Flight chaos scuttles travel plans for Canadians

Air Canada cancelled its European flights Sunday as Canadians travellers stranded by the fallout of a volcanic eruption in Iceland resigned themselves to what will likely be several more days of waiting.

Air Canada cancelled its European flights Sunday as Canadians travellers stranded by the fallout of a volcanic eruption in Iceland resigned themselves to what will likely be several more days of waiting.

As ash from the volcano spread across Europe, Air Canada cancelled flights to and from London, Paris, Frankfurt, Munich, Zurich, Geneva, Rome and Tel Aviv.

“Air Canada is closely monitoring the situation and is doing everything possible to accommodate affected customers to get them on their way safely, and as quickly as possible,” the carrier said.

“It is expected that it may take several days for travel to resume.”

By mid-afternoon Sunday, the European Union said air traffic could return to 50 per cent of its normal level on Monday, but only if forecasts confirmed that skies over half the continent were clearing of volcanic ash.

That would still leave airlines with a massive travel backlog that would take time to clear.

Chandra Ewing, a Canadian unable to fly home from Frankfurt, said Sunday she counts herself lucky because she was able to take a train south to Diessen to go stay with a friend.

“Everyone seems pretty hopeless,” Ewing said of people at the airport.

“People are out of money, people are stranded.”

One Toronto couple, Melanie and Roger Dulos, had planned to attend a wedding of a close friend in London on Saturday, but like scores of other guests, simply couldn’t get there.

“Only approximately 40 out of 110 guests were able to attend,” Dulos said Sunday from Nice, France.

“The groom’s parents also missed the wedding because they were stranded in Norway.”

The couple was supposed to fly home from London Sunday but that wasn’t happening.

Dulos, 33, said she had been unable to reach British Airways to arrange her return flight, but her travel agent said the earliest she could likely leave is Saturday.

“We have been very fortunate in that we are in a beautiful city, with warm weather and have been able to extend the stay at the apartment we rented for no additional cost as of yet,” Dulos said.

“We have decided to make the best of it, enjoy Nice, practice our French and visit a few extra museums and nearby cities we were unable to get to last week.”

Some travellers, like a trio of businessmen from Peterborough, Ont., managed to get home from India by flying east instead of west.

They flew to Bangkok and Tokyo, before heading to Toronto, where they arrived Saturday afternoon.

“We basically went the other way around the world,” said Gord Buchholz of Quickmill.

Andrea Gillis, 24, also from Toronto, and a friend were stranded in Dublin Sunday, instead of catching a flight from London back home.

“As of now we can’t fly out until Friday from Dublin,” Gillis said.

“We have a place to stay while we’re here, so we’ve been making the most of our ’extended vacation,’ but I feel like if this is still going on by the end of the week, the novelty could wear off.”