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 the schedules suited 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.
My TAP flight from Lisbon arrived to the London Heathrow Terminal 2, and my Icelandair flight to Reykjavík left from the same terminal. Whenever I connect at Heathrow, I try to choose flights that arrive to and leave from the same terminal.
Connection within T2 was very easy with no crowds, only a short queue at security and a quick boarding pass control. I was checked in and I only had hand luggage; my connection would have been otherwise much more complicated.
Most Icelandair flights are scheduled for a good connection for travel between Europe and US Canada. This flight is the exception. Heathrow and Copenhagen are the only options to get back to Iceland with Icelandair in the late evening as most flights from other airports in Europe leave in the afternoon.
Icelandair’s Saga (business) class passengers have access to the Aer Lingus’s lounge as Icelandair does not have its own lounge. It was quite a walk from my arrival gate to the lounge.
The Aer Lingus lounge is located near gate A2
There’s a view from the Aer Lingus lounge on, well, Aer Lingus
I liked the lounge: it was large enough, not crowded and looked nice.
There are showers and toilets inside the lounge
The packed food is quite standard…
…but the cake looks good
Yes, Guinness is of course available
and so is Bailey’s and some other drinks
Altogether I was very satisfied with this lounge. Not the most extravagant in the world but perfectly fine before a short-haul flight. The lounge crew was friendly and helpful.
The Go to gate call was 90 minutes before departure – very unusual. The inbound flight arrived 38 ahead of schedule, and there was some bad weather in Iceland the flight crew tried to leave earlier.
Icelandair usually uses gate B41 at Heathrow which is one of the furthest, so it takes a good 10 minute walk to get there.
Most other flights that leave from that boarding area are long-haul, wide-body aircrafts such as this Singapore Airlines’ A380.
Boarding started 70 minutes before scheduled departure time. Today’s aircraft was TF-FIN, a B757-200 completed in January 2018. The view from the boarding bridge
Headphones were distributed immediately after boarding, and water was already there
Icelandair has a proper business class with two large seats on each side, similar to US Domestic First Class seats. The first row has only two seats on the left, the next five rows have a 2+2 configuration, so there are a total of 22 seats.
Boarding was completed at 20.20 for a scheduled departure of 20.30. While most passengers could be boarded earlier, some arrived later, so the flight didn't manage to leave earlier.
An expected flight time of two hours and 45 minutes was announced. Push-back was at 20.35 and we took off at 20.50.
The menu was distributed. Icelandair offers a two-course menu on business class on its flight from/to Europe and a three-course menu from/to America.
Here is the drink menu:
And an original gin menu
The safety video futures some nice Icelandic landscapes
The flight map at departure
Pretzels were offered
I choose the Osso Bucco – I had to google it to find out what it was. The meal was served on a tray.
While meals on business class are almost always delicious on Icelandair, I didn’t like this one.
I spent the rest of the flight using the free wi-fi available for business class passengers on Icelandair. While there was some seriously strong winds in Iceland in the evening, every thing was quiet by the time we landed shortly before midnight. Passport control was quick as almost always, and I didn’t have a checked-in luggage, I was in the car park maybe 15 minutes after landing.
Aer Lingus Gold Circle Lounge
London - LHR
Reykjavík - KEF
Icelandair's intra-European business class is better than what most other European airlines offer. It comes with proper business class seats, a good in-flight entertainment and catering which is usually very tasty, although it was not as good on this flight as on almost all others.
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