Iceland: Part 2, Getting There

Iceland - Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Before I even boarded a plane I was offered a $1000 United credit to take a later flight the following day due to the flight being overbooked. Earlier this year I was offered $700 from United because of the same reason. At that time I was in a place to change my schedule so I took it. This time I hesitated. My hostel was already booked and it was too late to cancel and get a refund. I was purposely flying to Iceland a day earlier than I needed to because I was worried about any one of my four connecting flights being delayed. I was flying on miles so I could only book flights with award availability rather than the most direct route. I had just seconds to decide, the agent looked at my flight itinerary and drew a deep sigh. I could be rebooked and expect to arrive 12 hours later than I had originally planned. I wanted to say yes! $1000, that’s a free flight home for the holidays! But instead I thanked the agent and said no. I had already booked a guided hike in the highlands of Iceland and I didn’t want to miss it. The rebooked flight would still have 4 connections and I didn’t want to chance. The kicker, the first flight departed at 6 am, knowing how easy it is for me to oversleep I would probably do just that. I decided it was a safer to stick to my original travel plan. That didn’t prevent me from guilting myself with buyer’s remorse and wishing I could be headed back home with a $1000 United voucher in my pocket.

And so while I continued to run what if scenarios in my head I boarded a plane to London! I chose to route through London to check out United’s new lounge. The lounges in the US are nothing to be impressed with and I never end up using them since I always arrive at the airport at the last minute possible. In my daily reading of travel blogs I ran across news of United’s new lounge. After a ten hour flight and the usual one mile walk to anywhere in Heathrow airport (why???) I arrived at the United lounge, sheepishly displayed my paper lounge pass (thanks United MileagePlus Explorer card) and was ushered inside.

First stop, shower! Last year I had to pay $20 for a shower at the Vancouver airport, this time it was free! The bathroom was nice. It was the first and last time I will ever snapchat in a bathroom.

Next stop, food! One of the other reasons I decided to route through London was to get free food in the lounge so I wouldn’t have to buy food in the airport and thus save a few dollars along the way. When you’re traveling to the most expensive countries in Europe, everything counts! It’s buffet style with a variety of cuisines, skippable in my opinion. I had a few minutes to grab a few bites before embarking on my 5K through Heathrow  airport to catch my next flight to Frankfurt, Germany.

I was flying away from Iceland… I booked my tickets for the end of high season with miles on Star Alliance just a month out from my departure. That didn’t leave me with many options. Once I arrived in Frankfurt I had about an hour to find my gate for my connecting flight to Hamburg. Somewhere in Germany I sneezed and the person next to me said, “gesundheit!” I was shocked at first. It was small, but that was my first authentic German cultural experience.

Finally just after midnight after over 24 hours of flying I landed at Keflavik airport just outside Reyjavik, Iceland. I looked out the window searching for the aurora and I saw a slight green glimmer along the horizon, I thought maybe it was just light pollution. The next day I went on a walking tour in Reykjavik and the guide said last night’s Northern Lights display was the most impressive he has ever seen! The airport was hopping at midnight, I did not expect that.

I made my way over to the airport coach that takes you into Reykjavik. The cold air quickly woke me up and I quickly forgot how tired I was. It’s about an hour’s drive into the city. I peered out the window catching my first glimpses of Iceland.

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