Icelandic Volcano Dashes Trips, Dreams

A number of Consumerist readers have had their European travel plans ruined thanks to this volcano in Iceland that decided to start spewing ash into the atmosphere. Flights were turned around mid-way across the Atlantic. A visit to Paris vacation that a struggling single mother saved up for 8 months could be squandered. And American Airlines wants a newlywed couple to pony up 30,000 more frequent flier miles to reschedule their trip. Here are their Tales From The Volcano:

My brand-spanking new husband and I were on our way to Frankfurt on Delta Flight 14 out of Atlanta. I found it rather suspicious that “everything was fine” whenever we called to ask about any delays due to the volcano vomit all over the European skies. Our route was changed from a more northern one where we’d usually exit the continent over Nova Scotia to a mid-Atlantic one, where we’d enter Europe over Spain. Four hours and change into our trip, the pilot announced, “For those of you who are awake you might have noticed that we are making a right turn. Due to volcanic ash, all German airports are closing. We’re going back to Atlanta.”

When we arrived back, we were given a hotel coupon (not a voucher) and a Delta toiletry kit consisting of flimsy razors, toothbrushes, deodorant, and packets of toothpaste and detergent. Oh, and a giant “Skyteam” t-shirt. Things were pretty organized, I guess. We got our coupon and went outside to wait for a van to the hotel. No one could get through to Delta reservations. I was concerned about the duty-free items we had bought and how we were going to pack them again. My husband’s frequent flier number seemed to work some magic over the phone and we have reservations for a Tuesday flight- Delta’s supposedly first scheduled flight to Frankfurt. We went to check on our luggage at the airport, and were warned that we should live without it if we could; the Delta rep said that it could “take all day” to get it back. So we made a pit-stop for necessary things and are making do. We’re not bad off. Delta reps across board came off as mostly tired but still pleasant; however, no special provisions seemed to have been made for the stranded passengers. We we were all given the same 800 number and no one seemed to know what to do. The soldier husband might be docked some leave time, but that seems to be the biggest inconvenience to us. I am a littler concerned about the assurances of our checked bags making it on to our plane on Tuesday, and am weary in general of us getting out then at all. I don’t blame Delta but somebody somewhere should have been able to figure out that the ash would hit Germany.

Some people are really, really f***ed. Some had already been stranded for awhile. We encouraged everyone we encountered to first get a reservation for another plane, and talked to them about the realities of standby in a situation like this. A lot of people have no idea how this all works, and were pretty pissed at Delta. We’re lucky and very grateful that we have family available; I know paying $45 a night at a run-down airport motel for 5 nights would hit us in the pocketbook. I’ll send another (and less-lengthy) update if anything crazy happens.

Also, I have been meaning to tell ya’ll this: On flights with Delta that have food, if you select a special meal you get to eat about 30-45 minutes earlier than everyone else, and so far nothing has been worse than a cheese tub of manicotti or weird chicken. The best dish is the non-passover kosher, but the snack was some weird fruit thing; I have enjoyed non-dairy vegetarian and Asian. Asian veggie was the worst. So, anyone flying trans-Atlantic should select a special meal. It’s free to do and not as disgusting as other options.

-Wonderkitty

Our honeymoon was scheduled to begin yesterday with a flight to Heathrow, where we would get a connecting flight to Spain and go on a tour. Due to the Iceland volcano, our flight was cancelled.

My wife’s aunt gave to us a gift of our plane tickets, by using her air miles.

The tour company has been more than accommodating, offering us a new tour within the year, no extra charge.

American Airlines, however, wants us to fly by May 3rd, no matter that we have no tour to go on by that date.

If we want to reschedule a flight date, it will cost another 30,000 miles by her aunt. Now, this is an act of God, but, it seems like American Airlines is doing their best to make money off of this event rather than help its customers.

Please help.

-Josh

My name is Michelle C. and my family and I have planned to visit Paris since last year, 8 months ago. I saved up 4,000 US dollars to go on this trip. It took awhile to save this much. I am a single working mother and I work over 40 hours a week to support my family. It’s really heart breaking for my family, who are in tears, because despite our efforts to get there in the week of April 17 to April 24, there would not be a flight out that is guaranteed to get us there until the 24th of April. Please, on behalf of a struggling family in this economy, I beg of you to allow us to change our vacation to June 24, 2010 to June 30, 2010. We are currently fully paid. from April 17, 2010 until April 24, 2010. I work for the United States government and they would not allow my to take more time out of work.

Magic Vacations stated that Disney would only extend our vacation 10 days after our previous bookings. This was difficult for my family and I since we are employed and have to accumulate time off in order to get another week off. Our flights were through Swiss airlines.

We booked our reservations through Magic Vacations. My client number is xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. My booking number is xxxxxxxxx.

Thank you for your time. Please help us. Please Michelle

Any advice for these weary would-be travelers?