In this edition: Passengers stranded by the ash cloud in Europe are finding solutions via social networks; life goes on, despite this inconvenience, largely thanks to the web; and a joke about the ash cloud, in the form of a message to Iceland, is circulating online.
ASH CLOUD: SOCIAL MEDIAS TO THE RESCUE
An ash cloud from a volcano in Iceland has severely disrupted air traffic and millions of travellers have been left stranded in European airports. People have been using the web to try and find ways to make it home.
Several sites have been set up offering support for those affected. “Volcano help” notably, provides a great deal of information on how the situation is developing and puts those who are stuck in a country in contact with people offering help, perhaps with somewhere to stay or a car ride somewhere.
One web user has created this Facebook page: it’s a survival guide for stranded travellers and offers practical advice to help people get home as quickly as possible.
Web users are also seizing opportunities on websites offering accommodation in people’s homes and also car shares. Some people, aware of the scale of the situation, are even offering reduced prices. Others, victims of their own success, like coachsurfing.com , are very difficult to access.
The site « Flight radar 24 » is providing more information on the state of air traffic and you can follow in real time, the number of planes authorized to fly in the European skies. The site also provides extra information on whether airports are open or closed.
Meanwhile, messages posted by infuriated or world weary travellers are multiplying on social networks and on Twitter in particular. Some explain that they have been stuck abroad for 4 to 5 days; others talk about how they managed to make it home after a never ending journey.
This impressive show of helping of one another is not just an online occurrence; it is also taking place in airports. This British man decided to distribute free wine to despairing passengers waiting for their plane.
Finally, despite the severe inconvenience suffered by many travellers, some seem perfectly happy with the situation; the creator of this video is happy because there are no longer planes constantly flying over his house and so just this once he can hear the birds sing.
Sean and Nathalie might have been stuck in Dubai, where they were waiting for a connecting flight, but nothing would stop them from celebrating their marriage. This young couple, whose civil marriage took place in Australia, should have been in London for their wedding ceremony. They ended up saying “I do” in front of their 80 guests, via a web cam. The ceremony was organized with the help of other stranded passengers and the airport hotel. As the bride says in a message posted on Facebook, a volcano was not going to stop them getting married.
And the ash cloud did not stop Norway’s’ Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg from continuing to run his country from New York, with his new gadget: an iPad. The head of state was stranded in the United States after attending a nuclear summit in Washington.
Leaders of the French socialist party were also affected by the standstill in Europe’s air traffic. Stuck in India, one of them summarizes the situation on Twitter, with a touch of humour : “get home by any means possible, apart from by elephant!”
Several athletes are also using the micro blogging site to relay their misfortune over the past few days; the tennis player Andy Murray says he got to Barcelona by car, and the cyclist Brad Wiggins has announced he will have to forfeit a race due to take place on Sunday.
The British comedian John Cleese spent nearly 4000 euros to get from Oslo to Brussels by taxi. Three drivers took it in turns to drive him to Belgium’s capital where the actor took a train to London. The former Monthy Python member gave a far-fetched account of the long journey on his blog.
Others do not really have anything to complain about. This video was posted by a British web user stranded in Trinidad and Tobago, where he was waiting for a connecting flight. His airline has put him up in this dream hotel until flights to Europe resume.
CASH NOT ASH
As volcanic ash from Iceland is spreading through the European skies, a joke is circulating on social networks, notably amongst British and Dutch web users. They have sent a message to Iceland saying “we said we wanted cash not ash”. They are asking Iceland to reimburse the 3.8 Billion euros lost by their citizens when the bank IceSave went bankrupt.