You ain’t goin’ nowhere

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

Clouds so swift
Rain won’t lift… You ain’t goin’ nowhere
– Bob Dylan

“You ain’t going nowhere Honey.”

The American Airlines representative at JFK Airport looked at me with an expression that combined sympathy and insistence, shaking her head as she spoke.

It was Thursday evening and having spent the afternoon at JFK Terminal 4 reporting on the great new Tanqueray promotion campaign, I was anxious to discover when I might be able to get back to the UK, having been monitoring the volcano cloud crisis all day on my Blackberry.

The news was all bad. “I can’t see anything at all showing up anytime soon,” the representative said. “I suggest you refund your ticket and just get on any flight you can.”

Easier said than done. With UK airspace still closed and any flights that eventually do happen likely to be booked out, I may have to apply for my Green Card – it’s clear I’m going to be here in the US for some time.

My flight was due out at 9p.m. – that was 24 hours ago. Since then, like many people in the travel retail industry, I’ve been stranded in a foreign city. There are poignant echoes of 9/11 when so many people in our business were unable to get home to their loved ones.

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The Moodie Report has been hit hard. Deputy Publisher Dermot Davitt is stuck in Hong Kong, and our Research Manager Jessica Lana in Rome. At least we choose great cities.

With so many fellow travellers stranded, I’m not complaining. It’s just one of those situations that happen. Tonight I sat in a small Italian restaurant on West 40th Street and contemplated life over a glass or two of Pinot Grigio.

There will be many of us from travel retail around the world tonight having our own ‘Lost in Translation’ feelings of isolation.

Spare a thought for Olivier Bottrie, President of The Estée Lauder Companies Travel Retail Worldwide, who is due to run in the famous Boston Marathon on Monday. There’s just one problem – he’s stuck in London.

Olivier has put in months and months of training for the run, which he’s doing to raise money for  The Michael Carter Lisnow Respite Center ( in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, an inspirational facility that creates a ‘home away from home’ for children and adults with disabilities.

On Tuesday I am due to fly from London to Las Vegas for an exciting promotion involving Bombay Sapphire Revelation and The Nuance Group. The first leg of that flight now looks increasingly likely to be New York-Las Vegas, but even then there’s no certainty that my Wednesday night flight back to London will happen. Then I’d be stuck in Vegas and that could get really expensive…

As I said in my last Blog, there are worse places to be stranded than the Big Apple. Last night I had a splendid dinner with Diageo International President Stuart Fletcher and the company’s travel retail chief Phil Humphreys. It’s amazing what great wine, food and company – and a Scotch or two to follow – does to clear any feelings of anxiety about being stranded abroad.

Today, having finally found another hotel with vacancies, I cleared my head by walking around this magical, buzzing city. I may as well enjoy it, for I am – rather than ain’t – going nowhere.New York times_Small

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[Are you stranded by the volcano ash crisis? Let us know your story].