Sunday, 18 April, 2010

Are you affected by the travel disruption? Would you like to share your thoughts with us and with other readers of this live text commentary? If so, email us at newsonline@rte.ie. Please note: RTÉ.ie may edit your comments and not all comments will be published.

Caroline Walsh
Has anyone any suggestions for getting bookings on ferries from mainland Europe to Ireland. My Colleague Margaret and I are stuck in Helsinki but cannot get a ferry booking from any of the ports we have tried. We have airline tickets for Tuesday but beginning to realise we aint going to get home by air. We can get to Sweden or Germany from here via Ferry and trains to any port but no joy so far in getting a ferry booking from mainland Europe to either the UK or Ireland . Great job RTE for the updates! You're a lifesaver!!

Richard Hadfield
The world is being stood on its head and travellers who liked the “slow lane” are now finding it crowded. Suddenly everyone knows the website www.seat61.com and are extolling the virtues of public transport. Hopefully this results in looking at the alternatives to air travel and accommodating those who want to use unfashionable transport. Is this a dry run for after “peak oil”? Let’s not be dramatic but a greater focus on public transport would not be a bad thing.

Ciaran Davis
I think that those travelling for pleasure should consider postponing their travels for a few weeks to free up seats for those who are stranded away from home. I was due to fly to JFK with Aer Lingus this morning. Their online facility for rebooking is very user friendly and instead of taking a seat on the next flight as showing available I've postponed for several weeks. People stranded abroad are stuck with extra expenses, can't get home to family, work, ill relatives etc etc.

Mick Ryan
Does anybody know if the Department of Foreign Affairs are doing anything to help, can it be that difficult to arrange a bus or any form of transportation to get us back home or close to it? Surely there is some industrious Travel Agent out there who can help. A private bus company could do a route from Portugal/Spain through France and pick people up on the way. I am sure that anybody stuck in a similar situation would be glad of the service and would be willing to pay, if they knew that they were going to arrive in Ireland sooner rather than later.


Arancha Morales

I am stuck in Ireland since last Friday morning trying to get back to Madrid. I am a Spanish girl who has travelled on my own and have received little or no help from Aer Lingus or the airport in Dublin. Nobody seems to have any idea what to do with all the stranded passengers and I have received no help or money for accommodation, food etc.
I am now considering looking for a job here as I cannot continue to live like this without support from either the Irish government or my airline Aer Lingus...

Dave Boylan
I'm Dave and have been stuck in Holland since Saturday. I commute from my home in Ennis to my office in Nijmegen regularly so I'm not too inconvenienced. I can stay over and work (which is a blessing given the unemployment rate at home).

Thanks to RTE.ie for keeping me informed. Aer Lingus have been fairly decent also.

After the self-delusion in past years of exaggerated grandeur when we became our own continent during the celtic tiger era, it does ring home that we're only an small Island in the Atlantic (maybe Carruntohill is ready to blow next?). No harm to be reminded how isolated we really are. (Geographically, economically and politically)

Jenny
I’ve read a number of postings and am very sorry to hear about all who are stranded. So here’s a suggestion for the airlines. I have a flight booked for a short holiday next weekend. I would gladly give up my seat to someone who needs to get home. I could help 2 people, one from Dublin to Faro (Fri) and one from Faro to Dublin (Sun). Therefore I suggest that once the volcanic ash clears the airlines allow people who are not urgently travelling to either move their dates out or give up their seats to try to accommodate folks getting home.

John Joyce

We are currently organising a bus to go from Northern Italy to Dublin. Pick up late on Tuesday evening. We have approx 25 seats available and the cost will be approx Euros 300 per person. Please contact jj1@tjom.ie if interested.

Seán Kelly
Firstly great work to RTE for their live updates. I feel great sorrow for everyone in this dire situation. I cannot imagine what kind of stress, panic or financial situation beholds you. As an eternal optimist I'd like to remind everyone of the destructive power of a volcanic eruption. Thousands of people have died in similar circumstances. This is something that is not to be taken lightly. If for one moment we reflect, look past the economic cost, you will see that no one is sick, injured or dead as a result of this natural disaster. I wish I could say in recent years, natural disasters have been so forth giving, but need I remind everyone of the recent Earthquakes in Haiti, Turkey, and China, not to mention the Hurricanes, like Katrina for example. While I'm not denying the financial effect this is causing on everyone, at the end of the day aren't we all lucky we're well and happy???

