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.
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.
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.
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 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.
When I fly for personal reasons, I will often think of a possible story angle before my flight. Sometimes I find one, sometimes I do not. During a recent trip from Seattle (SEA) to Houston (IAH), I flew on an Alaska Airlines 737. I thought what possible story angle could I come up with that could be unique when I am flying another Alaska 737 out of Seattle? I figured that this would just be a flight that I would enjoy and no story to be told (which is not always a bad thing).
As I sat at the gate, waiting to board, I looked at my flight details. Yes, I am a bit embarrassed to admit that I did not take a closer look at what aircraft I was flying on earlier, but that allowed me to have a nice little surprise. I wasn’t just flying on any Boeing 737, but a 737 MAX 9. That was important to me, because this was my first MAX flight… game on.
I quickly changed from “civilian mode” (a name I use when flying as a passenger, not doing a story) to “blogger mode.” I started to think about what photos I wanted to take and how. Make sure I took good notes (I often forget in the giddiness), and not look too much like a total nerd in front of other passengers.
As I boarded the plane, I wondered how different the MAX would be. It was still using the same fuselage as the 737-100 that launched service in 1968, so would a typical passenger even notice? Would I notice? I was excited (actually more giddy) to find out.
Long-time readers know we here at AirlineReporter LOVE an opportunity to try out new airlines and AvGeek experiences. Given that, we regret it has taken us so long to try new(ish) airline Avelo which launched in April of 2021. On the West Coast, this airline operates primarily out BURbank airport, just a hop, skip, and a $60 ride-share north from LAX.
We managed to get out to BUR last September to gawk at their fleet, but it took us a full additional year to be in the right place at the right time to finally get our opportunity to fly. Thankfully, following #SpotLAX2022, we had a bit of extra time to give them a shot for a quick trip up to Boise.
Finally, an Avelo Airlines Review!
Avelo Airlines Review: Booking
The booking process was not efficient, but that’s the norm these days. And while I would love to, I can’t fault Avelo for it. Even legacy carriers gum up the works pushing up-sells and various add-ons. Not long ago we used to joke “ULCCs (ultra-low-cost-carriers) are gonna ULCC”, but it’s hard to criticize when even the old guard is doing it. That sweet ancillary revenue is just too hard to pass up, so why not follow the path ULCCs have long since pioneered and normalized?
Tailwind Air isn’t an average commuter airline. There are definitely similarities to Seattle’s Kenmore Air, in that both fly seaplanes and do charters through some of the world’s busiest airspace, but Tailwind Air positions itself as a boutique service for the time-pressed Northeastern traveler.
This is their math: it takes at least four hours to cover the 200 road miles between Manhattan and Boston by rail or car, depending on traffic or service delays. By air, it’s consistently less than 90 minutes. And far more comfortable and glamorous.
Our flight was on Friday, March 5, 2022, which marked the airline’s annual resumption of service on the route – the flight doesn’t operate in the winter months.
The flight from Manhattan to Boston took 70 minutes thanks to a helpful tailwind, although we paid for that by having to fight the corresponding headwind on the way back, so that leg took 90 minutes. Considering it’s taken me 90 minutes to drive the length of Manhattan in Friday afternoon traffic, this flight is a wonderful option.