Where airline’s responsibility ends

By Linda & Peter Beuret
This item appears on page 22 of the December 2017 issue.

For our Icelandair flight from Reykjavik (Keflavik), Iceland, to Seattle, Washington, on July 21, 2017 (following a 10-day cruise around Iceland), we were among a couple hundred people who checked in, made it through security and were in our seats before the takeoff time of 5 p.m. The plane then sat at the gate for one hour waiting for three more passengers. 

When asked, flight attendants stated that the airline’s policy was to wait for people who had checked in but had not cleared Customs, security, etc.

The delay caused seven of us in business class (and we don’t know how many more in economy) to miss our ongoing flights from Seattle. The two of us had to overnight at a Seattle airport hotel.

When we first landed in Seattle, no Icelandair representative could be found. A representative for United Airlines, the operator of our connecting flight to Santa Barbara, paged Icelandair several times before someone answered. The United rep told us that the Icelandair rep said that our hotel bill would be covered by Icelandair.

We filled out Icelandair’s online reimbursement form and submitted a copy of the hotel bill. A Customer Relations representative replied, “Icelandair must respectfully reject your claim. The contract with Icelandair was only from Seattle to Keflavik and return. The domestic flight was not within this contract.”

We are frequent world travelers and had not heard of an airline not having a cutoff time at the gate, after which people cannot board, so that the flight can leave on time.


Santa Barbara, CA


Icelandair states, on its website, “When an Icelandair flight is cancelled or results in a missed connection, due to reasons within the control of Icelandair, creating an overnight stay for the customer, Icelandair will provide one night’s lodging.”

It should be noted that, for Iceland­air to have considered the Beurets’ Seattle-Santa Barbara flight as a connecting flight, it would have had to be booked on the same ticket as their Icelandair flight. However, the Beurets purchased the tickets for both flights separately; therefore, their ongoing flight to Santa Barbara was not covered under Icelandair’s contract of carriage.

ITN emailed a copy of the Beurets’ letter to Icelandair (5950 Symphony Woods Rd., Ste. 410, Columbia, MD 21044) and received no response.