Lucky me! Yes, that’s what I said — lucky me. I had a chance to travel to Iceland at the end of January for the 20th MidAtlantic Seminar held in Reykjavik, Iceland. As someone who lives in the Northeast and constantly complains about cold weather, one might wonder why I would choose to go to Iceland. The answer is a fairly simple one. I want to see as much of the world as I can and I will never shoot down the opportunity to get one more push pin on my travel map. So how was flying to Reykjavik, Iceland on Icelandair? Read on to find out.
Never having been to Iceland or let’s face it, ever having read anything about Iceland, I knew nothing about the country probably in the same way that most Americans know nothing about Iceland. It sounds cold and that can be a turn off to people who want to travel somewhere on a vacation and relax. But don’t let Iceland’s cold and icy name turn you off to traveling there. What really helped me make my decision to go was the fact that the flight from Boston to Reykjavik was only 5 hours. My actual flight time on the day that I left was only 4 1/2 hours so how easy is that? I checked in at the airport and since I was flying Icelandair’s Economy Comfort class, I was able to spend some time in the business lounge. Virgin Atlantic’s lounge in Boston’s Logan International Airport gives Icelandair’s business class passengers access to the lounge, but Economy Comfort class passengers get access there as well. The small, intimate lounge is accessed by the departure gate and via the elevator. Show your ticket at the front desk and they will let you right inside. Find a seat, grab a drink, and something to snack on, and catch up on a little work before your flight. They have sandwiches, cookies, snacks, and on this particular day, vegetable curry and rice. They won’t win any awards for their cooking skills or their lackluster service within the lounge, but sitting in the business class lounge always wins over sitting at the gate.
Finally, it was time to board the plane and I made my way quickly to my seat. I chose Economy Comfort because it was a step up from Economy with the perks of the business class lounge without having to pay for a business class seat. According to the seating chart upon check in, it looked like a regular row of Economy class seats with the middle seat removed. It also has a little more legroom, about 1″, and that sounded good to me as well as an included meal with wine and beer. When I found my seat, lo and behold the middle seat was in fact there. Despite the oddly cute tray table on the seat, I longed for an empty seat and realized it was not going to happen. My flight was not full and so I ended up with an entire row to myself. The armrests did not go up so I couldn’t lift them or the little tray table and so I tried to relax in the seat. However, there was a strange issue with the seat back. It felt as if there was cardboard in the seat because every time I leaned back, it kind of popped. I even moved to the other seat in my row, but that one did it as well. I’m going to call it an anomaly because on my flight home, I didn’t experience this at all.
In Economy Comfort, you can get a pillow and a nice thick blanket, but what I really liked was the USB port on the seat back by the entertainment screen where you can charge your phone, iPod, or other devices. It helped not to have to worry about whether my phone was charged enough before I landed since I wasn’t flying business (Saga) class. There is also a footrest underneath the seat on which to put your feet, but if you’re tall, don’t expect to feel terribly comfortable in these seats. I sat next to a tall man on my flight back and he looked miserable without any kind of room in which to stretch his legs. Even at only 5’4″, I was wishing I had more leg room, too. All the basics are available in your seat from the light and air vent overhead to a seat back pocket with the inflight magazine and safety card.
Here you can see my iPhone cord plugged into the seat back next to the entertainment screen. Please be advised that like in most airplanes these days, should the person in front of you recline their seat all the way back, you will need to as well. On my flight home, the person in front of me reclined the seat back and the entertainment screen nearly touched my face, no exaggeration! Speaking of entertainment, the entertainment was sorely lacking, but pretty average airplane in-flight entertainment. Icelandair offered movies, TV shows (both Icelandic and American), games, and music. There was a short documentary about the volcano that erupted nearly two years ago, Eyjafjallajokull. If you don’t remember how it halted travel in April 2010, this is a great article with amazing pictures of around that time period. I enjoyed watching the documentary, but the available movies were some oldies, but goodies like Braveheart, Gran Torino, I am Sam, Juno, etc. If you haven’t seen them, this would be a great time to catch up, but if you have you might want to have some backup plans for entertaining yourself on the flight.
Please don’t get the idea of from what I have written thus far that I didn’t like Icelandair. In fact, I really liked the service from check in to the flight attendants on my flights. They are low key and yet highly professional. Sometimes when I fly I feel as though the flight attendants are asking me if I want something, anything just about every five minutes. I was able to get some sleep in on my flight to Iceland because they offered us something to drink when we first arrived on the plane, then after we took off they came around with meal service, and left us alone until about an hour before landing. For my meal service, I explained that I didn’t eat meat or seafood and I was given a sandwich with vegetables. For an airline meal, the sandwich was really quite good. A nice crunchy, seedy bread with roasted peppers — worked for me and the glass of wine I had helped me settle into my seat and doze comfortably for just a bit.
We arrived into Reykjavik earlier than planned and I was ecstatic. Since it was so early, I was hoping we could be on the road earlier so we could get to the hotel earlier. Upon arrival to the airport in Reykjavik, you can grab your bags and be outside in probably under 10 minutes. I’m so used to the sun starting to rise when I am up at this time back home so to get outside of the airport and see darkness was a little strange. It was extremely dark, but also not as cold as I expected it to be. It was at this moment that I realized that I had truly packed the wrong items for this trip so I’ll have to write more about that in another post to save you the trouble from doing the same. Since I was traveling with a large group for the conference, although we had landed at 6 am, I had to wait for other flights coming in from New York and Seattle for those people to get on the coach with us. Thank goodness I had my Cruize Cast podcasts to listen to otherwise I would have fallen asleep for sure. Here you can see the front of the airport as we pulled away for our hour long ride to Reykjavik to our hotel. Next time you’ll experience my check in at Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Natura and the beginning of my adventures in Iceland with some great Iceland travel tips. Don’t worry, I’ll also get the Amsterdam posts up as well!