It began with a couple of email alerts, informing me that I would be flying on a different aircraft than originally planned, and thus my flight from San Francisco to Reykjavik would depart earlier than normal; this, in contrast with what SFO's website said. That was the first warning.
Ultimately the scheduled departure time was irrelevant, because the crew inexplicably rolled up an hour late, and without them we couldn't board. Once seated, however, we had to queue on the runway before taking off. I was due to catch a connecting flight to Berlin at 6am local time (at that point our estimated arrival was 5am). The other two passengers in my row had connections to Amsterdam and Paris, all slated for about the same time as mine.
I asked a crew member partway through the eight-hour flight whether those of us needing to make connections could disembark first. He claimed that it wouldn't make a difference (false) because Keflavik Airport is small and only takes "10 minutes" to pass through security and passport control to get to the other gates (also false), and since the flights were operated by the same airline (Wow Air, a misnomer if I've ever heard one), they ought to wait for us (true for some passengers but not me).
Shit really hit the fan, though, when the captain announced that we would need to stop to refuel, adding another forty or so minutes to the delay. I didn't catch the name of the airport, but it was somewhere in Canada so remote that I didn't have the cellphone service required to confirm our location.
We finally landed in Keflavik, strong winds gently rocking the plane like a boat while we anxiously waited to disembark and learn our fate. I'm fairly certain my seatmates made their flights. The unlucky ones, myself included, were treated to a series of conflicting instructions from the airline staff. First we went to the service counter inside security, as per the cabin crew's advice. There, they told us to head to baggage claim, where the staff said to head out through customs, where a staff member would meet us.
Eventually an agent arrived with a stack of vouchers for us to spend the night at a nearby hotel and have a few meals, as the next available flight out was the following morning. It took the taxi driver a solid five minutes to get the barrier to raise allowing us to exit onto the main road (picture the car approaching and reversing repeatedly like in a Looney Tunes cartoon).
By the time we reached the hotel, nestled within what used to be an active US military base, it was 8am. Check-in was not officially for another six hours, but the receptionist took pity on us and gave us rooms as they were cleared by housekeeping.
I've often said that while my anger passes quickly, my disappointment can last forever. So, yes, this morning I was absolutely prepared to curse people out (which is embarrassing and shameful because I also work in the service industry), but ultimately resigned myself to the new circumstances beyond my control. It was my choice, after all, to book through a budget airline, and when you skimp on cost like that you welcome unreliability.