Volcano cancels Obama's trip to Poland

April 17, 2010 9:14:53 PM PDT
President Obama has been forced to cancel his trip to Poland for Sunday's state funeral for President Lech Kaczinski and his wife.The volcano that is erupting in Iceland has forced airports to close in Poland and across northern Europe.

The display by Mother Nature also means an extended trip for one Chicago family and an extended stay in the Windy City for some trying to get back to Europe.

The president's plane was the latest to have its journey cancelled due to ash clouds covering the skies over Europe. With no planes taking off or landing, many people who had been stuck at airports for several days were becoming increasingly frustrated with being grounded.

"The earliest they can get me out, possibly if I'm lucky, is not tomorrow Sunday, but one more week on Sunday," said Paul Saunders, who was trying to get home to Britain.

"I've got no money left, don't know where to go, what to do," said Brendan Wright, a stranded British tourist.

British Airways is providing its passengers in Chicago discounts at local hotels, but since the cancellations are caused by atmospheric conditions, travelers are on their own for the rest of their expenses.

For the Sandusky family from Chicago, a week's vacation in London now appears likely to stretch longer. And with young twins, that's not easy.

"We're supposed to fly home on Monday. There seems to be general feeling of not knowing what's going on. We just watched Sky News, and generally, people don't have any idea when this might end," Patrick Sandusky told ABC7 Chicago via telephone.

One British family traveled to New York for a short vacation, and now they've got no way home. Costs are piling up and money is running out.

"We're just being left here to cover our costs. So, if we haven't got it, where do we go? We've got no where to go," stranded passenger Peter Scott said.

Despite the inconvenience to travelers, officials have maintained the no-fly zone because scientists are not sure when the volcanic activity will end.

"I wouldn't want to be putting a big airplane at the moment, there's a lot of fairly nasty stuff," said Guy Gratton of Airborne Atmospheric Measurements.

Travel experts say, for many passengers, things won't get back to normal anytime soon.

"We are going to be very conservative and make sure the air is really clear before we start launching flights into it," Flight Safety Foundation President Bill Voss said.


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