Gray Line Iceland - How early to arrive at KEF?

Posted by Admin on 01 May 2024

How early should you arrive before your flight from Keflavik Airport?

Vacation time is precious, and no one wants to spend an excessively long time at the airport on their way home. But how far ahead should you plan to arrive at the airport? Here’s how to work out when you should plan to reach Keflavik Airport, taking into account a number of factors that might influence your decision.

Traffic to the airport

It takes, on average, around 45 to 50 minutes to travel between Reykjavik city centre and Keflavik Airport. Though you might encounter a little traffic as you head out of the Icelandic capital, you’ll soon be on the suburban dual carriageways and, before long, Route 41 to the airport. It’s unlikely you’ll experience major delays along the route but it’s never a good idea to cut it too fine. A new flight can be expensive when booked last minute, so you’ll want to make sure you don’t miss the one you’ve already paid for.

Whether you’re heading directly to the airport

Many travellers stop off at the Blue Lagoon for a soak in this iconic geothermal spa before heading home. It’s a fabulous way to round off your trip and the place is geared up to those en route to the airport with massive lockers, hairdryers and towels. In fact, so many people do so that you can even book your airport transfer via the Blue Lagoon. With the facility to pre-book a timed slot at the baths, there’s no need to worry about unexpected delays, either.

What the weather’s like

In bad weather, travel times to the airport might increase, sometimes unexpectedly. If conditions are exceptionally windy, or there is a lot of ice or snow on the road, it most likely won’t be safe to travel at the maximum speed as indicated by the speed limit. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on the weather forecast, particularly if you have an early morning flight or if you’re travelling in autumn, winter or spring when there’s a greater chance of inclement weather.

Whether you’ve rented a car or are booked on a GrayLine transfer

If you’ve rented a car, you’ll need to allow time to drop it off and perhaps wait while the rental agency staff member carries out a visual inspection of the vehicle. Many of these offices are off-site. Though it’s not far, you’ll have to wait for the next available shuttle to bus you over to the terminal. Conversely, if you have booked a coach transfer with GrayLine, you’ll be dropped off at the departures hall and won’t need to allow any extra time.

If you’ve been able to check in online or not

One time-saver for any flight is being able to check in online. This saves you the bother of lining up to check in at a desk and can be a big bonus if you aren’t travelling with a lot of luggage. It’s occasionally not possible to check in online, sometimes because documents need to be checked. If that’s the case, you’ll have most likely found out the day before your flight and will know to get to Keflavik Airport a little earlier than you had planned.

The type of luggage you’re carrying

Whether or not you have bags that need to go in the hold is another factor in how early you should arrive at the airport before your flight. Though you can do a self-service bag drop – there are staff on hand to help if you’re not sure what to do – there’s still a chance that you may need to queue with your suitcase and this can take time. If you only have carry-on luggage, this won’t worry you as you can bypass the check in desks and go straight through to departures.

What passport you hold

As Keflavik is an international airport (all domestic flights depart from Reykjavik Airport), you’ll need to show your passport as you leave. If you are travelling within the Schengen zone or are a member of an EU or EEA country, then you’ll be subject to fewer checks and questions than if you aren’t. The queues if you hold a US, Canadian, UK or other third party nation passport could be longer, so you’d need to allow more time to wait in line before reaching the desk.

How long the queue for security is

This can sometimes be hardest to predict as the length of the queue to pass through airport security can vary considerably. If there are a bunch of flights departing within a relatively short space of time, you might find you’re standing in line for longer. Similarly, if someone in front of you is a little unsure of the procedures, or are travelling with young children or others that need a bit of help, they might take a while to fill their trays.

Whether you’re hungry

Some travellers plan to eat at the airport, especially if they are flying close to a meal time. Those who’ve opted to fly with a low-cost airline may also prefer to dine on the ground rather than pay for food in the air. There are a number of cafés at Keflavik Airport, so if you are keen to try one of them, whether it’s for a substantial meal or just to grab a coffee, you’ll need to allow some time to do so.

How much of a shopper you are

Souvenirs are a great reminder of a trip that we’ve enjoyed but sometimes we’re too busy sightseeing to find the right item. Fortunately there are plenty of options at the airport. Alongside duty free you can find shops selling everything from sheepskin rugs to products

from the Blue Lagoon. If you prefer to browse in unhurried fashion before you make your purchase, then this too needs to be factored in to the time you arrive at the airport.

Whether you qualify for lounge access

Travellers relishing the thought of relaxing in a well-appointed airport lounge might not be too concerned at the prospect of getting to the airport early. After all, in such comfortable surroundings, the time will pass quickly and before you know it, it’ll be time to board. If your airline status affords you such privileges (or you are travelling with someone who is able to pay for lounge access for a companion) you might get to the airport ahead of someone that doesn’t.

How stressful you find travelling

Sometimes, the decision about what time to get to the airport is as much a reflection of the kind of person we are as anything else. If you’re a chilled, easy going sort who isn’t fazed by the thought of a last minute dash to the gate, you’ll probably wonder why other travellers like to hang around for hours. But if the idea of rushing through the airport is already sending you into a state of panic, then not getting there early is probably not an option.

So what’s the official advice?

Isavia, the authority which manages Keflavik Airport, suggests that planning to arrive two and a half to three hours before your flight is probably ideal. When booking your transfer with Gray Line, take this into account.

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