Keflavik to Gatwick - the return
After a few days in Reykavik it was time to head back. Iceland Airwaves Music Festival was on, which became of the trip’s focuses.
Airwaves was an Icelandair initiative to generate a bit of business off season and 2018 was the 20th anniversary. I tried to catch as many local up and coming acts as possible because the international artists will probably pass through London at some time.
I put together this short rough cut with little snippets from a variety of young Icelandic acts, plus a few Australian ones. Please feel free to show your support and watch or listen whilst reading the report, hopefully it will add a touch of colour about my trip.Watch/Listen herehttps://youtu.be/rZbTHb70aQ8
Although Iceland has some truly stunning natural beauty, many of the residential areas are pretty bleak looking. I can see how it has driven a surprisingly urban music scene.
We arrived at Keflavik just after the evening rush. Pottering around the town beforehand it was quite impressive to see a constant stream of aircraft leaving.
The checkin area was almost empty, apart from a few passengers queueing for Wizz. With an increasing number of Poles in Iceland, Wizz seem to have created a niche shuttling visiting family back and forth.
Security was a breaze, with no queues at all. The entire departure area was almost deserted, creating a very peaceful feel.
That got shattered when my friend discovered he’d left extremely expensive Bose headsets in our hire car. Thankfully the airport staff were extremely helpful and let him back into Iceland, which meant he was able to recover them. Icelandic pragmatism at its best, I can’t imagine UK airports would be so helpful.
I meanwhile minded the luggage and got some dinner, a rather sorry looking £8 burger.
The flight was boarding soon after 7pm, which of course just meant queue after queue. For some reason my boarding pass was rejected, in the end gate staff just ignored it and let me on.
It took about 15 minutes to reach the aircraft door, which seemed a very long time. No way could the scheduled turn around have been made without an early arrival.
OE-IZN awaited. This is an A320 which started life in 2016 with Air Berlin and ended up with Easyjet after they shut down. It has an Air Berlin interior, which is basically the same as Lufthansa, right down to the grey leather seats of the same model. I actually prefer it to Easyjet standard which I’d flown a couple of days before hand, in particular it had more knee room.
The downside is the antimacassars don’t fit and ended up everywhere. This made the cabin seem a little messy.
Our captain made a thorough announcement, explaining we’d enter the UK around Stornaway and overfly Blackpool. After take off he announced the Northern Lights were visible, so the cabin crew kept the lights darkened and delayed service until people had taken photographs. This took a good twenty minutes as passengers scrambled to catch them. Contrary to popular belief, Iceland isn’t the greatest spot to catch them, so those on board were quite excited.
My camera is very poor in dark light, but this just about gives you an idea.
Service commenced around 45 minutes after take off once the cabin had settled down. I ordered a Cadbury’s Hot Chocolate, which came in a large cup. The stewardess was very pleasant and nice when I needed to change credit cards.
I then dozed listening to some podcasts, sipping my hot chocolate. The cabin was very warm and the leather made this a little sticky.
About an hour out of Gatwick the crew came around with duty free, cigarets were doing a roaring trade. They then came around again to collect for Breast and Prostate Cancer. There was no second round from the trolley on this flight, not surprising as the first was delayed.
Over Blackpool the captain told us landing at Gatwick would be rough due to thunder storms but that we’d be early. The crew started to prepare the cabin quite early, wise as once we reached the south of England there were some pretty rough air pockets.
Touch down was a tad rough and the aircraft fish tailed a little down the wet runway. Thankfully we pulled up to main North Terminal building. I say that, as although the bridge provides amazing views of the field, unfortunately rail engineering works were starting in 40 minutes, so we needed to race through the terminal.
Exit was via stairs into the heavy rain, thankfully I had my waterproof cost with a hood on. Others were not as lucky.
Rushing through we managed to jump on the second from last train, with me elbowing the doors back open. Verdict:
Leaving aside the easyjet staff at Luton’s Ibis Budget, overall it was a very professional experience. At just £46 return, new aircraft, operated on time by professional crew - there is very little bad one can say.
My only comment would be that Easyjet’s new seat does limit your leg room more than before, the German Air Berlin designed cabin was much better in this regard.