Volcanic Ash Delays Business Travel, Again

Volcanic Ash Delays Business Travel, Again
Flights to and from Europe are experiencing delays on Mother’s Day this year. Several news agencies have reported that the ash from the Icelandic volcano has slowly slithered over southern France, Switzerland, Italy and Germany and airports have closed in Spain, Portugal, and some smaller airports in Ireland. All business travelers are advised to monitor potential delays and account for scheduling effects due to this dilemma that virtually shut down European airspace for five days earlier this year.

As of 2:30 p.m. EDT on May 8th, 2010, the following airports have reported in as closed until the ash dissipates: Barcelona, Girona, Sabadell, Bilbao, San Sebastian, Vitoria, Zaragoza, Huesca, Pamplona, Logrono, Santiago, La Coruna, Vigo, Asturias, Santander, Leon, Valladolid, Burgos and Salamanca. Small airports in Ireland have closed, but major ones remain limping such as Shannon, Cork and Dublin.

Other countries with airports currently experiencing delays include Northern Scotland, France, Switzerland, Northern Spain, Northern Portugal, Southern Germany, Ireland and Northern Italy. Although it seems that there is still functioning air traffic, the delays stem from the closure of certain flight routes causing delays in the routes that still remain open as airlines and air traffic controllers attempt to move traffic through these diminished means.

Atlanta Business News reports that the ash-related weather is expected to thin and dissipate due to positive weather patterns including anticipated rain that will likely thin-out the ash cloud. Significant dissipation is expected by this evening and Monday morning.

For business travelers whose flights originate in the U.S. and are headed to Europe, stay in close contact with your airline carrier. Some carriers, like Iberia, keep passengers apprised via their Twitter accounts which can provide the most up-to-date information on the re-opening of Spanish airports. Also, stay apprised of the latest postings on your carrier’s website in order to find out if your flight will be delayed, and if so, the accommodations that will be made for you in the process. For example, the following alert was posted on Delta.com this morning:

“Periodic air traffic control restrictions continue to be possible due to the volcanic ash from the Mount Eyjafjallajokull eruption in Iceland. Customers traveling in these markets are encouraged to check Delta's website for updated flight arrival and departure times before leaving for the airport. This volcanic eruption is an ongoing situation that Delta will continue to monitor closely. In the event your flight is delayed or cancelled, Delta will continue to offer alternate routings to assist with your travel plans.”

Also, keep yourself educated on what the airlines are required to provide you while experiencing delays. Lodging and meals may be covered, however, this is not always the case. The ire we experience when we find ourselves stranded on our own dime with widespread delays is unavoidable under certain circumstances, yet staying educated about resources available to you to find quick accommodations, etc. is invaluable. For example, are you an American Express member? If at a loss for assistance, call them. They may be able to assist you in finding accommodations under unforeseen circumstances.

Check you airline’s website before you head to the airport, and make sure you Kindle is well stocked!

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