Alaska Day 1: From The UK to Alaska

Beers at Lakefront Anchorage Hotel

This is essentially just a self-indulgent vent about the arrogance of international carriers so feel free to skip straight to Day 2.

We booked our flights with Icelandair back in December 2018 – a full 8 months ahead of our trip – and reserved extra legroom on the long haul legs (Iceland > Anchorage > Iceland).

A week before we’re due to fly, Icelandair inform us that they are using a different plane so we need to rebook our seats. Can we transfer our extra legroom bookings? “Sorry, no.” What about a refund? “Sorry, no. You’ll have to claim that after your flights have been completed”.

A day before we’re due to fly, Icelandair inform us that our flights have been cancelled completely and they are rebooking us via New York and Minneapolis so our arrival in Anchorage will be in the small hours of the day after we’re due to arrive, not the civilised 16:20 arrival we’d expected.

An hour later we receive a request to check-in and download boarding passes … for the flights that have just been cancelled. Another call: Hello Icelandair, WTF is going on? “Sorry, I don’t know. But if you have boarding passes you should be fine for your booked flights. Please turn up at the airport as planned.”

On the day of the flight, check-in / bag drop appears to be some kind of lottery, with certain passengers being bumped and others checking in as normal. We’re among the lucky ones but are advised that, as the aircraft have once again changed, our seat reservations are no longer valid.

That’s okay on the relatively short (<3 hr) leg from Manchester to Keflavik but more than a little frustrating for the 2nd part of the journey given that we’ve already paid twice for the privilege of a few extra inches. However, here our luck finally changes. As we board in Iceland, it’s apparent that my seat is broken and the only spare seats are over the wing … with extra legroom. So we get to stretch at no extra charge and – eventually – manage to wring a refund out of Icelandair (this took until January, a full five months later!).

And by around 6:00 pm we’re sitting outside the very pleasant Lakefront Anchorage hotel under a baking sun (approx. 80 degrees!), enjoying a beer, and watching the floatplanes take off from the adjacent Lake Spenard. It’s amazing how quickly the trials and tribulations of travel become a distant memory.

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