Wedding and holiday plans up in the air
AS queues of passengers snaked through the departure hall at Dublin Airport, one man faced the prospect of missing his own wedding.
Tom Reynolds (66) is due to marry his Canadian bride-to-be Marian Hainsworth (66) on Saturday but his plans were thrown into disarray when his flight to Toronto was cancelled.
He met Marian online after the death of his wife some years ago. Both had partners who died from neurological conditions and the common link soon got them chatting. "We have been going out for 18 months. She came over here for a week long holiday to meet me and stayed for three months," Tom told the Irish Independent.
"We decided at our age, that if we didn't get married now it would be too late. We have been planning the wedding for four months."
All flights into and out of Dublin, Shannon and Knock airports were grounded yesterday and sections of Irish airspace were closed due to the plume of volcanic ash moving across Europe. The crisis is thought to have affected up to 60,000 passengers in Dublin alone.
"I'm very nervous. I don't know if I'm going to make it to Toronto," Tom added anxiously. "The wedding is at 11am. I have to be measured for my suit tomorrow over there. Even if I can get a flight, she has people flying from the coast and Texas.
"I don't know what is going to happen. But I will be stressed if I have to pick up the phone and tell her I won't be there."
Passenger Bernadette McDonnell (40) was hoping for some divine intervention to get her to a Holy Communion in San Francisco yesterday. Hunched over her trolley of suitcases, the Dubliner watched as her Aer Lingus flight was cancelled because of the freak event.
"I'm going for a Communion tomorrow. But there is no way I'm going to make it," she sighed. It is my sister's daughter and I know she will be gutted. It wouldn't be worth my while to go tomorrow as the flight prices are astronomical."
This isn't the first time her travel plans have been met with disaster. A trip to Barcelona in January was stalled as snow and ice raged, grounding flights.
Time constraints were also bearing down on sisters Sally-Anne Henry (34) and Diane Burke (42), who were left in limbo when their 12.50 flight to Chicago was cancelled.
"We are supposed to be there for our sister's surprise 40th birthday tomorrow," said Sligo native Sally-Anne, as she cradled her 10-week old baby son Henry.
"We are crossing our fingers that we get out. This has been in planning for months. Henry's passport only arrived two days ago because of the strike."
Galway-born Diane pointed out her sister had her own crisis when she attempted to move to Chicago.
"She had her flight booked on the day of 9/11 and couldn't get out from Shannon," she said. "We are very disappointed at what has happened to us today. If we don't get out tomorrow we aren't going to go."
Sitting on her bag on the cold tiled airport floor, May Zheng (28) was also waiting for a miracle to get her to China. "I was supposed to be going home. I haven't been home in two years," she said glumly.
For Wicklow native Eric Melia (24), his hopes of a break-away disappeared into thin air after the cancellation of his Ryanair flight.
Anastasia O'Keeffe and Jennifer Gavan, both from Waterford, were left fuming after their dream trip to India was crushed.
"We were supposed to go from here to London at 2.20pm and then on to Delhi. We have spent €2,000 on everything."
Aer Lingus last night said it had deployed extra staff to cope with the crisis.
Ryanair said it had directed passengers to its website to rebook their flights.