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Originally published Friday, April 16, 2010 at 9:56 AM

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More Seattle flights canceled; European trips postponed

Flights from Seattle to London, Amsterdam and Frankfurt were canceled Friday as spreading ash from a volcano in Iceland created travel chaos throughout the world

Seattle Times travel writer

Flights from Seattle to London, Amsterdam, Paris and Frankfurt were canceled Friday as spreading ash from a volcano in Iceland as worldwide travel chaos hit close to home.

British Airways canceled all of its flights to and from London on Friday and Saturday, including its popular spring flight from Seattle to London-Heathrow. Delta/KLM canceled its Friday flight to Amsterdam, and Lufthansa canceled service to Frankfurt. Air France canceled its flight to Paris.

Disappointed travelers were forced to give up on long-planned trips.

"This is the biggest thing to happen to air travel since 9/11," said Matthew Brumley, president of Earthbound Expeditions, a travel company on Bainbridge Island. It had to cancel a 7-day gourmet tour of France for 35 members of the KPLU Travel Club that was to begin with a flight to Paris on Friday.

"We'd been standing by all night, basically waiting to hear from our European colleagues," said Brumley. Rescheduling the trip won't be easy.

"We're trying to find alternative date, but it's going to take some time to unravel," Brumley said. The company has to look for new flights, make new hotel reservations and reschedule planned tours.

"Many of the people (on the trip) are not retired, so if they took a vacation week, it means they have to reschedule."

Passengers whose flights are canceled or delayed significantly usually are eligible for refunds or rebooking for a future date at no penalty. Updated information on flights is available on airline Web sites or at www.flightstats.com

Tours

Travel guidebook writer and public television host Rick Steves flew from London to Venice on Wednesday, the day before London's airports shut down.

"We've had quite a few people scheduled to leave today (Friday) and tomorrow (Saturday)," said Brooke Burdick of Steves' Europe Through the Backdoor tours. "A lot of people fly through London on British Airways, so even if they're starting with us in someplace like Amsterdam, they'll go through London."

The tour company has 84 people in Europe now, Burdick said. All tours are going on as scheduled, but travelers booked on future April trips are being offered the option of rebooking on another 2010 tour. Nineteen people decided to do that, Burdick said. Nearly all had plans to be on an Italy trip scheduled to start Saturday.

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Travel insurance

Most travel insurance policies bought before April 14 will cover extra hotel costs, missed tours and cruises and other travel-related losses, said Jim Grace of InsureMyTrip.com, an online seller of travel insurance for 24 companies.

"Most companies consider it a weather-related event which is covered under most policies," he said.

"We're getting a lot of calls from people wanting to buy policies," but in most cases, it's too late to buy insurance for a future trip that might be affected by the Iceland volcano. "That would be like buying home insurance when your house is on fire."

Some "cancel for any reason" policies might cover a future trip, he, said, but the insurance usually has to be purchased within 7-14 days of initial trip payment, and cancellation needs to take place at least 48 hours in advance.

Carol Pucci: cpucci@seattletimes.com

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