Tens of thousands of would-be passengers have had their travel hopes dashed by what air traffic controllers are calling the worst peacetime airspace restrictions in living memory.
Paris airports plan to shut before midnight on Thursday, April 15, while Calais and Lille in the far north of France closed earlier in the evening.
Oslo airport was among the first to halt flights. Norwegian Kamilla Hvidsten said: “This is totally surreal. I’m of course very sad that my plane is cancelled, but at the same time, there is nothing we can do about it. It is impossible to predict stuff like this. This is just plain weird. It almost makes me laugh out loud.”
The unforeseen airspace shutdown has forced thousands of people to spend uncomfortable hours in airport lounges.
Meanwhile many disappointed passengers not prepared to sit it out are clamouring to get their money back.
Rochelle Turner from holiday consumer magazine Which? said: “All airlines are required by law to have that as an option so anybody can get a refund on the ticket they have or re-book within a certain period of time and that will not be subject to administration charges.
“All the information should be up on the airlines’ websites and I’ve seen it and it’s all very prominent and available for people to look at.”
In Frankfurt, as in many other airports where airspace restrictions are not yet in place the knock-on effect of the flight bans elsewhere is still causing long delays and cancellations.
Aviation experts say it is unlikely the restrictions will be lifted in the near future.