Travelers stranded by volcano find room in New York

Updated: 2010-04-22 09:14
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Travelers stranded by volcano find room in New York

David and Siobhan Monteith are celebrating a longer-than-expected honeymoon in New York, in a bed-and-breakfast in Harlem that has opened its doors to Europeans stranded by Iceland's volcanic ash cloud.

The London-based couple were married in Jamaica and planned to spend a couple of days in New York. Instead they found themselves stuck in what has become a makeshift honeymoon suite in the small inn.

"We thought we'd just spend a couple days in New York," said David Monteith, 41, an acting teacher. "We'll get a flight when we get a flight, but hey, this is New York," Monteith said. "It's a great place to get stuck."

Monteith's in-laws are sharing their two-bedroom suite at the inn, which houses a motley band of travelers, including stranded visitors from France, Germany and others from Britain who flocked to the B&B this week after the volcanic ash cloud disrupted travel to Europe.

Scott Kinder, proprietor of the Harlem bed-and-breakfast, offered to let people stay free of charge -- for now -- and pay the bill once travel restrictions are lifted.

"We're not the St. Regis. We're not trying to be, but we can deliver more personal service," Kinder said.

Thousands of visitors were stuck in New York City with about 360 travelers camped out at John F. Kennedy airport and about 200 more at Newark, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Experts could not say how long the volcano would disrupt air travel. Italy, Switzerland and France reopened their airports on Tuesday though many European airports remained cut off from the rest of the world.

For Meg Newman, 31, a speech and language therapist and Harry Speller, 30, both of London, New York was the last leg of a three-month tour through India, Nepal and Malaysia after Speller lost his accounting job.

Each budgeted 3,000 pounds ($4,600) for their travels, and Speller estimates the extended stay in New York will cost at least another 1,500 pounds.

"New York was our five-day treat," Newman said. "We weren't expecting it to be 16 days. Now we haven't got the money."

After visits to the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and Times Square, the couple are now taking in free events and visiting a computer store with free Internet access.

New York is losing about $3 million a day in reduced spending, according to city officials.