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  • Writer's pictureGarrett Gaudet

Almost Stranded in Amsterdam Airport

After a week of touring the Netherlands, it was time to return home to Toronto. The morning began with a thunderstorm and a national weather warning for severe thunderstorms. Prior to leaving my Amsterdam hotel, I checked the status of my Icelandair flight to Toronto (via Reykjavik). The flight was on-time despite the inclement weather. Upon arriving at Amsterdam Schiphol, I located the Icelandair check-in kiosk. After attempting to check-in to my flight, the kiosk re-directed me to the Icelandair check-in desk. The Icelandair staff stated my flight to Reykjavik was delayed 2.5 hours and I would miss my connection to Toronto. Therefore my flight(s) were "cancelled".

KLM Boeing 747

After receiving the news about my flight cancellation, I wasn't sure about the Icelandair protocol for missed connections. I immediately assumed that I had two options.

Option 1: Stay in Amsterdam for another night and fly to Toronto the next day.

Option 2: Fly to Reykjavik, stay-over night and fly to Toronto the following day. 

However, I was not presented with these options. Icelandair wanted to rebook me onto another flight with another airline. 

My flight to Toronto was rebooked on Lufthansa (Amsterdam-Frankfurt) and Air Canada (Frankfurt-Toronto). The Icelandair representative sent me to the Lufthansa check in desk to check-in for my Star Alliance flights (Lufthansa & Air Canada). The Lufthansa desk didn't have any lines. I walked up to counter and I explained that Icelandair had rebooked my flight with Lufthansa. The friendly Lufthansa representative could not locate my new booking and redirected me back to the Icelandair check-in counter. For anyone not familiar with the Amsterdam Airport, there is about a 7-10 minute walk between the Icelandair and Lufthansa check in counters. I didn't mind the walk but with the uncertainty of my return flight, I grew increasing concerned on how I was flying the 6,000 kilometre journey back to Toronto. 

I returned back to the Icelandair check in counter to the confusion of the customer service representative. I then explained that Lufthansa was unable to locate my booking. Following my explanation of my interaction with Lufthansa, my itinerary was once again rescheduled. I would not be travelling with Lufthansa and Air Canada. I checked the Schiphol airport app to look at the remaining direct flights to Toronto. Air Canada and KLM were only two flights departing for Toronto for the rest of the day. 

For the next hour, I waited at the Icelandair check-in desk for confirmation of my rebooked flight. 30 minutes later, my two friends who were also travelling to Toronto were rebooked on KLM. I found it strange that Icelandair could rebook two passengers and struggle to rebook myself on a flight. The wait became arduous and time was running out. The Air Canada flight had departed for Toronto, leaving me with KLM as my last option. After 1.5 hours, Icelandair sent me an email with a KLM e-ticket. I checked the Schiphol app to find that boarding for KLM 691 with service to Toronto Pearson was beginning in 10 minutes. 

A rush of adrenaline kicked in and I began my sprint across the Amsterdam airport to the KLM kiosks. The kiosks didn't have any lines, I managed to check into my flight and print out my boarding pass. I proceeded to the self automated baggage drop off. The line moved quickly, I tagged my cabin sized checked bag and continued my run up to customs/airport security. The new airport security facilities are state of the art with a modern design. The multiple automated systems moved passengers through swiftly. The lines of passengers bottlenecked at the customs check point. At this point, I was perspiring and feeling hot dressed in February winter clothing. The line for non-EU citizens is always longer and significant time elapsed before the impending departure.

I cleared customs with 20 minutes until the scheduled departure time. I rounded the corner to the G Departure hall to find that my gate was at the far end of the departures hall. With heavy traffic on the moving sidewalks, I opted to run to my gate. The smell of warm saucijzenbroodjes (Dutch sausage rolls) were intoxicating. The chaotic rush was over, I arrived at gate G9 with many passenger left to board. The time was 13:45, 15 minutes prior to takeoff. With my original morning departure, I had yet to eat something as I usually wait until I cleared security before purchasing a drink. I walked to an eatery and ordered a saucijzenbrood and a cold chocomel. The cold chocomel was refreshing. The warm flaky saucijzenbrood filled my hunger. I returned to the gate to discover a KLM Boeing 747-400. My first flight with KLM would aboard an iconic Boeing 747. 

On Tuesday July 11th, I will publish my KLM Trip Report (my favourite flying experience to date).


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