By Kristen Gelineau, Associated Press Writer
SYDNEY (AP) — Andrew and Debbie Jackman of Britain spent more than two years saving up for their family vacation to Australia. They probably wish they'd saved a little longer.
On Friday, they found out their Qantas flight from Sydney to Britain had been canceled thanks to a volcano erupting in Iceland. So the Cambridge couple and their two teenage sons squeezed into a 150 Australian dollar ($138) hotel room to wait out the night. On Saturday, the hotel raised the price of the same room to AU$350 — simply because it could, Andrew said ruefully. After endless negotiations, the hotel brought the price back down to AU$160, but the family, broke and frustrated, opted to move Sunday to a hostel.
"We're at the end of the holiday so we've spent all our money," a weary-eyed Andrew said, as he sat with his family next to the Qantas customer service counter at Sydney Airport. "Because that's what you do on holiday."
A dangerous cloud of ash from the volcano has grounded flights in and out of Europe for four days, leaving thousands of people stranded — and increasingly strapped for cash. Stuck passengers have had to shell out for hotels, restaurant meals, clothing and transport to and from the airport as they seek information on when their travel nightmare might end.
In Japan, Francois Broche was down to his last 3,000 yen ($30). The 33-year-old literature and philosophy professor from Nimes, France, said he would have to call his bank at home to see if he can get his money transferred — but doesn't know how.
"I stayed in my hotel last night, but that was all my money," he said at the Narita International Airport, near Tokyo. "I think I'm going to stay here and sleep at the airport. Help me God."
Nicolas Ribard, 29, from Avignon, France, was among about a dozen stranded tourists squatting on sleeping bags that Narita airport officials had lent them. He and three other friends had about 3,000 yen between them, and were surviving on airport-issued crackers, bottled water and coupons for one free shower a day.