I took this trip back in Aug-Sept 2009 and really wanted to share a TR with you. But the usual combination of laziness and university education that goes with people my age intervened, and only because of summer vacation and a yearning for colder climates have I decided to take the icy plunge into writing the TR.
I posted a domestic TR from last summer that was part of my trip. You can find it here:
Akureyri-Reykjavik Domestic On Air Iceland (by Thule Nov 5 2009 in Trip Reports)
I'd always wanted to travel to Iceland, practically because of my own studies in Geology and the Arctic, and personally because of my love for the North, my previous trip to Greenland:
A Greenland Odyssey (Pics+Vids) (by Thule Feb 23 2009 in Trip Reports)
and of course the Icelandic band Sigur Rós and the scenery in their excellent movie Heima. http://www.heima.co.uk/video/
It had also been a while since I'd visited my German friends and thought that the trip would be the perfect way to combine the two, since also FI provided service to MUC a few times a week. I booked about 3 months in advance and managed to snag the entire ticket for almost exactly US$1000, and with the first two legs in Premium Economy! I wasn't sure what black magic allowed me to get that good of a deal, but I think we can all agree that it's best not to ask questions about things like this.
The journey starts at JFK, after a flight on AA all the way from SJU. But that's another story, and one that I won't make a TR for since I don't think AA domestic service deserves anyone's attention, much less their money. After collecting my bag, which arrived maybe 45 minutes later (hey, I thought I just got out of Puerto Rico!), I navigated my way through JFK's interterminal transit system. What a zoo! Good thing I'd soon be on my way to one of the least densely-populated countries on earth.
BA a/c lined up for the overnight services
FI is based in T7 at JFK. I'm no New Yorker so I had no idea what was in store for me.
Economy Comfort class had a dedicated checkin counter. Agents didn't show up until 3hr before the flight, and they were just New Yorker BA agents, nothing exotic.
Y+ on FI comes with lounge access. T7's lounge was crazy for a while, due to all the BA members running around. I'd stopped by McDonald's to get my last and most blatant "American food" for the next month.
After a bit I decided to head down to the gate to grab a seat for boarding and to see if there were any views of my plane. I recognized someone speaking Greenlandic and met two Greenlander women who were heading back home to Nuuk - we swapped stories and I told them how much I enjoyed their country.
There it is!
Boarding commenced and I did get priority boarding.
Icelandair flight FI614
August 18, 2009
Flight time: 5:45
Economy comfort, seat 11A
My first exposure to Icelandic
The Y+ cabin is simply the middle seat blocked out as a drink stand and an extra 1-2" of leg room.
I kid you not, we sat on the taxiway for 2 hours and I could see the enormous lineup for takeoff. The captain did several announcements updating us on the situation, but there's only so much you can do when you're sitting on the ground at JFK. Luckily, FI's IFE is great.
The meal was… airline chicken and airline pasta. But I'm not complaining, the folks in regular Y behind me had to pay extra in order to get a meal.
After the meal I sat back and got a few hours of sleep. I remembered to wake up in a few hours to see if I could spot Greenland. Nothing for sure, though it was a beautiful northern morning.
Coffee service about an hour before landing.
After disembarking, we were directed to additional security screening. There was some confusion about this, since we'd already received a full TSA screening in JFK, and Iceland's screening was actually less strict (you could keep your shoes on).
One of the best ways to get into Reykjavik (about a 30min drive) is through the FlyBus. Tickets cost about 1700ISK, or US$13. It was a beautiful ride into town and a great time all around.
Welcome to Iceland.
After an amazing journey through Reykjavik, up the west coast and Snaefellsness peninsula, to the Westfjords and across North Iceland, I'd headed back to Reykjavik. My flight to MUC was at 12:30am (00:30) so I'd decided to visit the Blue Lagoon before going to the airport. What better way to end (or start, or spend!) a trip in Iceland.
I arrived at KEF at around 9pm on one of the Blue Lagoon buses. After looking at the display and the crowd of mostly Germans sitting on the floor, I realized that not only were we the only flight leaving at this time, but the checkin desks hadn't even opened. A Bavarian woman asked me if I knew anything about what was going on; I had to break out my dusty Bayrisch to explain that she really didn't know any more than I did. The desks opened about 2hr before departure and everything went surprisingly smoothly.
