European Travel Update


Saturday, April 17

   Where to find the latest info on airports in Europe: Click here

  Joe Brancatelli, author of the online business travel newsletter, Joe@JoeSentMe.com, has been right on the mark with his updates and advice since last Wednesday when European airports began shutting down due to spreading ash from the volcano in Iceland.
   Here's his latest advice as of today:
Just a brief update on the volcanic ash situation:
     1) All US carriers serving Europe have now updated and expanded their flight-change policy. Most are now allowing free changes for flights scheduled to depart through Tuesday, April 20 regardless of whether the flight has been officially cancelled. Check the Web site of the carrier you're using because the policies have now been loosened since yesterday and even earlier this morning.
     2) The situation in Europe continues to worsen. British Airways, for example, has now cancelled all flights into and out of London tomorrow (Sunday). Aer Lingus has done the same for all US, UK and Europe flights. Paris/CDG and Paris/Orly are now closed until 6am Monday local time. SAS has cancelled all but a few local flights tomorrow. Lufthansa has cancelled flights worldwide until at least 2pm German time tomorrow. Amsterdam/Schiphol is closed until at least 11am local time tomorrow. Brussels Airport is closed until at least 8 a.m. Sunday. Poland's airspace is closed.
     Some additional notes:
     1) I want to reiterate that if you are scheduled to fly TO Europe next week, cancel. It's going to be a mess even if airports open. Aircraft and flight crews are out of position and just because an airport opens doesn't mean a carrier can get its operations together.
     2) Most of Europe's ground transport options are at or beyond capacity.
     3) While some airports in the South of Europe (Rome, Athens, Madrid, Lisbon etc) are open, flights into and our of those airports are largely booked. And since no airport in Southern Europe is a particularly large hub, there's not a lot of extra capacity. This includes Madrid, where passengers have largely overwhelemed Iberia's flights and facilities at Madrid/Barajas. Unless you are ABSOLUTELY desperate to get out of Eur ope, I don't recommend trying to get to these places now. But if you must, make sure you have CONFIRMED reservations beyond those cities and a CONFIRMED way to get to those cities on the ground.
      To Joe's advice, I would add that if you do have a confirmed reservation when flights resume, there's a good chance the airlines will be generous with offers for "voluntary bumps,'' meaning that if you're flexible, and don't mind waiting to get to your destination (and you could be waiting a long time), there could be a good chance you'll be offered cash and/or a free ticket in exchange for giving up your seat.

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