how to survive an ashcloud

Monday, April 19, 2010 13:09
Posted in category Rantage

So it’s day 5 of flight cancellations owing to Eyjafjallajokull – unluckily for me, my flight back to school in the UK (meant for the 18th) got canceled. I’m not the only one though; tons of international boarders at my school who come from Hong Kong and China have also been held up.

The positives:

  • Extra days with my family – okay, so my dad gyrates and “squeaks” (intentionally; he can sing well actually!) to Rihanna’s “Rude Boy” for a laugh; but I’m not complaining!
  • More time to complete revision (with what books I have back here), as well as music practice.
  • A lil’ longer to enjoy the food back here in Malaysia – let’s get real, the flavor in one spoonful of nasi lemak
    beats however many platters of fish and chips present in the UK. And that’s after salting the fries/chips. :P
  • (Possibly) the chance to redeem that rain check for a cinema trip with Jerry! We wanted to watch How To Train Your Dragon last week before I left; but it didn’t seem likely with the workload he was having.

The negatives:

  • The folks are stressed – many airlines are saying that what with the backlog, people will have to wait till as late as May to get on a flight out. We’re practically in limbo and the ash cloud’s still stubbornly looking down over Europe, so no one can tell us anything concrete.
  • Missing out on friends and lessons. Friends = self-explanatory; lessons = the teachers still have a bit of the syllabus to cover before our AS exams in May. Which brings us to…
  • Freaking out over exam preparations. I’m doing all I can back home; but there’s just something about school that enables me to concentrate at optimum.
  • …and I’m missing Jack terribly. (Ta-daa, the boyfriend -finally- has a name. :P)

School’s supposed to start on the 20th, which I’m definitely NOT going to make along with a host of other international friends. However, we’re not the only ones: I’ve been told that there are some students stranded abroad in Europe – along with quite a few senior members of staff! They’re slightly luckier, though; because they can circumnavigate their way around Europe and attempt to get back to the UK – even if it’s going to cost a lil’ bit and take that much longer.

However, there’s also a school trip to the Gambia that was supposed to get back Friday the 16th – they’ve been stuck there for a few days now. One of the girls on it, my junior, managed to get on Facebook so I’ve been touching base with the group to see how they’re doing.

The kicker: The Headmaster of my school is with the Gambia group. -cue laughter-

I’ve emailed all my teachers (bar the ones I know who are stranded) to update them on what I’m doing and to ask for advice on what else I can do with regards to work. So far, only my boarding-housemaster/Maths teacher has responded with a “mini contingency plan” which I’m grateful for. I’m just waiting for the rest now.

DISTRACTION THERAPY// When I’m not revising, I’ve taken to Twitter (again!) – a lot more heavily this time. #ashtag (hah, nice wordplay) and @AirlineIndustry, plus some other hashtags and feeds, have been invaluable with providing news and jokes for some light relief.

On my end, there’s now an ad-hoc “mini-series” of Twitter posts I’ve been doing called “101+ Ways To Survive #ashtag”, which details some of the activities I’ve been doing over the course of this unspecified delay. If you like, feel free to follow me – I’m @arianex on Twitter. My updates also get displayed on the sidebar on the right.

INCONSISTENT MUCH?// Perhaps what’s most frustrating about this whole shebang is that people are getting mixed messages from the media. KLM and AirFrance claim that it’s safe to fly after attempting test/ferry flights, whereas scientists from Wiltshire claim otherwise. What’s worrying is that whilst I’m hoping we’re not overreacting about all this (and I feel for the many who are stranded in a foreign land), ultimately, no one’s safety should be compromised as a result of political pressure from airline CEOs.

Mum’s really concerned about my safety to the extent that when the airline I’m with offered a free change of destination to Rome (I’d have to arrange some way for me to get to the UK from there), she flat out refused. Firstly, because I’m still young and travelling alone; and secondly, because Rome’s notorious for being a dodgy city.

Honestly, I do wonder if there could be alternative flight paths airlines could create by “joining forces” – say, I’d usually fly direct to LHR; but jet engines -have- to operate at high altitudes which would be smack-bang in the middle of the ash plume. Smaller aircraft (e.g. some short-haul/charter flights), however, will be alright because they can fly below the ashcloud.

If it’s possible for long-haul carriers to fly to someplace clear in Europe, then to attempt to arrange shorter-haul flights to the desired places (doesn’t matter if we have to make stops for refueling or other reasons), then shouldn’t airlines try to look at that?

LONG-DISTANCE AFFAIR// I must say that I’ve been impressed by the way my boyfriend’s been coping with the news. Granted, we’re still young and it’s only just coming up to our second month together; but it’s just not entirely nice for him to have to cope with this. (Think about it: we spent our first month “normally” – we saw each other in person at school. Most of the second month’s been spent apart because of Easter break.)

Still, Jack’s been taking a rather laid-back outlook when I broke the news: “well it’s a volcano, and seeing as there’s nothing you can do at present, no point being all wound up by it.” It’s rather Dunkirk-ian; but it’s a good way to stay happy through this.

Doesn’t mean to say that we haven’t missing each other, though – I unexpectedly received the sweetest 6-page text from him at Sunday 1am (GMT+8) on my UK cell number. I’d previously told Jack not to text because it would cost a fair deal for either one of us, but hey, who’s complaining about the thought? ^_^ Let’s just say that the text made me cry – for good reasons, no doubt! Mum was pretty moved and offered to let me hitch on her Freecall account so I could give him a surprise call. And of course, there’s been copious amounts of MSN chats from both ends of the earth.

So yeah, doubtless that the volcano’s affected me in many ways; but I’m doing all I can to keep going.

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