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Trapped Europeans cry foul

Published:Thursday | April 22, 2010 | 12:00 AM


Stranded passengers anxious to return to European countries say they are being asked to pay an average of €800 per person for airline ticket to leave Jamaica.

Casualties of the Icelandic volcanic ash that crippled travel across Europe for the past week, the vacationers, who had return tickets up to the time when the volcano erupted, are now having difficulties flying home free, even with the airline that brought them here.

"We were told when we came to the airport last Friday that we would be put on the next flight out, which is this Friday. However, on arrival here today we are being told by our tour operator L'TUR that the flights are full and we may be able to get out by Friday, April 30," said Kristina Krassavina of Estonia.

Flown to Jamaica on Air Berlin out of Dusseldorf, Germany, Krassavina, her husband and children, ages five and two, waited at the airport yesterday for hours trying to get seats on a Condor flight, but had to return to the resort where they had been staying for the last three weeks.

Faced with an accommodation rate of US$300 per day, the Krassavinas say they just can't afford to fork out that type of money. Krassavina said she was being asked to purchase four tickets in order to return home.

€800 person

She said L'TUR told her they would book her family on another carrier for free when the crisis started, but that tone has now changed. "Now we are being told that a flight is available but I will have to pay €800 per person, even for the youngest child."

This family is just one of the many that sat at the airport on Wednesday literally begging for any seat that became available.

Two other vacationers booked with L'TUR, Mounir Ajjoch and Rachid Lakjaa of The Hague in Holland, said they were trying to speak to their agency for almost a week but were only contacted on Tuesday.

Efforts to get a comment from Air Berlin proved futile as phones rang without an answer.