Ash Cloud Tours – Stuck In Australia – 24 April 2010

by Julie on April 23, 2010

I’m writing this from Sydney airport on route to Alice Springs when I should be back home enjoying the tail end of my Jetlag. The natural event that put massive disruption to air traffic in Europe has also had repercussions around the world.

Ripple Effects On The Other Side Of The Globe

The amount of people directly affected by the travel lock down has been surprising even in Australia a country as far away from the Eyjafjallajokull Volcano as possible. Back in Europe I imagine the ripples have been felt where business people, school teachers, doctors and nurses simply couldn’t return from their Easter holidays, but out here that lack of new passengers arriving is affecting tourism and business too. Taxi drivers in Sydney claim business is 50% down, hotels and tours are low in numbers. Business meeting and seminars are being cancelled due to lack of speakers and essential medical items failed to arrive. Globally the Volcano has touched the lives of many.

So What is the Flight Situation?

On the first day the airlines started accepting passengers back to Europe Qantas claimed that they managed to clear 5% of the backlog, at that rate 19 more days would be needed to get every stranded passenger home. However as travelers that didn’t manage to fly to their outward destination at the start of the Volcano fail to turn up for the return leg seats will come available. In Australia this will have a slower effect than in closer countries as not many people visit Australia for the short period of time the skies were closed.

Etihad, the airline I used, are not accepting passengers into Abu Dhabi (the changeover airport) until they clear the backlog they have there and refuse to offer any expenses as many of the EU airlines, even if your flights depart without you on it!

What’s Next?

There are three options: Option 1 – Hang out at the airport and try and get on as a standby passenger. Hearing stories about people on their 4th trip to the airport doing this and they are still stuck this is not appealing; Option 2 – Make the most of my time and take the opportunity to do some traveling; Option 3 – buy a new ticket back at a cartel rate (how can they sell tickets with a backlog really puzzles me…)

I’m going for option 2, now leaving Sydney on route to Alice Springs for a long weekend exploring the outback in a 4×4 camper before heading back to Melbourne and hopefully my flight home.

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