Monday, April 19, 2010


Several points on the stranded passenger issue:

I have heard several flippant remarks on the TV about people getting a prolonged holiday. The thing is when you book out of your hotel on the last day of your holiday, you don't tend to have budgeted for an extra £100 or so a night to stay on somewhere else. Nor have you budgeted for another week's meals in restaurants. You have no more clean clothes, so you go looking for a laundrette and end up doing your very own impersonation of the old jeans ad sitting in your underwear. You may not have necessary medication with you - who takes a month's supply of say the pill or asthma medicine when they go away for 4 or 5 days? You don't know when any of it will end so you are stressed financially.

I read today on the BBC a quote that summed it up. Someone who had flown to Copenhagen like us with a budget airline (we paid £250 roughly to come with Norwegian) was now facing an overland trip back to Scotland choosing between car hire at over £1000, land travel at £700 or as he put it 'haemorrhaging money indefinitely on Copenhagen hotels and restaurants'.

I heard a suggestion that as many people as possible should try carpooling to get home. On the face of it, this sounds like a reasonable idea but stop a minute. Why would people be on holiday at this time of the year? Because the schools are off. If you choose now you are likely to be a couple with at least one child with you, more likely two. Sharing a taxi home or car hire when you have to pay 4/5 of the cost makes carpooling insignificant as an option for most.

We fly everywhere because flying is the only means of travel we can afford. Flying is much cheaper than trains these days. Journalists are acting as if people who could afford to be in Europe can simply pay whatever it costs to come home overland as if paying out an extra £1K or £2K is nothing to your average passenger. We paid, as I said, about £250 for our holiday. We cannot simply fork out an extra £100+ a day to stay on or travel overland. Most people will be in this situation.

People are also acting as if the problem stops when we reach Dover. The UK is unlike the rest of Europe. We fly everywhere because internal trains are three times the price and because of that when we arrive in Dover, getting to Glasgow is another financially significant trip if alternative means of transport are even being laid on. Everyone who is stranded did not come from Kent. Scots are even more likely to have flown because they are further from Europe on land.

We are in the middle of a recession. How many employers will be happy when the workers don't come back for weeks after Easter? How stressful is it for those who can't afford to lose their job to be stuck here haemorrhaging cash they can't pay back indefinitely?

And to cheer us up this morning Gordon Brown has finally noticed the problem (probably when many fewer kids and teachers than expected turned up for their first day of school after the Easter break) - great at last we might get an extra few buses or boats... but no, it seems no one is stranded in Europe, it is simply a problem for people stranded in the US and further afield so he's going to have them flown to Spain and brought home by bus - he hasn't noticed us at all...

I guess the solution in that case is to try to get a boat from here to the US so Gordon will repatriate us eventually via Spain. Grrrrr.

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