Photo courtesy of Reuters
This is one of those "What are the odds?" stories. Last night I was headed back to London on a 6 PM flight. It did not start out well, a four hour delay for mechanical problems, which later the pilot explained as a door handle issue. So, I chilled a bit, took my $30 meal voucher to Pappadeaux, where I treated myself to both a shrimp cocktail and a fried shrimp dinner. Hey, I wan't going to let any money go to waste.
We took off at 10:30. Wasn't long before I crashed, wait maybe that's not the best term, how about fell asleep, since I was not interested in the meal service. About mid-way into the flight, we were awakened by the pilot announcing that we were turning around and going back to Houston. Seems that the volcanic ash from the volcano in Iceland was blowing eastward into UK airspace and all UK airports were closed. Currently joining Scotland, Ireland and England in the closures are airports in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and the Nordic countries. Some flights into Switzerland and Germany have been cancelled too since the major air corridor between North America and Europe is compromised. Between 4,000-5,000 flights will be affected by the day's end. Oddly enough, should you care to, you can still fly into Reykjavik, Iceland, since the ash is blowing eastward away from them.
It seems that the volcanic ash and microscopic particles are very dangerous to fly through, because it can wreak havoc on engines. It is not known at this point when airports will reopen. Some scientists say that this "eruption" could cause "disruptions" for days and maybe weeks to come. Too soon to tell.
All I can say is that I'm thankful that my schedule was flexible and that I have a home here in Houston where I can be comfortable. It was very emotional seeing families in tears today as their plans to get home, or their travel plans were put on hold for days. Weekend flights were already full, so no place to reschedule them. Some were missing tours that were leaving without them, after they had saved and saved for months. Rescheduling everyone will take many days to come, as we play out this waiting game. At least, I'm not alone--tens of thousands of others are in the same boat.
Boat! Now there's an idea--maybe now's the time for a trans-Atlantic cruise.