I went to Iceland in August of 2000.

Go straight to the pictures

Overall, this was a cool trip, even though it was only a one-day stopover on the way to mainland Europe. Before I get to the main stuff, I need to tell you about my experience with the airline, sort of as a lesson to those who feel they are powerless against big business. Remember that all business is ultimately transacted between two people....

I made my reservations on Valentine's Day, after having been through scores of attempts to find a good fare to Europe. Let me tell you, you can forget about that during the summer months. In the true spirit of capitalism, the airlines gouge everyone who wants to go at that time. (I wonder how much extra it costs to operate the plane during the summer. Could it really be triple as compared to the winter?) Anyway, no cheap tickets were to be had, and I resigned myself to the fact that I'd just have to pay the $850 or so to get there. Oh well.

But then I found a great website, for IcelandAir. They had what looked to be wonderful prices, and you could even stop over in Iceland with no extra payment penalty. Let me guess, they need all the tourists they can get, with the prices there and all. Kinda like what Qantas does for Australia. So, I called them, and sure enough, got a great deal - $511 for my entire itinerary, ex-Minneapolis! (Open-jaw and everything - I was impressed!)

But, I was a little saddened when I found that they had no code-share arrangement with anyone in America. What that means is that you have to book a separate ticket from your home to MSP. This always costs much more, since you're buying two separate tickets. (To prove this, call the airline sometime and find out how much a round trip costs between, say, Miami and Seattle. Make sure there's a change of planes. Then, price two round trips ON THE SAME FLIGHTS. The total cost won't even be close, regardless of the fact that you're sitting in the same seats the whole way. Understanding airline pricing requires a doctorate in BS, and even then, sometimes you wonder.) Plus, the lack of code-sharing means that if your plane is delayed, or your luggage lost, fat chance on getting them to care that you're catching an international flight, and do anything for you. You're out of luck.

So, I'd have to book a flight, non-stop, with no plane changes (to help insure against lost luggage), from Indy to MSP, early enough in the day that there'd be other flights in case the plane got sick. This limited my choice of carrier, and made the ticket cost a little more than it otherwise would have. Oh well, the total still came to the $900 mark or so, like I'd expected, and I'd be getting a stopover in Iceland. Not too bad, I thought.

I called IcelandAir the next day to confirm the price and find out about other possibilities for gateway cities besides MSP. They were all VERY much more expensive, which didn't make sense to me until later. I planned to call them back the next day with a credit card to buy the ticket. You know what they say about prices not being guaranteed until the ticket is purchased? Well...

The next day I called, and I have to say this lady I talked with started out sounding like the least rude of the three agents I'd spoken with so far. She was about to take my card number when she said something about this price not being a good fare. After some checking, she apologized, and said that, no, my $510 ticket was now going to cost $1100. There had been a mistake in the pricing, and she was so proud of herself that she had just caught it. The other agents I had talked to obviously hadn't read their e-mail, according to her, or they'd have known, too, and would never have booked it at that rate. She became more and more rude and condescending, telling me that there was nothing she could do, that "ticket prices aren't guaranteed until...", and that if I'd only bought it when I booked it, the airline would've honored it, but now, well,....

I listened to this for a minute, and then, after her THIRD time of telling me I just should have bought that mean old ticket when it was cheap, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I asked her very calmly for her supervisor, and she said it would take a minute. (* gooooood! he he he... *) Fortunately, I was at work at the time, and could put her on hold ("Please wait. Someone will be right with you...", as though I'd gotten another call) while I called the airline back on another line, got an agent who obviously hadn't read her e-mail, had her confirm the reservation at the lower price, which the first agent hadn't yet had time to remove from the system (too busy gloating over how well she'd defended the company's bottom line), gave her a credit card number to pay for it, and went back to the original agent just in time to hear her and her supervisor hang up from holding so long. But too late…

The ticket was in my mailbox within three days.

Now, let me say that the flight and the airline were great, except for their on-time commitments. They took off late every flight. But, the planes were wonderful, the pilots first-rate. (One had to do a go-around from about 40' AGL coming into CDG in Paris, and it was flawless. My first go-around ever in a big jet, due to some idiot on the runway.) The food was good, and the wine was free. The view of Greenland was magnificent, and I don't know what more you could ask for.


I only had one day and one night in this wonderful country, and even though it was August, the temperature was still chilly. You just can't drive a block without seeing twenty things to photograph. If the country weren't so damned expensive, you could probably see it all in about a month...

A very small stream by the side of the road

Sunrise through a mountain

The spa at Blue Lagoon - This is what Icelanders do when it's 20 below. The water is at least 140 degrees!

No captions needed for these...

Leif Ericsson's statue in downtown Reykjavík

And, a quite different statue, at a gas station.

A cool, old, beach house?

If it hadn't been 20 degrees, I could've stayed here all day.

You work for...who??

Ice cream in Iceland? Oh, there's an idea!
For reference, 199 Kronur is about $2.80!

© 2000 Dan McGlaun