Travel chaos: Your snow stories

  • Published

Heavy snowfall and icy conditions are causing travel chaos in parts of Europe.

London's two main airports, Heathrow and Gatwick, were forced to close their runways on what is normally the busiest weekend of travel during the Christmas holiday period, stranding thousands of British travellers.

The snow continues to disrupt transport networks

BBC News website readers describe their experiences of the heavy snow and travel disruptions.

Sunday 19 December

Marium Hussain: Stuck on the runway at Birmingham Airport

Tom: Works at Heathrow airport

I'm an aircraft engineer. I spent 12 hours Saturday night trying to prepare five aircraft for flight. Normally we would have only one overnight aircraft. Each plane has to be cleared of snow prior to de-icing. This takes us about three hours per aircraft. Once the snow had been cleared, the aircraft looked like an ice sculpture draped in icicles.

It is mandatory that no aircraft can fly with any ice on it at all, so de-icing spray has to be used to clear the rest. The de-icer only lasts for half an hour so unless the plane takes off straight away, we have to start again. I was working in snow up to my knees in the freezing cold. Every now and then I had to stop work to get warm again. It was a very long, hard night.

I also had to get myself into work. Normally, it takes me forty minutes but it took me two hours instead. Once I had finished my shift, I drove home in the middle of the night through poor conditions.

I completely understand why passengers are frustrated but we are doing our best to get planes ready for flights.

Gareth Jones: Waiting at Heathrow for a flight to Havana

They're trying to get us off air-side now but we're holding on until we're moved as we've got seats. They're trying to move us all back into arrivals as they've closed the airport.

When we were at the gate we were wrongly told that we had to leave the building. It's ridiculous that they're going to kick us out and then make us go all the way back through check-in and security Sunday morning at 0600.

I'm travelling with my wife in a party who are all going on a cruise. There are lots of elderly people in the group, how is it right for them to be sleeping on the hard floor?

It's not the weather that's the problem, it's the way they've handled the people. Virgin and our tour operator left it late to try and book hotels and the airlines haven't thought ahead to crews who aren't able to fly because they'd go over their time limit.

Our flight is meant to be at 1200 Sunday, depending on the weather. The cruise we're meant to be getting on is due to leave Havana Sunday for Mexico. I don't know if it will wait, but there are 300 people here all trying to get on it and we don't know if we'll be flown on to Mexico to meet it.

Christine Williams, Middlesex: Stranded at Heathrow

Image caption,
Hundreds of passengers were forced to sleep on the floor wrapped up in aluminium blankets

I'm stuck at Heathrow airport. We are stranded at Terminal 3. My husband and I have been waiting for our flight to Havana since 2000 Saturday. I cannot believe that I've had to spend the night sleeping on the floor. Hundreds of passengers are wrapped up in aluminium blankets. None of the shops are open.

We've only been given food vouchers for £5, since last night. People are getting impatient. No one is being updated on the situation at all!

Yesterday when we checked-in we were fully expecting to board our flight. However, we were left waiting at the gate and then we were told to pick up our luggage and promptly dumped in the arrivals lounge. I haven't spoken to any Virgin Atlantic representatives.

I'm accessing the BBC News website to find out what the latest situation is, this is appalling. Heathrow is totally chaotic, cold and no one knows anything. We heard rumours of a possible flight. We are now waiting in arrivals desk to check in yet again. It's utter chaos. It's ruined my Christmas

Saturday 18 December

Chris Thomson, London: Stuck on a plane from Miami

Scott Allison, Glasgow: I'm stranded in Amsterdam

Image caption,
Schiphol is one of the busiest airports in Europe. Picture: Scott Allison

It's not only the UK that can't cope with the snow. There are literally thousands of UK residents who have now been stuck at various airports in mainland Europe for two days now.

I was delayed one night at Stockholm and then a second night Friday night at Amsterdam. When will I get home? I have no idea yet and the customer service desk here at Schiphol is very busy.

Apparently, extra personnel have been brought in to cope with the influx of stranded passengers. Schiphol is one of the busiest airports in Europe but flights are still being delayed for up to seven hours.

James Durrant, London: No news from British Airways

Image caption,
James and his family are staying at the Hotel Le Preskil in Mauritius

We're currently stuck at our Hotel Le Preskil in Mauritius and I'm desperately trying to make it back to the UK with my family. So far I've had no constructive news from British Airways for the last 10 hours.

We left the UK on the 6 December and we were supposed to fly out this morning. I was notified by email, text and fax that our flight was cancelled. BA has now offered to reschedule our flights. They have tentatively suggested that our family might be able to fly out tomorrow afternoon.

The BA customer service representative has said that we will need to get a flight to Johansburg or Cape Town and then get a connecting flight back to London.

But BA hasn't been able to guarantee that we will be able to get a flight tomorrow afternoon. I'm travelling with two small children, both under the age of five. Our children are confused about what is going on much like us.

Last year we had to cancel our Christmas celebrations in France with my wife's parents due to problems with EuroStar and our plans to spend Christmas in London seem unlikely.

I'm paying for a downgraded hotel room which I assume I'll be able to claim back from BA at some point. The hotel has made it clear that while we are welcome they need our rooms because it's their peak season for bookings.

Our Christmas tree delivery was going to be delivered tomorrow, but we have now had to cancel that order. All the presents I bought for my family are still at my office.

Although I'm bitterly disappointed, we shouldn't really complain. I'm sitting on the beach and around the pool at 32 degrees compliments of BA

Jade Price, Middlesex: Terminal 5 was absolute chaos

British Airways cancelled many long-haul flights Friday out of Heathrow. We were bound for Washington and sat on the tarmac with our two small children for four hours with no food before being told that we would not fly because the queue for de-icing was too long. Terminal 5 was absolute chaos.

All our luggage was lost, with no information about how or when it would be returned to us, and we did not get any food, travel, or hotel vouchers.

We were very fortunate that we were able to turn around and go home. Although we were gutted not to be able to travel. We've re-booked our flights for Sunday. The disappointment on my four-year-old son's face when he found out that we we wouldn't get to see his grandparents was heartbreaking.

Mike Marsh, Wigan: Stuck on the M6

Image caption,
J26 of the M6 at around 0100 on Saturday morning

I had to pick up my wife from her work's Christmas party in Leigh. I left Wigan at 2145 and got home at 0315 for a return trip that should take less than hour.

We got stuck getting off the M6 at Junction 26. Eventually some of us had to shovel a path and literally push cars up the slip road at Orrell roundabout one by one.

Luckily I took some food, water, shovel and boots. After five hours we managed to get within ten minutes walk of our house and had to abandon the car.

A lot of people had to abandon their car on Orrell road or try and get in the Premier Inn near the junction.

There wasn't a serious road plan in operation last night as the roads were completely crippled. A gritter was stuck in front of us on the slip road for over an hour due to the traffic.

It took people to get out of their cars and organise themselves to let it through. In five-and-a-half hours, at no point did we see a single police car.

People needed instructions on how to organise themselves. We were near the front when it ground to a halt.

It wouldn't surprise me if people had to sleep in their cars on the M6.