What happened next..........
On Wednesday the 14th April, evening time in Las Vegas, a text message came through from home reporting a Volcano in Iceland was affecting flights back to the UK, a wind up surely...did they not want us back.........?
With NAB about to close for another year and 1000’s of Brit visitors and exhibitors at the show it became an interesting few days... so just what did they do next?
Let’s start by looking at routes in and out of Las Vegas. There are two regular flights, one from BA out of Heathrow and the other with Virgin from Gatwick. It’s a popular nonstop route but when the ash rose its head it was one of the first airports that announced cancellations for at least 5 or 6 days.
This led to some people wandering further afield to escape the bright lights and others staying put waiting to rebook on the first flight home...but when would it be?
tv-bay we were on a non-direct flight home via San Francisco, all was going to plan until we landed for the connecting flight on Thursday morning and then the uncertainty became apparent with everyone more or less in the dark, including the airlines. The airport display boards were awash with CANCELLED on all transatlantic flights, all except VS020 which simply said DELAYED.
As it happened “our” plane had landed earlier that day so was ready to go when it could. When, in the first few days, it was obvious no one was going anywhere we ventured into downtown San Francisco, a lot worse places to be stuck I am sure, and hired a few bikes with fellow NABer Peter Savage (Azule Finance) and cycled over the Golden Gate Bridge.
It’s a 10 mile pedal taking in some great sights and a ferry back via Alcatraz to Fishermans Wharf ending in a mad dash along tram lines and dodging traffic to get the bikes back in time!
6 nights in total delay with the last few days setting up office in the hotel lobby. Highs? A great NAB show in all, Skype, free wifi, friendly Virgin staff, the Brit community and getting to Heathrow. At the other end of the scale was the unknown evolving situation, unhelpful rumours, mounting costs and the less than helpful Virgin website displaying “your booking does not exist”!
Sue Sillitoe – White Noise PR
We (hubby-to-be Pete and I) didn't learn until Thursday that our Friday Vegas/Gatwick flight with Virgin was cancelled. After seven hours of trying, we finally got through to Virgin and rebooked for Wednesday 21st April. Caesar's Palace said we could stay for as long as we needed on a 'distress' rate of $120 a night, so that's what we did. We hooked up with fellow stuckee's from DK-Technologies and Prism Sound and kept each other company. There was a trip to Hoover Dam one day (courtesy or DK's Richard Kelley's hire car), a couple of days by the pool, a few nice dinners and a lot of worrying. We watched flight after flight being cancelled and people being re-booked for later and later in the month - then into May! Panic! Pete is a GP and his surgery had to get locums in to cover. Our nine year old son was stuck with his grandparents in Bristol and couldn't go to school. We were lucky that ours was the first flight out of Vegas - the ban was lifted the day before we were due to leave and we got home on Thursday 22nd.
Neil Maycock – Snell
Snell ended up with staff scattered across several cities, from those of us who waited it out in Las Vegas, to the famous “Dallas 5” with their own Facebook page and coverage on BBC Radio 2.
Our ultimate routes home were just as diverse from a simple direct Las Vegas to Heathrow flight, to our prize winning journeys of “Las Vegas - San Francisco - Miami - Puerto Rico - Madrid – London” or “Las Vegas - New York - Lisbon - Madrid - Paris – London”.
There were many voyages of discovery during our extended stays from learning how completely useless Blackberrys are for looking at airline websites, or indeed how complete useless some airline websites are in an emergency (yes we mean you Virgin!). How many people also had the icing on the cake of McAfee performing an automatic virus update that disabled the operating system on their computer preventing them making a booking just when flights started to become available again?
Possibly the biggest benefit of the whole event was it stopped us all talking about 3D, well at least for a little while!
DIVERTED TO ICELAND!!!
John Mulcahy Vislink’s Managing Director of Technologies.
John took off from Las Vegas and had one of the more unusual diversions when the Icelandic volcano shut down the European airspace, he was diverted to Iceland and spent a cold but pleasant few days in Reykjavik. John eventually managed to get one of the first few flights back into the UK when the airspace opened for a few hours the following Tuesday and landed at Glasgow airport a little further north than originally planned but at least into the UK.
Note to self: must add warm winter coat to 2011 NAB contingency bag!
