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Volcanic ash - health and travel update

  • Published: Friday, 23 April 2010

Airports across the UK have reopened, and airlines are working to clear a backlog of passengers whose flights were delayed due to the volcanic ash cloud.

Flights may take time to return to normal

Airline phone contacts

BA: 0800 727 800

bmi: 0844 8484 888

easyJet: 0871 2882 236

flybe: 0871 700 2000

Ryanair: 0871 246 0000

It will take time for flights to settle down to normal timetables.

If you are hoping to travel in the next few days, do check your airline's website for up to date information about your flight before travelling to the airport.

Many UK citizens whose travel plans have been disrupted are due to fly with the carriers linked to below. If you’re affected, follow the links below for detailed information from these airlines.

If you're flying with a different carrier you should contact your own airline. Or to contact individual UK airports, visit the UK airports contact details page.

Advice for passengers

FCO advice line

If you are concerned about a stranded relative, call 020 7008 0000

The help you are entitled to from your airline depends on whether you are flying from an EU airport or on an EU airline.

Follow the link below to find out what to do if you are stranded overseas, including where to get help, how to extend a visa and other ways you might be able to get home.

Consumer rights

Advice for stranded passengers

What to do, getting help, and other ways to get home

Stranded passengers

If you are trying to return to the UK and want to find out what you are entitled to, follow the 'advice for stranded passengers' link below.

This link has detailed information about your rights as a stranded passenger. It also has links to alternative transport providers for travellers in Europe who cannot wait for a new flight.

Passengers departing from the UK

If you were scheduled to leave the UK in the period while flights were restricted, contact your current airline to advise them of your plans. If you still wish to travel, you should be offered an alternative flight as soon as capacity allows.

Claiming back money from an airline

If you are travelling from an EU airport or with an EU airline, the airline has to pay your food and accommodation costs, provided these are reasonable.

If you have had to pay these yourself up front, keep the receipts so you can follow up later with your airline.

As the volcano is beyond the control of the airlines, you will not be entitled to any additional financial compensation.

For more on what you are entitled to if you are stranded, follow the link below.

Travel insurance

Volcanic eruptions are not always covered by travel insurance for cancellation and delay. Some policies will cover this though, so contact your travel insurance company to check what your policy covers.

Whatever happens, make sure you talk to your insurer to work out what types of expenses are covered before you incur them.

The Association of British Insurers advises customers who may be affected that:

  • if your flight is cancelled, most airlines will offer you either a full refund or an alternative flight
  • if your flight is cancelled and you do not travel, most travel insurers will refund your insurance premium
  • if you took out a single-trip policy, if you accept an alternative flight at a later date most travel insurers will amend your policy to cover your new travel arrangements and dates
  • for single-trip policies, all insurers will automatically extend the period of cover for those who are currently stranded abroad
  • if you are still in the UK and have rearranged travel plans you can have your insurance policy amended at any time before the new departure date
  • insurance only covers events that happen after the policy is taken out so customers taking out travel insurance from today onwards will not be covered for this event
  • deciding that you no longer wish to travel will not be covered by your travel insurance policy

Nick Starling, the ABI's director of general insurance and health, said: "Travel insurance policies will differ in this situation. Customers should check their travel insurance policy, and speak to their travel insurer to understand what their individual policy covers them for in this situation."

Health effects

In the event of rain, low concentrations of volcanic ash may be carried to the ground. The Health Protection Agency says the ash poses no health threat in wet weather as the particles cannot be inhaled under these conditions.

As a precaution, people with existing respiratory conditions such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema and asthma should keep their inhalers or other medications with them.

If you are outside and notice or experience the following, you may wish to limit your activities outdoors or return indoors:

  • itchy or irritated eyes
  • runny nose
  • sore throat
  • a dusty haze in the air
  • you can smell sulphur, rotten eggs, or a strong acidic smell

If your job is affected or you need to contact Jobcentre Plus

Disruption caused by the cloud of volcanic ash may affect the hours your employer is able to ask you to work.

It may also mean you can't attend an appointment at the Jobcentre.

Find out what you should do and how the disruption might affect your rights at work.

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