After two weeks of vacationing in Hawaii, Ben Morse and Emily Blundell of England didn’t expect to be spending another two weeks in San Francisco.
But their vacation was unexpectedly extended when their connecting flight home was canceled Friday morning due to a volcano eruption in Iceland, which prompted the closure of some European airports, including London Heathrow Airport.
“We got to San Francisco the morning of April 16 and were told Iceland has exploded,” said Morse, 30.
He and Blundell, 28, were stretched out this morning in the International Terminal, surrounded by their luggage. They talked cheerfully with a new friend they made at baggage claim, another British man who was stranded in California. Morse was typing on a laptop, grading papers to catch up with his job as a teacher back home.
“There’s no sense in panicking,” Morse said. “People are in far worse situations, and our bosses are all being really understanding.”
The eruption of the volcano Eyjafjallajokull in southern Iceland disrupted many trans-Atlantic flights as a plume of ash spread over parts of Europe.
Flights between SFO and Europe were cleared to resume this morning, but travelers were advised to check with individual airlines.
As of this morning, flights to and from Frankfurt, Munich, Paris, Amsterdam and London have been scheduled, but four flights from Frankfurt and London had been canceled, airport spokesman Mike McCarron said.
Morse and Blundell are scheduled to fly home April 30, but he said they are on the stand-by list and will be coming to the airport every day until then to try to get on an earlier flight.
“We’re in limbo,” Blundell said, laughing. “We’re prepared to live at the airport for the next 10 days,” Morse added with a smile.
Another British tourist, 38-year-old Richard Tucker, said he and his family were keeping a positive attitude as well.
“It’s nobody’s fault,” Tucker said this morning after being told he wouldn’t get on a flight until April 28. “There’s no point in getting angry; it’s an act of nature.”
He said was supposed to fly out of SFO last Thursday, but when he arrived at the airport he, too, learned of the volcano eruption.
“We turned up and they said, ‘Sorry, chap. There’s a volcano on the way,'” Tucker said.
He is on stand-by and also plans to wait at the airport for the next week to try to get on an earlier flight.
A group of French tourists at SFO this morning were a bit more anxious to get home as they waited in line to find a flight to Germany, where they planned to then fly to Paris.
Aurelie Pauwels, 23, said she was frustrated because she understands that passengers who were scheduled to travel today will still get to fly home, whereas she and her friends must wait until a seat opens up.
“We have no information,” she added. “We don’t know when we would have a flight. Every day we have to come to the airport.”
Some passengers waiting for flights said they’ve seen a few people lose their temper. One man had to be escorted out by security when he “just lost it,” Morse said.