This week’s airport events: more ash, glitches and pranks

It’s surely been a week from hell for many travellers in Australia and New Zealand as the ash cloud from the Puyehue volcano, high in Chile’s Andes, disrupted air traffic first in New Zealand, then over in Australia in Hobart (IATA: HBA), Melbourne (IATA: MEL; LD reviewed) and Adelaide (IATA: ADL; LD reviewed) before moving further east and affecting Perth in Western Australia (IATA: PER) later in the week. Interesting was that there were massive differences whether flights were cancelled or not depending on the individual airline. Qantas took the cautious approach and grounded most of its flights on affected routes whereas its competitors Virgin Australia and Tiger Airways argued they could take routes avoiding the ash or fly below the cloud. In an email to its frequent fliers, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce backed his airlines decision on the fact that “unlike the meteorological authorities in Europe, Australia’s [Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre] VAAC does not have the ability to calculate ash density so we are unable to access definitive measurements.”

This kind of a disruption could have provoked some travellers cursing but over in Detroit, a man from New York this week claimed he was removed from an aircraft for, well, cursing. According to Fox News the man had a layover on Sunday afternoon at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport airport (IATA: DTW) after attending a cousin’s wedding in the Kansas City area on Saturday. He says he used the F-word twice after the plane had been at the gate waiting to depart for 45 minutes. The plain eventually left the gate  but only to return to the terminal where the man was removed. Apparently the man was later allowed to travel on another flight.

1,000 miles south-east of Detroit, in Dallas, Texas, two men, who say they were stranded at the airport (IATA: DFW) after their flights were canceled “used” the time to play some pranks and posted the video on YouTube.  In the video, you see them racing through empty corridors in wheelchairs, playing with the paging system (pictured), spinning on escalator rails and pouring a beer inside a closed restaurant. ABC reported that a spokesperson for the airport said although it didn’t appear that there was any security around, the two were being watched. Yeah right.

No prank was the 5-hour computer glitch over in Chicago (IATA: ORD) that virtually shut down United Airlines on Friday night and early Saturday. Associated Press reported that Passengers saw their flight information vanish from airport screens, and thousands were stranded as United canceled 36 flights and delayed 100 worldwide. The airline still had no explanation Saturday afternoon for the outage.

And to finish the week off, good news reached us from Europe: With a year to go until the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship, Warsaw’s Chopin Airport (IATA: WAW) is ready to welcome football fans from all over the world. Passengers flying to Warsaw are now greeted by the sight of posters bearing the colourful logo of the event, reported Passenger Terminal Today.

Have a great new week everyone and as always, safe travels!

[Screenshot from YouTube – all rights reserved]

  • Check out that prank video, it’s quite hilarious!!