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An Iceland Adventure - Getting There

Well we just returned from a week in Iceland, so this starts off a series of posts. Hope you can stick around to read all about our adventures AND learn a thing or two about this gorgeous country.

We started our journey on United to Chicago. Uneventful flight. We did upgrade to first class. Too bad it was a short flight to be able to enjoy the perks.  The seats were comfortable but it really didn’t matter to me that I drank out of glass instead of plastic. Ed had his champagne so he was happy.  I was anticipating a rough landing based on us literally feeling like we were fishtailing in the air. I guess it was just bad winds.

We landed in terminal 1 at gate c30.  It was probably a good 8 minutes to get from wheels down to the gate. I told Ed we had just left Wisconsin and arrived back in Chicago.  We had quite the trek to get to the end of c and start our walk underground to get to the baggage claim area.  However it was really quite lovely.  The escalator transports you down a level so that you can walk under the runway.  At first I thought, man, I feel like I’m at the metro station in Paris. Dark, dreary. Thankfully it didn’t smell. Then the lights!  There was a gorgeous light display down the walkway (on the people movers) that reminded me of Fremont Street in Vegas. The soft pastel palette on the walls resembled the paint swatches you find at the hardware store. I snapped a video and a pic.

We grabbed our bags and made our way on the train to the international terminal (5).  We have a 6 hour layover so plenty of time.  We had originally planned on driving to Chicago for our flight as for some reason the short legs out of STL were very high priced. Then we found we had enough miles to fly us on there and not have to mess with driving and parking. We definitely have time to burn.  The downside to having a broken itinerary is that they will not transfer our bags.  In theory, if we had a place to dump our bags we could have gone into the city for a few hours but I really didn’t want to mess with that.  Anyway, it is a way to find a cheaper airfare.

Being far too early for the Iceland Air ticket counter to open (and take our bags), we ventured to the basement of the international terminal for some McDonald’s.  We were entertained by the many different languages we overheard.  It’s times like this that I truly appreciate my ability to travel the world, as big as it is, and how we all make up this happy planet.

We are in first class for the next part of our journey via “Class Up.”  Some airlines allow the ability to bid for a first class seat.  We’ve bid a handful of times on other journeys with some success.  Iceland Air is a low-cost carrier.  What does that mean, exactly?  I guess the best way to compare would be Frontier Airlines to American Airlines.  It’s not a legacy carrier which is why you can get such cheap fares.  What are you missing?  Meals and alcohol are not customary. You have to pay for your bags and no seat selection. Now you can always upgrade your cabin selection (basic economy to main to premium) but it’s a cheap way to get there.

After a few hours the ticket counter opened so we could dump our bags. First class line for the win. Took less than 3 minutes to handover our bags and get our boarding passes. Now here is a huge plug for Homeland Security. Global Entry and TSA PreCheck are worth it. It’s still like $100 to get it but you bypass the lines and keep your shoes on. The days of having to go to a major airport to get fingerprinted and retinal scanned are over. You can make your appointment at the St. Louis airport or one of similar size. Anyway, breezing through the lines meant more time for me in duty free shops. I always see a ton I want to spend money on (perfumes and makeup mostly).  I did still window shop but no purchases. Hubs gave me “the face”.  🤨. Do you know the face? In our house it’s “do you really need more cosmetics/clothes/pets” where the returned look is “do you really need another hockey jersey and display case”.  I really just wanted to sit for a while and charge my phone in a non-hard McDonald’s chair.   You know, before I go and sit for 6.5 hours and can’t get up and walk around.   😜. I did see a really cool Lego vending machine. (See pic).

There’s this guy wearing yellow/orange mirrored aviator sunglasses with a cowboy hat with feathers on it. I think his name is Falcon.  He honestly looked like Matthew McConaughey.  Maybe it was. Dude disappeared into thin air.  There’s also a lot of people here in their Icelandic sweaters.

Meanwhile at home, the girls decided to cook dinner for themselves. Popcorn shrimp, Mac n cheese and green beans. Lex asked how long to nuke the veggies. Fair enough. They couldn’t figure out the electric can opener so the neighbor came down to help. And the smoke detector went off. Aside from that dinner was a success.

Finally time to board and our flight was named Hvitserkur after a 49ft rock formation. As  for the actual metal, the plane is a Boeing 737-9/Max. Seat configuration in first was 2 and 2.  Plenty of leg room to stretch out.

Wow. First class is pretty amazing. Not gonna lie. Each seat had a bottle of Icelandic glacial water and an amenities kit. Inside the kit:  socks, sleep mask, toothbrush and toothpaste, hand cream, ear plugs, lip balm, and postcards. On the very plush seat was a standard airline pillow but the blanket is a quilt.   The flight attendant brought headphones for us for the in seat entertainment.   Not ear buds, like legit decent headphones.   I’ve flown first class before but it’s been awhile. I’d say the closest was business class on Emirates in 2019.

Boarding was surprisingly quick and we taxied for a bit but soon left the Chicago skyline behind.   They brought out the menu with a choice of salmon (hot) or beef tenderloin (which said served cold and I’m so confused).  I really was not about to eat some cold beef.  The cold chicken breast and quinoa (which I do like) was pretty bad on the flight to/from Kona.

So I’m tired but hungry and Barbie is playing so I have to watch it, right?   I tried to sleep. Everything was comfortable I just couldn’t. We landed shortly before 7am.


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