After a fun two days in Iceland, it was time to go home. This ended up being a really fun and unique trip for me, and I was definitely feeling a twinge of sadness about having to pack up and leave. I couldn’t help but to think about all the amazing scenery and all the amazing people I had met over the last two days, and I do believe I was frowning as I climbed aboard the Flybus at the main bus terminal in Reykjavik for the 45 minute ride over to KEF.
Despite the sadness, I was mostly feeling upbeat and extremely satisfied with myself for doing this trip. I had successfully scratched Iceland off my bucket list – yet I felt a hunger to see more of it. Somewhere out there in the barren landscape between Reykjavik and Keflavik, I made a promise to myself to go back to Iceland someday.
But then, like a baseball bat to the lower back, well…it felt like I got whacked with a baseball bat to the lower back.
Somehow the combination of throwing my heavy backpack over my shoulder and walking down the stairs of the bus upon arrival at KEF wasn’t something that my lower back agreed with and I tweaked it good – so good in fact, that I couldn’t even bend over 5 inches without wincing in pain. Perfect timing to have to go sit in economy class for 8 hours, eh? Getting old blows.
Reykjavik / Keflavik, Iceland (KEF) – San Francisco, CA (SFO)
Sunday, October 21, 2018
Duration: 8 hours 39 minutes
Seat: 26E (economy class)
The only thing that sucks more than flying injured is to fly injured while trying to get tons of pics and video footage for the trip report. All I wanted to do was find a dark corner to lie down and die in, but nope – the show had to go on and I hobbled around the airport in pain trying to get the shots I needed in order to keep SANspotter fans happy. All two of them!
Being occupied with trying to get trip report footage is a good thing sometimes. Especially here at KEF. This is a beautifully designed airport, stuffed full of the latest technology and cuisine. Unfortunately, it’s far too small, and it’s not hard to imagine that it was designed and built before the Iceland “fad” got big a short while ago.
It seems everybody wants to visit Iceland (and they’re arriving every day), but this airport just can’t keep up. There’s nowhere to sit during peak hours, so be prepared to stand in crowds of people while you wait for your flight to board.
The lack of seating is such a problem that you probably won’t mind having a short layover in Reykjavik. So go ahead – book that flight with a 1 hour connection at KEF. There won’t be anywhere to sit and wait anyway.
My flight was shown as departing from gate D28, but by the time I arrived there was a flight to LHR still in the process of boarding. Well, “boarding” is a generous word considering that these are all bus gates and the actual airplanes are located on the other side of the airport.
Remember how excited I was when I found out that my TAP Portugal flight from LIS to YYZ last year was going to be boarded from a remote stand? The same levels of excitement applied this particular day. All around me I could hear the groans from other passengers who didn’t feel much like going outside into the Icelandic elements one last time, but I was chompin’ at the bit to get some up close and personal time with that big and beautiful Icelandair 767.
We had the choice of boarding from the front or the rear of the airplane today, and I naturally gravitated towards the front. I’m not totally sure why it is, but I have a slight phobia about going through rear aircraft doors voluntarily. It just seems wrong IMHO – and as far as I’m concerned those rear doors only exist to be escape holes after a horrific accident of some kind.
I knew this flight was going to be full even before I reached my seat (thanks to having a look at the seat map 6 hours earlier). There was no chance of having an entire section of the aircraft all to myself like it was on the SFO-KEF segment a few days ago, but I was cool with that. After all, it would be a really good way to test the Icelandair cabin crew to see how they act under pressure. Not that I was planning on being difficult or anything…
Thankfully one of the only empty seats on the plane just so happened to be right next to me, so I thanked my lucky stars that I had more space to stretch out and to try and find a position that wasn’t so hard on my back. So far so good actually – there were still 8 hours to go yet, but my back wasn’t completely locked up or anything.
I’m not normally one to fire up a movie right after takeoff, but I needed something to take my mind off my fresh back injury. What better choice was there than about a grumpy old man struggling to find peace with all the active (and healthy) youngsters around him? Yup – “Gran Turino” was a fine choice indeed.
Now, if you’ll remember from my last post when I made jokes about eating mystery meat in the shape of testicles from small farm animals, I made it sound like that I would never in a million years choose it again. There were so many other interesting-looking things on the menu, and I’d be a fool to choose the same thing twice.
Well, that was before I tweaked my back in way that had me thinking I’d surely be paralyzed in less than 12 hours, and what I needed at this exact moment was comfort food. And I’m here to tell ya – mystery meat in the form of testicles is surprisingly comfortable.
Once the movie was finished and the testicles had been consumed, it was time to get to work. I would have much preferred to have slept for a few hours, but the pain emanating from my lower back wasn’t going to allow that.
So, for the next 2 hours, I pecked away at my Philippine Airlines 777-300ER YVR-JFK review as I wiggled around in my seat trying different positions that didn’t have me whimpering in pain. I’m no doctor or anything, but I was certain that sitting in an economy class seat for 8 hours immediately after a back injury only made things worse.
With just under four hours of flying time remaining, I decided that binging on back-to-back episodes of Family Guy was the only way to speed up time so that I could get off this plane and save what was left my mutilated lower back. Is it wrong that I (an old man prone to lower back injuries) still laughs hysterically to immature humor? Family Guy has got to be one of the best TV series ever.
Just as it was on my SFO to KEF flight a few days prior, my stomach was grumbling like crazy all the way through the descent and landing. The service is generally very good on Icelandair, but food portions are small – which stings especially bad since all food on this airline costs extra back here in economy class. I probably would have had to spend $30 to get enough food that wouldn’t have made my stomach make really embarrassing noises all the way into SFO.
And that’s a pretty good place to wrap this up. I didn’t really get a sense of how good (or bad) Icelandair cabin crews were after that nearly empty flight from San Francisco to Reykjavik a few days prior, so I was especially looking forward to seeing how they did on this very full return flight. All in all I think they handled things very well – they were friendly, attentive, and generally very proactive with drinks throughout the entire flight.
It was the ground exact KEF that left a lot to be desired though. That place is a total madhouse during rush hour. As a matter of fact, the video I created for this flight sums up my thoughts on Icelandair perfectly:
Finally, I’d like to state for the record that I wasn’t even nervous about the tight connection that I had in San Francisco once I landed. SFO international to domestic minimum connection times are generally better than they are at other US airports, so I was feeling chipper, confident, and upbeat as I stepped off the plane. My back though. Holy moly…