With all the technology we have to prevent or minimze the impacts of "force majeurs," it's amazing the amount of extent of disruption a volcano can cause without a solution.
This weekend I drove to Paris with a colleague of mine. This was a last-minute decision which resulted from the colleague being stranded in Heidelberg with access to a company car and free gas. In Paris, we were amongst the lucky who got to enjoy the weekend. Many people we encountered were stranded there with no idea when or how they would get home. The planes won't run again until Thursday at the earliest (according to authorities). All buses and trains out of Paris are full through next weekend. Car rental agencies are out of cars. And hotels are all full. People are sleeping in train stations.
A friend of a friend was in Paris for a 1-day business meeting which turned into a 4-day trip (due to the volcano). As they needed to get home to Finland for business, they were contemplating driving with us to Frankfurt (5 hours), taking the train from Frankfurt to Hamburg (4 hours), then catching a ferry from Hamburg to Finland (20 hours). Leaving Paris (via car), we encountered numerous people waiting at the freeway entrance with signs saying asking for rides to Copenhagen, Turkey, Italy, Russia, Egypt (all not exactly day drives from Paris). As it was clear that we were travellers, many other travellers approached us asking if we heard of any new chances to get to [fill in a city name]. Many of these travellers fly to a city for 1 day only (for a business meeting) without any luggage and are now stuck there with only a laptop bag.
10 of my friends are stranded throughout cities in Europe or the US (many got stuck at lay-over cities). Many more of my work colleagues are stranded and not ableto get to their next business meeting. The travellers stranded in Germany and France are much better off than other stranded passengers as they are in the center of Europe and have the best chance of getting to their next destination. The silver lining of the volcano means has lead to cheaper than normal airfare prices for the next months.