Greenland Stories and Tips

Getting To Greenland from the U.S.

Disko Bay Photo, Ilulissat, Greenland

Ever since a long weekend trip to Iceland back in 2003, I became curious about its gigantic neighbor to the west, Greenland. With an area three times the size of Texas, Greenland is the largest island in the world. 80% of it is covered by an ice cap as much as 2 miles deep. As we flew over the ice cap during our return flight from Iceland, I wondered who the people are who live in a place as inhospitable as Greenland appears from the air. It turns out, Greenland’s 57,000 inhabitants live in coastal towns and settlements – not on the ice cap.

During a phone conversation in 2007 with my mother, she mentioned that she saw on the local news that Air Greenland announced its first direct route from the U.S.. The 4-hour flight between Baltimore, MD and Kangerlussuaq, Greenland would occur twice weekly during the summer. I thought to myself, "Finally, an easy way to get to Greenland." Before this new route, a person would have had to do a transatlantic flight to Denmark before flying halfway back the way he/she came to Greenland.

I somehow managed to convince my wife to postpone the Caribbean cruise we were considering in favor of a trip to the arctic. In February 2008, I made reservations for the 8-day Ilulissat/Kangerlussuaq, Greenland vacation package offered by Borton Overseas travel agency. However, by March 2008, Air Greenland announced they were canceling their U.S. route mainly due to a projected profit loss and rising fuel costs. In April, I got a message from our travel agent indicating that Air Greenland and IcelandAir had worked out new arrangements for those who had signed up for the trip. Instead of flying Air Greenland from Baltimore, IcelandAir would fly us from one of their North American hubs to Keflavik, Iceland. From there, IcelandAir would fly us to Nuuk, Greenland where Air Greenland would fly us to Ilulissat to begin the Ilulissat/Kangerlussuaq package. I was pleased when I found out about this new plan because there was no extra charge; yet, two days were added and we were given overnights in two additional towns – Nuuk, Greenland and Keflavik, Iceland. We decided to leave from New York JFK International Airport since it is the closest IcelandAir hub to Philadelphia. Despite all the changes and complex itinerary, the whole trip went smoothly.

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