The ash cloud drifting towards the UK has led to cancellation of all flights to and from India and other destinations until 6 p.m. today. Any compensation is unlikely as it is a natural disaster

The two volcanic eruptions in Iceland within a month’s span have wreaked havoc upon air traffic in the UK. These eruptions have come after 200 years of silence and it is the second one, which is mainly responsible for the situation. The explosion of the volcano has resulted in the formation of a massive cloud bank of molten ash, which is drifting towards the UK. This cloud is loaded with enough sand, glass, and rock particles to jam up an aircraft engine. Taking no chances, the Met Office issued timely warnings to the Air Traffic Control Office.

Flights to and from the UK severely disrupted

No flights were allowed to or from the UK until Thursday 6:00 p.m. As per latest reports, all flights in and out of the UK have been grounded until 1pm Friday. Authorities have been quoted as saying that the disruption to the flights may last for another day. This spells trouble for thousands of passengers scheduled to travel on and around these dates. All across the UK, passengers were in for a rude surprise on Thursday morning when airport authorities told them that flights have been cancelled indefinitely. As of now, only extreme emergency flights like those of the Royal Air Force are being permitted to ply.

No Compensation for loss resulting from forces of nature

Thousands of families, who had taken flights to India or other long haul destinations for Easter vacations and were scheduled to return this weekend, would have to remain stranded abroad with their return to the UK being delayed. Besides inconvenience, passengers may have to suffer monetary woes as ABTA has ruled out any compensation since the issue is linked to a natural disaster.

Advice – Know what you can do

The situation is chaotic as most of the airlines have cancelled the flights operating to different parts of the world. However, passengers who have booked their tickets with travel companies are better off than others. There are a number of benefits of booking with travel agents if such a calamity shows its ugly head. The travellers are sure to either have their travel rescheduled to fly on a later date or get a complete refund of the cost of tickets subject to conditions of the airline they are booked with. For example, Southall Travel, subject to availability of seats, rebooked multitude of passengers in line with the airlines’ rebooking policy in addition to offering a full refund to many travellers who opted for it. Travel agents have been contacting the affected passengers however, if you have not heard from your agent, act now and call up your agent to discuss your options.

Passengers who booked their travel independently should contact the airline to find out the details. It is advisable to also contact the insurance companies to see if different elements of their travel that they booked independently are covered or not.

The threat posed by the cloud formation is a very real one. The enormity of the situation can be gauged by recalling the 1982 incident when a British Airways flight flew into such a cloud bank resulting in the failure of all four engines. It was a miracle that the plane could land safely.

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