Saturday, May 10 – Another long day
Our European odyssey was about to end and we were packed and ready to go ahead of schedule. Rather than wait for the 10:00 shuttle to the airport, we packed all of our luggage on the 9:30 bus which was crowded by the time everything was aboard. Once again, we were traveling like the Vanderbilts with 3 matching suitcases and 2 carry-on bags plus the van Gogh poster. Our “stuff” took up most of the luggage rack.
While David wrestled the baggage out of the bus, MA secured a trolley and then retreated to cover so we both were not standing in the light rain. With the luggage securely on the trolley, we made our way into the confusion that is Schipol Airport. We had no idea where we were going but headed there anyway. We found an overhead screen which showed departing flights, which gates they would leave from and, most important to us, which check-in desk to find.
Although sprawling, Schipol is really quite well organized and we had little trouble finding a people-mover to take us from the arrival level to the departure level. A bit more searching and we were at counter C-20 in Terminal 3. No one was there. With a 2:00 pm departure time, the counter was not due to open until 11:00, giving us an hour to kill. There was a coffee stand quite nearby but there were no available seats. We spied a nearby bench with 4 empty seats and commandeered 2 of the 4 spots. Shortly thereafter, a Belgian woman sat next to us and she and MA had a long conversation which lasted until it was time to check-in. While they talked, David went to the coffee stand and bought cappuccinos and muffins for breakfast.
The line to check in at Icelandair had grown over the hour that we had been relaxing. There was a separate entrance for Business Class passengers, so we stood in it until we realized that the people manning the desk were not really paying attention to it. We waited patiently as another family inched forward, determined that no one was going to get ahead of them. Since we all had reserved seats, there was no real rush. Still, we managed to get the next clerk. Checking in was no problem. Our luggage was tagged and sent on its way which is more than we could say about ourselves. Our flight was delayed at this end of the trip, too. The Icelandair pilots had held a work stoppage the day before and flights had been canceled. Ours was still flying but not at 2:00 pm.
One of the perks of flying in Business Class, other than the extra leg room, is the opportunity to wait in the airline’s lounge rather than in the general boarding area. The lounge usually offers more comfortable seating, electric outlets for computers and free snacks. The Singapore Air lounge in Singapore was luxurious and had better and more diverse food options than many restaurants. The lounge we used at Schipol was a joint venture shared by many airlines; with only one flight per day, Icelandair cannot afford a private lounge.
The directions we received at check-in were confusing. MA thought we had to go through security to find the lounge; David thought we had to go to Terminal 2. We were both right. We asked people as we walked and realized that we had to go through security in Terminal 2 [the departure point for our flight] and then over the river and through the woods – really up another escalator and around several corners – to the lounge.
It was not very full when we arrived but became busier as time passed. And passed. And passed. We had been told that boarding would commence at 2:15 [it didn’t] and were in the waiting area early. It was a mob scene. When an announcement was made that there would be some pre-boarding, everyone got up and crowded the entryway. David asked if the Business Class passengers would, indeed, be able to board early since they had not been listed in the announcement. The answer was “yes,” but there was still a lot of crowding and rudeness when the gates were finally opened.
Since we were hours late taking off from Amsterdam, we knew that all of the other Icelandair flights would also be hours behind schedule and that, consequently, we would be late leaving Reykjavik. And we were. The mob scene at Keflavik in Reykjavik was worse than at Schipol, but everyone boarded without injury and we finally took off.
Both flights were fine. We felt lucky when we discovered that we had the front bulkhead row on the second flight. Leg room was no problem. Service was good and we ate our way across the Atlantic again.
The limo we had hired was at Dulles when we landed at 9:40 instead of 7:00. We were grateful because the thought of driving home after such a long day and such little sleep was not a pleasant one. We finally got to Emily’s just past 11:30, tired and happy to be home.