Q: We have reservations at a hotel in London that requires cancellation 48 hours in advance. We are unsure if our flight will be among those canceled because of the Iceland volcanic ash. We probably won't have 48-hour notice, so what should we do about the hotel?
A: In extraordinary circumstances such as these, hotels are often lenient with their cancellation policies. Your best bet is to contact the hotel directly and ask about any exemptions.
I e-mailed the general manager of your hotel in London. Sure enough, the hotel has waived its required 48-hour notice for passengers affected by flight cancellations. Just e-mail your date and time of departure, as well as your flight number, to the hotel staff so it can verify your flight's status.
Ash from an Icelandic volcano began disrupting flight departures and arrivals in Europe on April 14. Since then, hotels in Europe have seen increased occupancy because of travelers stranded in their cities, which partly explains why so many are waiving their cancellation policies.
For those flying to Europe, check your airline's website or call the customer service number for updates and details about refunded tickets.
This travel nightmare also serves as a reminder about why travel insurance can be beneficial. Such insurance often covers hotel fees for stranded passengers and nonrefundable fees for trips such as cruises or tours.