Never Risk Your Trip on @Icelandair

Never book a trip on Icelandair. And my apologies to all the people I’ve told they should use the carrier.

Never book a trip on Icelandair.

That’s the only advice I can give fellow travelers after my last two experiences with the airline. Those of you who follow this blog might remember the challenge of my last flight on the carrier this spring when without notice, my flight to Europe was canceled. I spent hours in limbo fighting with the airline to get a new flight to my destination and there was little effort to communicate what was happening. Later, in Seattle, I met another group of travelers who had the same experience with horrible customer service and confusion on my rescheduled flight.

Unfortunately, I had already booked this summer’s travel when that experience happened, and, as someone who had previously enjoyed flying with Icelandair, I booked a cheap flight with them for this trip.

And, once again, Icelandair has struck.

I woke this morning at my Amsterdam airport hotel to a Google Alert indicating that my flight from Amsterdam to Reykjavik was canceled. Panicked, I checked my e-mail and the Icelandair site and found nothing suggesting a cancellation. Two hours later, I still haven’t received any notification from Icelandair, but their website now shows a canceled flight, not on my direct booking, but on a screen following a tiny red exclamation mark on their homepage.

Still no notice by phone or e-mail and no response from when I have reached out to their customer service channels on Facebook and Twitter.

Moderately disconcerting when I have a flight schedule for five hours that not only involves an expensive hotel stay and rental car in Iceland but is the critical first leg to returning home to the states tomorrow. I’m paralyzed at the moment: I don’t know what to do with my bookings in Reykjavik or Seattle, don’t know where I am supposed to go in Amsterdam, and don’t know who to communicate with.

It’s never not frustrating when an airline cancels or changes a flight. That’s inevitable. Frustrated as I might feel about the loss of vacation time or the expenses that accrue from late travel changes, I imagine airplanes are complicated machines that sometimes require altered plans–even if I have pretty reasonable suspicion that isn’t the case here.

What’s indefensible, though, is for an airline to have so little regard for its passengers that it can’t even be troubled to notify them in a timely fashion that their flight has been canceled. That I have not received any word from Icelandair, hours after flight trackers were notified and mere hours before I should leave for the airport, is an indefensible practice of an airline that seems either entirely incapable of managing its increased passenger load or entirely disinterested in providing a modicum of customer service.

Go to Iceland. It’s an awe-inspiring country filled with natural wonders and incredible experiences. Just don’t go there with Icelandair. I just can’t recommend an airline that seems incapable of getting passengers where they are supposed to be when they are supposed to be there and worse yet, doesn’t give a damn about it.

Update 1: One hour and 41 minutes after I contacted their customer support channel online, someone asked for my booking reference. I provided it and then got no response at all.

Update 2: After 25 minutes of no response, I asked for the agent’s name and suddenly someone reappeared to offer a hollow apology. Because there’s nothing like empty words to make a customer feel better.

Update 3: Icelandair’s resolution, after literally rebooking me on the CANCELLED FLIGHT? To book me on a Delta flight to Seattle today. No Iceland layover, no compensation for the cancellations in Iceland I will have to pay for,  and no real apology. And did they book me on the direct Delta flight from Amsterdam to Seattle, you ask? Oh no. The Amsterdam-JFK-Seattle flight leaving at the same time, of course.

Never again.