Review of Icelandair flight Washington Reykjavík in Economy

Airline Icelandair
Flight FI644
Class Economy
Seat 33A
Aircraft Boeing 757-200
Flight time 05:50
Take-off 24 May 18, 20:30
Arrival at 25 May 18, 06:20
FI   #67 out of 120 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 35 reviews
KévinDC
By 1002
Published on 7th June 2018
Hello and welcome to a new short series of flights.

This year for the Memorial Day holiday weekend, we decided on a trip to Iceland. There would be 6 of us meeting up in Iceland, with 3 flying from Washington, DC. There is no shortage of nonstop flights to Iceland from the DC area, with 2 daily back-to-back Icelandair flights from Washington-Dulles (IAD) and 2 daily WOW Air flights along with 4X weekly Icelandair service from Baltimore-Washington (BWI).

Being a oneworld loyalist, I don't often venture out-of-alliance, but as new American Airlines service from Dallas wasn't due to begin until June 2018, we decided to go with the most convenient option for the outbound flight, a nonstop with Icelandair from IAD. For the return from Iceland, however, we burned some Delta Skymiles which routed us through New York JFK.

Reports in this series:

Washington-Dulles IAD ✈ Reykjavík-Keflavík KEF | Icelandair, B757-200, Economy
Reykjavík-Keflavík KEF ✈ New York Kennedy JFK | Delta Air Lines, B757-200, Premium Select
New York Kennedy JFK ✈ Washington-Reagan DCA | Delta Air Lines (Endeavor), CRJ900, Domestic First

Booking and Pre-Flight



For our annual friends group trip we tend to book early. The Icelandair tickets were booked back in January at the reasonable price of $240 for the one-way. Saga Business class was going for about $750 for the one-way, which I would consider to be a decent price; however, I decided on Economy, as I generally tend to avoid paying for premium cabins out-of-alliance. Icelandair does have a bid-to-upgrade programme–more on that later.

When booking back in January, I selected flight FI644 specifically as it was scheduled to be operated by a B767-300ER. As an #AvGeek, of course I chose the less common aircraft type. As mentioned earlier, Icelandair operate two back-to-back flights from Washington-Dulles during the spring/summer season. At the time, FI648 was due to be operated by the more-common 752 departing at 20:30, with FI644 scheduled to depart 5 minutes later at 20:35.

photo icelandair b767 original schedule
FI644 originally due to be operated by a B763ER

photo icelandair b767-300er

Alas, it was not meant to be as the B763 was swapped for a B752 in April. Coincidentally, this is about the time that Icelandair discontinued offering Economy Comfort (Premium Economy), which consisted of a type of Euro-Biz with an Economy seat with more legroom and blocked middle-seat. Out of curiosity, I checked out the seat map and was pleasantly surprised to discover that formerly Economy Comfort seats were available at no additional charge.

photo fi644 seatmap

I make a habit of checking seat assignments periodically as I've had them moved on several occasions on multiple airlines. Unsurprisingly, the extra-legroom seats at no extra charge were too good to be true. The extra-legroom seats were now priced between 45 and 65 USD. This has been common practice in the industry for quite some time, so I was fully expecting Icelandair to go in this direction after discontinuing Economy Comfort–I'm just surprised it took them several weeks to do it.

With the advent of paid premium seating, our seats had been moved to the last row, which I did not mind as the last row is usually the best chance of having an open middle seat.

photo fi644 752 v3 seatmap

I also noticed that the aircraft seating configuration had changed. There were now only 5 rows of Saga Business class, instead of 6 rows, the more common FI 752 configuration.

Normally I wouldn't care, but I had just bid to upgrade to Business class, so one less row of J meant 4 less seats available for upgrade.

I bid $300 to upgrade, which I felt was a reasonable offer for a 5 hour red-eye in Domestic First recliner type seats. And if the upgrade went through, I'd still be paying $200 less than the original price of a one-way in J.

photo icelandair class up 2photo icelandair class up

A few days before the flight, only 1 seat was showing available for purchase in Business and sure enough, 24 hours prior to departure, I received confirmation that the upgrades did not go through. Ah well, I tried!

photo icelandair updgrade not successful


Check-in & Lounge



We arrived at the airport a little over 2 hours before departure. Though we had checked in online and didn't have any bags to check, we stopped by the ticket counter to print boarding passes as mobile boarding passes are not available for flights to/from the U.S. for some reason.

