Volcanic Ash Causes Travel Chaos
SCOTT SIMON, Host:
Let's check in now at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris - not to board a flight, but to talk with NPR's Eleanor Beardsley, who's at the airport. Eleanor, thanks for being with us.
ELEANOR BEARDSLEY: Great to be with you, Scott.
SIMON: What's the situation there?
BEARDSLEY: And then I arrive and there's just - there's thousands of people here and, you know, milling around, eating sandwiches, huddled in groups, standing in lines. Nobody knows what to do. And there's, you know, big boards with about 400 flights on them and beside every one it says (French spoken), canceled. So Philadelphia, New York, D.C., Atlanta - everything has been canceled for today. And the airport is not supposed to open before 8 p.m. tonight, if they're lucky.
SIMON: And how are they handling all these stranded passengers?
BEARDSLEY: So you know, personnel are advising people to re-book their reservations. But now, you know, if you want to re-book, it's not until two or three, maybe even four days from now, because everybody's re-booking. And you know, I talked to some personnel. They said we're just trying to be nice to everybody, smile, you know, help families with children. So everyone is trying to make the best of it.
SIMON: You have some people there who are trying to make the best of it, I gather.
BEARDSLEY: I absolutely do. I ran into two Americans who are trying to get out, and they're from Minneapolis. And I will pass you to them. It's Fred Olerking(ph) and Tom Lyden(ph), and so they can tell you what it's like for them.
SIMON: OK. Is this Fred or Tom?
SIMON: This is Tom.
SIMON: Tom, how are you? Scott Simon here.
SIMON: I'm very good.
SIMON: Nice to meet you. Thanks for being with us. So you're trying to get back home to Minneapolis?
SIMON: That's right. We were supposed to get on board a flight this morning, a 9 a.m. flight, but that was canceled. We saw the Internet at 6 a.m. My father rang me up, and we saw that it had been canceled. And we actually just found out about the volcano just about 24 hours ago. And we got to the airport and we're re-booked now for a Montreal flight - connecting flight - Montreal to Minneapolis, for Monday. And we're hoping. We have our fingers crossed. But you don't know. I mean, that could be canceled as well.
SIMON: What are you doing to kind of pass the time there?
SIMON: Well, we've been joking about suffering in style. I mean, everyone says if you have to be stuck someplace, Paris isn't so bad, and that's true.
SIMON: It's an airport, not the Champs-ElysÃÂ©es.
SIMON: Well, that's true, that's true. But we do - we made hotel arrangements even before we came out to the airport because we saw that this might be a long stay. You know, my mom has told me I have to see the Louvre. And we've been here a week, and we never made it to the Louvre. So now my partner and I have said, we have to go to the Louvre. So mom gets her wish. We're going to the Louvre today.
SIMON: Tom, is French airport food better than U.S. airport food?
SIMON: Well, you know, we had some of the little sandwiches that they were passing out. They aren't so good, actually. I mean, you know, beggars can't be choosers, so - the croissants were good; the sandwiches, so-so. But we've had a - we've had a week of some pretty excellent meals, so I'm not complaining.
SIMON: OK. Well, very good talking to you, and could you hand the phone back to Eleanor?
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
SIMON: Absolument - have you been working on their language skills with them, Eleanor?
BEARDSLEY: Well, he - he said he's working on his French, and I said by the time you go home, you might just be fluent. So there was...
SIMON: I understand that while this has been a disaster for the airline industry, other transportation forms in Europe are doing pretty well.
BEARDSLEY: But yeah, they could get more business if they would get up and running.
SIMON: NPR's Eleanor Beardsley, at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. Eleanor, keep watching the skies.
BEARDSLEY: I certainly will, Scott.
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