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Tesla
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Posts: 247
Joined: Mon Dec 02, 2013 11:53 pm

Flying Iceland: Icelandair B757-200 & B767-300ER J

Wed Jul 01, 2020 12:43 pm

Flying Europe: Icelandair B757-200 & B767-300ER J

Background: My last trip prior to the COVID-19 travel restrictions was to Iceland. I was very interested in trying the national carrier, Icelandair, for my journey to Iceland. I put together a great itinerary which was being offered at a great price in business class: departing LAX-AMS on the KLM 747-400 and connecting AMS-KEF on the Icelandair 767-300ER. For the return, rather than connecting through Amsterdam on the 767-300ER again, I booked separately a KEF-FRA flight on the Icelandair 757-200. I was very happy to be able to try Icelandair's two current operational aircraft types, and also happy to get a nice, long segment of one of my favorite flights, the KLM 747. As it turned out, the KLM 747 flights on this trip would be my last, as the KLM 747 was unexpectedly retired from passenger service early in the COVID-19 shutdowns.

Please enjoy the following reports on my two Icelandair flights, and I look forward to your comments.

AMS-KEF
Icelandair FI501
Departure: 13:05 (actual 12:58)
Arrival: 15:20 (actual 15:21)
Actual Block Time: 3h23
Actual Flight Time: 3h10
Seat: 3D Saga Business Class
Boeing 767-300ER

My long journey from LAX to Iceland began on KLM, who had provided a boarding pass containing both the KLM flight and also my Icelandair flight. Upon arrival to Amsterdam Schiphol, I headed to Icelandair's contract lounge, Aspire Lounge 26, above D Concourse. I was in a great mood, coming off my seventh KLM 747 segment, and my third which was operated by PH-BFW. It had been one of my top flights, and now I was looking forward to visiting Iceland for the first time. How else to get there than on Icelandair? It would be my first time on the airline. My first flight with them was to be on a 767-300ER in their business class, branded Saga Class. My return flight would be to Germany in order to also get on their 757-200. A long time 757 operator, Icelandair has added four 767-300ERs to the fleet, and has many outstanding orders for the 737MAX to begin replacing the 757 fleet. I was happy to be scheduled to try their two current aircraft, the 767 and then the 757. I thought it should be a pretty good way to get to Iceland.

At the gate in AMS:

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My aircraft was TF-ISP, a 767-300ER which began life in 1997 flying for Air New Zealand as ZK-NCK. The aircraft was stored in 2016 and then began flying for Icelandair in 2017. Boarding began at 12:25, five minutes late. The gate area was pretty crowded, with a long line for economy boarding. Priority boarding had a much shorter line. Boarding began with business class. I headed through the jetbridge into Door L1 to the Saga Class cabin. I found five rows of a unique 2-1-2 layout containing recliner seats AB-D-FG, with wide aisles. I had solo seat 3D in the center of the cabin, with an aisle on either side.

Seat 3D:

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The seats were reminiscent of domestic first class recliners in the US. They were very well-padded, with a high resolution touchscreen for IFE, plus a footrest. I found acceptable legroom for this type of seat. The seat was also quite wide.

Looking across the aisle to seats 3FG:

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A pillow was waiting on the seat. A flight attendant quickly brought out bottled Icelandic water, a noise-cancelling headset, and a blanket. So far so good. This was a nice pre-departure service, and I was already enjoying a comfortable seat with the nice screen and footrest. Plus the convenient aisle access provided by my solo seat in this unique seat configuration. Boarding continued slowly, with people streaming past me on both sides, but with not too much backup in the aisles. Iceland trivia and other information was showing on the screens during boarding.

Legroom shot:

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Safety card:

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Welcome screen:

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Boarding completed within twenty minutes, and the load was 12/25 in Saga Class. The captain's welcome message advised a flight time of 3h10. The weather in Reykjavik was cloudy with light rain. I thought it quite nice to have a widebody for this short flight, one of Icelandair's four 767s. The flight attendant's welcome message welcomed us onboard the Boeing 767 named Eldgjá. The announcements were in English followed by Icelandic. It was my first time hearing the Icelandic language. The safety video played in English with Icelandic subtitles.

The views from 3D:

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Push back came early at 12:58. Not sitting on the window and not paying attention, takeoff came suddenly at 13:06. I enjoyed good engine noise and speed on the takeoff roll. Cabin crew were quickly released, and curtains were shut to the galley ahead and to economy behind. The IFE had 54 movies, plus various videos about Iceland.

