Transportation in Greenland is probably unlike that of any other destination you promote, unless you also have Antarctica or other extreme destinations in the portfolio. The nature and environment rule all, and there are never any guarantees. It even affects what kind of aircraft can be used. If you need a brush up on the basics of travel in Greenland, see these Greenland 101 clips about international and domestic travel.
Telling your guests about the realities of traveling in Greenland and informing them of what could happen, and why, is the key to creating realistic expectations and minimizing unpleasant surprises. As a rule of thumb,
the very best advice you can give your guests is to utilise travel insurance and to build in several buffer days to accommodate for delays.
Here are some extra tidbits and insider tips to pass on to your guests.
Pack thoughtfully. Baggage is limited.
The cold hard truth: Both Air Greenland and Air Iceland have strict baggage weight allowances in comparison to other worldwide airlines.
On Air Greenland, each economy class passenger gets 20 kg / 44 lb of checked baggage plus one piece of 8 kg / 18 lb carry-on baggage. Business class passengers get 30 kg / 66 lb of checked baggage; they must still have 8 kg / 18 lb of carry-on baggage, but it may be split across two pieces. Read about additional Air Greenland baggage policies at www.airgreenland.com.
On Air Iceland, there are several types of fares, but in general, checked baggage is limited to one piece at 20 kg / 44 lb and carry-on baggage is limited to one piece at 6 kg / 13 lb. Business class passengers are allowed twice as much checked baggage. Read about additional Air Iceland baggage policies at www.airiceland.is.
But why? Due to the length of runways in Greenland, or a lack of a runway altogether, these airlines use either small propeller planes or helicopters for their Greenland operations. Bottom line, space for both humans and suitcases alike is extremely limited.
What could happen? If a bag is overweight, guests will be required to pay overweight baggage fees per flight. If they are connecting several times in the course of the trip, the fees will quickly add up. It has also been known to happen that if a flight is fully booked and everyone is travelling with heavy luggage, the passengers themselves may have to be weighed on the baggage scale for safety purposes.
Insider tip: Wear the heavier gear in the aircraft, like thick sweaters or jackets and hiking boots. If it is a winter departure, your guests will probably be doing that anyway.
Insider tip: If your guests are flying with multiple airlines, advise that they pack according to the most restrictive regulations to avoid overweight baggage fees.
Sometimes a boat is the only way
The cold hard truth: In summer in Disko Bay, it is not possible to travel by helicopter. This has been longstanding. Boat connections via Disko Line, a local operator or a private charter company are the primary commercial way to get from place to place. Only in rare instances will Disko Line offer helicopter transport, by chartering Air Greenland’s machines.
But why? In 2017, Disko Line won the government service contract to operate in Disko Bay and in South Greenland. In other words, in these regions, Air Greenland’s operations stop at Ilulissat, Aasiaat and Narsarsuaq. Read more about Disko Line’s operations at http://www.diskoline.dk/en/.
What could happen? Disko Line and Air Greenland operate as two completely different companies who have no travel alliance, so if a guest misses one leg of his journey due to delays or cancellations, neither company gives compensation (like accommodation or meal ticket) to international guests.
Insider tip: Advise your guests to pack snacks, as the sailing journey can be several hours, and to have their sailing clothes accessible, in case they want to sit outside along the way. That means windproof and waterproof layers plus sturdy shoes with nonskid soles.
Money is not a golden ticket
The cold hard truth: Buying yourself out of an unwanted travel situation does not work. If there is a flight cancellation, one does not simply rebook on another airline instead. Neither does one simply charter a private plane from neighbouring Iceland.
But why? There is no other airline for domestic flights. And for international flights, there usually is still no other airline that day, as Air Greenland and Air Iceland tend to operate on alternating days.
If the weather was so serious that even Air Greenland cancelled - an airline whose pilots are experienced with flying in the most extreme of conditions - then a foreign charter company certainly will not attempt any landing.
What could happen? In the event of a delay or cancellation, the guests need to accept the situation. Depending on how remote their location is, how serious the weather conditions are and what the flight schedule is at that time of year, they may be stuck for anywhere from 1 day to 1 week. Wait until the airline or boat company gives a definitive next departure time before making further travel arrangements.
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