Jennie Evans – Manor Marketing
I was one of the people who flew on Wednesday 14th April for three hours and then came back (on BA). At first, they took responsibility for us. We were put up at The South Point for Thursday and Friday, but chucked out Saturday because they were full. For those NAB people, we just went back into town, found accommodation and persistently, but determinedly, focused on getting home. But for those more sensible who took BA at their word and held them responsible, they were put up with vouchers and BA rep’s until we eventually took off at 2.15 am on Tuesday morning.
Living day-by-day as to whether or not you’re going to fly home isn’t good. Going to the airport every day isn’t good. It’s stressful and you live on your nerves and your draining resources. My phone bill is going to be in the region of £1,500. I was away from my six year old daughter and never, ever have I been away from her for two weeks. We were meant to go to Centre Parcs together for a long weekend and I had to cancel it. She and I were both in tears – not good on the phone, thousands of miles away..................
For the most part, it brought out the best in people. I’ve never had so many boarding passes in my life – one of them was actually hand written – and when I finally got on the plane, very early Tuesday morning, I really didn’t believe I was going home. BA had forced the issue and it was a little unnerving, being one of the first through the clouds. Everything was going really well until about 300 miles outside of London when the plane made a serious right hand turn and we turned South. We were all so worried that we were going to Madrid.
But instead, we landed in Shannon, along with another four (at least) BA planes, and waited there for a couple of hours until we got the all clear to LHR. I was awake very early the next day because two of our clients (Latens and Strategy & Technology – S&T) had won Queens Awards and that was all happening on that day. Thank heavens I survive on adrenalin..................
Ciaran Doran – Harris
Stranded in Las Vegas due to an unpronounceable volcano in Iceland I decided our Denver office best to work from as delays will be another week. So I embarked on a road trip alone and I had a whale of a time – it certainly has kept my mind off the depressing thought of when I may get home taking in the Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, Flagstaff, Alburquerque, Santa Fe, Los Alamos, Pueblo, then to Denver.
1,200 miles in 3 days
Memories for a lifetime
Bill Drummond - Sony
My international flight was supposed to leave from Los Angeles, so with some colleagues, we hired a car and hit the highway on a road trip to LA via Death Valley. Leaving Las Vegas, with its constant noise, flashing lights and eternal twilight, was a welcome pleasure and very soon the Vegas suburbs melted away into nothing but all-encompassing barren desert. This was the landscape of the Western, of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, and fantastically awe-inspiring! Whilst in Death Valley we happened upon some colleagues who had been on a sponsored cycle after NAB. A group of 30 had taken part in this cycle and had just finished so were recovering by the pool, unaware of the mayhem caused by Eyjafjallajokull; they too were soon to join the stranded.
More stories developed and recounted like scenes from a ‘survivor’ movie. We had made LA, met up with some colleagues and found other colleagues, customers, press contacts and other vendors were all stuck all around America, all hoping to return to their respective destinations. We made it home eventually but NAB 2010 was like no other and one we surely won’t forget!
Rolf Howarth Square Box Systems Ltd
Do I win the wooden spoon for being the last one to get back to the UK??
After a few extra days in Las Vegas my second flight last Monday was
cancelled as well, and the next one they offered me wasn't until
I couldn't face another week in Las Vegas so I took an internal flight to stay with some friends in Canada. Originally Delta told me they couldn't change my departure airport and the first person I spoke to seemed to be seriously suggesting I should fly Halifax - Detroit - JFK - Las Vegas - Detroit - Amsterdam - Birmingham to get
home, and to change my ticket would cost $1500! After spending 40 minutes at the checkin desk they were eventually able to reissue my tickets, however, so I saved myself a pointless 24 hours flying in a circle from Detroit to Detroit via New York and Las Vegas.
Quite a few empty seats on the transatlantic leg, so I assume most people are back now.
By the way if you ever wondered...
Here is the BBC Pronunciation Unit's guide on how to saw the glacier's name. Eyjafjallajkull (or Eyafallajkull) is pronounced AY-uh-fyat-luh-YOE-kuutl (-uh) , that is -ay as in day, -fy as in few, -oe as in French coeur, -uu as in boot, the -tl as in atlas. The (-uh) is "a" as in ago.
So now you know!