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Uncertainty abroad, at Dulles, BWI

British Airways (800-247-9297) | Air France (800-237-2747) | American Airlines (800-433-7300) | Virgin Atlantic (800-862-8621) | United Airlines (800-241-6522) | FAA

A passenger makes a phone call in front of a board displaying scores of canceled flights at Prague's Ruzyne airport. (By David W. Cerny/Reuters)

[This post has been updated - 3:45 p.m.]

United Airlines said it canceled 13 flights from Dulles a host European cities Friday.

-- Michael Ruane

2:30 p.m. update: Rob Yingling, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, said the volcano was affecting airports served directly by Dulles International such as those in London, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt, Munich, Brussels and Moscow.

"There have been cancellations on all of those routes in the last day or so," he said, adding that Dulles serves 21 outbound and 21 inbound flights on those routes every day. "We would advise travelers to Europe to check with their airlines to confim the status of their flights and/or rebook in the event their flight is cancelled."

Asked how long the situation could go on, he replied: "We just don't know. We're leaving that up to the meteorologists and volcano experts."

Lynda Warehime, a spokesperson for BWI, said: "What we're recommending is anybody planning on crossing the Atlantic contact their airline before going to the airport."

Steven Lott, North American spokesman for the International Air Transport Association, an industry trade group, estimated that affected airlines could be losing $200 million a day in revenues, and no end in sight.

With weather disruptions, where a storm system passes, "you know the end dates," he said.

"In this case what worries everybody in the industry is we don't have an end date for when this is going to clear up," he said. "There are some reports out there with experts predicting the volcano could be spewing ash intermittently for weeks...which makes it so difficult to plan for a full resumption of operations."

-- Michael E. Ruane

1:45 p.m. Update: The International Air Transport Association said the volcano is costing the industry at least $200 million a day.

In the major cities, travel chaos reigned. Extra trains were put on in Amsterdam and lines to buy train tickets were so long that the rail company handed out free coffee.

Train operator Eurostar said it was carrying almost 50,000 passengers between London, Paris and Brussels. Thalys, a high-speed venture of the French, Belgian and German rail companies, was allowing passengers to buy tickets even if trains were fully booked.

London taxi company Addison Lee said it had received requests for journeys to cities as far away as Paris, Milan, Amsterdam and Zurich.

-- Associated Press

1 p.m. update: Monty Python comedian John Cleese looked on the bright side of life and opted for a daylong cab ride halfway across Europe after being grounded because of the ash cloud.

Cleese paid $5,100 for a Mercedes taxi from the Norwegian capital to Brussels Friday, said Kjetil Kristoffersen, the managing director of Publicom, his agent in Norway. Cleese had visited Oslo to participate in the talk show "Skavlan." The cab driver who agreed to the 932-mile tour is a childhood friend of Kristoffersen, the agent said.

A trip from Oslo to Brussels takes about 15 hours by car and passes through Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium.

9:25 a.m. Update: European meteorologists say the cloud of volcanic ash is spreading southward over Europe and eastward into Russia at the speed of a car in city traffic.

Eurocontrol, the European air traffic agency, said the flight disruptions that upended travel in Europe and reverberated throughout the world Thursday were even worse on Friday. Half a dozen European nations have closed their airspaces, the cloud was drifting east, about 60 percent of European flights were not operating and delays will continue into Saturday, it said.

"We expect around 11,000 flights to take place today in European airspace. On a normal day, we would expect 28,000," said Kyla Evans, a spokeswoman for Eurocontrol.

Fearing that microscopic particles of highly abrasive ash could endanger passengers by causing aircraft engines to fail, authorities shut down air space over Britain, Ireland, France, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Belgium. That halted flights at Europe's two busiest airports -- Heathrow in London and Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris -- as well as dozens of other airports, 25 in France alone.

Poland expanded its no-fly zone Friday to most of the country, excluding the southern cities of Krakow and Rzeszow. Anxious Polish officials worried that the ash cloud could threaten the arrival of many world leaders for Sunday's state funeral of President Lech Kaczynski and his wife, Maria, in the southern city of Krakow.

The White House says Obama still planned to fly to Poland on Saturday for the funeral.

Helen Chivers of the British Met Office said the trajectory will take the cloud over northern France and Austria, and into eastern and central Russia.

Harry Geurts of the Dutch meteorological office said the cloud was moving southeast around 25 miles per hour from the North Sea, but normal cloud cover makes it difficult to track.

Geurts said where the dust goes depends on the wind speed and that varies at different altitudes.

-- Washington Post wire services

Original post: Thursday's mammoth flying disruption -- caused when volcanic ash from Iceland shut down much of air travel over northern Europe -- will continue into Friday. Some airlines already canceled flights on Friday.

Once again, how does this impact travelers in this region? It depends on your particular airline and destination, obviously. But there will be some impact. United Airlines canceled Friday flights from London (among other cities) to the United States, which will nix a flight scheduled to depart London's Heathrow Airport and arrive at Dulles International Airport at 11:09 p.m. Virgin Atlantic also canceled a number of flights leaving the United Kingdom, which included among them a flight scheduled to arrive at Dulles from Heathrow at 4:10 p.m. British Airways had three flights scheduled to arrive at Dulles from Heathrow on Friday (at 1:40 p.m., 6:05 p.m. and 8:05 p.m.) -- all canceled.

At Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, there only seemed to be one flight immediately impacted: the British Airways flight scheduled to arrive from Heathrow at 7:35 p.m. and return to Heathrow at 9:05 p.m. It has also been canceled.

The problem is also that this ripples outward to impact travelers connecting in other places, stopping over at other airports or otherwise cut off from their flight path.

Are you at Dulles or BWI today? What are you seeing? Let us know in the comments below or by sending an e-mail to

Once again, it's imperative to check with your airline before you head to your flight. Here are the Web sites for our area's international airports:

-- Dulles International Airport | Here's a list of airlines that fly out of Dulles.
-- Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport | Here's a list of airlines that fly out of BWI.

Here are some airline phone numbers and sites that might be handy:

-- British Airways -- 800-247-9297
-- Air France -- 800-237-2747
-- American Airlines -- 800-433-7300
-- Virgin Atlantic -- 800-862-8621
-- United Airlines -- 800-241-6522

And here's the FAA's Web site.

By Mark Berman  |  April 16, 2010; 9:25 AM ET
Categories:  Advisories , Airports  | Tags: DC flights canceled by ash, ash disrupting flights, ash over europe, dc airports europe ash, flights canceled by ash, iceland airports dc flights, iceland ash dc airports, london dc flight cancellations, london dc flights ash  
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I hope the ash subsides or the airlines comeup with a backup plan.

Our United flight on Apr 28 goes from Dulles
to London Heathrow.

Posted by: webbj1 | April 17, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

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