Flight-Report

Review of Icelandair flight Reykjavík London in Business

Airline Icelandair
Flight FI470
Class Business
Seat 1C
Aircraft Boeing 737 MAX 8
Flight time 03:00
Take-off 02 Dec 18, 08:35
Arrival at 02 Dec 18, 11:35
FI   #69 out of 129 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 48 reviews
bldavid
By SILVER 1237
Published on 14th December 2018
I decided to visit Mauritania in December 2018. This is a country I wanted to go to see for a long time and it seemed that – after a period of ten years or so when it was considered too dangerous to go – Mauritania was again safe to visit.

Although not many airlines fly to Mauritania, finding the best route from my home airport Keflavík, Iceland to Nouakchott offered a great number of combinations. Only Air France flies from mainland Europe, and while it seems to be the obvious choice, the drawbacks are a red-eye return flight and an overpriced business class. Turkish also flies from Istanbul but it’s a long detour and the flight times are not very convenient. Royal Air Maroc flies daily from Casablanca with good connections for Europe, and the return flight is in the morning, not at night. Both economy and business class seem to be reasonably good, but the latter is quite expensive, although not as much as Air France. Other airlines flying to Nouakchott include Air Algérie and Tunisair but they fly only a few times a week using uncomfortable aircrafts and short red-eye return flights – not the best options for me. Mauritania Airlines flies from Casablanca – would have been interesting to try. Eventually I flew with Bintar Canarias from Las Palmas – this airline has good reviews, reasonable prices and schedules that suit me. My return flight was with Royal Air Maroc as I had to go anyway to Morocco for work right after my stay in Mauritania.

So my routing was:
Icelandair, business class from Keflavík to London-Gatwick
Easyjet from London-Gatwick to Las Palmas with a stay at the Clubroom Lounge
Binter Canarias from Las Palmas to Nouakchott
Royal Air Maroc from Nouakchott to Casablanca
TAP Portugal, business class from Marrakech to Lisbon
TAP Portugal, business class from Lisbon to London-Heathrow
Icelandair, business class from London-Heathrow to Keflavík

Icelandair used to offer a three-class configuration – economy, premium economy, and business called Saga – but premium economy was discontinued earlier in 2018 and business class fares were halved on many routes, especially to London while the standard of the service was kept. I paid about 385 € return – a very good value for business class. British Airways charges 520 € for a clearly inferior service on the same route.

My flight was scheduled to leave at 07.45. I received a text message from Icelandair at 2.30 at night that the flight was delayed to 08.20. Nevertheless, I had to wake up early and drive about 40 minutes to the airport. I arrived at 6.15.

Wow Air has flights to Europe early, between 6am and 7am. The news in Iceland have been full about how close they have been to bankruptcy, so I believe it’s unlikely they’ll be still on the market for a long time. They had to return several of their leased aircrafts, and the ground service company used by them just fired around half of its employees.

Icelandair flies to Europe between 7am and 8am, while a variety of other airlines such as Easyjet, British, Norwegian, Lufthansa or SAS fly later in the day.



Icelandair offers several check-in options: on-line, self check-in at the airport and check-in at staffed desks. As you can see the check-in desks, which used to have long queues, are now almost empty – most passengers check-in on-line or already checked in earlier at the airport.

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Once checked in you need to go upstairs. Icelandair’s Saga (business) class comes with priority security which took only around three minutes.

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This is what you see once you pass security.

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Yes, Christmas is approaching. You can see Jólakötturinn (Christmas Cat) in the middle.

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Cafés and shops are available at the main part of the terminal.

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But I went directly to the Icelandair lounge – actually the only one at the airport – located near gate A15, in the Schengen Area, so before passport control.

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The lounge has several, well separated parts. It had plenty of available seating when I arrived, and as my flight was delayed, it was completely empty when I left.



I love these old photos

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The choice of food for breakfast is very similar to what you would find at a good midrange hotel in Iceland



There’s a good choice of drinks – most of them are obviously not for the morning departures.



But the coffee machine is very useful for the early departures. Icelanders drink more coffee per capita than anybody else in the world.

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Note that there are toilets and showers inside the lounge (no photos)

I left the lounge for the passport control. The automated gates were closed but there were no queues at the staffed ones so I was through in no time. Passengers need to go down one floor after immigration where there’s a smaller duty free shop and a food shop – I had no reason to stop this time.

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Boarding started a few minutes after I got to the gate. Priority boarding was not enforced (it usually is) but as there were not many passengers it was not an issue.

Today’s aircraft was a B737 named Jökulsárlón (Glacier Lagoon). Icelandair used to have only B757s in its fleet for many years, and while they’re not particularly fuel efficient I really like them. But a few more modern B737s have been acquired very recently, so the interior of this plane was almost brand new and of course in a perfect condition.

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Icelandair’s business class has a 2+2 configuration with proper US Domestic First Class type seats – very comfortable for intra-European flights. There are four rows in business class with a total of 16 seats. Load was 6/16.

