Newest Review: ... very efficient, on time and well-organised with minimum stress and fuss on my part. ***Flying with Icelandair*** I flew from Heathrow Air... more
AbsintheFairy goes to Iceland...
Member Name: AbsintheFairy
Advantages: Efficient flight with no huge issues, reasonably priced
Disadvantages: Minor niggles with website, food and headphones not free
The posters advertising Reykjavik city breaks were from Icelandair, Iceland's national airline. On investigation I found it was possible to book breaks on the website incorporating flights, hotel and excursions and this is what I decided to do. I'd never booked a package holiday before, previously preferring to book travel and hotels independently, but I did enjoy this very simple way of doing things.
Icelandair aims to be the airline of choice for travel to and from Iceland and hopes to be an attractive hub for travel over the North Atlantic, particularly for those travelling on business. The UK website can be found at www.icelandair.co.uk.
***Booking through the website***
I found the website easy to navigate and had no trouble selecting the flights, hotel and excursions I wanted. Descriptions of the hotel (I chose the Liefur Eriksson Hotel) and the excursions were clear and accurate. The website offers a facility to retrieve a previous booking and add on excursions to it, a useful tool that I made use of as I wanted to secure my flight and hotel before making decisions about which excursions to take. I ended up retrieving my booking and booking onto the Golden Circle and Blue Lagoon tours with only a week to go before my trip. I also chose to book a seat in the Flybus Plus which transfers you from and to the airport, dropping you off and picking you up at your hotel. As the only other way to get from Keflavik Airport to Reykjavik was by expensive taxi, this was really a necessity.
My return flight, 4 night hotel stay and return Flybus Plus trip came to £399, which I felt was very reasonable. The excursions I added later came to around £80-£90.
My only gripe with the website was that as I was in the middle of booking something, an error message would often appear and I would have to start again. Luckily this never happened when I was in the middle of making a payment, so it didn't cause any serious problems, but it was rather annoying.
After booking my trip, I had my e-ticket and itinerary emailed to me. I printed both out to take with me as requested, but found I was seldom required to produce it as all I had to do was state my name and get it checked off a list. From checking in at the airport to checking in at my hotel and going off on excursions, everything was very efficient, on time and well-organised with minimum stress and fuss on my part.
***Flying with Icelandair***
I flew from Heathrow Airport, Terminal 1. I must admit one of the reasons I wanted to go to Iceland was that I now live in West London and can catch the Heathrow Connect train from my local tube station which gets me to Heathrow in 20 minutes. It would be crazy of me not to make the most of this. I left the house just before 9.30 am and had arrived at the airport by just after ten ready to check in for my 1pm flight.
As requested I had printed out my e-ticket but the lady at the check-in desk didn't need to see it, she only needed my passport. On reflection this makes sense as they have the record of my booking, they can see that the details I gave match my passport - so why would a ticket be necessary? Really, why is a ticket ever necessary to travel on a plane? Anyway, I digress. Check-in was straightforward and efficient, particularly as I was at the front of the queue, having got there so early. I got my boarding pass and headed through security, spending some time wandering around duty free before going to board the plane at the appointed time. The whole procedure was simple and there isn't anything remarkable to mention about the process. I was pleased to see I had a whole row of three seats to myself - the plane wasn't empty by any means, but it certainly wasn't full, although there were several families and a group of what I took to be schoolgirl members of a sports team, wearing identical red hoodies.
The flight took around three hours and was straightforward and uneventful. Announcements were made in both English and Icelandic, as might be expected, and cabin crew seemed friendly although I didn't speak to them much. I didn't use the plane toilet so I can't comment on this. Leg room seemed standard as far as I could see - I am quite tall with long legs so always find that you never get quite enough leg room, but this is true of any airline. Seats were comfortable enough although on my return journey I was extremely irritated by the person in front of me who couldn't seem to make his mind up whether he wanted his seat upright or leaning back. I was tempted to give him a clout on the head but refrained - so can't tell you how the cabin crew would have dealt with this situation!
In terms of food and drink, soft drinks were complimentary but food had to be paid for. This seemed a shame as I've been on three hour flights before where food was provided, but for the price of the flight (which I estimate to be between £200 and £300, though I can't tell it precisely as I booked the flights and hotel together) it wasn't wholly unreasonable. I didn't buy any as I'd purchased a Boots Meal Deal in the departure lounge, but it seemed nice enough and no more expensive than usual airline food.
As far as entertainment was concerned, there were screens on the backs of the seats offering a choice of TV shows and films. There was a small selection of around 10 films, mostly English-speaking blockbusters (though there were a few Icelandic films), some recent like The King's Speech and some older like Romeo and Juliet. I didn't bother with these, preferring to read my book, and kept the screen on the map showing the plane's progress from London to Reykjavik, which I always find fascinating to look at. Headphones were not provided free of charge, you had to pay for them or use your own. Luckily I would guess most people would have headphones with a mp3 player already - it seems a shame to have to pay for them.
On arrival, it was a simple matter to disembark and collect my baggage. Keflavik Airport (where the vast majority of Iceland's international flights arrive) is very small and easy to navigate. The Flybus was waiting just outside to take passengers to their hotels (I'd booked this as part of my package, as it works out cheaper than taking a taxi), and I was also able to change money at the airport.
On my return, I had to book my seat in the Flybus Plus the day before by asking reception at my hotel. This was done with no problems and the bus arrived on time. I changed to the larger coach at the bus station and got to the airport in plenty of time along with the other passengers. Self-service check-in desks are available at Keflavik Airport, but I didn't bother with them as the normal check-in desks were quick enough. Going through security was stress-free (Iceland has the same rules as the UK regarding carrying liquids in containers of no more than 100ml in plastic bags in hand luggage) and I had time to look around the departure lounge and make a few purchases before boarding the plane.
Overall I am very happy with my experience of Icelandair. The website was informative and easy to navigate, the flights, hotel and excursions I booked through them value for money, and everything ran very smoothly together with the minimum of fuss and stress. Apart from the niggling problems with the website, everything was fine. Similarly, the flights were on time, stress-free and comfortable though it seems a shame to have to pay for food and headphones. These minor niggles mean I can't really give Icelandair 5 stars, but I can happily give them 4 and I do recommend them.
Summary: Ideal choice for a trip to Iceland
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