Posted by: Team McSlade | April 17, 2010

Is it a bird, is it a plane…

…no, it’s neither, as an Icelandic volcano took this weekend as an opportune time to erupt through a glacier, thus closing UK and Northern European airspace for the past 48 hours. The slight irony here is that Valencia is open for traffic, but if they can’t leave, they can’t land.

So how does this affect your Team McSlade? Simple, Jo’s brother Matt and his tribe were to fly to Valencia from London today.
Kate (Matt’s wife, clearly the better half) has thumped a hole in the Internet quota of Starbucks UK today – changing flights, alleviating the fears of family in Australia, booking another hotel and getting cabs, jets and kids aligned so they can split from London Monday.

Last night, Eurocontrol, the governing body of aviation control in Europe, said that the ash cloud would be assessed today and then a ruling on ‘to fly or not to fly’ would be made. Gatwick Airport posted a message at 05:00 that planes were grounded until 8pm London time; and with Matt, Kate and the boy’s flight to leave the ground at 10:20am, that put an end to that effort.
Thus The Great EasyJet Steeplechase began for stranded passengers. At least they weren’t flying Ryanair (who Jo and I have found as useful as George W. Bush on [insert topic here]); and EasyJet came to the party, not charging for a flight change through these cancellations.

So with Facebook, Google and UniSA email open, Jo and I set out to try and help our 4 waylaid travellers. Back and forth with Kate on matters ranging from EasyJet phone numbers (the number listed by Gatwick was a ‘business hours only’ affair, not bad for calling on a Saturday), hotels to stay in, cabs to Gatwick, airport transfers and the pain of having to suffer Mother Nature at her finest.  We were just offering suggestions – Kate and Matt were doing the hard yards.

I did have a flashback to Rowena, Jo’s mum, mentioning Luca (age 4 years) receiving a Superman cape and how Luca was going to ‘fly back from Spain to Australia to see Nanny whenever he wanted’.
He was slightly aggrieved at the fact that when he tested the cape out it wouldn’t allow him to fly off the kitchen table (and claimed it was broken). I could see him hopping into a red phone box in London and getting the kit on, to fly the four of them down to Spain.

Four hours, re-scheduled flights, a horrible hotel in Battersea, a cab ride and $400 lighter for the experience; Matt, Kate, Naite and Luca should be in Spain, Monday evening. Fingers crossed.

After the final update from Kate on Facebook, I wrote:
“Just think, you have a room, a new flight and a place to go to when you arrive in Spain. The kids are safe, you and Matt are alive and you have survived a major setback in travelling.

Welcome to the club.”



  1. What a way to pop you’re travelling cherry – with a bang!

  2. Volcanoes in Iceland…and earthquakes in Adelaide!

    Yes apparently there was one on Friday night and another on Saturday morning

    I didn’t notice either…hmmm…fair enough I wouldn’t notice a bomb blast next to my head when sleeping, but when I’m awake??!

  3. Holy smoke!

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