Deirdre Maria D'Arcy
Was due to fly from Serbia (Belgrade) to Dublin via Budapest on Saturday with some collegaues - we are due now to leave Belgrade tomorrow by bus to Paris, then return via London on Eurostar on Wednesay, then by bus London to Dublin. Should get home on Thursday at some point, including an overnight in Paris with everything reserved. We looked into loads of options for this (including a boat along the Danube!), and I would not recommend waiting for flights to be rescheduled if possible, much better to start making your way overland. However, judging from other comments, the bus routes such as eurolines and local private operators seem to be an under explored option? A place on the ferry is obviously included in the bus journey where relevant. No-one likes long bus journeys but, lovely and all as Belgrade is, I am looking forward to getting nearer home and at least to somewhere where I can speak the language! Buses are also quite cheap usually. Also, it is possible to book a Eurostar place still, but requires perseverence.
Obviously it's been a drastic inconvenience, for both personal and professional reasons, but it's such a huge event that it's beyond worrying about so long as we all keep safe and get home eventually. As another commentor mentioned, I can't imagine managing all of these arrangements without the internet, and really well done to the rte website for the regular and relevant updates, it's been excellent.
Now I'm off to enjoy my last night in Belgrade:-)

Kevin Moore
Just a note to say well done on the live updates service. We are stranded in Chicago, having turned back 2 1/2 hours into the Dublin-bound flight on Friday. The RTE live updates service has been our biggest source of accurate information, and coupled with the News Now service, we are keeping up to date with events at home. So well done RTE!

Stephen McBride
I was due to fly home on Friday night from Charles de Gaulle but quickly realised it was going to be cancelled. I caught a train to Le Havre yesterday and a ferry to Portsmouth. I was lucky to be one of the first off because emigration insisted on scanning everybody's ticket even though it had already been done in France! Apparently people behind me became very angry at the slow speed of the queue and many were trying to catch the last train to London. The police arrived en masse to calm the scene. Fortunately I caught the train and arrived at a relatives house around 12.30 last night. I have to wait until tommorrow to catch a train to Holyhead and a ferry home. People throughtout the journey were very friendly towards one another despite the fact that some had clearly travelled long distances. I spotted a number of people lugging ski gear!

Ray and Fran
Just a comment re cancellation of flights and refund of fares that it is hugely important to get refunds out to people as quickly as possible so people can have access to continued credit. In our own case we have had to cancel two lots of flights and will not receive refund in our bank account for approx 15days, at a cost of approx 1,200euro as we now will have to book more flights we getting close to reaching our credit limit plus we still have continued expense of hotel accommodation and day to day living.

While we appreciate that this is new territory for all we are aware that the British government are meeting to look at possible ways of helping out their citizens. If the Irish government are doing anything similar it would be helpful to us here on the ground to know about it to avoid continously booking and cancelling flights.

Eamon McEneaney
Was due to fly to Egypt on Thursday Cancelled till Friday @ 14.15 never happened Travel agent was great told us we will get our money back ,due to Travel to Turkey on Saturday Fingers Crossed .

Kevin
I’m stuck in NY trying to get back to Ireland. My father is seriously ill and I’ve been trying to get home for five days now. My Saturday flight was cancelled and I couldn’t rebook it until Sunday week. Nobody cares that my father who I haven’t seen for years may not make it that long. Should it not be first come first serve with the flights , why do the people who booked early go to the bottom of the list?

Professor Patrick Mc Keever

I am stuck on Langkawi island, Malaysia after attending a conference on UNESCO geoparks (areas of international geological heritage). I am one of the coordinators of the UNESCO geoparks initiative (including the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark in Cavan & Fermanagh and the Copper Coast Global Geopark in Waterford) and work for the Geological Survey of N Ireland. I actually visited the Eyjafjallajökull area last August at the request of the people there as they want that area to become a Global Geopark and were seeking my advice! I am in daily contact with my friends there and thankfully they are all OK. But they are worried - infact we talked about it also last August - that the neighbouring volcano Katla could erupt as the two volcanoes are linked. Katla is much much more dangerous. Many of my Geopark colleagues are also stuck in Langkawi including the geologists from Norway, Germany, France, Portugal, UK, Austria and Italy but everyone is in good spirits and enjoying this geo-spectacular event. Great publicity for us geologists.

Martina Kealy
Hello. Would everyone wake up. I have a degree in Geography and Geology. I did an extensive search last night on the Volcano in Iceland. The last time this volcano erupted in 1821, the eruptions of volcanic ash went on for a whole year. There is no predicting how long the airlines will be disrupted. Air travel is out for the forseeable future. Everyone who is stranded should try to make land and sea arrangements. I'm not being negative, just realistice. This is a natural phenonemon.

Michael Waterman
I went for a three hour meeting in Milan on Wednesday, with an Aer Lingus flight leaving Dublin on Wednesday morning; returning on Thursday a.m. I live in Warrenpoint. With the problems, I had hoped that I would get out on Saturday and at present Milan is very expensive, especially for hotel rooms, due to large trade show. Looking at your website this morning, I decided that it was time to try and get back home to Ireland, by train and ferry.

