London: getting there the long way

by | Aug 6, 2018 | International Travel, Travel

The original plan to get to the UK for this trip was for both of us to fly IcelandAir through Reykjavik, Iceland onto London. However. Right after Eric bought my ticket, the price for the same flight tripled. So, he booked himself on the direct flight from JFK to London and we timed it so we would arrive and leave around the same time.

On Thursday afternoon (on our way to the airport) I got a text letting me know my outgoing flight was delayed about 45 minutes. I had a scheduled 1:20 minute layover in Iceland but my departing gate was two down from my arrival gate so I still had some hope I would make the connecting flight. However, as we sat in the long line for takeoff (nearly two hours late now) I realized there was no way I was going to make my connection unless it was delayed for some reason. At least I had a row of three seats to myself so I was able to pile up some blankets and sleep for most of the five hour flight.

We landed in Iceland five minutes before my flight to the UK left and when I turned on my phone a notification popped up that I had been rebooked on the next flight. EIGHT hours later at 4:10pm. With time to waste, I went to the service desk to have them reprint my boarding pass and hoped they could find me another option to get me to London earlier. After several phone calls and intense typing, we decided on a flight through Helsinki that would get me to London about three hours before the alternative IcelandAir flight. As that plane was set to leave in less than ten minutes, I was escorted to the gate (passing through my first of three passport control stations that day) and hand delivered to the gate agent for boarding. So far so good!

The flight to Helsinki was an uneventful three hours and with an hour layover I figured I had enough time to get to my next gate with time to spare. Until I discovered that my plane was waiting on the other side of a passport control checkpoint that was at least 50 people deep. GAH. The line moved fairly quickly and even though the agent for my line went on break just as I was ready to step up, a nice family let me jump in front of them when I frantically mentioned my flight was already boarding. This passport agent was perplexed as to my routing (JFK > KEF > HEL > LHR) but stamped my passport after commenting that my plane was leaving soon. (Thanks dude.)

I had just enough time for a bathroom break and then ran to my gate to join the snaking line to check in and board a bus to my next flight. Whew!

Uneventful flight (thankfully) on FinnAir that landed about twenty minutes late and after disembarking, I joined my third (and longest) passport control line of the day in Heathrow’s Terminal 3. It took a little less than an hour to get through and then I was finally on my way to London and Eric.

Big thanks to Jóhanna in Reykjavik for helping me get an earlier flight and making sure I made it to Helsinki.

On the return flight there was a bit of drama due to an electrical fire that was ‘isolated’ when we were about an hour outside of Reykjavik (so, over water) but shut down the entertainment system. The whole cabin smelled like burning wires but there was no visible smoke. Thankfully, this wasn’t the same plane that was going on to NYC so my connecting flight was unaffected.

Our Itinerary

2024 Trips

San Diego, CA (Jan)
Sarasota, FL (Feb)
Madrid, Spain (Mar)
Valencia, Spain (Mar+Apr)
Palma, Mallorca (Apr)
Croatia (May)
Faroe Islands (Aug)
London, UK (Sept)
Bari, Italy (Sept)
Rome, Italy (Oct)
Frankfurt, Germany (Oct)

2022 Trips

Florida (Feb)
NC Mountains (Apr)
Washington DC (Apr)
Valencia, Spain (May)
Hilton Head, SC (May)
Pacific NW (Jun)
Long Island (Jul)
Florida (Sept)
Chicago (Sept)
Poland (Sept)
NC Mountains (Nov)
Euro Xmas Markets (Dec)