Some people might have noticed that I file a lot of trip reports between London and Iceland. Work takes me up there roughly five times a year, plus I travel there socially. Strangely, despite knowing a whole load of people who work for them, I’d never been booked to fly Icelandair. Iceland can be expensive, but our travel managers are smart enough to reduce costs. That very often means ultra-low-cost airlines (RIP Wow).
British Airways https://www.airliners.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=1434645
Wow (RIP) https://www.airliners.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=1400129&p=20672431
Not only was I given the chance to fly Icelandair on this trip, they even arranged a chauffeur to come and take me to the airport. They must be looking to use up the budget before calendar year-end. Rather excitedly I waited for my electric Jaguar to arrive, then 15 minutes before…..
If they gave me HAVN to try out, it’ll be the first and last booking from us. Thankfully Uber was to the rescue.
Despite the cancellation, I still arrived at Heathrow two hours before departure. That gave me time for some breakfast. Intending to buy the vegetarian breakfast (for a change) I accidentally ordered the vegan one. I hadn’t realised my mistake until the waiter came to check everything was alright. If you don’t want to feel a fool, don’t ask where the egg is in vegan food. Anyhow, the view was great with aircraft rotating more or less in front of me.
Breakfast and view
With around 90 minutes to go, I headed for security. Due to crush conditions (their words), security was shut. So everyone heading for a flight was queued across check in and at one point out of the door.
When it was eventually time to enter security I was shocked to see every lane in use. It’s very disappointing that such a new terminal, opened in the last few years, should be so inadequate. Once I’d made it through security, which took around 40 minutes, the first thing I saw was my plane.
Tail across the terminal
Although security had been downright farcical, the main shopping area was nicely decorated.
Awaiting at the gate was TF-ISO, a 19-year-old 767-300ER and one of Icelandair’s newest serviceable aircraft. This airframe has had many users, starting with Air New Zealand, moving to FlyGlobespan (with side leases to Air India and Air Gabon), then to Russia with Transaero and today Icelandair.
Air New Zealand LAX
Fly Globespan Auckland
Air India Mumbai
Today, 767s are getting a little rare at Heathrow. I’d kind of imaged never flying one again. So it was a pleasure as the type holds happy memories for me.
Aircraft at the gate
Boarding started about 25 minutes prior to departure by seat row. Despite being a full flight, it was surprisingly orderly.
Cabin at boarding
The captain came on and gave a short but functional announcement. We pushed back at 1215 precisely, surrounded by lots of United tails.
View from the gate - lots of United tails
A short crew welcome announcement was followed by the safety video as we pushed back. Somewhat oddly the Safety Video was for an Icelandair 737 MAX. There was an audible and palpable reaction from the passengers, not a good sign for the MAX operators.
I grabbed a pillow from the overhead bin to make space for my bag. Blankets were also available. My seat pocket has an inflight magazine, wrapped in plastic, which I didn’t see any benefit of.
Seat pocket contents
The magazine featured various articles about the cultural side of Icelandic society.
I’d forgotten how old aircraft types like the 767 scrape their way into the air. Our takeoff roll was long and climb very shallow indeed. That gave some nice views of West London.
Take off over London
We started to gain height over Hertfordshire north of London as we wove through the arrivals stack. My little phone camera makes this BA A350 seem much further away than it felt! Awesome for avgeeks!
BA A350 overfly
Icelandair offers preordered meals, which were handed out fairly swiftly. You can see the legroom was fine.
Legroom and boxed meal
The cabin remained quiet as we flew between Glasgow and Edinburgh, which gave lovely views of the Forth Rail Bridge and Scottish Highlands.
Forth Rail Bridge
As we left the UK a cart for each aisle was wheeled down, front to back. Icelandair gives complimentary soft drinks, but no food, not even snacks. The menu is quite large but no different or better to say Ryanair.
To be honest I would hope for better on a North America to Europe journey. However, for Europe to Iceland it was fine. Having had a large meal for breakfast I simply opted for a coffee.
The cabin were ‘senior’ and had a knowing air of calm about them. The gentleman who served me was very friendly. Icelandic culture doesn’t lend itself to the hospitality sector, but I think Icelandair gets it.
Every seat featured a personal television, on what seemed to be an Android system. Headsets were available for purchase.
The range of programs was quite broad, but somehow there was little to my taste. I opted for some music. Ironically when I used the lavatory I realised the singer was sat two or three rows ahead of me.
The entertainment was a nice extra for Iceland to Europe, but it wouldn’t have kept me entertained to North America. However, that is largely a matter of taste.
TF-ISO featured an aftermarket Sky Style interior. I really think it suits the 767, perhaps better than the 777. Interior design-wise, it struck me the cabin was like a Mercedes or BMW. That is lots of grey leather. It also reminded me a little of Jetblue.
No universal charge was available, but USB’s were. I was a little unconvinced by the seat, which is an adaptation of a Recaro’s short-haul product. My main gripe is that the tray is so low, it rests on people’s lap. For me, that left it at an angle, which is less than ideal with boiling hot coffee. A basic done badly which spoilt an otherwise nice design.
Overall, it is a very different look to that specified by Air New Zealand all those years ago.
Cabin as delivered to Air New Zealand
I think one of the exits may have had a slight leak. I say that because there was a terrible and frozen draft along the cabin wall. Touching the cabin wall was like touching the side of a fridge or freezer.
We raced Icelandair’s Aurora Borealis liveried 757 towards the Icelandic coast, but unfortunately, my camera couldn’t get a good photo. If I’m honest, the window was pretty scratched and dirty.
Racing a 757
None the less we soon made land.
You can’t quite tell from this photo, but with full flaps, the extensions point almost vertically down at the ground.
Overall, Icelandair was a comfortable way to reach Keflavik. Their hard product is without a doubt better than other carriers flying from Europe to Keflavik. Although nicely refurbished, I'd say there were giveaways to the aircrafts age. That is a contrast to the very new frames in my other trip reports linked above. My fare was really expensive (over £200 return), I’m sorry to say I couldn’t justify paying that and would probably stick with more affordable carriers with more modern fleets.