I was very lucky to get a seat out on a train on Sunday ( very difficult), and I am going to Paris, arriving very late on Sunday night. I am getting a ferry from Holland to Hull on Tuesday night and hopefully returning home via Holyhead or Stranraer on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.

It is the joys of travel and I fly over 150 times per year; but everyone is in the same boat and I queued for two hours at Milan station this morning, meeting many different nationalities; and the majority of people are accepting the problem with good grace.

Matthew
I was supposed to fly to Miami yesterday. It's a story of romance, years lost and serendipity so I'll spare the details other than that there are two broken hearts, one on either side of the Atlantic. Having been told transatlantic flights from Ireland were going ahead, I woke to find all flights from Dublin canceled including those going west. I had viewed a site http://www.radarvirtuel.com/ - that RTE had recommended - and noted the absence, west of Ireland, of any volcanic dust where a clear flight path did at least seem, to my perhaps uneducated eyes, to be present. Is anyone able to explain to me why, in light of what seems to be a clear run of the Atlantic, Flights to the US have been pulled?

Alan Regan
Twitter users have been extending offers of help to one another. Users have been adding the hashtag '#putmeup' if they're in need of a place to stay, or '#getmehome' if they need to hitch a car ride.

Irish user HazelKLarkin is among those pledging assistance, and has offered to accommodate four people at her home 30 minutes from Dublin Airport.

Stefan Decker
We (4 from galway) were visiting a conference in valencia and were due to return via madrid to dublin on friday. We made it to madrid but got stuck there. We spent saturday buying a cheap car (way cheaper than a one way car rental!) and arranging insurance and started driving to dublin today (sunday). We are currently halfway to calais, eurotunnel and transfer to holyhead is arranged. We will be home by monday evening. Anybody in need of a cheap car (road tested!) with a spanish license?

Niamh O'Byrne
Arrived in Berlin for a training last Sunday and was due to fly back to Dublin on Friday. Of course that flight was cancelled so I rebooked for Sunday. That was cancelled and I've rebooked for Thursday. I don't hold out much hope for that flight so I've booked an overland nightmare trip. Berlin -> Cologne -> Brussels -> London -> Holyhead. I spend the night in Holyhead and am on the fast ferry the following morning. All told it will be 4 trains, 1 ferry and about 36 hours. If any of the legs is delayed then I'm stranded!

Tracey Tierney
Myself and my mother are currently stuck in New York due to the Icelandic volcanic ash. We were due to fly home on Sat evening on the 9.50pm flight from New York. We didn’t hear anything at all from Aer Lingus. We are only contactable by email but didn’t receive any. My husband has managed to get us on a flight on Wednesday, that is, if the flight will be going. We are staying in a hotel which isn’t offering any discount, and are now counting the cents until we run out of money and are worried we will soon max out our credit cards. I am missing my two little boys and can’t wait to get home but it seems from listening to others stories we are lucky in comparison. Some people don’t know how to operate computers and can’t check anything themselves and so are relying on others to keep them updated. Others can’t get flights until next weekend, like us they will be running out of money soon. We don’t know what help, if any, is available to us.

Ciaran Flanagan

Finally got home last night from Amsterdam , been there since thursday on my way back from Beijing. Some advice....find the nearest Eurolines office , their website is struggling but they have coach capacity accross the english channel. Persist with Eurostar , it took me 30 attempts but I eventually got a seat from Brussels to London. Came over on the Irish Ferries Swift last night and there were places left in club class and they accomodated all the standby passengers that showed up

A big thank you to RTE for keeping us all informed.

Fiona Fitz
Maybe you can suggest www.couchsurfing.com for people with little money who are stranded? it's a service provided by regular people who volunteer their couch to visitors - very well run, and i think ideal for this situation.

Shelley Kavanagh
As a shop owner in Temple Bar, where we normally have a massive influx of European customers at the weekend, yesterday (Saturday trading) was abysmal!

Usually I would have a huge amount of Scandinavian, French, German, Spanish and Italians shopping but this weekend there was a more than notable drop in foreign footfall which had a dramatic effect on sales. Many of my fellow retailers felt the effects.

Not only are shopkeepers suffering with a recession cloud above our heads but with this ash cloud too, things don't look good.

Aibhínn Kelleher
Have been stranded in Spain with family since Friday. No help from embassies or airlines. All trains/buses/boats fully booked out until the end of the week.
The authorities need to realise that the capacity just isn´t there on existing land services to get people home and start looking at alternatives. Would it not be cheaper for the airlines to start providing coach services rather than giving people full refunds? Could the navy/army help out?

