For Missouri couple Becky and Robert Carson, who, along with dozens of others, have been stuck at an airport in Iceland with little food or communication and forced to sleep on cold floors, a romantic getaway to a winter wonderland instead became three days of delays and disruptions.
Since the weekend, Keflavik Airport in Iceland has been limited in its ability to operate due to heavy snowfall and strong winds. A notice on the website of the nation’s airport authority, Isavia, alerts travelers to weather-related delays.
A weather alert was issued by the Icelandic Meteorological Office for the entire nation, predicting poor visibility and hazardous driving conditions. A member of the Icelandic parliament tweeted that the Red Cross organization had established shelters for stranded travelers.
Many travelers who arrived at the airport were unable to get to their hotels in nearby Reykjavik, and others who were awaiting connections or planning to fly to New York, Boston, Washington, Paris, London, and other major cities worldwide experienced cancellations.
The Carsons, who were celebrating their tenth wedding anniversary, had just returned from their first trip abroad to Iceland when they arrived at the airport early on Sunday morning for their flight home. They had to hunker down in the airport because nearby hotels were all booked up after trudging through the snow and wind and missing their flight by a few minutes.
“We found a couple of luggage carts and used them as a chair,” Becky said. “I have never appreciated all the things I normally take for granted so much in my life. We were stranded with no real food, just overpriced snacks and a floor to sleep on.”
Multiple passengers speaking to NBC News said that the main issue they faced was a lack of communication and organization from the airport authorities.
“Where I feel they failed in their duty was to provide guidance and announcements to those stranded,” said Jolene Christensen of Richmond, Virginia. “Then, when we boarded the bus, they could have put people in a queue, but no attempt was made, which made it dangerous for everyone.”
Tom Stirling, 43, who was stuck at the airport with his wife and their two sons, ages 10 and 8, claimed that his younger son, Liam, who was ill with a fever, slept on a metal bench while he was on the floor. Tom is a resident of Kennebunk, Maine, but he is originally from Scotland. Their Icelandair trip to Glasgow to spend the holidays with family was postponed.
“I realize that weather conditions can have an impact, but I believe that the lack of planning and foresight… You shouldn’t have permitted visitors to come here knowing the weather, “said he. “Today, it seems like everything has been cancelled, and nobody is really making amends.”
Requests for comment from Isavia and Icelandair, the nation’s national airline, were not immediately fulfilled. According to a statement on Icelandair’s website, the airline would compensate passengers who needed to spend the night in a hotel up to $159.45 or 150 euros per room. It stated that passengers would automatically be rebooked, but that due to the volume of requests, this would take longer than usual.
The inconvenience Becky experienced at the end of her first trip abroad didn’t stop her, despite the ordeal. She said, “I want to travel the world. I’ll defiantly be more careful when planning my vacations in the future but seeing the northern lights in the winter was a top priority.