The cloud of volcanic ash blanketing Europe has thrown the travel plans of literally millions of passenger into chaos. Read our flight disruption Q&A if you’ve been affected.
My flight has been cancelled. What should I do?
Passengers with firm bookings that have been cancelled should be entitled to either a refund or assistance in making alternative travel arrangements. Typically the latter involves booking you onto a rival airline’s flights, but clearly that’s not possible at present.
For this reason any alternative travel arrangements will likely be rescheduled flights at a later date with the same carrier. EU law dictates that airlines must pay reasonable accommodation and food costs for as long as customers are stranded, so keep all your receipts. Some short-haul passengers may alternatively be offered assistance in making train or ferry reservations.
What about if I booked with a tour operator?
When events such as this occur people who have booked with a tour operator often find themselves in a better situation that those who have booked direct with an airline.
Your agent or operator is legally obliged to offer a refund or make alternative arrangements for all aspects of your package holiday. If you’re stranded abroad this means they are responsible for putting you up in suitable accommodation and footing for the bill for extra costs such as carhire. Because tour operators tend to deal with large groups, the process might be smoother than you’d expect.
Am I entitled to compensation?
Sadly, no. A volcanic eruption is a clear-cut natural disaster and so air passengers are not entitled to any compensation under existing regulatory schemes. Don’t feel too hard done-by, though. The airlines themselves are the ones who will have lost the most money from this event.
When is the ash plume over Europe likely to disappear?
Cheapflights is monitoring the situation at all UK airports hour-by-hour on our Flight Information page, where you can find out the latest forecasts for the ash plume.
Though the worst of the volcanic activity seems to have passed, meteorologists say that the ash already in the sky coupled with the prevailing winds could see this situation drag on for several days. In the worst-case scenario, further seismic activity in Iceland could disrupt air travel all summer.