Today's menu was given out, and service began shortly with an offer of drinks. First I decided to toast Icelandair, a new airline for me, which was pretty nice so far. I ordered champagne and was served a cute little individual bottle of Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Reserve, along with crunchy corn chips with chia seeds. I liked the nice presentation of the little bottle and an Icelandair branded glass. An announcement was made about the start of economy service, mentioning that all major credit cards were accepted. My movie choice was Shaft from 2019, with Samuel L. Jackson.

Icelandair champagne and snack:

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Shaft from 2019:

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Beers on offer included Gull - a meticulously crafted lager beer, brewed with Icelandic barley, patience and care. The purity of the Icelandic water and the ambition of Gull's brewmasters ensure quality and balance, winning Gull the prestigious "World's Best Standard Lager" at the World Beer Awards. This is the original beer of Iceland, a true local. The other beer on offer was the Beer of the Month from Borg Brugghús. Borg Brugghús is a progressive craft brewery founded in 2010. Its principal aim is to incorporate Icelandic cultural traits and local ingredients with its wide variety of beers and pair them with food. Borg Brugghús has already received numerous awards at some of the world's most noted and influential competitions. The upcoming schedule for the beer of the month was:
January Sæmundur Nr. 49 Mango Pale Ale
February Úlfrún Nr. 34 Session IPA
March María Nr. 65 Witbier
April and May Helga Nr. 69 Raspberry Sour

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I really liked the Beer of the Month idea featuring Icelandic craft beers. I also noticed a good liquor selection with several Icelandic gins and even an Icelandic vodka.

Reviewing the menu, I found two main course options, the cold option of Fresh Salad with grilled chicken, oven roast sweet potatoes and honey mustard sauce, or the hot option of Traditional Icelandic fish stew plokkfiskur with new potatoes, cheese and rye bread. However I had pre-ordered the Saga Lamb online, so I would be sticking with that. I was offered red wine with it, but I instead asked for the first Icelandic beer, Gull. I deployed the tray table from my armrest. Hot towels were brought out next, and then meal service began. One passenger was individually served at a time. The cabin began to smell really good, and my Saga Lamb was served. It was delicious! The warm bread was excellent as well. And the Gull Lager was pretty good too. Both flight attendants were continually passing through the aisles offering drink refills or more bread. It was excellent service.

My first-ever Icelandic beer, Gull:

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Saga Lamb:

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Fresh Salad with chicken and sweet potato:

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Plokkfiskur:

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After the meal, the attentive service continued, and a flight attendant came to offer me a new drink. I ordered the February Beer of the Month, a session IPA. It was quickly served, and very good. And then the flight attendant was back again with bottled water. This had been really great, attentive service, with two flight attendants for a business class cabin only half-full.

Icelandair's Beer of the Month for February:

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We now had only 45 minutes to go, and the flight was rapidly coming to an end. A flight time of over 3h, and it had gone by fast. My movie finished as a basket of Icelandair dark chocolates was brought out

After my movie had finished came an announcement from the first officer, saying we should be arriving in 35 minutes. The weather report: winds out of the south, light drizzle, cloudy and 7 degrees C or 45 degrees F. "I hope you enjoyed the service onboard." Headphones were then collected.

Our route:

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Arrival announcements were made. "Cabin crew report - cabin is secured".

Our landing into KEF took place at 16:16. "Dear passengers, welcome to Iceland, home of Icelandair." We parked at the gate at 16:21, with a one-hour difference from Amsterdam, making it 15:21 local time. I got to baggage claim and bags started arriving in less than five minutes. Very quick bag delivery!

Icelandair was great. I really liked the Icelandic food, drinks, and IFE information. The service was to a very high standard, and the food was delicious. And I loved sampling two Icelandic beers, including a rotating selection.

My return flight on the Icelandair 757-200 is presented in the next post. At the end of the report I've included some photos from my time in the Reykjavik area.
 
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Tesla
Topic Author
Posts: 247
Joined: Mon Dec 02, 2013 11:53 pm

Re: Flying Iceland: Icelandair B757-200 & B767-300ER J

Wed Jul 01, 2020 12:44 pm

KEF-MUC
Icelandair FI532
Departure: 07:20 (actual 07:26)
Arrival: 12:05 (actual 12:12)
Actual Block Time: 3h46
Actual Flight Time: 3h30
Seat: 3D Saga Business Class
Boeing 757-200

I originally booked KEF-FRA for my Icelandair 757-200 flight, but KEF-FRA ceased being offered on a daily basis, resulting in my flight date being changed to one day earlier. This was obviously an unacceptable resolution, but a quick phone call to Icelandair had me rebooked to KEF-MUC, a route still offered daily, and still on the 757-200.

