Airlines scramble to get passengers home

by Emily DUNBAR on April 26, 2010

Airlines across the UK are now looking for volunteers who can give their seat to any one of the number of stranded passengers. In the wake of the volcanic ash plum that halted flights in Europe for a week, airlines are attempting to sort through the chaos resulting in thousands of passengers being stranded.

British Airways is asking customers on long-haul flights if they are willing to extend their seat to a stranded passenger abroad. Customers with flights up to 2 May will be asked if they can move their flight date to make way for another. According to Virgin Atlantic, who is making a similar move, several such volunteers have called the airline to just that.

However, despite kind volunteers, the airlines are still reporting large numbers of stranded passengers whose delays on long-haul flights stretch out into May. Earlier, British Airways had insisted that they were not giving new passengers priority over those who were stranded abroad.

UK airspace was reopened on Tuesday, after nearly a week of cancellations. Despite more aircraft than usual being sent out, more than 10,000 Brits are still stranded overseas. Airlines have begun implementing various schemes to bring passengers home quickly.

British Airways is allowing volunteers able to fly home at a later date to re-book flights with no additional cost. However, flights must be seven days later than the volunteers’ original scheduled departure. When flights first began running, passengers had accused BA of giving empty seats to new passengers.

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