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Country: Iceland

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      30.09.2006 23:31
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      A decent airline, and certainly worth considering if you can get a good ticket price.

      I have now flown Icelandair four times and now feel I can write a honest reivew about this small airline.

      Icelandair is one of the longest serving airlines in the world, and has a relatively small route netowork, primarily linking Europe with Iceland and the USA. It has a sister airline which deals with domestic Icelandic destinations (Air Iceland). It has an excellent safety record.

      THE ROUTE NETWORK

      Iceland has it's hub at Reykjavik, or more accurately, Keflavik, which is where the airport is situated (about half an hour from Reykjavik).

      Currently, it serves the following destinations:

      Reykjavik

      EUROPE
      Amsterdam
      Barcelona
      Berlin
      Copenhagen
      Frankfurt
      Glasgow
      Helsinki
      London (Heathrow - Terminal 2)
      Madrid
      Manchester
      Milan
      Munich
      Oslo
      Paris
      Stockholm
      Zürich

      USA
      Baltimore
      Boston
      Minneapolis
      New York (JFK)
      Orlando
      San Francisco
      Washington D.C.

      In reality though, as a UK resident you are only likely to be using the airline to get to Reykjavik, to take advantage of its cheap connecting fares to the USA.

      PLANES

      Iceland has a small fleet, using mainly Boeing 757's and 767's. Although it doens t have the world's youngest fleet, their planes are well maintained and certianly do not resemble the old bangers you sometimes find on so called reputable airlines.

      CLASSES

      Icelandair offers Economy and it's business led Saga class. I cant comment on Saga, but Economy was pretty decent considering the short distances on most of its flights. Icelandair's only true long haul flight is from Reykjavik to San Francisco (about 10 hours) and I believe the configuration and services on this flight are more substantial. Iceland doesnt have separate first can business classes.

      FOOD

      All passengers are offered free food, which, on the whole was pretty decent. They offer they usual fayre of alternative meals (eg Veg, Halal and Kosher) for those who order in advance. I was offered two choices on each flight. I have always managed to eat my Icelandair food (and I am a relatively fussy eater!)

      Unfortunately you have to pay for all booze, and be warned Icelandic alcohol prices are not cheap. You can pay in a variety of currencies. The upshot of this is that you dont get too many drunkards on your flight!

      Non alcoholic drinks are free!

      SERVICE

      The check-in areas used by Icelandair tend to be well staffed, and the queue didnt appear to be too long compared to other airlines. They can offer through ticketing if you have an onwards flight with them. The flight crew on-board were pretty efficient, but not overly friendly. I wouldnt say they were bad enough to be accused of being rude though!

      BOOKING TICKETS

      To get the cheapest flight tickets, you have to book online. Icelandair have a decent website, which is easy to use to book, UNLESS you want to book a through ticket to the USA involving a stop in Iceland. One one occasion, I tried to use it time and time again to book one of these trips, and the site kept crashing. It was very frustrating. I called the call-centre, and the man I spoke to admitted there was a problem. They were decent enough to book the flights for me on the phone at web prices.

      ENTERTAINMENT

      The inflight entertainment is pretty poor on the whole when compared to other airlines offering a transatlantic service. Dont expect a individual screen mounted into the seat in front of you! All our flights had a small overhead screen. We saw a range of borderline quality old(ish) films, random comedies and a few candid camera programmes (which I did find very funny!) However, the flights arent that long, so it doesnt really matter.

      KEFLAVIK AIRPORT

      All Icelandair flights start or end here, and if you are using the airline to get from Europe to the USA you will have to connect here, so its worth a mention in this review. The airport is really quite big compared to the size of Iceland's population! I am sure a significant percent of the population is at the airport at any one time! It is a pretty funtional airport, with a range of Duty Free shops (expensive), Icelandic gift shops (expensive) and a few bars or restaurants (expensive!). It is surprisingly polluted by smokers, which is a bit annoying. But all in all it is a hassle free and clean airport. It is quite efficient, and so delays are reduced.

      FREQUENT FLYERS

      If you use Icelandair a lot, it may be worth joining their frequent flyer programme called 'Icelandiar Customer Club.' Not the most inspiring name but I believe the points add up pretty quickly. You can earn with Icelandair and their partners:

      Air Iceland
      Visa Iceland
      Diners Club
      Europay Iceland
      Hertz car rental
      Icelandair Hotels
      Hotel Edda.
      Park Inn
      Radisson Edwardian in London
      Radisson Sas Hotels and Resorts
      Wyndham Hotels

      Points can be used to get free flights, hotel stays and car hire.

      THE RIVALS

      If you are flying to Iceland from the UK you now also have the option of flying with Iceland Express (their home grown budget airline) and British Airways. Iceland Express is quite decent, but you have to pay for food and there are obviously less onward connection options. BA is obiously a full service airline, and I believe their Iceland prices are pretty competitive at the moment.

      CONNECTING TO THE USA

      Many passengers flying from London are not, in fact flying to Iceland, but are connecting onto the USA. The flights are well timed, in order to allow a long enough window to cope with a slight delay, but equally not too long a wait in Keflavik. Transfer of luggage was seamless and you get all your boarding cards at the first check in. This is often the cheapest way to fly to the USA and the routing doesnt add too much time onto your overall flight.

      SPECIALS

      Icelandair often offer special offers. Obviously, they have price promotions, but in recnet months I have noticed free stopovers in Iceland, if you are connecting to the USA including a free dip in the magic Blue Lagoon (usually pretty pricey if you have to pay to enter!)


      TO SUM IT ALL UP

      Icelandair is a decent airline. It doesnt have the sophistication of BA or the other transatlantic airlines but I dont think it is trying to compete with them. If you are flying to Reykjavik or the US and Icelandair has a good offer on, Id certainly recommend them. However, their prices can sometimes be steep, in which case I'd say either pay less and use Iceland Express, or make your experience even better by flying with BA.

      I have managed to get some very good prices via their website and will definately use them again if I can get those deals again.

      Have a good flight!

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