The shopping and eating area was almost completely deserted and most things were closed. There was a spurt of activity around 11:30 when the "afternoon" flights from the USA arrived.
After a while, the information screens flashed Go To Security and, being mostly Germans, we marched in an orderly group towards the gate. After waiting around for no apparent reason, the gate agent didn't bother with an announcement, simply nodding "Ok!," smiling, and letting the moving line speak for itself.
Icelandair flight FI534
September 1, 2009
Flight time: 4:45
Economy comfort, seat 5A
Sorry I don't have pictures of this leg! You can imagine I was quite tired and felt that I'd taken plenty of pictures of FI service on my previous leg. One thing of note: this plane apparently hadn't been converted for Y+ use, so they seated Y+ pax in Saga (business) class seats. I'm a skinny, average-height guy and haven't sat in business for a year, so the legroom seemed like a stadium to me. I was actually sort of uncomfortable not having something to anchor my knees on. Despite our seats, the FAs maintained a distinction between Y+ and J pax, as we only received some water and snacks and they received full drink and meal service. No worries though, all I wanted was sleep, and I got it.
I woke up only a few minutes before landing, greeted by the sight of the Bavarian wheat fields outside MUC. After landing at T1, collecting my luggage, and realizing suddenly that I could actually read and understand the signs and people everywhere, my friend's dad picked me up and I headed back to my "home in Europe."
Three weeks later...
After a great central Europe/Scandinavia tour, it was back to an airport, this time in Stockholm. The Arlanda Express is a great service for getting to ARN.
Exotic (for me, at least) lineup at ARN
ARN was a breeze to get through. FI used the SK self check-in kiosks and bag drop. I'd used up most of my money at this point (thanks, Scandinavia!) and had to scavenge for a pizza or something that wouldn't strain my account too much more.
Here we go!
Boarding was nothing special. I noticed this time that a lot of the pax were Americans like me heading back from similar European trips.
Icelandair flight FI307
September 23, 2009
Flight time: 3:10
Economy, seat ???
I was back in regular economy, which meant not a whole lot for me on this shorter leg besides a neighbor in the middle seat and bringing my own snacks.
The flight over got interesting near Iceland, as we crossed most of the country from the East to get to KEF.
Jokulsarlon, I believe
Zooming past Reykjavik on approach
Uneventful arrival in KEF on a sunny day, then a stop at the cafeteria to pick up some sandwiches for my next flight, since I didn't feel like paying twice as much for the BOB offerings. I also bought four containers of Skyr, after telling my friends back in Seattle that they had to try it.
I was spacing out and didn't pay attention to the announcements. After I saw GO TO GATE on the screen, I rushed down to the USA departures area, which was full of Americans heading back to SEA, JFK, BOS, and MSP. If I remember correctly, we all boarded at almost exactly the same time through our respective gates. KEF is an odd place…
Icelandair flight FI681
September 23, 2009
Flight time: 7:45
Economy, seat 27F
This is FI town.
I was wondering how 8hrs on a 752 would treat me. Turns out, it wasn't that bad. With 3-3 seating, it's a lot like being on a cross-the-pond trip on a 777 or 747, just with fewer available lavs.
Another uneventful flight. I made sure to keep watching the IFE map to know when to spot Greenland. I wasn't disappointed:
Somewhere over Nunavut now. This is really the only IFE I ever need.
We eventually arrived on-time at SEA. I remember thinking to myself how strange it was to hear announcements in Icelandic welcoming me back to the USA.
That's all for now! I hope my coverage hasn't been too spotty. I encourage you all to take a look at the other TRs on FI. They're top-notch!
Icelandair LHR-KEF-LHR In New Economy Class (by PlymSpotter Mar 6 2009 in Trip Reports)
Icelandair Seattle-Keflavik Brand New Service-PICs (by RoseFlyer Oct 19 2009 in Trip Reports)
Across The Pond In Style: SEA-KEF-CDG Icelandair (by Canadiantree Dec 4 2009 in Trip Reports)
Icelandair FI 631: 22/AUG/09: KEF-BOS: J Cabin (by Abrelosojos Nov 5 2009 in Trip Reports)
Bless bless og Taktu flugið!