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There were no self-service kiosks at the Icelandair counter so we had to get in line to get our boarding passes. The wait was very short and the agents at the ticket counter were very friendly. I was a bit surprised at first when the agents asked to weigh our carry-on bags, but remembered Icelandair can be strict with cabin baggage. Our bags were a little more than 1 kg over the 10 kg weight limit so the agents advised they would have to check our bags. I didn't really mind since it was a nonstop flight and it was just one less thing to lug around.

Afterwards we headed straight to the East security checkpoint. Unfortunately, Icelandair does not participate in the Known Traveler program so we did not have access to TSA Pre-check lanes. Luckily, the lines at security were short and we were through in a few minutes.

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Departures board showing the back-to-back Icelandair flights. Notice how flight 644 and 648 have switched departure times since the time the tickets were originally booked.

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Though the Icelandair gates are on Concourse A, we took the train to Concourse B to head to the Turkish Airlines lounge before boarding.

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Looking down the B Concourse towards the A gates

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The Turkish Airlines Lounge is conveniently located towards the middle of the terminal, on the B Concourse but close to the A gates.

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Gaining access to the Turkish Airlines lounge with Priority Pass during the evening Transatlantic departures rush can be hit or miss as the lounge is on the small side and can get very crowded. Luckily, this was not the case and it was pleasantly less crowded than I'd seen it in the past.

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Buffet area

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Bar area



The buffet offers a good selection of hot and cold dishes, mostly Turkish/Mediterranean inspired.

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I tried a bit of everything

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Turkish Airlines A330 arriving as seen from the lounge.



After a pleasant stay at the Turkish Airlines lounge, we headed out to the gate about 5 minutes before the scheduled boarding time.

Boarding



Boarding had already begun when we arrived at the gate, so we were able to join the queue and board immediately.

Today's flight is operated by TF-ISV, a 19 year old Boeing 757-200.

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The interior is new and fresh–the aircraft certainly doesn't appear its age.

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Bottles of Icelandic glacial water were distributed by the cabin crew upon boarding.

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Legroom was decent with a seat pitch of 32 inches.

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Nice view of the 2nd Icelandair flight at the next gate over

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The IFE screen is nice; however, the system is not available gate-to-gate.

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Ads promoting Iceland stopovers and factoids about Iceland played during boarding.



A reminder that I missed the upgrade 😄

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Due to a technical problem the 20:35 flight ended up pushing back a few minutes before our flight.

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The Flight



The issue was resolved quickly and we pushed back just a few minutes late

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The safety video, showcasing the natural beauty of Iceland, played as we taxied to the runway.

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Takeoff with the last rays of sunlight.

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Very short flying time under 5 1/2 hours

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The IFE system became available after the safety video was shown.

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There was a good selection of movies (new and old) and TV series.

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Icelandair has an interesting hybrid LCC/Full-service carrier model. The Low-cost carrier aspects are most obvious with the Buy-on-board menu. Icelandair does not provide complimentary meals in Economy on transatlantic flights.

The buy-on-board items are on the expensive side and there are not many hot options.

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As I had eaten a full meal in the lounge, I just ordered beer to enjoy with a movie.

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As we headed further north throughout the night, you could see a red glow on the horizon.

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I managed to get maybe 2 hours of sleep on this short flight and woke up with full daylight outside.

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Glad to see breaks in the clouds as the forecast was calling for a rainy day.

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First glimpse of land.

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Great views of volcanic landscapes during out descent.



We landed right on time.

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A new Icelandair B737 Max 8 in the distance.

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Taxiing past Icelandair and WOW jets on remote stands

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Including the beautiful Vatnajökull special livery.

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Icelandair 767-300ER

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We ended up parking on a remote stand ourselves. I was regretting having checked my carry-on bag as I was in short sleeves!

We parked next to one of the new 737 Max 8 jets. I'm not a fan of the new simplified livery on the Max fleet.

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Despite the cold, deplaning from a remote stand is always fun for an #AvGeek for the good views.

