I was stuck in Delhi during last year's volcanic cloud. Can I get any compensation?
Q&A: Travel unravelled
Wednesday 23 November 2011
Q. During last year's Icelandic volcanic eruption and subsequent "ash cloud", I was trapped in Delhi for a week because Air India cancelled my flight home. I had to pay £500 to stay in modest accommodation, and I lost a week's holiday entitlement from my employer. My travel insurers say I am not covered. Air India says it is not liable because it is not a European airline. Do I have any other redress? Bill Annis
A. Probably not. The unprecedented closure of European skies last year exposed the gaps in passengers' rights. Anyone booked to fly from any airport in the EU was entitled to a duty of care: hotels, meals and a flight as soon as possible. Anyone booked to fly from outside Europe on an EU airline received the same. But passengers in your position – outside the EU, on a non-European carrier – enjoyed no such rights.
Without reading the small print of your travel insurance policy, it's impossible to be as certain about any entitlement you may have. Many no-frills policies offer no cover for such events. The only hope I can see is the ongoing legal argument about whether the closure was due to a natural disaster (which may be covered by your policy) or inclement weather (which may not be). But on the point of losing a week's holiday – your employer is perfectly entitled to make that decision.
For future trips outside Europe, consider paying a premium to travel on an EU airline – non-stop to Delhi, that means BA or Virgin Atlantic – in case volcanic ash, or fog at Heathrow, intervenes.
Q. Our son, a PhD researcher, is going to Burkina Faso in January for 18 months. His luggage allowance is only 20kg. Can you suggest useful Christmas presents? Rebecca Selfridge
A. For life in a challenging part of the world, it's the money, not the thought, that counts. These ideas lack the personal touch, but they are practical. And light.
First, a wad of clean euro notes in €5s, €10s and €20s (higher denominations and grubby bills may not easily be accepted). As a former French colony, the euro is the preferred currency. And, as a fall-back – which you can top up from home – a prepaid money card, the 21st-century answer to traveller's cheques.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 2 California man brutally beat 82-year-old Sikh grandfather he mistook for 'one of those people'
- 3 School kitchen manager 'fired from Colorado school for giving hungry students free lunches'
- 4 Amy Schumer: 'I'm 160lbs and can catch a d**k any time I want'
- 5 Isis executes three gay men by dangling them from top of 100ft building and letting go
Inside Travel: Greece 2015 Q&A - should we cancel our Greek holiday? Are our flights safe? And what will we be spending there?
The most powerful passports in the world
The 10 Best lightweight luggage
Iceland's new 500m tunnel through one of Europe's largest glaciers: Welcome to the ice age
The 10 Best hiking boots
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Church of England 'one generation away from extinction' after dramatic loss of followers
Russian 'aggression' sees Poland rearm its military as minister warns: 'We must be ready'
£25000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...
£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...
£35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...
£23K: Guru Careers: We're seeking an experienced Membership Administrator, to ...