18 July 2001
TF-FID “Valdis” (old colours)
My first trip to Iceland(and also on a 757) and I really was quite excited. My flight was scheduled to leave at 2255, but being the eager beaver that I am, I got to LHR T1 at about 7pm where Swissport checked me in. There was no signs for the Icelandair counter yet, so I just asked a Swissport guy who was handling some other airline (Aer Lingus perhaps?) and he checked me in. Dissapointed I got a boarding pass with a Swissport logo I have so many of them. Anyway, there’s always the return.
I filled my time going over to T 1, 2, 3 on the fab Padidngton Express free service and had dinner somewhere. Made it back to T1 at about 9.30pm and bought some duty free. The last flight out of T1 was my Icelandair flight, and the one before that was El Al, so the departure lounge wasn’t that packed. Made my way to the gate at about 1025 when the gate was displayed on the monitor, and then we boarded some 10 minutes later.
Got greeted by a big, elderly blonde woman, and then made my way to my seat (forget the no, but it was a window on the left). Cabin crew were 3 females and I male (rest were young). After take off we got given a drink and then asked what I would like to drink with my meal. Then the video programme started. US comedies, a docu and some other thing, wasn’t really in the mood to watch much. Got chatting to the two guys next to me, they were some Icelandic students returning home. Anyway, the meal was average and then they started the duty free, and I must say, I was amazed. I always thought over the past few years no one ever buys duty free anymore as you always see the cart whiz up and down the aisle and that is it, but on this flight, practically everyone on board (mostly Icelandic) bought something! It took ages to complete the service, but I’m sure the crew aren’t complaining, probably made damn good commission on this flight alone!
Anyway, we made our descent into Keflavik at about 12.25 am, and it was bizarre to emerge from the skies to this weird twilight! Flew over some unusual coast formations around Keflavik and then we hit thew runway. Some people clapped! Taxing to the terminal all I could see was this unusual moonscape with no trees. Totally cool.
Taxiied past a GO 737 (about to leave) and 2 other Icelandair 757s parked at the gate. We got an airbridge which the Saga Class pax used, but Y class got the staircase. I didn’t complain though, as this gave me a chance to get on the ground and photograph this gorgeous bird!
After what appeared to be aaages of walking, made it to Immigration, then hit the shops and got picked up by my friends.
25 July 2001
TF-FIP “Leifur Erikkson” (new colours)
Made it to the airport at about 3pm and checked in. Got my Icelandair logoed boarding pass this time Had lunch with my friends and then went through security and queued aaages to cash my VAT refund check. It was a very busy time with European flights arriving and departing to the USA. Even bumped into heaps of American tourists I had met on trips to Vatnajokull, Golden Circle and Greenland over the past few days! Anyway, my London flight was leaving after all the other aircraft had gone, so it was really quite for a while. After all the 757s (mostly in old colours, two in new) left, allI could see was a single 737 in new colours and a Palmair B737 which was scheduled to go to Southampton.(some charter no doubt).
Made it to my gate to see a 757 in new colours waiting for me! Strangely most of the pax appeared to have boarded and shortly after I got in, the doors were shut. My luck, the flight was only 40% full so I had the whole row to myself. Rolled down the runway in blistering sun and as the wheels left ground I got a sad feeling that I had left, but determined to return one day soon! Flew over the blue lagoon, and again got sad, as we had spent the whole day before mucking about there.
Anyway, a much better meal this time, video presentation (watched Frasier and Mad About You which) and then read some magazines from the rack. This plane obviously had just done a Scandinavian service as I found heaps of SAS Panorama magazines. Some of the pax were English but a lot more were Israeli (connecting on to Tel Aviv). This time duty free was over pretty much soon, and soon we began our descent into Heathrow at about 9pm. Got to our gate 9.25 some 30 mins ahead of schedule!
Overall, Icelandair cabin service is fine. Very clean cabins, the cabin décor was a blending contrast of midnight blue and white, and the seats were comfy. I have often heard people say the 757s are not very comfortable, but this was fine. Mind you, I wouldn’t really like to be on the Reykjavik-Orlando leg which is some 7 hours. Their in-flight video which has heaps about Icelandair is brilliantly done, talks about their KEF hub, catering, duty free, etc etc. In flight magazine, “Atlantica” is pretty comprehensive too. Besides heaps of useful articles and ads for Iceland, it has bits on other destinations too, as well as a decent route map and pics of the fleet. It is hard to compare them with other big names as Icelandair flights are mostly short/medium haul, but for a 2-3 hour sector they were good. Would definitely fly them again (well, flying to Iceland you really don’t have much else of a choice!). They are definitely in my good books.