A huge crowd gathered to come see Icelandair’s newest addition to its fleet.
During a recent trip in April to Switzerland, I was able to make use of Icelandair’s Stopover option #MyStopover, and spent a weekend in Reykjavik to attend an employee-only plane warming party for the first Boeing 737 MAX 8 added to Icelandair’s fleet.
In February and March, Icelandair took delivery of their first three Boeing 737MAX 8 aircraft, TF-ICE, TF-ICY, and TF-ICU. The airline has 13 more MAX-series jets on order, with the next three scheduled for delivery in 2019, with the final delivery of this order slated for 2021.
The dark patches in the grey sky made for some nice contrast
The 737MAX features Icelandair’s updated livery, which has a simpler look. The blue is a lighter hue, the underbelly is grey, the words on the tail have been omitted so it only has the logo, and the yellow fuselage stripe has been removed. The aircraft were delivered without seats they and the in-flight entertainment system were installed in Keflavik by Icelandair Technical Services.
There was a several-day delay, before the first scheduled revenue flight, but, very quietly on April 13, TF-ICE made its first revenue flight to New York (EWR) and back, just in time for the party.
On the morning of Saturday April 14, TF-ICE made a quick repositioning flight from Keflavik (KEF) to Reykjavik City Airport (BIRK), where Icelandair’s upper management, along with some lucky employees, invited guests, and members of the press were about to board this brand new Boeing 737MAX for a sightseeing flight over Iceland.
A Delta 757 in the Sky Team livery on approach to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
The recent announcement by Delta Air Lines that it will be ordering 100 new Airbus A321neo jets could put a nail, or perhaps rivet, into the coffin of a 757 replacement.
I knew this Delta announcement was coming years ago when I was working for Boeing and had an insightful chat with a very high-ranking Boeing executive. The chat was not in a public forum, so I will not say who it was, but trust me – this person knew what he was talking about. He told me that he felt Delta may never buy from Boeing again. He went on to talk about how Delta’s former CEO, Richard Anderson, and its current leadership, was pretty much married to the French conglomerate.
Prior to Delta, Anderson made a couple of big Airbus purchases while heading Northwest Airlines. Delta’s entire A319, A320 and A330 fleet comes from Northwest. So what’s this have to do with the flirtation of a new 757? Delta is far and above the biggest 757 user with 128 757s, a total that was boosted after the 2008 merger with Northwest Airlines. United’s the next-largest passenger carrier at 77 and American is third with 52. The aircraft is still popular in the US, but not as much overseas.
Palletized freight is loaded aboard an Icelandair Cargo 757-200F at Keflavik International Airport
Air freight has always held a particular fascination for me; the mechanical logistics are fascinating, and, despite the fact that freight operations happen concurrently with passenger flights, many travelers don’t even notice that freight ops are happening all around them during their journey.
Icelandair’s Skjaldbreià°ur 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 Skjaldbreià°ur, 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).