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Flight cancellations: what airlines advise
With air travel over Europe crippled by the Iceland volcano eruption, passengers are eyeing the fine print to see where they stand.
April 17, 2010 10:27 by Katherine Azmeh
“Please do not go to the airport if your flight is cancelled.” That’s the message to the millions of air passengers facing major disruptions to their travel following the eruption of an Icelandic volcano last week, prompting airspace closures over the UK and several other European nations.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said that airlines stand to lose at least $200 million a day in the disruption. Stranded passengers are checking the fine print on their tickets and asking airlines about compensation, refunds, and rebooking strategies.
Here’s what the airlines are saying:
Dubai’s Emirates airline says that “customers affected by the disruption can cancel their booking or change their onward destination without charge. All re-issue and cancellation fees will be waived while the disruption is ongoing,” according to the company’s website.
Etihad says that it “encourages passengers with travel plans to these destinations to contact their local Etihad office or the airline’s dedicated customer assistance lines. Etihad Airways’ guests who are booked to travel on a cancelled flight during the affected period can rebook to a new travel date (subject to terms and conditions), or cancel their ticket and receive a full refund.”
British Airways offers travelers the option of changing their booking with no extra fee. Passengers may also request an alternative destination in the “same country, or a destination close by in a neighboring country e.g. Lyon and Geneva… You may instead claim a refund for the un-flown flights in your booking”.
Despite the headaches, some privileged citizens might enjoy a bit of royal treatment at the end of the day. For Saudi travelers stranded in London, special arrangements seem to be in order.
“Prince Sultan has issued orders to provide urgent accommodation to all stranded Saudis in London hotels at his own expense,” said Prince Muhammad bin Nawaf, ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the United Kingdom, according to Friday’s Arab News.
“Prince Sultan will bear the accommodation cost for Saudi families unable to return to their places of residence from London,” the ambassador said.