Arriving to KEF, I found the in-person check-in area all the way at the end for Saga Class, Saga Silver and Saga Gold elites. There was no line. I was given a cardstock boarding pass, and my bag was checked to Munich. It was the first flight of the day, FI532, the 07:20 departure to Munich. I was advised that the Icelandair Saga Lounge was near gate A15. My gate this morning was to be C35. I made my way to the priority lane for security, where I found no line, and I was airside in quick order. I headed through the duty free to the lounge by 05:20. Boarding was set for 06:40, and departure for 07:20. I liked the beautiful new Saga Lounge; it was super nice, and it was great to spend a little over an hour there.

Icelandair's Saga Lounge at KEF:

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I was once again looking forward to flying Icelandair. I had really liked them on the 767, enjoying great service with so many Icelandic touches. Now I was to fly on the 757, the workhorse of the Icelandair fleet, and a great aircraft I don't fly on often. I went to the gate ten minutes before scheduled boarding to find my plane currently being de-iced at the gate. Interesting and convenient to be de-iced in advance at the gate, rather than after pushback. My aircraft, one of 23 Icelandair 757-200s, was TF-FIP. TF-FIP was delivered to Icelandair in 2000.

At the gate in KEF:

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I formed the priority boarding queue, and soon both the priority and economy queues had long lines. A gate agent went through the priority line asking if everyone was flying business class. When he was done, the line was no longer full, and only five people remained. Boarding began five minutes late into the jetbridge which was not yet open. After a short five minutes of further waiting, a flight attendant came to welcome us onboard. Boarding was into the second door of the 757, so I made a left turn to business class. I found a very nice cabin of 2-2 recliner seats, with six rows of seats AC on the left, and five rows of seats DF on the right. My seat was 3D on the aisle.

Saga Class cabin during boarding:

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Seats 3DF:

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I found a very comfortable seat: wide, and with very good legroom - better than the 767 legroom. That being said, I definitely do not recommend the Saga Class bulkhead row in either the 767 or the 757. There was very little legroom there. There was once again a footrest and a nice high-resolution touchscreen for IFE. A pillow was waiting at the seat.

Legroom shot:

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Safety card:

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Settling in, boarding through door 2L means no one is passing by. A pre-departure "morning refreshment" beverage was served. It looked like a shot of grapefruit juice, but was definitely not. The flight attendant said it was carrot, ginger and bell pepper. I was happy to accept a second serving when it was offered. I was also provided with a noise-cancelling headset and a blanket. Boarding continued slowly; with no one passing through, it was easy to lose track of time. A business class passenger would appear every now and then. It took a long time, but after some late arriving passengers, the load ended up being 100%, 22/22.

Pre-departure beverage:

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The view from 3D:

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"Good morning, dear passengers, and welcome on board this Icelandair 757 aircraft to Munich. The estimated flying time this morning is 3h30." This welcome message was repeated in Icelandic. Pushback occurred at 07:26. The safety video played in English with Icelandic subtitles. During taxi, the Captain's welcome message advised Munich weather was very nice, at 2 degrees with southwestern winds and scattered clouds. Cabin lights were shut off.

Takeoff was at 07:35 from Runway 29. I enjoyed good engine sound from the 757. The takeoff roll seemed to have good speed, but also seemed to be a very long roll. We took off into the dark sky. My movie today was J. Edgar with Leonardo DiCaprio, directed by Clint Eastwood, one I hadn't seen before.

The curtain was shut to the galley, and lights were switched back on for the flight. Hot towels began service. A little later, meals were served one at a time, individually from front to back. The menu was provided on the meal tray this time. Breakfast included Porridge - with overnight oats, seeds, and cranberries and the main course of Egg rolls with fried mushrooms and grilled tomatoes. The largest item on the tray, though, was the bread! It was a pretty good breakfast - particularly the bread. The flight attendant went around with a pitcher of coffee; I asked for tea, which was quickly brought out.

Breakfast:

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Service was unfortunately not as attentive as my first Icelandair flight; it seemed like all the non-rev passengers with the flight attendants in the galley were probably responsible. Finally, with just about an hour to go, a flight attendant came out to respond to a different passenger's call button, so I took the opportunity to ask for a beer. I decided to enjoy Gull, my first Icelandic beer, on the way to Iceland, Icelandair 767. My final Icelandic beer, leaving Iceland, Icelandair 757, would once again be Gull.

