Ash Weekend: NYC Hotel Discounts Offered to Stranded Passengers

Life disrupted by volcanic ash event

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Volcanic ash is making it difficult for people to travel out of the county. Backyard Travel contributor, Annelise Sorensen gives a few alternatives to stranded passengers.

    The city is offering hotel discounts to travelers stranded in the Big Apple by the volcanic eruption in Iceland that has disrupted air travel throughout Europe.
           
    Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Friday that 15 percent discounts are being offered at more than 30 hotels for passengers who aren't able to get hotel vouchers through their airlines. The offer runs through April 19.
           
    New York Airport Service and Go Airlink Shuttle will also extend 15 percent discounts for transportation to and from John F. Kennedy or Newark Liberty airports for affected passengers.
           
    Hotel booking information and valid offer codes, as well as information on a range of low-cost entertainment and cultural activities, can be found on the Web site www.nycgo.com.

    Meanwhile, the volcanic ash event felt around the globe continues to disrupt the lives of those stuck in New York.

    One man won't make it to a friend's wedding. A woman is likely to miss the first day of her new job. And an author may not get an opportunity to promote her latest novel at a London book fair.
           
    Like so many other people, this trio from England is stranded because of the volcanic airborne event halting air traffic over Europe. They're all waiting at a hotel near Kennedy Airport to hear when they'll be able to go home.
           
    Jackie Reeves was hoping she'll make it back in time to start her new job on Monday.

    "I don't know when we'll be able to get back," said the 48-year-old from Ipswich, about 70 miles outside of London, as she stood in the lobby of a hotel near John F. Kennedy International Airport.

    "I have a couple of big meetings for the new job on Tuesday," she said. "If I'm not back for those, that would be difficult."
           
    Ashley Hodge, also from England, said he's supposed to be an usher at a wedding this weekend. He even bought a suit for the occasion.

    The organizers of the wedding, he said, are now "quite frustrated" with him.

    "One volcano has screwed up everything," he said.
           
    Author Rayner Tapia, a fantasy fiction author, said she's worried she'll miss a chance to promote her latest novel at the London Book Fair.  She was in New York for vacation and to sign books, but was most looking forward to the London book Fair, which starts Monday.

    "That's when the book is launched officially," she said. She also needed to prepare for a scheduled book signing on April 24. "I need to do posters, banners, make sure my props are ready. I have people dressing up like characters."

    There were also other matters disrupted by the extraordinary event: her 14-year-old son was expected to take exams Monday that will determine which career path he will take and her husband has a company to run. "It's a nightmare. It's unreal," she said.

    Aviation experts said it was among the worst disruptions Europe has ever seen.

    "We don't have many volcanoes in Europe," said David Learmount of Flight International, an editor at the aviation publication. "But the wind was blowing in the wrong direction."

    Ice chunks the size of houses tumbled down from a volcano beneath Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull glacier on Thursday as hot gases melted the ice. The volcano began erupting Wednesday for the second time in less than a month.

    As torrents of water roared down the steep slopes of the volcano, flash floods washed away chunks of Iceland's main ring road. More floods are expected as long as the volcano keeps erupting, which scientists said it was continuing to do in daily pulses.

    The cloud of basalt, drifting between 20,000 to 30,000 feet (6,000 to 9,000 meters) high and invisible from the ground, at first blocked the main air flight path between the U.S. east coast and Europe. On Friday, the British Meteorological Office said the cloud's trajectory was taking it over northern France and Austria and into eastern and central Russia at about 25 mph (40 kpm).

    Fearing that microscopic particles of highly abrasive ash could endanger passengers by causing aircraft engines to fail, authorities shut down air space over Britain, Ireland, France, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Belgium. That halted flights at Europe's two busiest airports — Heathrow in London and Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris — as well as dozens of other airports, 25 in France alone.