Volcanic Ash Clouds Cause Mass Flight Cancellations For Britain, Northern Europe
Update 1:30pm EST: United Air Lines has cancelled all Europe-bound flights leaving from the US today. They are issuing travel waivers for passengers HERE. As a result, all United flights leaving from LHR/CDG/AMS/FRA/BRU/DME to the US tomorrow are also cancelled. (Because the planes for those are still in the US, of course)
Update 11:45am EST: Paris' Charles de Gaulle and Amsterdam's Schiphol Airports have closed due to the ash, as well as many other French and northern European airports. First time all UK airports have stopped flights since 9/11.
Flying to London today? Or perhaps you're already in London and attempting to fly elsewhere in Europe? Stop right there and consult FlightStats.com first, because your flight might be cancelled due to volcanic ash. That's right, we said volcanic ash is causing mass international flight delays, and it's not the first time in the last few weeks.
Up in southern Iceland, tourists have been flocking to watch Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupt, ever since it began the fireworks and lava-spewing a few weeks ago. Today however, the volcanic ash clouds have invaded British air space and they're drifting south into northern Europe. The British Airports Authority has suspended passenger air traffic until at least 6am GMT tomorrow, the 16th. All of Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Belgium are also putting a stop to flights while the dangerous ash cloud moves on. As expected, the Eurostar Channel Tunnel routes are completely sold out.
Why a volcanic ash cloud is very dangerous to airplanes, after the jump
On March 22, in the first days of volcanic activity, the ash cloud filled Iceland airspace and caused a temporary stop to all domestic flights in Iceland, as well as cancellations for Reykjavik-bound flights originating in Boston, Seattle and Orlando. Additionally, flights from Iceland to London, Stockholm, Amsterdam and Frankfurt were cancelled.
Volcanic dust not only subtracts from visibility, but too much dust and ash can clog a plane's engines and sandblast the cockpit glass, making a plane both blind and disabled, leading to engine failure and we don't want to talk about what could happen after that. Or you can just consult history to find out: British Airways Flight 9 and KLM Flight 867, both of which had full engine failures in volcanic ash clouds, but luckily managed to glide out of the clouds and restart.
SCARY. If you're scheduled on one of the affected flights today, we recommend not copping an attitude with airline representatives or getting too worked up over your flight status; it's either safety or the possibility of engine failure, so chill out.
· Iceland volcano: Why a cloud of ash has grounded flights [BBC]
· Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull Volcano Causes International Flight Delays [Jaunted]
· We Can't Imagine a Worse Flight Delay Reason than Volcanic Eruption [Jaunted]
· Travel Alerts [Jaunted]
[Photo: Garry DeLong]