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My movie finished and I decided to just watch the map and relax for the remainder of the trip.

Our route:

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The captain announced that we'd begun our descent, and should be on the ground in 30 minutes. But there was some traffic, so it could be more, or could be less. Indeed the moving map was switching between 30 minutes, 15 minutes, even 40 minutes to go.

Landing came at 11:05, with a 1h time difference to Germany. "Dear passengers, welcome to Munich. The local time is 12:05." We parked at a remote stand at 12:12. Three buses came for my plane, the first of which delivered me to the MUC T1 arrivals area A. Bags took a while, though, not arriving until 40 minutes after arrival.

On-stand in MUC:

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Icelandair was very good. They take intra-Europe business class, known for providing departure lounge access and great onboard service, no matter how short the flight, but then add vastly improved proper business class seats. Yes, most European flights aren't very long, but this would be a perfect model for European carriers to adopt. For now, though, you'll need to take the longer-than-average flight to KEF to enjoy the great inflight experience on Icelandair.

Previous Flying Europe trip reports:
Flying Europe: Swiss Avro RJ100 & Helvetic F100 J
Flying Europe: Lufthansa B737-500 & A321 J
Flying Europe: Air France A319 J & HOP! CRJ-1000 Y
Flying Europe: BA Club World B767-300ER To FRA
Flying Europe: Air Dolomiti E195 BUD-MUC J
Flying Europe: Singapore B777-300ER MUC-MAN J
Flying Europe: KLM Cityhopper E190 & F70 Y
Flying Europe: LAN B787-8 FRA-MAD J
Flying Europe: Hahn Air Business Jet LUX-DUS
Flying Europe: Joon A320 TXL-CDG J
Flying Europe: Condor B757-300 DUS-LPA Y
Flying Europe: Vueling A320 LPA-AGP Y
Flying Europe: Brussels Airlines A320 AGP-BRU J
Flying Europe: Swiss A220 & Helvetic E190 J
 
User avatar
Tesla
Topic Author
Posts: 247
Joined: Mon Dec 02, 2013 11:53 pm

Re: Flying Iceland: Icelandair B757-200 & B767-300ER J

Wed Jul 01, 2020 12:45 pm

I've included some photos from my time in the Reykjavík area of Iceland. Iceland was one of the most beautiful places I've been, and I'd love to visit again.

Outside the Blue Lagoon after arriving in Iceland:

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Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavík:

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Inside Harpa Concert Hall, Reykjavík:

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Rainbow Road, Reykjavík:

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Reykjavík view from Hotel Holt:

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Hraunfossar waterfall:

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Beautiful glacier water near Hraunfossar:

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"Into the Glacier" glacier vehicle at Húsafell:

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Into the Glacier:

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First time seeing total whiteout conditions up on the glacier:

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Thingvellir (Þingvellir) National Park:

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Gullfoss, golden waterfall:

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Geysir area:

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Kerið crater:

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Friðheimar tomato greenhouse - very cool place and some of the most delicious tomatoes and tomato soup ever:

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Airdolomiti
Posts: 807
Joined: Fri May 16, 2003 10:05 pm

Re: Flying Iceland: Icelandair B757-200 & B767-300ER J

Fri Jul 03, 2020 9:02 pm

Great report, thanks for sharing! I agree that Iceland is one heck of a beautiful country.

Interestingly, I flew on the exact same aircraft around 17-18 years ago - TF-FIP on KEF-AMS as well as the 767 you took, albeit when it was still registered ZK-NCK and flying for Air New Zealand. Good to know she is still going strong on the other side of the world.
 
airzona11
Posts: 1913
Joined: Wed Dec 17, 2014 5:44 am

Re: Flying Iceland: Icelandair B757-200 & B767-300ER J

Sun Jul 12, 2020 10:17 pm

Great report. Fun trip.
 
mchei
Posts: 209
Joined: Thu Jan 04, 2018 1:20 pm

Re: Flying Iceland: Icelandair B757-200 & B767-300ER J

Sat Jul 18, 2020 5:46 pm

One of the very few Business Class cabins for intra-European flights that deserve this name. Looking good!
 
brilondon
Posts: 3164
Joined: Sun Aug 21, 2005 6:56 am

Re: Flying Iceland: Icelandair B757-200 & B767-300ER J

Wed Jul 29, 2020 1:15 pm

Excellent TR. Love the photos of Iceland.

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