dissipating and ultimately the disruption will not be as bad as last year.
Now for the big three things you need to know about the volcanoes: Pronunciation, Location and Identification…
Imagine how many people will be thoroughly impressed when you’re casually hanging out in the pub and discussing the week’s events, as you do, and you reel off the correct pronunciation of Iceland’s most well known volcanoes. Jaunted contacted the Iceland Tourism Board and they recommend pronouncing Grímsvötn thus: ['gri:msvœhtn̥]. Or more actually helpful, (phonetically) Greemsh-vot-n. And for further reference, Eyjafjallajokull is pronounced AY-uh-fyat-luh-YOE-kuutl-uh according to the BBC.
It’s not that hard to find Grímsvötn on a map. The volcano is in Vestur-Skaftafellssýsla, right near Vatnajökull and Skeiðará sandur; just listen for the jökulhlaups. Got it? Perhaps a visual reference would help:
And just in case you’re ever on Jeopardy and a a photo answer for “This Icelandic volcano erupted in May 2011″ appears, you’ll be ready:
And the UK’s Daily Mail has released some very useful info on what to do if your journey does face disruption.
Where travellers stand: Your rights if your flight is cancelled because of the ash cloud
Unfortunately for many, the memory of abandoning long-planned holidays in favour of a week at home is all too fresh. Although we won’t know how badly UK airspace will be affected by the latest Icelandic ash cloud until later in the week, here’s where you stand if your flight is affected.
We’re due to go away for half-term. What if my flight is cancelled or delayed?
If your flight is cancelled airlines should offer you either a full refund of your unused ticket or an alternative flight. EU-based airlines are required to offer you accommodation and meals if you are delayed in getting home to the UK.
Under EU rules, airlines within the EU/EEA or Swiss region must compensate passengers up to €600 if their flight is cancelled or heavily delayed, unless the situation has been caused by ‘extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken.’
However, in the case of the volcanic ash delays, the airlines may claim ‘extraordinary circumstances’ and should be able to avoid paying compensation.
However, this does not remove their duty of care that is also detailed in the regulations. The rules state that they must provide passengers with accommodation, meals and refreshments and transport between the airport and accommodation. Airlines are breaking the rules by shirking this obligation.
Am I covered by travel insurance?
If your flight is cancelled and you do not travel, insurers should refund your premium if you took out single trip travel insurance. If you arrange an alternative flight at a later date, your travel insurer should be able to change your policy to cover this. However, insurance policies vary significantly and you should call your insurer for a clear answer.
I’m already abroad. If the ash cloud reaches Britain and my return flight is affected, what are my rights?
The former Air Transport Users Council, now part of the Civil Aviation Authority, says: ‘Regulation (EC) 261/2004 requires airlines to offer you meals, refreshments and hotel accommodation as appropriate whilst you wait for a rearranged flight. They should also cover any transport costs between the hotel and the airport. There are no time or monetary limits on the provision of this assistance.
‘If your airline has not provided assistance, and you have had to arrange it yourself, our advice is to keep your expenditure to a minimum, make sure you get receipts and claim reimbursement from your airline when you get home.’
Bear in mind, you are unlikely to get a refund/compensation if you abandon your flight or take any help offered and try to navigate your own way home.
How do I reclaim if I’m delayed?
In order to reclaim ash flight and accommodation costs off your airline you will need to write to them, referencing the regulations and their responsibilities and including as many receipts as possible.
You should tell them that under Regulation (EC) 261/2004 Article 5 you are entitled to be reimbursed or re-routed under Article 8 and also offered assistance, including accommodation, meals and transport under Article 9.
You should also state that under Article 5, airlines are able to not pay compensation in accordance with article 7 in the case of ‘extraordinary circumstances’, but crucially that this extraordinary circumstances clause does not apply to the entitlement to assistance under Article 9.
Your expenses should be reasonable – you can’t treat yourself and expect to get compensated.
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