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As we were able to deplane from the aft door, we were among the first people of the aircraft and it didn't take long for the first bus to fill up. Once we got to the terminal however, it was a crowded mess. It took a good 30 minutes of queuing up to go up the stairs just to make it to the immigration hall. Luckily, once I was there, there was no wait for the European passport lanes. It's nice having two passports ^^

These types of crowds during the arrival banks show that the Icelandic tourism boom is still in full effect.

Hekla Aurora special livery at the Terminal.

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Thanks for reading! There will be an Iceland tourism bonus in the next report.
See more

Verdict

Icelandair

7.0/10
Cabin7.5
Cabin crew8.0
Entertainment8.5
Meal/catering4.0

Turkish Airlines Lounge

8.5/10
Comfort8.5
Meal/catering8.5
Entertainment8.5
Services8.5

Washington - IAD

8.3/10
Efficiency8.0
Access7.5
Services8.5
Cleanliness9.0

Reykjavík - KEF

7.0/10
Efficiency5.5
Access6.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness8.5

Conclusion

Overall, it was a pleasant flight. The cabin is fresh and new for an older aircraft and the seats themselves were comfortable with good legroom. Though in the last row, there was a good sized gap between the back of the seats and the wall so the seats had full recline--this is nice, especially knowing you're not bothering anyone behind you when reclining. The IFE system was quite nice with a decent library of movies and shows. Cabin crew were friendly and efficient. The BoB menu was on the expensive side and could have used more hot options.

Related

14 Comments

  • Comment 449093 by
    loukas SILVER 213 Comments

    Hi Kevin, thanks for a great report! I can't see what is the point of operating two flights at almost the same time. They should buy an A380 to take all the pax at once and save money ;) I love the Icelandair classic livery and all their special liveries. The interior of this old bird looks really good, especially the seats with IFE screens that looks very modern, but the lack of complimentary service on an almost 6 hours flight combined with purely icelandic prices of the BOB is a shame. Hope to see some photos from Iceland in the next reports. Have a good one!

    • Comment 449410 by
      KévinDC TEAM AUTHOR 4220 Comments

      Hi Loukas, thanks for stopping by and sharing your comments! Always appreciated :-)

      "I can't see what is the point of operating two flights at almost the same time."
      - I thought it was weird too. Last year during high season FI operated a 1300 and 2030 departure, both connecting to different departures banks in Iceland. Apparently the 1300 flight did not work out as well as there were less connections during that bank and 1300 is not a convenient departure time for TATL. So instead now, they've consolidated several banks into one, which explains why it was such a crowded mess arriving at KEF in the morning!

      "A380 to take all the pax at once and save money ;) "
      - Haha yep, and I bet they'd have no problem filling it up every day!

      "I love the Icelandair classic livery and all their special liveries."
      - Me too, it's one of my favourite liveries and it hasn't gotten old in 20 years! That's why I'm disappointed with the new simple livery they did on the 737 Max

      "Hope to see some photos from Iceland in the next reports."
      - There will be :-)

  • Comment 449135 by
    KL651 TEAM 3805 Comments

    Thanks for this FR gurrl. That one came fast ^^
    Well given the price you paid BoB is fine but FI's fare are usually higher and equal to full service airlines.
    But the cabin is indeed nice and looks comfortable.
    Nice spotting upon landing KEF was busy busy, though it was a ghost town a few hours later when I arrived...

    • Comment 449411 by
      KévinDC TEAM AUTHOR 4220 Comments

      I know right!? They don't usually come fast :-P

      "Well given the price you paid BoB is fine but FI's fare are usually higher and equal to full service airlines."
      - Exactly, I feel the same way. R/T to KEF on FI in JUL and AUG often runs $700+ in Y, so for that price, the BoB would not be cool.

      "Nice spotting upon landing KEF was busy busy, though it was a ghost town a few hours later when I arrived..."
      - Hah, yeah busy indeed. I guess basically the whole FI fleet was at home base for the AM bank. Yeah, every since FI dropped the late night bank of flights, it has become a ghost town at certain times. Though I did find it was still quite crowded in the terminal when you arrived, despite few aircraft movements.

  • Comment 449140 by
    TheWindowSeat 77 Comments

    I love the photography and thanks ! What camera do you use Kevin ? I see why you like landscape photography !

  • Comment 449366 by
    indianocean SILVER 5512 Comments

    Too bad for the equipment swap. I also much prefer 767 than 757.

