Icelandair’s Skjaldbreiður at SEA, being loaded for KEF – Photo: Francis Zera | AirlineReporter
Let’s just start by saying that, yes, I saw the aurora on the flight, and, yes, it was awesome.
Saga Class is Icelandair’s top-tier cabin service, and is roughly equivalent to business class on other airlines. Check-in and boarding were a breeze. When boarding the aircraft, the 22 Saga-class passengers turn left toward the front of the plane, making it very easy to forget that you don’t have the whole plane to yourself. The accompanying checked-baggage allowance seemed quite generous: two 70-lb. bags per person.
Icelandair shares a lounge with several other smaller airlines in Seattle-Tacoma International Airport’s international terminal (SEA). The lounge is comfortable and clean, if a bit uninspired, but a fine place to wait for your flight. The hot-food options were welcome, and on the day I was there most of the dishes were Asian themed, which are a personal favorite.
The aircraft for the flight to Reykjavik was TF-LLX, aka Skjaldbreiður, a 757-200 which hadn’t yet been through Icelandair’s cabin refresh program. The interior was a tiny bit worn around the edges and had old-style IFE screens, but it was still all very comfortable and clean. Icelandair names its aircraft after Icelandic volcanoes, and, with about 130 of the things in the country, it doesn’t appear that they’ll run out of names anytime soon.
My trip to Iceland in 2012 – Photo: Katka Lapelosová
Three years ago, I traveled to Iceland for the first time. It was sort of a spontaneous trip that a friend and I had planned last minute, but it ended up being one of the best international experiences ever. And with flight time being less than five hours from NYC, the chilly country makes for the perfect “long weekend,” European getaway.
Most people travel to Iceland to explore glaciers (check), see the Northern Lights (check), play with Icelandic ponies (check), or hang out at the Blue Lagoon (major check). But one thing they underestimate is what they’ll have to eat while they’re there.
BONUS: Traveling to Keflavik on an Icelandair Boeing 757
Iceland is a foodie’s dream. It’s not really surprising, considering Icelandic dishes are typically locally sourced, and with such unique agricultural conditions, chefs and locals alike have gotten creative with their recipes. The food and drinks I had in Iceland were some of the highlights of my trip, from lobster stew and Skyr (Icelandic yogurt), to whale meat and puffin (ethically farmed, and better than it sounds, trust me).
The summer’s ever-persistent sun over the Perlan (the Perl), a hot water storage facility turned museum and mall
This is a continued story about AirlineReporter.com visiting Iceland, via Icelandair. Be sure you first check out: Review: Traveling from Seattle to Keflavík on an Icelandair Boeing 757 & Why Iceland is Not Just a Stopover, But a Destination – PART 1.
We spent the next day touring the Golden Circle, which took us about 185mi up into central Iceland and back. The first stop was Gullfoss (the Golden Fall). Walking down the path through misty spray reveals the breathtaking two-stage falls. Unlike falls in the US, there’s nothing but a little rope keeping onlookers from wandering too close to the edge. It felt a little dangerous and I liked it!
Reykjavík’s Old Harbor – just one of the many beautiful views of Iceland. Image: Nicholas Smith / AirlineReporter.com
Being based in Seattle, Icelandair’s nonstop flights bring Reykjavík about as close as the flight to Miami. The question that everyone keeps asking me, though, is “why would you visit Iceland?”
Iceland’s terrain and activities match Seattle’s “weather be damned” love affair with the outdoors to the tee. The trans-continental island’s atmosphere is unrelentingly Myst-esque; clean, fresh, bright, and utterly colorful. The temperate climate, driven by the warm Irminger Current, keeps the island nation splendid throughout the year. The looks are reason enough to visit, but adventure doesn’t come from looks alone.