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I selected seat 1C (no extra charge).

The monitors are on the bulkhead for the first row of seats.

I was offered a cherry, orange and cardamom juice shot which was very good

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A bottle of Icelandic water was also offered

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And so were noise-cancelling headphones

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The safety demonstration was very unusual. A new safety video started on the screens (and it was quite uninteresting while the previous one was much better with nice Icelandic landscape), but it stopped, a manual safety presentation was done, after which the video continued. Maybe the cabin crew was not familiar enough with using the video equipment on this new aircraft?

The captain announced an expected flight time of two hours and 35 minutes. Push-back was at 08.35 (for a scheduled departure of 07.45) and we took off at 08.45.

A hot towel was offered after the seatbelts signs had been turned off.

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While there was a printed menu it was brought at the same time as breakfast as there was no choice anyway

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Breakfast tasted however very good and was clearly well above the average of what you’d get on most other intra-European business class flights.

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A close-up on the main course: french toast, bacon, asparagus and egg cheese roll

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Skyr – Icelandic cheese that looks like yoghurt – was of course also offered.

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I had tea with some chocolate after breakfast

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The cabin crew passed through the cabin very regularly to check if any of the passengers needed anything

Icelandair’s in-flight entertainment offers a choice of 47 movies, 222 TV shows (including many documentaries about Iceland but also some Netflix productions such as Narcos) and 475 music tracks.



Our approach to London-Gatwick

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The scheduled time of arrival was 10.50 but we landed at 11.22 (and got to the gate at 11.30), about 40 minutes behind schedule.

Thank you for reading my flight review and please feel free to comment.
See more

Verdict

Icelandair

8.5/10
Cabin8.5
Cabin crew8.5
Entertainment/wifi8.5
Meal/catering8.5

Saga Lounge

8.0/10
Comfort10.0
Meal/catering8.0
Entertainment/wifi6.0
Services8.0

Reykjavík - KEF

8.5/10
Efficiency8.0
Access8.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness10.0

London - LGW

8.5/10
Efficiency8.5
Access8.5
Services8.5
Cleanliness8.5

Conclusion

Icelandair offers a good value, real business class product for those travelling between Iceland and other parts of Europe.

Related

8 Comments

  • Comment 480147 by
    KévinDC TEAM GOLD 4742 Comments

    Hi David ! Just to let you know I changed the aircraft type to the B737 MAX 8 for you (it’s all the way at the bottom of the list of Boeing aircraft). Looks like a very creative and interesting routing with some cool reports to come! Currently travelling but will leave another comment once I’ve had a chance to read thoroughly. Have a great day!

  • Comment 480288 by
    757Fan 505 Comments

    Good report in Icelandair! It looks like you had a nice flight with them in Saga Class. The breakfast looks quite good - and it's nice that the lounge offers a good offering as well to. Thank you for sharing.

  • Comment 480446 by
    lagentsecret SILVER 10305 Comments

    Thanks for sharing this FR

    An interesting routing with different airlines to an attractive destination.
    I intend to visit Nouakchott but it will be much easier for me : a direct flight
    with TU even if the inbound flight is a horrible red-eye.

    A very good business class fare for your first step to London.

    "located near gate A15, in the Schengen Area, so before passport control."
    Not really the most practical choice !

    "The choice of food for breakfast is very similar to what you would find at a good midrange hotel in Iceland"
    It's a bit poor : no hot dish, no cold cuts, no smoked fish or meat.

    "Breakfast tasted however very good and was clearly well above the average of what you’d get on most other intra-European business class flights."
    You are certainly right but it could be better with at least a choice

    "Icelandair’s in-flight entertainment offers a choice"
    It seems to be in English and Icelandic only

    See you soon

  • Comment 480730 by
    KévinDC TEAM GOLD 4742 Comments

    A lovely report as always! The new Saga lounge looks really nice. I hope AA keeps flying to KEF even when WOW pull out of DFW so that I can hopefully finally try it sometime (since my last 2 times in Iceland flying Business I was on Delta who don't give access to the Saga lounge).

    It's amazing how much traffic there is between REK and LON. With several flights a day from KEF to LGW, LHR, and LCY (and maybe others?) on FI, BA, WW, (EZY?) it seems to be a very popular market. I'm sure there's a lot of business traffic along with the usual tourism to Iceland, but also Icelanders love going shopping in the UK, haha.

    The modern 737 MAX cabin interior looks good and the seats are the same as the 757 so it's the best of both worlds, though I still love flying on a 757. Hopefully FI's prices won't go up too much with WW dropping so many routes.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Comment 480785 by
    bldavid SILVER AUTHOR 117 Comments

    Hi KévinDC, thank you for your comment. There are probably too many flighs between KEF and LON as they're usually far from being full. I also hope FI's business prices won't go up - most of Icelandair's business class clients would never consider flying WOW, so this part of the market should not change with the expected end of WOW.

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