Volcanic eruption grounds 90% of UK flightsTravel insurance should cover disruption

15 April 2010

Airport sign directing travellers to the terminal.

Ash released by a volcanic eruption at Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland has caused massive disruption at UK airports, leaving thousands stranded and unable to travel due to flight delays and cancellation. 

An estimated 90% of flights have been grounded because a huge plume of ash has drifted over the UK. The cloud is invisible to the naked eye, being around seven miles up in the atmosphere, but is considered to be a risk to airplane engines and could cause visibility problems if it falls. Previous eruptions have damaged aircraft, most notably in 1982 when a British Airways jumbo jet lost power in all four engines due to ingress of volcanic ash.

All airports in Scotland are closed, with major disruption being reported across the rest of the UK. Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Belfast, Heathrow and Newcastle airports are all among the terminals affected. Passengers are being advised to contact their carrier before setting off. 

Travel insurance covered

Which? recommends that flight passengers also check their travel insurance policies. Quality policies should cover delays and cancellations caused by events beyond the customers' control, such as acts of God.

Rochelle Turner, head of research for Which? Holiday, said: 'Affected passengers are being offered a choice of a full refund or transfer on to another flight. But, the airlines don’t have to compensate passengers for loss of any additional elements to holidays, such as accommodation and car hire. It may be possible to claim for these additional elements on your travel insurance, but passengers will need to check their individual policies.'