Monday, 29 August 2016

August 22 - Flights home

We got up and packed and cleaned up the little cabin. Check out time was 10am and we left at the last moment.  We took our car back to Ace Rentals and had no concerns. Originally they had charged me more than the original expedia agreement stated, after a few emails they agreed to refund one days rental fee. This will bring the price with a couple dollars of the agreement. I am okay with this. They indicate this refund will be processed in a few days.

We walked to the airport pulling our luggage with us (10 min) and found the tax refund counter quickly and Macayle filled in her form and received her tax money back. This tax return is for items over 5,000isk and not for cumulative items.

We found the WowAir check in process. You even check your own bags and place them on the baggage rack where the bag is weighed and measured. You scan you baggage tag and boarding pass, answer some basic questions on a computer screen  and proceed to security. When we got to the airport it wasn't busy but that changed very quickly.

The security at Keflavik Airport is very efficient and designed to keep people moving. The baskets in which you place your carry on items in security area is on a conveyor belt so you have to put your items in quickly and move along with your bag.

Given the efficiency of the process to get through security, I was disappoint on the other side. The airport has extensive advertising about their duty free shop and that Icelanders shop at the airport because it was cheaper -items could be 50% cheaper than in town. We did not find this was accurate. Gift items were cheaper than purchasing them at Harpa Concert hall gift shop, but not as cheap as if you purchased them at a shop across from Harpa.

After lunch we found our flight gate and settled against the wall to wait. Each gate area has a limited amount of seats - I'm guessing less than forty. People were sitting on stairs, window ledges, the escalator that wasn't working and all over the floors. On the departure board we say our flight had been delayed from 3:20 to 4:00pm. We settled in and played several more card games until Macayle noticed a lineup was beginning at our departure gate. We checked the departure board again and noted it was marked 'boarding'. In discussions with others in the line we are sure no announcement had been made. While the line was moving, the board changed to 'final boarding '. Several busses transported the passengers from the boarding gate to the plane out on the runway. Our departure time was 4pm.

As our flight to Iceland, returning home was the same no frills flight. I had a coffee and Macayle had a tea - my credit card statement shows this purchase was $7.97can.

The seats are comfortable with lots of underseat storage and ample storage above. We flew over Greenland and had some amazing views of glaciers and frozen land

In Toronto we had to transfer to West Jet. I had hoped a 2 hr. 15min between flights was sufficient even if we had a short delay ---- but I had forgotten that we had to get our luggage and redo the check in process with Westjet.  Macayle felt she could navigate the Calgary airport onto Saskatoon on her own if necessary ....... but I had forgotten about customs.

The Toronto Airport was jammed. The line stopped in the hallway off the plane. The stewardess and pilot were traversing the crowd and were managing to move forward - they were discussing what the problem was - as they were inching forward we began following them. We eventually got near to the front of the line. Security were stopping people from taking the elevators and escalators to the customs area because it was so packed - but someone announced that those with connecting flights were to come forward.  Unfortunately people did not seem eager for us to pass by them, even when I said we have connecting flights.  Eventually we made it to the escalator and down to the customs area. There was at least 40 lines and the grid snaking people through looked never-ending.  I spoke to someone in a airport uniform and said we have connecting flights - he directed us to a specific line where there was only about 40 people ahead of us. Luckily, many of the people were groups of families so the line when quite quickly.

We made it to the baggage area just as my bag came down. Macayle's followed in what seemed hours but was really minutes. Only one other person from our flight and the stewardess' were there. We then had the challenge of getting to Westjets check in counter. Westjet counter is the farthest away! Macayle began the computer process while I look for documents and we speedily made it through.....then the security process.

The line through security was extremely long. It snaked out of the security area, between the airline checkin area and curved down the hall. I went to the front and spoke to a official and said we gave connecting flights we have to get on. He said get to the back of the line. As we started back, a gap in the line appeared while one famity were rearranging their luggage.  We quickly filled the gap☺. When we did get to the roped in area a staff called for anyone travelling to Calgary on Westjet to move forward and we were taken to the front of the line. We breezed through security with only a quick look through Macayle's stuff. It appeared her Skip-bo cards showed up as a block.

We were told to hurry and not take a break. We hunted for our gate and stopped at a Westjet counter - we were told to go down two flights, follow a hallway and then come back up two flights and to hurry.  We ran - yes! I found out I can run. When we arrived at our gate they were boarding. An announcement was made that they we waiting a few minutes for a couple more passengers before they close the doors. The passengers didn't make it and we few with a half full plane. The Westjet crew were talking about the gridlock - they had never seen such congestion.  It was noted that today was the Olympics last day and perhaps that contributed - however we experienced congestion on both sides- arrivals and departures. Our transfer at Calgary was simple and we arrived in Saskatoon at 12:30 am.

A few thoughts on Iceland.  The little bit of Iceland that we saw was beautiful. I loved the moss covered lava rocks with the mountain backdrop. It felt very safe. Driving in iceland was easy even though they don't use yellow lines and have roundabouts. The road conditions on the pavement and gravel were much better than in Saskatchewan. We didn't travel in any remote areas.

We didn't get to spend much time with the Icelandic people beyond some small purchases. Our Airb&b host was lovely and quick to assist us any way we needed, we had a lot of privacy in our location.

I would certainly go back to iceland if the opportunity arises. I've attached a couple more pictures that I don't think I've included before.

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