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Kelavik airport plane transfer

Recently we flew Icelandic Air from Chicago with planned plane transfer in Kelavik to Zurich. The takeoff in Chicago was 42 min late. Plane landed in Kelavik just as plane to Zurich was announcing final boarding. All 5 of our family party missed the Zurich flight. After 3 hours got a plane on Swiss Air to Copenhagen then transfer to Zurich!
But on return flight from Zurich the Icelandic Air flight was about ready to board. Could not locate elevator to departures, could get no info which gate. With bad knees I had to hoist carryons up 3 flights of stairs!
Both coming and going was a nightmare! Never again!

Posted by
7263 posts

Never say never; sometimes a short transfer time is least expensive ticket option for the business and leisure traveler; moreover there are travelers with a lot of flexibility that know the options available when a flight is delayed.

Posted by
6879 posts

How much time did you have to make the connection? 45 minutes?

I don't think any plane leaves Chicago (ORD) on time, the airport is notoriously busy and delay-laden.

Posted by
681 posts

I have to have at least 2 hours or I start freaking out and can't relax the WHOLE time before, during and sometimes after the flight. So I sooooo understand. Sometimes cheaper is not all that is cracked up to be.

Posted by
5526 posts

I don't think that the airport was responsible for your first missed connection. It sounds like it originated with the late take off from Chicago. The airport's name is Keflavik. I agree that a little longer connection would have helped in these situations.

I wonder why some of the other 4 people in your party couldn't have helped you with your carryons, or better still, why didn't you just check your bags on the way home?

Posted by
2 posts

The airline certainly is the culprit about late flight. Their connection times both times were about 45 min. When arrivals are on tarmac, people jam aisles, no provision to allow connecting passengers to exit, no direction assist to next flight, the airline is at fault!
All luggage checked except carryon, plus I had a cpap besides! All party had carryon, trip was 2 weeks. Your blame on us is atrocious! No elevator or escalator info!
We took Icelandic to reduce our cost. Connection times are definitely a problem! Not us!

Posted by
6879 posts

Their connection times both times were about 45 min.

You accepted this risk when you bought the ticket. Knowingly. Even if the plane was only a half hour late (perfectly normal and not unlikely coming from ORD), you'd still be rushing to make the connection.

I don't understand the blame-shifting (the airline has nothing to lose except ill-will whereas you had much more to lose, apparently). The takeaway here is not to accept risks you cannot live with. An inexpensive fare with very tight connections is a trade-off one should make thoughtfully. It works for some people and not for others.

Posted by
1936 posts

While I would not book flights with such a short connection time, I can easily see that an inexperienced traveler would assume an airline would not schedule you for a connection that can’t be made and would assume there are processes in place to make it happen. And it can be scary to miss flights, when you may not know how to flex with that. So I sympathize with that fear and frustration, as well.

tedanytime, you probably learned more than just not to book extremely short connections - and that’s good. Travel can throw you all sorts of curveballs that turn out better if you are able to deal with them with optimism and calmness. I hope the rest of your trip was wonderful! And am sorry you didn’t include that in your report, as well.

Posted by
1889 posts

Sorry you feel that you have to blame someone.
There ARE elevators in Keflavik airport.
I have tricky knees, and found an elevator quite easily this time last year.
They are not well marked, but you could have asked a staff member.
Icelandic people are friendly in my experience.
However, I'm sure your Swissair flight was more luxurious that your missed flight?

Posted by
8848 posts

Sadly OP had an unhappy experience with his flights.

As for finding his way, via elevator, to the gate in ZRH, this is a bit puzzling. How/what did OP do when he arrived to transit the 3 flights of stairs?

I have never been to ZRH, but I find it hard to believe there are no escalators.

Why not ask the agent when you checked in your bags what gate the flight was using and where the elevators are to get there?

Posted by
2916 posts

I can easily see that an inexperienced traveler would assume an airline would not schedule you for a connection that can’t be made

It wasn't that long ago that airlines really wouldn't schedule a connection that is difficult to make. I've never missed a connection on a Europe to/from America flight, but when I check fares and flights now, I notice that the connection times have shrunk.

Posted by
8509 posts

Thank you for warning others. I’m surprised the planes taking off didn’t wait long enough because I’ve seen them wait for late connections.
That airport is a zoo with all the planes landing and taking off within minutes of each other. Furthermore, everyone coming from outside the Schengen zone has to go through passport control. I saw the lines for non-EU passport-holders and they were very long with hundreds of nervous people afraid to miss their flights. I breezed through with an EU passport but did indeed wonder how those people in line would make their flights.

It used to be a desert of an airport, before WOW Airlines and people dicovering Iceland for get aways. In those days, 45 minutes was easy-peasy.
However, I flew them again last spring, liked the price, the change in Iceland was easy with an EU passport, checked a suitcase and had a small carry on, but still had to fight to get on before all the bin space was gone. One cabin crew was pleasant, while the other needed a vacation. It’s not always an easy airline. It takes more physical stamina, for sure.
Your experience was unfortunate. Who paid the Swiss Air tickets?

Posted by
3083 posts

tedanytime (aka FTS?),

I'm truly sorry that your vacation was disrupted by flight difficulties. I know that had to be very disappointing. It's frustrating to consumers that airlines sell flights with tight connections that require everything to go perfectly in order for them to work. I also agree that, in general, connection times of at least 90 minutes are desirable at international hubs, especially for individuals with less experience flying and/or with health issues like bad knees. Hopefully you've learned that the cheapest ticket isn't always the best ticket for any given traveler.

Your blame on us is atrocious!

Holocaust? Atrocious. Rwandan genocide? Atrocious. Mass shootings in the USA? Atrocious. Minor differences of opinion on a travel forum? Not atrocious. At worst, a mild irritation that is of no consequence to your future.

Good luck with future travels. Ask this forum questions before your next trip! There are a lot of smart people with vast travel experience to help you travel better.

Posted by
8176 posts

My layovers here have always been quite short, 45-50 min. or so. Have never had problems making connections. One of my flights was late coming in from Frankfurt and they not only held the plane, they had staff set up in the airport pointing the way for us to this next flight.

If you have bad knees, you should consider a lighter carry on. Or get your family to carry it.