Has the volcano changed the way we travel?

April 27, 2010 at 4:25 pm Leave a comment

As we are all aware, the aviation industry recently suffered its greatest disruption since the Second World War, thanks to the attention-seeking behaviour of an unpronounceable volcano in Iceland, which saw thousands of us stranded in all corners of the globe.

Were we simply underprepared? The airlines didn’t see it coming, and, frankly, we can’t really blame them. Prior to that week, had we been offered volcano insurance for our flight from Gatwick to Dublin, we probably would have either laughed or got angry at being charged for yet another money-making add-on.

As the skies over much of Europe and even parts of Canada became a no-fly zone, people began to turn to any other method possible to get home. Trains, buses, boats…we even heard how Whitney Houston took the ferry to Ireland and John Cleese spent thousands on a taxi journey from Oslo to Brussels.

Although the skies have now reopened, the question many people are now asking is whether this brief grounding will affect our attitude to travel.

The threat of more volcano-related disruption may seem a rare enough concern if past experience is anything to go by, but unfortunately it isn’t. Experts have estimated that this current phase of volcanic activity in Iceland may last for as much as sixty years, and Eyjafjallajokull’s big brother Katla, which is capable of producing eruptions one hundred times bigger than its neighbour, is overdue for an outburst.

For the time being, there is no way of predicting how the volcano’s activity will affect us. In the short term, it seems obvious that people will be less likely to book flights, to save the hassle of possible cancellations and squabbles over refunds.

In the long term, say sixty years if predictions are correct, maybe we will have developed our commercial aeroplanes to be unaffected by volcanic ash, something we will all be used to by then.

In the meantime, perhaps we will holiday more at home (a growing trend, in any case) or take pleasure in our alternative modes of transport. Maybe we will rediscover the romance of a train or boat journey, or recapture the adventurous spirit of a road trip.

What do you think? Will we become less reliant on air travel or is this all just a flash in the pan? Do you have a new story to tell thanks to the volcanic eruptions? Vote in our poll or leave us a comment below…

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Today’s Top B&B: Foley’s Townhouse and Restaurant, Killarney, Ireland Three in a bed…

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