miðvikudagur, október 05, 2005


Excepting Microsoft and American cable-TV companies, I never before came face-to-face with the awful price and service consequences of a monopoly quite as much as I do here in Iceland. There's Eimskip, the only way to ship goods from most American ports to Iceland. There's the effective monopoly that was created by 5 years of price and contract fixing among the three Icelandic oil companies. There's of course Sláturfélag Suðurlands, monopolizing the slaughtering needs of the southlands. But the worst of all might just be Icelandair.

My gripes with "the airline" go back to when I moved here. Their U.S. sales agent lied to me about the availability of lower-cost tickets. When I found the lower fare the following day, they refused to honor it. They said they would allow me to change to the lower fare ($175 savings, and their mistake) for a $150 change fee. Even after I wrote a letter to their customer service department, they didn't budge. And why should they?

Icelandair has a great scheme going. They make it really inexpensive (as low as $250 or 15000 ISK roundtrip in the low season) to fly roundtrip to Iceland from Boston or New York. That way they get the tourists here cheaply. Those tourists then dish out the dough on hotels, rental cars, and tours. And much of the Icelandic tourist industry is controlled by Icelandair's sister companies.

Meanwhile those low low fares are subsidized by those of us living in Iceland. Because we only have one way to get to North America, Icelandair can charge us almost anything it wants. And it does. The best fare I have ever seen to Boston, one that people here really crow over, is 34000 ISK, over $550. Fares on this route are usually 50000 ISK ($820) or higher in the summer.

And they don't even have to be nice about it. I went to their Reykjavík sales office the other day to get a receipt for a trip I took in the summer. It was an e-ticket and I had deleted the email with the receipt. The lady sneered at me. "We gave you a receipt when you bought the ticket," she said. I asked if there was any way they could print one out again. "That will cost you 1000 krónur," she sneered.

16 bucks. To print out a piece of paper. Somewhere in all of this, they forgot who their customers were. Or maybe they never needed to know.


Anonymous Nafnlaus said...

Icelandair won't be happy about this,you're gonna get whacked real soon.


Blogger Paul said...

Great exposé

Anonymous Nafnlaus said...

I feel for you :(
Icelandair needs a good competition to the USA! They'd probably go under if there was one.
Mind you they're subsidized also by the Icelandic government in some undisclosed way.

It'd be ok if they were subbed by the government IF the 'people' would benefit from it, but hell no....they're all about the $$$

And yes they totally suck with their monopoly


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