Southwest drink coupons. These won't work since they are expired. - Photo: JL Johnson
Southwest drink coupons. These won’t work since they are expired. – Photo: JL Johnson

Southwest flyers, rejoice! The airline has finally added a non-alcoholic option to their premium beverage menu. This is something I’ve wanted for over a decade. I even included it in my 2019 A-List wish list.

Community Coffee's new Espresso option. - Photo: JL Johnson
Community Coffee’s new Espresso option – Photo: JL Johnson

During the opening day of MCI’s new airport terminal, the fine folks at the LUV airline were handing their new Community Coffee Espresso + Cream beverage. It’s good. If you are familiar with the store-bought bottles of Starbucks Frappuccino, it’s a lot like that. Only not nearly as sweet which is a good thing in my book.

Laura Swift with the Southwest Airlines media team confirmed, “the new Espresso + Cream can be purchased with a valid, non-expired SWA drink coupon.”

As a non-drinker I’ve made it a habit to routinely give away my drink coupons. But now that there’s a non-alcoholic pick-me-up option I might have to get a little more stingy. So go book a business select fare which includes a free premium drink, or fly 10 revenue segments to earn four coupons of your own ☺️

Our flight from Keflavik to Seattle boarded via a proper jetbridge
Our flight from Keflavik to Seattle boarded via a proper jetbridge

The COVID-19 pandemic made for some mighty strange times. A January 2023 trip to Reykvavik with Icelandair marked my first time out of the United States since early 2020. I’ve been able to fly a lot domestically, but this would be the first time I’d get to use a passport in nearly three years, ending my longest international travel dry spell in decades. And, boy, was I looking forward to it, especially as Iceland is one of my very favorite destinations.

Speaking of time slipping away, we last reviewed Icelandair’s Saga Class service in 2017, so we’re long overdue for an update.

In-flight experience

A Saga-class seat aboard an Icelandair 757-200
A Saga-class seat aboard an Icelandair 757-200

The trip was from Seattle to Keflavik on TF-FIN, a 25-year-old Boeing 757-200, a jet Icelandair has owned since it was built back in 1998.

Icelandair seems to work hard to keep its aircraft interiors in good shape; I’ve flown with them roughly 10 times in both Saga and economy, on their 737 MAX-8, 757-200, and Bombardier Dash-8s, and don’t recall having seen anything in the cabins that was in desperate need of repair.

Photo: Manu Venkat | AirlineReporter

Now that Air France’s Airbus A380s are retired, their flagship is now the 777-300ER. That feels fitting, because Air France was the 77W’s launch customer back in 2004. During the pandemic the airline was quietly working to redesign their onboard product, highlighted by a sweet suite-style business class seat. And a month ago the first renovated 777-300ER took flight between Paris and New York, with more planes and routes to follow.

Photo: Air France

We dropped by a mock-up of the new seat on display at New York’s Lincoln Center. The kickoff event included a Q&A session with Air France CEO Anne Rigail, who had plenty of commentary on the new seats and the airline’s master plan.

Air France 77W

For a closer look at Air France’s new business class and hot takes from the interview with their CEO read on! And for any of you in New York City today March 5th, we have details below on how you can drop by the display for yourself and enter to win a pair of business class tickets.

The main building is bright, has plenty of room, and features an impossibly intricate art instillation hanging from the ceiling.

They say that good things come to those who wait. And it seems in the case of the Kansas City (KC) area getting a much-needed unified MCI airport terminal, it finally came! Plans for a single terminal to correctly accommodate passengers have been in the works since at least the 1990s. But here in the Show-Me state, folks are reluctant to accept change without clear benefits. To be honest, many of us are just stubborn. Alas, this isn’t a story about the past. Nor is it a story about the citizens of a single city in the two-state KC metro area controlling an economic powerhouse and causing decades of delays in what should have been a routine update. No. This is a celebration lap. For me, for my frequently flying friends, and yes, even those who somehow think the existing scheme is “convenient.” (I’ll see YOU in the comments!)

I have been a new terminal-evangelist since the late 2000s. Literally ~15 years of work has finally paid off. No, I don’t work for any governments and I don’t work for the airport. Heck, I didn’t even get to cast a vote of support when the new terminal issue graced a KC, Missouri ballot during a low voter turnout cycle. But it’s still a victory, and I’ll take it.

Tomorrow the doors of the new terminal officially open to the public. And for a second time I will walk its halls. Only this time it will be to board and fly the inaugural departing flight. Despite NOT securing early access like some others in our space, I was fortunate to be selected for a preparedness simulation a full two-weeks before opening day. The gist was simple – make sure everything is up to snuff, allow for a public preview, and even throw some local AvGeeks a bone. It was truly a great day.

An Icelandair Connect De Havilland Canada DHC-8, better knows as a Q400 or Dash 8, taxies to the ramp in Akureyri, Iceland
An Icelandair De Havilland Canada DHC-8, better known as a Q400 or Dash 8, taxies to the ramp in Akureyri, Iceland

Flying domestically in Iceland is like stepping back in time.

Security? Not necessary here. Just check in for your flight at the ticket counter, wait for the boarding call, and get on the plane. No X-ray machines, no body or iris scans, no checks for bottled liquids, etc. Just check your big bags and walk on board with your carryons. A very civilized process in an equally civilized country.

Passengers disembark from an Icelandair 757 (TF-ISV) on the ramp at Akureyri, Iceland

Our flight was from Reykjavik City Airport, RKV, which is right in the center of the capital city, flying to Akureyri in the north of the country, 250km (155 statute miles) by air. The much larger international airport is 50km (30 statute miles) to the southeast, in Keflavik. We were a group of six; five of us from various media outlets, and our very capable and patient Icelandair media wrangler.

Icelandair’s domestic route map is shown via the blue line – Image: Icelandair

Icelandair has two 76-seat DHC-8-400s and three 37-seat DHC-8-200s in its fleet; they acquired them in March of 2021 when the airline purchased Air Iceland Connect to create an integrated domestic/international route system.