Thule
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Posts: 69
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:50 pm

[Pics!] JFK-KEF-MUC, ARN-KEF-SEA On FI In 2009

Wed Aug 04, 2010 10:41 pm

Hi all,

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.

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BA a/c lined up for the overnight services

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FI is based in T7 at JFK. I'm no New Yorker so I had no idea what was in store for me.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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There it is!

Boarding commenced and I did get priority boarding.

Icelandair flight FI614
JFK-KEF
August 18, 2009
Boeing 757-200
Depart 8:35pm
Arrive 6:20am
Flight time: 5:45
Economy comfort, seat 11A

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My first exposure to Icelandic

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The Y+ cabin is simply the middle seat blocked out as a drink stand and an extra 1-2" of leg room.

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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.

http://img251.imageshack.us/img251/9289/dsc00123cd.jpg
Finally! Takeoff!

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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.

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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.

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Coffee service about an hour before landing.

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First sight!

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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).

http://img251.imageshack.us/img251/1778/dsc00156x.jpg

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.

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Welcome to Iceland.

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Reykjavik

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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.

http://img594.imageshack.us/img594/8295/dsc00804g.jpg

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.

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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
KEF-MUC
September 1, 2009
Boeing 757-200
Depart 12:30am
Arrive 6:15am
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.

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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.

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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
ARN-KEF
September 23, 2009
Boeing 757-200
Depart 2:10pm
Arrive 3:20pm
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.

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Goodbye ARN

The flight over got interesting near Iceland, as we crossed most of the country from the East to get to KEF.

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Jokulsarlon, I believe

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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.

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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
KEF-SEA
September 23, 2009
Boeing 757-200
Depart 5:00pm
Arrive 5:45pm
Flight time: 7:45
Economy, seat 27F

http://img137.imageshack.us/img137/9260/dsc01075r.jpg
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.

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Goodbye Iceland!

Another uneventful flight. I made sure to keep watching the IFE map to know when to spot Greenland. I wasn't disappointed:

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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)

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Bless bless og Taktu flugið!
Thule
 
AI151
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RE: [Pics!] JFK-KEF-MUC, ARN-KEF-SEA On FI In 2009

Wed Aug 04, 2010 11:29 pm

Hi Thule, loved this TR and some amazing pics of Iceland. It's still so hard to believe that a volcano on such a small and beautiful island with some of the most spectacular landscapes caused the whole Europe to come to a total standstill.

Quoting Thule (Thread starter):
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.

I don't think I've ever left JFK at night without there being a heck of a long queue to taxi. If it wasn't for that I'm sure you would have landed much...MUCH earlier.

Just out of curiosity, what other countries did you visit whilst over here in Europe.

Sandeep (AI151)
Modern Vision. Timeless Traditions...
 
EL-AL
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RE: [Pics!] JFK-KEF-MUC, ARN-KEF-SEA On FI In 2009

Thu Aug 05, 2010 12:04 am

Hey Thule,

Thank you for this lovely report. it was fun to read, and the photos are great - Iceland looks beautiful!

Quoting Thule (Thread starter):
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.


Ridiculous! If you guys are all in the same tiny cabin, what is the big deal giving out 5-6 more meals? I can't see something like that happening in an Israeli airline.

Quoting Thule (Thread starter):
we sat on the taxiway for 2 hours


Damn, wonder how many people missed their connecting flights.

Nice report, but I think I won't be using KEF as a connecting airport to North America or FI as the connecting airline. Flying mostly in Y, BOB service only on 8 hours flight is a bit too long, in my opinion.

Thx again,

LY
every day is a good day to fly
 
staralliance38
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RE: [Pics!] JFK-KEF-MUC, ARN-KEF-SEA On FI In 2009

Thu Aug 05, 2010 12:41 am

Thanks for the TR! Great read with good pictures!

At KEF, what is the glass window artwork that you took a picture of? It looks very interesting!
Roar, lion, roar
 
767747
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RE: [Pics!] JFK-KEF-MUC, ARN-KEF-SEA On FI In 2009

Thu Aug 05, 2010 2:14 am

Good report!

I flew Icelandair back in 1996 from JFK late at night, about a week after the TWA 800 crash... I remember arriving into KEF when it was still dark out, and it was freezing! I remember the food being average, and the flight being really full .. I think back then we left out of the old Terminal 4? Thanks for bringing back memories!

Quoting Thule (Thread starter):
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.

I grew up in NY and I remember waiting in long lines for takeoff .. I don't think I remember leaving on one summer evening where there wasn't a long wait!

767747
I love to fly!
 
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Web500sjc
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RE: [Pics!] JFK-KEF-MUC, ARN-KEF-SEA On FI In 2009

Thu Aug 05, 2010 4:09 am

i have always had good flights on FI-once before they had Y+, we sat in the SAGA class seats and had economy class service. which was fine by me.. and very nice because i would buy more for the seat than the service.

and no trip to iceland is final without a trip to the blue lagoon.
Boiler Up!
 
Serdar
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RE: [Pics!] JFK-KEF-MUC, ARN-KEF-SEA On FI In 2009

Thu Aug 05, 2010 11:59 am

Iceland looks so peaceful and beautiful. I haven´t been there yet...another place I have to visit.

Thanks for sharing!
 
Contact Air
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RE: [Pics!] JFK-KEF-MUC, ARN-KEF-SEA On FI In 2009

Thu Aug 05, 2010 5:17 pm

Hi Thule,

Great report and lots of fantastic pictures of your flight and of Iceland. I really like the country a lot.

Quoting Thule (Thread starter):
and personally because of my love for the North

Yes, I understand that. The North does have something special.

Quoting Thule (Thread starter):
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).