    Even out-station, TK CIP lounge looks great. I'd even say amazing when compared to standard US lounges.

    I'm a litlle bit surprised . I thought thta flight time East coast to Iceland would have been shorter than that.

    Thank you Kevin.

    • Comment 449413 by
      KévinDC TEAM AUTHOR 4220 Comments

      Hi Indianocean, thanks so much for your comments!

      "Too bad for the equipment swap. I also much prefer 767 than 757."
      - The 767 is about as good as it gets for PaxEx in Y.

      "Even out-station, TK CIP lounge looks great. I'd even say amazing when compared to standard US lounges."
      - Yes, the TK lounge is very nice. I was so glad when TK decided to open a lounge at IAD and that it joined the Priority Pass network! It blows standard US lounges out of the water, of course!

      "I'm a litlle bit surprised . I thought that flight time East coast to Iceland would have been shorter than that."
      - I guess Iceland is just really far north from DC. It is funny because I've been on NYC-LON flights on several occasions that were shorter than this (with strong winter tailwinds).

      Merci et bon week-end!

  • Comment 449434 by
    marathon GOLD 8477 Comments

    Interesting to have the two daily flights departing 5' from each other - typical of KEF being a hub for onward European destinations. (You already commented in detail on that)
    Did you have an empty middle seat, eventually ?
    Thanks for sharing; I look forward to the report of the return flight and its bonus !

    • Comment 449608 by
      KévinDC TEAM AUTHOR 4220 Comments

      Thanks so much for your comments Marathon!

      "typical of KEF being a hub for onward European destinations."
      - Indeed, though Iceland itself has become such a huge destination that a much smaller proportion of passengers are connecting through to Europe than 10 or so years ago

      "Did you have an empty middle seat, eventually ?"
      - So yes, we actually ended up technically having the only empty middle seat on the plane; however, we had another friend seated a few rows ahead by himself so we invited him to sit with us. But yes, this is one time that the middle-seat gamble actually worked.

      Thanks!

  • Comment 449521 by
    757Fan 420 Comments

    Another great report, Kevin! It looks like you had a good flight with Icelandair. With Delta competition on the route from MSP and JFK (and serving free meals in Y), I wonder if Icelandair will ever go back to free meals in Economy. The prices seem very high for any of the BOB options - and for an international flight no less!

    Thank you for sharing. As usual, great photos!

    ~ Matthew

    • Comment 449610 by
      KévinDC TEAM AUTHOR 4220 Comments

      Hi Matthew, thanks so much for your comments!

      "With Delta competition on the route from MSP and JFK (and serving free meals in Y), I wonder if Icelandair will ever go back to free meals in Economy."
      - I wish I could say yes, but DL has been competing for years now, and FI has not felt the need to copy. Now you even have UA, AC, and AA competing on routes from North America, all offering free meals in Y, and FI's bookings don't seem to have been hurt--there's just that much traffic to Iceland, I guess! So as long as FI bookings are good, I'm sure they won't see any reason to match the U.S. carriers. If anything, the U.S. carriers have to a certain degree matched Icelandair by flying domestic equipment to Iceland rather than Intl Full flat J 757s, like DL used to in the beginning.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Comment 449783 by
    socalnow GOLD 640 Comments

    Thank you for another really enjoyable Flight Report. The TK lounge has to be among the best Priority Pass lounge in the US. I love the look of the FI 757 with the scimitar winglets and agree that MAX is not as attractive in the"new" livery. Stunning scenery on approach to KEF, looking forward to the tales of your visit in the next installment. Thanks again and happy flying.

    • Comment 449791 by
      KévinDC TEAM AUTHOR 4220 Comments

      Hi Socalnow, appreciate the comments and glad you enjoyed this humble Y report!

      "The TK lounge has to be among the best Priority Pass lounge in the US."
      - Definitely! It's right up there with the AF JFK lounge. There just aren't many great Priority Pass lounges in the U.S. so I certainly count myself as fortunate to have the TK lounge at my home airport.

      Speaking of Priority Pass at IAD--today it was just announced that the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at IAD is joining Priority Pass, woo hoo!

      " I love the look of the FI 757 with the scimitar winglets"
      - A beautiful livery with some sexy winglets!

      Thanks for stopping by!

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