Eyjafjallajökul, I flew one of the first flights out of Heathrow. Sadly, the flight was empty. " /> Eyjafjallajökul, I flew one of the first flights out of Heathrow. Sadly, the flight was empty. " />
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William Drenttel

After the Volcano, the First Flight Out of Healthrow (or Shame on American Express and British Airways)



Returning home from Heathrow on an EMPTY PLANE, courtesy of American Express Travel, April 21, 2010

I was in England during the recent eruption of Eyjafjallajökull and on April 21, 2010 I got one of the first flights out of the U.K., flying to Rome. Meanwhile literally thousands were standed, many of them without money, food or means of transport to their homes in countries around the world. Heathrow looked like a refugee camp as I boarded my flight.

American Express Travel got me out of England and back to Rome — and on the first Heathrow-Fiumicino flight. I was feeling extremely fortunate the night before when I called Amex: "Oh, we can actually get a seat for you — there is a seat in Business Class in the morning." I did not blink when they said the ticket was $1000: I was likely to spend that in the coming days staying in hotels, or trying to arrange more inconvenient means of transport (like waiting days for an open EuroStar train to Paris, and then waiting days for an open train from Paris to Rome).

I was one of the lucky ones.

The only problem is that they could have offered me a $150 coach seat since the plane only had 15 people on it! Shame on you, Amex Travel. During a crisis, up-selling clients seems dishonest...

In the case of British Airways, flying an empty plane when people were stranded was worst than dishonest — it was unconscionable given the hardship faced by so many.


Returning home from Heathrow in empty Business Class, courtesy of American Express Travel, April 21, 2010



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