11.10.2006

IcelandAir, you owe me five outfits and eleven hours

I was just trying to fly to Amsterdam on IcelandAir. You would think that Icelanders would have their shit down. What else do they have to do than be blonde and Nordic, fly the planes, load the luggage, go home to their hearthsides and their expensive liquers and turtlenecks, and coats with fur, or fake fur, collars. They had a good idea, let's give them that: start a discount airline that flies people from the U.S. to Europe, and vice versa, making a stop in their capitol for folks to spend their money. A no-brainer. But, you see, Reykjavik is windy, out there alone on the Atlantic, and sometimes it's too windy for some of those planes full of tourist dollars and euros to land in Iceland. When that happens to a plane flying from, say, Boston, the captain interrupts your Radiohead to say, "Unfortunately, the weather in Iceland has too much heavy winds, and so we will have to divert to Glasgow." Like, oh, that seat has gum on it, I will sit on the next seat. I was on such a plane.

Eleven hours in the Glasgow airport, sitting in an admittedly nice foux leather seat, but with nothing to do but read David Copperfield (yes, I am reading it again, having abandoned it a couple years ago two-thirds through, but it's even better this time) and order super-strong but tiny cappucinos and those little cookies that have an undefinable, but foreign, flavor. But at first, naturally, before the leather seat and coffee, we crowded around the IcelandAir info desk at the Glasgow airport. "We have no information," was the testy reply. But then it seemed they did have information, because it trickled out in the form of rumors. Reykjavik airport is closed, so they can't fly the pilots out to save us, for example. So we in the crowd appealed to the the info desk attendant: "Please just make an announcement, so we know! So we know what to do, how long to wait, and so on." And the attendant said she would make an announcement. And in a few minutes the announcement echoed through the terminal: "Please move away from the IcelandAir information desk."

Arrived Amsterdam around midnight with no place to stay (I was supposed to be picked up by a friend, but I had called him from Glasgow to say go about your life and pray for me, and the train to his city had finished for the night) only to find out they had failed to load the luggage on the plane. Inside my bag were all my nice clothes in which I was supposed to convince real estate agents and finance people that I am respectable and worthy of buying a house (turns out it's amazing how long you can get away with buying a few shirts, socks, and underwear and wearing them with one pear of jeans). Also in the bag was the video camera so I could show Traca the viewings on my return. Every day for five days I was told there was "no information" about my bag. Had it vanished from the earth? Then yesterday, the day before I am to leave, they sent my mobile a text message. "PLEASE CONTACT KLM GROUND SERVICES." KLM is handling the problem for IcelandAir. So I went to the airport and picked up my bag, which was mostly useless to me at that point. So I swapped out my backpack of dirty socks, underwear, and t shirts for clean ones and left the bag in airport storage. My bag spent five days in Glasgow and then never left Schiphol Airport.

I board my return IcelandAir flight in a few hours, prepared to spend eleven hours in Greenland.

To be continued...

2 comments:

Larki said...

Oh, how I am laughing. You are a delight, even when you are stranded in Glasgow.

I am also happy it's not me. Alone, no problem. With two boys under four, eleven hour delays are like an inner circle of hell.

SER said...

IcelandAir is a crap airline, even though everything else in Iceland is quite nice. We flew there this summer. The flight out was okay, even though the food was inedible. On the flight back, we were in a row that should not exist. You know how 757s have the first class cabin, then a bathroom facing a little galley, then coach? Well, they had squeezed a row of three narrow, rigid seats into that little galley area. We were about five inches in back of the last row of first class, which meant that when the jackasses there leaned back, we were actually pinned in our seats. And the stewardess insisted upon keeping down the curtain separating us from first class, creating quite a sense of claustrophobia. When she wasn't looking, we revolted and opened it again. Our unnatural seats did not recline (of course), but luckily the guy on the aisle was a jovial Minnesotan who liked to stand up, which meant we could at least get out easily and try to work out our blood clots.

Iceland itself was very nice, however. I recommend it.