/ Travel & Leisure

Volcanic ash cloud – one year on and claims still unpaid

Eyjafjallajokull Iceland volcano erupting

One year ago, a volcano with an unpronounceable name erupted in Iceland, causing havoc for millions. But 365 days later, many are still waiting for compensation – so have we learnt anything from this disaster?

Flights in Europe were grounded for six days, and it’s hard to forget the phenomenal chaos that ensued.

Over two million Brits were directly affected, according to Lastminute.com, many having to pay considerable sums for extra food, accommodation and in some cases, overland transport back to the UK.

Better understanding of travel rights

So did anything positive come out of the ash-mess? I’d say that we are now more familiar with our travel rights.

European law states that an airline that cancels our flight out of Europe or on a European airline must, regardless of the reason, look after us until they can get us on a new flight. ‘Looking after us’ involves paying for food, drink, and if necessary, hotel accommodation.

We know that we should pay with our credit card for anything over £100 to get further protection and we also know that checking the small print on insurance policies before we commit to purchasing one can mean a big financial difference.

Ash cloud claims still unpaid

But unfortunately some have learnt all this too late. Over 600 people are still waiting and hoping that the Financial Ombudsman Service finally rules that ash can be classed as weather so that their insurance policies will pay them the costs they’ve been waiting 365 days for.

Recently, Which? Travel conducted research among those in the British public who buy travel insurance (around 90% of those who go away). We found that as a result of the disruption caused by the volcano and all the other events, such as snow, strikes and political unrest in 2010, 78% will be more likely to check that they’re covered for travel disruption when buying an insurance policy.

We’ve had to learn many of these lessons the hard way. Being stuck across the globe and unable to get home is scary and having to write letter after letter to the airlines with our reimbursement claims has taken too much of our time.

Are you better prepared?

Hopefully going forward, we’ll all be better prepared and more able to stick up for our rights, so that at the very least, we won’t be left out of pocket when travel disruption occurs.

Do you have a better understanding of your travel rights after seeing the problems passengers faced during the ash cloud? Do you do anything differently when booking your holiday to ensure you’ll be covered in this kind of event, or do you feel none-the-wiser?


Yippee, a happy ending for one traveller. Ms B got her money back after an Ombudsman ruled her insurance policy wording should have been clearer, forcing the insurer to pay up under their cover for ‘adverse weather conditions’. http://www.which.co.uk/news/2011/04/hundreds-could-finally-receive-ash-cloud-payouts-252076

Susie70 says:
29 April 2011

I’m glad to hear this news although I must confess I was fully compensated within 2 weeks by the airline and 4 weeks by the travel insurance company. Once you quoted the EU directive, there really was no problem. The insurance company also compensated according to the policy I had selected. Obviously if I had paid a higher premium, then I would have received more compensation, but like most people, I opted for the lower premium. However, in these days of travel uncertainty, I will consider a higher premium on my next trip.

Gerry says:
29 April 2011

I’m truly amazed at this subject. After all how can something that is caused by a naturally disaster be blamed on any company?
I’m not a lover of insurance companies, or any multinational combines for that matter, but for some slabberhead out there, to insist that someone had to pay for a naturally disaster, well I’m dumfounded.
After all the airlines whose fault it was, well it seems everyone wants to blame the airline companies, are asked to pay compensation. But when all is said and done it wasn’t the airline companies who stopped the planes flying, was it not the civil aviation company, well some company along those lines, who stopped the flying. Like the sky is a huge place, so I cannot figure out for the life of me how the planes were no allowed to fly past the so called ash cloud? I know the skies are a bit like the road, each flight has a certain route/lane to fly in. But surly in the case of the ash cloud the planes could have flown past/around the ash cloud, with the help of aircraft controllers on the ground. Even if it meant planes going South or East for instance, should fly in one or two route/lanes while those going North or West should fly in other routes/lanes, 1.000 miles apart, case solved.
Anyhow I feel that if anyone had to pay out it would be the slabberhead’s who stopped the aircraft flying and not the Aircraft Company or insurance company…
Now take the instance last week about the M1 which was closed because of a fire. Or the M11 closed because of an accident. Who should pay out compensation for the closure of both M1 and M11 the motorists? Although it was the police who closed the motorway, I can grantee they will not pay compensation. So therefore the ash cloud is the same thing. The planes stopped flying because someone took a decision to stop them flying but the slabberhead’s wouldn’t take any responsibility to pay out compensation. So can anyone out there tell me why the people, who closed the airports, are not responsible for the closer/compasion?
And if the authorities were right by making the airlines/insurance companies pay, then who does the car truck bus drivers claim compassion from?
Just curious?