Martin McNamara

For those passengers who might think booking through a travel agent would have provided them with more support and assistance - think again. Am stuck in New York on the way home to Dublin from Australia and a well-known company specialising in student travel could not be less helpful. No out of hours emergency number provided and appears to be penalising customers for following clear advice on airline websites regarding refunds and for booking fast disappearing alternative flights on own initiative - unbelievable!


Cyril Hayes

Been trying to get to Ireland to make sure I am home for birth of second baby. My wife is due on friday 23rd. My flight on Saturday to Dublin from Montpellier was cancelled. Left Montpellier yesterday afternoon on a train to Paris. Got to Paris and all the euro star trains to London are full until Tuesday. Dead end there.

Got a taxi from Paris to Cherbourg, over four hours and €600 it cost me. Now I can't get a booking to Rosslare. The only seat I can get is to sail to Portsmouth. When I get to the UK, I can't get a booking to Dublin on any sailing, so when I get to the UK I don't know what I will do.

Anyhow, my wife just called this morning - baby girl born and both doing well, 7lbs 13 ozs. Hopefully, I'll see them all soon.

Daniel Murphy

It seems evident that the situation with the volcano is going to remain for at least another week possibly, so it is time for airlines to stop playing the waiting game and take some initiative.

It is positive that several Dutch and German test flights have returned undamaged so maybe it is time all airlines researched whether it is indeed possible to fly their routes at a lower altitude than normal.

Richie O'Mahony in Barcelona

It dawned on me yesterday that had this situation happened, say 10 or 15 years ago, when the Internet wasn't what it is now- I would be afraid to even imagine what the situation would be like in airports. At least switching your flight etc. can be done with the push of a button these days.

Gary Smith (Somewhere on the Irish Sea)

Me and my girlfriend were due to start our round the world travels on Friday morning from Heathrow. We're are currently on a ferry from Rosslare to Fishguard like many others trying to make our way to London. We should have been starting our tour of central America today, but we'll be lucky to get to Guatemala by the end of the week at this rate! Really is the worst luck; if that damn volcano had erupted 3 days later we would have been fine!!!

Mr F Flanagan

My pregnant wife, my 15-month-old daughter and myself are stuck in Munich. Had flight to Dublin cancelled on Thursday. Rescheduled flight for Saturday also cancelled. Now, we hope to get out on Tuesday.

Patsy Edgers

We are a group stuck in Spain, where the weather has been desperate. The hotel and hold courses have been very understanding and accommodating. No profiteering so far. Were due back Monday. Looks like Thursday now.

Arthur Viegers

My wife and I live in Killiney County Dublin and I am stuck in Rio de Janeiro at the moment. I was here on business and was scheduled to return to Dublin via Sao Paulo and London last Thursday on TAM airlines.

TAM waited until the very last moment before they cancelled the flight on Thursday and all throughout Thursday it was nearly impossible to get any information. The only thing I could do was go to the airport and assess the situation there. When I arrived at the airport the flight had been cancelled and there was the chaos to be expected with many people trying to make new travel arrangements.

All together, there is no need to get too upset about this. There is nothing anyone can do, except hoping for the weather conditions to change soon and the situation getting better. Of course everyone would agree that it is a lot better to get a tan on the beach in Rio than take risks flying home.

Now it looks like the situation will last longer than expected, things are getting more frustrating, and obviously my work agenda has had to change drastically, but, again, you can only be positive and relaxed, and make the best of it!

Ultan

Iit's been a good show from RTE.ie all round for keeping the travelling Irish diaspora informed and up to date. I've given up on making it to the auld sod for the forseeable future until Eyjafjallajökull agrees to co-operate with my travel plans and have since returned to the safety of my US Mid-Western existence. Hope everyone makes it back to their homes soon and safely.

Nick Durham

It is now dawning on us that this crisis may continue for some time ... and, if this is so, it may change the way we live. Airlines and travel companies may be the first to suffer, but all businesses and individuals will be affected. Especially in island nations like Ireland.

John O'Brien (Frustrated) in New York

While I understand the airlines can't do anything about the volcano, there is not enough of a response to help those stranded.

The people who are cancelled go to the bottom of the list and have to take the next available flight, so those waiting longest are put last.

If that next flight is cancelled, they have again another few days of a wait. There is no support getting accomodation. No service, no action, no response, just book the next available or take a refund. There is nothing coming out of the government in Ireland in terms of implementing an emergency plan to help those stranded.

When decisive actions and contingency plans which actually meet the needs of people are required, Ireland's response is less than acceptable, there is no initiative, no alternative thinking going on.

See comments from Saturday, 17 April