The University of Iowa

Bad weather in Europe delays students’ flights

December 21st, 2010

By Regina Zilbermints, Des Moines Register

Eric Scott spent 46 hours in airports or on airplanes.

The 20-year-old was trying to get home to Adel from a semester in London when weather forced airlines all over Europe to delay and cancel flights.

“I had to sleep in line so I could leave the next morning,” Scott said. “I slept on the linoleum with hundreds of people surrounding me.”

And Scott, a Central College student who made it back to Adel on Saturday, may be one of the lucky ones.

About 10 people who were studying abroad with him are still stuck in London, he said.

Colleges’ study abroad officials said they haven’t heard complaints directly from students – but John Rogers, an assistant director of the University of Iowa’s office, said partner universities and other organizations in Europe have e-mailed to say students may be delayed in returning.

This storm goes beyond the usual winter weather travelers must contend with.

Officials in London said Monday that only one-third of scheduled flights would depart Heathrow Airport until Wednesday after snow and ice paralyzed air and rail travel in and out of the city.

Airports and rail companies asked people not to travel unless absolutely necessary.

And other countries are suffering as well. Frankfurt, Germany, canceled 300 flights because of problems elsewhere in Europe. French officials reduced flights at the nation’s two main airports by 30 percent.

“It’s a little bit like the Icelandic volcano eruption,” Rogers said, referring to the ash cloud that paralyzed European air travel for days in April. “But that was more of a long-lasting problem. This will hopefully be resolved in a few days.”

Local travel agencies said they had experienced few problems with clients stuck in Europe.

Aaron Groves, the branch manager of New Horizons Travel in Ankeny, said two of his clients were having weather-related trouble.

One is the mother of a student trying to return from London.

“At this point it’s looking like Christmas Eve,” Groves said. He said the student is with a group having similar difficulties.