Volcanic disruptions come home to Iceland
Flight cancellations and redirects have been on everyone's lips today, especially because they're now happening here in Iceland. In fact, I'm currently in quite a situation, myself, because of these redirects. I'm writing from a tiny town called Staðarskáli, which is located at the neck of the Westfjords in north-western Iceland. I don't even know if it can even be called a town. It's more of a gas station, as far as I can see.
My co-intern Anna and I are on a spontaneous reroute of our road trip this weekend—we're picking up two friends who were supposed to have arrived at 6:00 near Reykjavik. But because of the ash of the erupting Icelandic volcano, Eyjafjallajökull, their flight from New York was rerouted to Glasgow. Then they flew to Akureyri, Iceland's second-largest city. Thus, our plans changed, and here we are, waiting in a glorified gas station with wireless internet at the bottom of an inlet in north-western Iceland for a bus from Akureyri to arrive.
The problem for us is that Akureyri is located in the north of Iceland, about a five-hour drive out of Reykjavik. British Columbians might laugh, because we're used to driving great distances to get anywhere in B.C., let alone to the other side of our country. To us, an extra five hours of driving is annoying, but hardly a tragedy. But for travelers here, it's a disruption.
Fortunately for most of the passengers, IcelandAir also provided a bus trip to take air travelers to Reykjavik. The gas station is a stop along the way, and it's buzzing with people who look like they've emerged straight from an airplane. That is, they look a little dressier—sport jackety—but rumpled, and grateful for Icelandic gas station hot dogs.
I talked to one man, Michael Dimeo, a teacher at the University of Washington waiting in line for his burger. He's been traveling for 28 hours without sleep and taken flights from Seattle to Edmonton to Glasgow to Akureyri, and now the bus to Reykjavik, he told me tiredly. He says he can only hope his lost luggage meets him in Reykjavik.
Two IcelandAir courtesy buses full of people on their way from Akureyri to Reykjavik pulled up to the gas station as we arrived, unloading 50 or so disgruntled travelers. A couple told me that the flights themselves were fine, but that waiting for the delayed airlines was the kicker.
But for Anna and I, this is just the weird beginning of a weekend on the road.