“We regret to inform you that all Icelandair flights for today have been cancelled”

That was the announcement I heard on Friday about an hour before my flight was to board back to Orlando. I was doing some work in Icelandair’s Saga Lounge, and I knew there was an issue with high winds, but I didn’t even consider that it was bad enough to cancel all flights in and out. My flight was scheduled to leave Keflavik Airport at 5:25pm, but I had been getting texts saying that they were actually going to try to depart about an hour earlier at 4:30pm.

Morning text from Icelandair. Considering a departure 1 hr. earlier than scheduled, presumably to beat the bad weather.

The announcement had said to collect your checked bags and to go to first floor check-in for hotel vouchers. Luckily I hadn’t checked a bag because as I walked through the baggage claim area it was pure chaos while people were trying to figure out where their bags were.

The next step was to go to the main check-in area to get a hotel, meal and transportation voucher. Again luckily, I was on a cheap business class ticket, so I was able to skip the crazy long line at the economy check-in and head to the Saga Premium line which had only about 10 people waiting.

These were the people that had already collected their bags. There were hundreds more still in baggage claim!

After waiting about 15 minutes, I stepped to the counter, and the agent asked me if I wanted to stay in Keflavik or go back to Reykjavík, which is a 45 minute or so ride. Knowing there was absolutely nothing around the airport, I said “I’d prefer to go back to Reykjavík”. She asked me if I remembered the hotel I stayed at and I said “Canopy”. To my amazement she said she could reserve me a room at the Canopy.

I had just checked out of the Canopy by Hilton Reykjavík City Centre a couple hours earlier after a great stay, so I was happy that circumstances would allow me one more night there.

Back to the very nice Canopy by Hilton Reykjavik City Centre!

She gave me 3 vouchers, one for each way of transportation, and one for the hotel, and she said the meals at the hotel would be taken care of. She also said since I was a Business Class passenger they would pay for a taxi each way! That seemed amazing, since I have heard it can run over $100 one way.

She told me my flight would be tomorrow and that I would receive an email with my new booking information, but as I sit here Friday night in the Canopy writing this, I haven’t heard anything yet, and I have my doubts I’ll be leaving tomorrow.
Edit (Saturday morning): my hunch was right! Although I have yet to be notified by Icelandair, it appears, when I check my booking online, that I have been rebooked on Sunday’s flight to Orlando. That would be fine except that the Canopy is full Saturday night, so I’ll have to switch hotels. It’s a little frustrating since now I’ll have to pay for a night at another hotel and hope to get reimbursed by the airline. I’m not much of a Twitter user, but I did try to message Icelandair on Facebook, with no response.

As I left the check-in counter to head over to the taxi stand, as soon as I walked outside the door, it became crystal clear why all flights had been cancelled. The wind was unbelievable! I had all I could do to walk against the wind about 30 feet to the car. It had definitely gotten much worse in the couple hours since I had arrived at the airport. It doesn’t help that Keflavik Airport is out in the middle of a desolate area with nothing around it, so it is susceptible to high winds.

It’s interesting that I heard one airport employee say when asked, that it wasn’t a common occurrence to cancel all flights, but when I was talking to the woman at the check-in counter she laughed when I asked her, and said “yeah, this happens a lot. We have the routine down.” She said this was the 3rd or 4th time this year it has happened, but I don’t know if she was exaggerating.

The taxi driver I had from the airport was a native Icelander, but had spent about 15 years of his life living in New York City. He was a very knowledgeable and well-spoken man and he educated me on all things Iceland during the ride to the hotel.

The Wrap Up:

High winds forced the cancellation of my flight, and all other flights into and out of Keflavik Airport in Iceland on Friday 10/4, but all things considered I’m pretty happy about it. I get another night in a nice hotel, and a free dinner and lunch in the excellent hotel restaurant. I had a great conversation with a local taxi driver, and learned a lot of tips for my next trip to Iceland. Being on a Business Class ticket was a huge time saver, as it allowed me to wait in the Saga Premium line to get my vouchers, and it put me in a taxi instead of having to wait for a bus.

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