I’ve been traveling a lot, and not blogging a lot, but I am about to burst with stories, so I will be sharing lots with you in the coming weeks.
First up, I’ll share my latest adventure.
I was in England yesterday, planning to fly home from Manchester via Philadelphia on American Airlines. Instead, I ended up on Iceland Air with a layover in Reykjavik!
I’ve never had such an extreme rerouting. But I’ll get back to that part of the story in a bit.
So while I was hanging out at Keflavik airport, enjoying the view outside and browsing through puffin and knit viking helmet souvenirs, I found myself mildly humored by this sudden change of plans.
“You never know when you’ll end up in Iceland!”
Said me, to myself. And I inwardly laughed about this.
I’m no stranger to Iceland, as I’ve flown this route to Manchester a few times, and visited for a few nights in the past. (Iceland Air has this awesome deal where you can get a cheap flight to many Europe destinations, plus a free stopover for a few days in Iceland — I highly recommend trying this.)
So the pro part of the situation was that I got to briefly say hello to Iceland once again, even if just for the airport. It’s a very cool airport – more entertaining and better looking than Philly airport, in my opinion.
Bathrooms I Love
And the airport bathrooms in Iceland? Ummm… among the best in all the lands! You get this impeccably clean, long hallway full of private bathrooms, each with a toilet, sink, and plenty of space to freshen up after a flight.
They used to have an automated water faucet, soap and hand dryer all integrated into the sink, which was lots of fun, but also easy to blow tufts of soap foam onto yourself if you positioned your hands too close between the soap and hand dryer sections. (I found that pretty entertaining, though!) But alas, they have moved the soap part from the auto-system, so no foam parties in the loos anymore, folks.
Now, back to:
How I unexpectedly flew through Iceland
I arrived at Manchester airport to find that my flight had been delayed two hours. Because of this, I didn’t have enough time to make my second flight.
So I was instructed to stand in line at the American Airlines ticket counter to find a new route to my home in Washington DC. Little did I know, this waiting time to merely speak to an agent took one and a half hours!
Then when I got to the desk, the options for another flight were lacking.
Option 1: I could take a flight out of London later that afternoon, but would have to get there on my own, pay for the train or taxi, and hope I’d make it in time.
Nope. Though I like a good train journey, this was all out of pocket for me and not worth it.
Option 2: I could stay on my flight to Philadelphia and make my own way home to DC, such as train or rental car.
Option 3: Or, I could take a different flight on a different airline and end up in a different DC airport, leaving a little later in a different terminal.
Welp, best of the three. Done.
I was given a piece of paper meant as a voucher to trade for a real ticket at the Iceland Air ticket counter.
So after the 1.5 hour wait in line at American, I left for Iceland Air.
Side note: Manchester Airport if very weird. Lacks functionality.
There’s no transportation between terminal 3 and 1, and no access via the departures level, so I took an elevator downstairs, walked outside, walked over to the next terminal, got in another elevator, walked down a more crowded departures area, and lined up for Iceland Air. Then waited 30 minutes.
When my turn came up, the staff insisted there was no ticket set up for me. And that they could not call the American ticket counter to sort it out. I’d have to go back there myself.
The epic continued…
It was back down the departures cooridor, waiting for an elevator, then outside, then past a few buildings to the other terminal, then this time I took an escalator, which humors me because they say luggage is allowed on this escalator and add barricades to prevent it, yet it’s an airport. Pre-checkin. So naturally everyone has luggage.
So I awkwardly squeezed my luggage through the barricade, went up the escalator, back to the American line. Waited. Then shared the issue.
To them, there was no problem in their system. They made a call, sent me back over. Down the lift (elevator). Outside. Up the lift. Over. To try again.
Still, no good.
But with enough finagling I got the check-in agent to make a special trip into her office to work things out, so she eventually came back with a boarding pass and cleared off.
But then, another agent, took my checked bag and insisted I paid 75 pounds for it ($100 dollars).
Note for anyone who has to deal with a reroute like this: It’s meant as a like-for-like. American included a free bag, so any airline they send you to needs to honor that in their fees. I stood my ground and eventually another agent overheard the conversation and fixed the system so I could send off my bag without paying.
And then, I was off to get through security.
Ooph. Primary security line closed.
Quirky Manchester airport had me go down two flights of stairs to another security line that was the longest I’d seen from that airport. Another 45-minute wait.
They are really, really uptight at this airport for liquids and tech gadgets, so I dug through my bags for a rogue chapstick or lipstick that really isn’t liquid and put it in their specialized clear baggie. Then I had to remove the five bulky gadgets I was carrying with me.
All worth the digging – I made it through without a special bag search. First time from this airport!
Good thing, because at that point, I had very little time remaining. I gathered my things, bolted into the first shop I saw and bought a drink and a lunch to go. Then I journeyed to line up for a Cornish pasty as a second meal to plan ahead (because Iceland Air has super pricey meals on board that I wanted to avoid). Yet while waiting in that line, I got the call that my flight was on last call boarding, so I had to bolt.
In total, waiting in a line of some sort or the other, along with some walking back and forth: 4 hours. Time spent sitting, relaxing, or having a sip of water prior to my flight: 0 hours. (Manchester airport has zero water fountains in or out of the terminals, and bathroom sinks with too warm of water to want to drink from).
So why share all of this?
Because travel isn’t always convenient.
It’s not always easy.
But you can ALWAYS find the silver lining.
My silver lining? As mentioned, I enjoyed my Iceland layover, got to watch obscure Icelandic shows on the flight, and got equal to a $15 voucher for airport food (hey, it’s something).
I also got to practice how I react to days like this. If this were 15 years ago, I likely would’ve had a breakdown of some sort or the other. Crying in the bathroom, unhelpful anger toward an airline agent, the like.
Instead, l kept my cool, stayed respectful to agents, but also spoke up for demands when needed. Standing my ground to get my airline ticket approved, to not paying a baggage fee I didn’t owe, that sort of thing.
Internally, I also repeated an affirmation in my mind the whole time, that I’m open to any miracles and delights.
I didn’t land any book deal from the person sitting next to me, or get offered to fly on a private jet home with Oprah.
But I still managed to catch my flight, get a whole I-can-lay-down row to myself on my flight, and have a nice conversation with my Uber driver for the final stretch home.
Plus, while en route I got a message from a dream-collaborator who wants to talk business with me. Something that I’m not surprised happened because of the pleasant energy I was calling in.
In sum, all kinds of wins!
Moral: Just roll with it. One of a thousand reasons to keep traveling, no matter what challenges or hassles you face, is that it keeps you on your toes.
• You can problem-solve anything.
• You can find the good points of any story or situation.
• You can remember that most of the time, things run smoothly. And fully appreciate anytime this happens.
• You can continue to prime yourself to be the boldest version of you, because travel challenges build your resilience and helps you practice however you want to show up in the world.
Go forth and keep on traveling.