This week I did a piece for the travel section of The Sun on people’s rights if they have been stranded abroad by the fallout of ash from Iceland’s volcanic eruption (you can read it here if you want). One of the things that struck me while writing was the speed in which the travel industry, and particularly the large tour operators, have responded to the crisis.
Thomson, for instance were claiming yesterday that everyone would have been repatriated by last night and even Ryanair (though more on them later) have got all their passengers to their destinations.
There have of course been a couple of companies that have tried to take advantage of the situation. Michael O’Leary at Ryanair’s bluster earlier this week that he would take it to court if he was to pay for accommodation for those stranded was short lived (one hopes he made the decision himself but one suspects he was slapped down by the authorities) and travellers would be wise to boycott insurance companies that refuse to pay out. But other than that, as with the XL crisis, some pretty amazing things have happened.
While I have every sympathy for people who were about to go on holiday and ended up stuck in Blighty, I’m starting to loose patience some of those stuck abroad, though.
Clearly some people, such as those stranded in Bangkok airport as explosions take place a couple of miles away, are having a hard time, but there are others that need to get off the phone to BBC news and get back to the pool. Tour operators are spending thousands of pounds keeping them in hotels, food and drink while they are ‘stranded’ in some luxury resort plus they have the perfect excuse to phone into work and blag a couple of extra days holiday.
There was one woe-is-me chap this morning being interviewed on TV who has been on honeymoon in St Lucia for two weeks and has to now stay until May 6 until Virgin Holidays can get him home. ‘There’s so much misinformation,’ he whittered on, making me want to put my foot through the TV.
Mate, you’re on honeymoon, you’re in St Lucia, you’ve managed to get an extra two weeks holiday at someone else’s expense, you’re every whim and need is being catered for and you’re complaining you can’t come home? Put down the phone, pick up the pina colada and give me a break.