Interesting - I wouldn't have imagined this. At other places in Iceland, security checks don't play a big roll. For example, there are no security checks at all at the domestic airports, as you will have experienced yourself on your Akureyri-flight.

Quoting Thule (Thread starter):
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.

I agree - the ride gives you a very good first impression of the country with the deserted landscape.

Quoting Thule (Thread starter):
If I remember correctly, we all boarded at almost exactly the same time through our respective gates. KEF is an odd place…

Yes, KEF is either totally crowded or totally empty, depending on the time of the day.

Regards
Christoph
 
Airbus340
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RE: [Pics!] JFK-KEF-MUC, ARN-KEF-SEA On FI In 2009

Sat Aug 07, 2010 11:05 pm

Wonderful trip report...! Maybe next time I go and visit my family in Canada, Icelandair will be my carrier! A good excuse to visit the city of Reykjavíc.  

Thanks for sharing!
 
eaa3
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RE: [Pics!] JFK-KEF-MUC, ARN-KEF-SEA On FI In 2009

Sun Aug 08, 2010 12:18 am

Great report.

Quoting Contact Air (Reply 7):
Interesting - I wouldn't have imagined this. At other places in Iceland, security checks don't play a big roll. For example, there are no security checks at all at the domestic airports, as you will have experienced yourself on your Akureyri-flight.

This is apparently because Iceland is within Schengen and arriving passengers have to be screened before continuing on on conecting flights within the Schengen area, per EU rules. At most European airports arriving passengers can exit the terminal without going through the same areas as people who are departing, but as Keflavik airport was built before Schengen they did not consider that regulation would require that connecting passengers from the US would have to be re-screened before continuing on in the terminal design. People arriving from Europe that are connecting to US bound flights don´t have to go through security.

Quoting Contact Air (Reply 7):
I agree - the ride gives you a very good first impression of the country with the deserted landscape.

That´s kind of the point of Iceland. It´s about the same size as England but there are literally 200x fewer people there. So 80% percent of it is just natures playground. It´s probably the largest expanse of untouched nature in Western Europe.
 
PlaneHunter
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RE: [Pics!] JFK-KEF-MUC, ARN-KEF-SEA On FI In 2009

Sun Aug 08, 2010 6:53 am

Hi Thule,

very nice report with some great pictures from Iceland. It was a good decision by FI to introduce PTVs in Y Class, but charging extra money for meals on long-haul flights is ridiculous.


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
Thule
Topic Author
Posts: 69
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:50 pm

RE: [Pics!] JFK-KEF-MUC, ARN-KEF-SEA On FI In 2009

Sun Aug 08, 2010 9:37 am

Thanks for the comments so far everyone!

Quoting AI151 (Reply 1):
If it wasn't for that I'm sure you would have landed much...MUCH earlier.

That's the impression I got. My flight arrived at KEF some time after 9am - I wonder what happened to folks with onward connections to Europe...

Quoting AI151 (Reply 1):

Just out of curiosity, what other countries did you visit whilst over here in Europe.

I went down to Austria, then back up through Germany towards Hamburg, through Copenhagen and over to Stockholm.

Quoting EL-AL (Reply 2):
If you guys are all in the same tiny cabin, what is the big deal giving out 5-6 more meals?

The only thing I can think of is the few thousand $ difference in fares we paid 
Quoting StarAlliance38 (Reply 3):
At KEF, what is the glass window artwork that you took a picture of?

Hey there - a quick Google search turned up this page on the official airport site. It gives good details about all the art at KEF: http://www.kefairport.is/English/Shortcuts/About-us/Art-and-Design/

And for everyone concerned about BOB on an up-to-8-hour flight... I understand where you're coming from, especially as a fellow airline geek. There are those of us who will gladly pay extra to fly a full-service carrier and connect at a huge hub in the USA or Europe, but there's also something special about stopping over at a small airport on a volcanic island in the middle of the great circle route to Europe. Especially from SEA, it can provide really short total trip times, especially to Scandinavian countries. OK, there isn't traditional meal service, but you do have an hour or two to sit down at a table at 6am local time and order a full hot breakfast at the cafeteria and buy some cheap sandwiches and snacks for the trip ahead. For the type of person I am, it's a sweet deal giving up a few parts of traditional service in order to save $100s TATL AND to get to stop at such a unique spot on earth.
 
roseflyer
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RE: [Pics!] JFK-KEF-MUC, ARN-KEF-SEA On FI In 2009

Mon Aug 09, 2010 5:31 pm

Quoting eaa3 (Reply 9):

This is apparently because Iceland is within Schengen and arriving passengers have to be screened before continuing on on conecting flights within the Schengen area, per EU rules. At most European airports arriving passengers can exit the terminal without going through the same areas as people who are departing, but as Keflavik airport was built before Schengen they did not consider that regulation would require that connecting passengers from the US would have to be re-screened before continuing on in the terminal design. People arriving from Europe that are connecting to US bound flights don´t have to go through security.

I think they really need to fix that. What happens if you bring in duty free liquids? They do not make those announcements in the US that you will be rescreened in Iceland. Iceland is one of the few places where liquor is so taxed that it makes sense to bring all that you want with you.
If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
 
eaa3
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RE: [Pics!] JFK-KEF-MUC, ARN-KEF-SEA On FI In 2009

Mon Aug 09, 2010 6:45 pm

Quoting RoseFlyer (Reply 12):
I think they really need to fix that. What happens if you bring in duty free liquids? They do not make those announcements in the US that you will be rescreened in Iceland. Iceland is one of the few places where liquor is so taxed that it makes sense to bring all that you want with you.

They are working on an alternative. But they can´t stop doing it because it is a schengen rule. You should buy liquor in the duty free. It is the one place in Iceland where liquor is not taxed highly.

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