Winter in Europe seems to be the gift that keeps on giving and one that does not want to go away. Today’s weather-related focus is Paris, where Charles de Gaulle Airport is dealing with two problems. First, heavy snow accumulations on the roof of one of the airport’s terminals has caused its evacuation. Second, the airport is running out of deicing fluid and has asked airlines to cancel flights because of the problem.
Over half of the flights scheduled to arrive or depart from Charles de Gaulle Airport have been canceled with more cancellations expected tomorrow. By the way, Orly, the other Paris airport has enough deicer and has not canceled any flights, so this may be an option for some. Information on the deicing problem at de Gaulle Airport and conditions at several other European airports are described in this article from Bloomberg.
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Snow continues to plague holiday travelers across Europe, as well as in the United Kingdom. New storms and snow have caused more delays at Frankfurt Airport, while the managers at Heathrow Airport seem to be unable to figure out how to remove the snow quickly enough to solve their overload dilemma. However, airlines are not the only ones being influenced by the weather, as travel by trains, buses and cars suffers from long delays and, in some cases, route closures. See this article by DW-World.DE for detailed information on the troubles across Europe and this one from the Guardian about the travel-related troubles at Heathrow Airport outside London.
The weather situation in Europe and the UK is unprecedented and airports and airlines are not prepared to handle situations that fall outside of normal operating conditions. While this is not what travelers want to hear, it is, nonetheless, true. No matter how angry you get about being stuck in an airport, it will not change the situation or get you home any earlier. We know it is not very satisfying to read this, but you will need patience to get through any travel delay. Your stories about the delay will likely become a comedy routine at the next family reunion, even if you cannot believe that you would someday laugh at the incomprehensible disorganization that befallen you on your trouble plagued travels.
Several years ago we spent the night trapped at Heathrow airport, forced to sleep on their cold, hard floors. It was yet another weather related difficulty and British Airways cancelled our flight without notice and said we were on our own. Since we had been in London and were leaving from London, apparently they thought we could return to our home and spend the night. When we made inquiries to the airport hotels, we were told there were none available. When we inquired about hotels in London, our travel agent told us that there were no rooms available due to the storm and that they had never seen anything like it. When we asked about hotels anywhere in the UK, we were told it did not matter as the roads were closed and we could not get there anyway.
Sometime in the middle of the night, airport police tried to evict us for sleeping in the airport and told us we would have to leave. We refused, thinking that even a cell in jail would be more comfortable than the floors in Heathrow’s Arrival Hall. Finally, the constables relented and let us stay. We arrived home several days late and swore that we would never travel again. Of course, we soon began dreaming about some exotic destination where we could sleep on the sands of a nice, warm beach.
The weather-related travel misery we noted yesterday continues today in the United Kingdom and Europe. It now looks as if planes might start flying on Monday, but even that is not a sure thing at this point.
See these articles by CNN and Bloomberg for more information. The CNN article has a slide show of winter scenes across Europe that might help you judge the snowfall and how cold it is in some of these locations.
We note that this has been a unique storm in the annals of weather history, but are equally sure that this is no comfort to those stuck because of it.
In Britain, Gatwick Airport was closed due the weather and British airways suspended all flights out of Heathrow. Airports across Europe were canceling flights by the hundreds and many smaller airports (even as far south as Florence, Italy) were closed. Highways in Denmark were treacherous, as were roadways across much of the Netherlands, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. In Rome, the city’s fabulous fountains iced over and snow was swirling around the Colosseum.
According to the weather forecasts, it does not look like the problems will go away soon. In fact, this may go down as the coldest December in the United Kingdom since weather statistics have been kept on an official basis. If you are planning on traveling to the UK or Europe for Christmas, bring plenty of patience, prepare for traffic jams and expect canceled flights. Most of all dress warm, wear layers and bring a winter coat. Leave those flip-flops at home and wear waterproof boots.
Italy’s embattled Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, survived a no-confidence vote in the Italian Parliament today. Just a few day’s ago it looked certain that he would lose this vote and that his government would be dissolved and elections held. However, the vote supported his continuing in office and this enraged many of the citizens of Italy, particularly those in their twenties.
In Rome, dissatisfaction with the result of the vote lead to rioting, which was focused in the areas popular with tourists. Other demonstrations were held in Milan, Palermo, Genoa and in other locations around the country. It is unclear at this time whether the demonstrations were one-time events of if they will continue over the next few weeks. See this AFP article at Yahoo news for an excellent recap of the situation.
Travelers planning on visiting Rome or other cities in Italy over the next week or two should pay close attention to this situation and check local news sources in Italy for more information about the latest developments.
Prince William and Kate Middleton have scheduled their marriage in Westminster Abbey, London for April 29th. Those of you planning on a vacation in London that week may be in for a rude shock. CNN is reporting that the event is a bonanza for London’s hotels, as demand is surging. The Financial Chronicle of India has reported that there is some serious price gouging going on, claiming that some hotel rates have been boosted by 200 percent. Ouch, as if lodging in London wasn’t already high enough.
Oh, one more thing. The wedding weekend has been declared a bank holiday, meaning that it will be a four-day holiday attracting even more visitors. If you like pomp and circumstance, visiting London during this period may be just the thing. If not, head for the midlands, Wales or Scotland.
Paris, the City of Light, has been hit by white. Heavy snow closed the Charles de Gaulle airport and the Eiffel Tower. France has issued a weather alert forecasting snow through Thursday. If you are planning to travel to Paris or central France be prepared for travel delays and lots of white stuff. See this article from CNN for more details.
Europe is being pummeled by cold temperatures and snow this week. According to the Christian Science Monitor Britain has ground to a standstill. In addition, there has been a widespread disruption of air travel across Europe and numerous travelers have been stranded in Germany, Poland, France, Switzerland and other countries. The only good thing about the snow is that it will provide a suitable winter background for the many Christmas markets in full-swing across Germany and Austria. Unfortunately, if it does not warm up a bit, few people will be attending these interesting, seasonal outdoor markets.