Icelandair rocks


I haven’t flown on Icelandair since the early ’80s. Back then, Icelandair was the cheapest way to cross the Atlantic. The airline flew stretch DC8s out of Luxembourg with bus connections to about a dozen cities around Europe.

It wasn’t always the easiest way to travel. But it was always a deal. Some of us called it the “Hippy Airline.” Plenty of students packed the planes in both directions. And Iceland sold lots of Icelandic wool sweaters at the rustic terminal in Keflavik.

Several weeks ago, I found myself on Icelandair flying between Boston and Oslo, Norway. I selected Icelandair because it saved me time – a lot of time when compared with SAS, the Norwegian flag carrier.

My reintroduction to Icelandair, after more than 20 years, was a delight.

Icelandair has grown into a sleek airline flying Boeing 757s. It connects Baltimore, Boston, Minneapolis, New York and Orlando in the USA with 18 different major cities in Europe. All flights stop in Keflavik, Iceland’s main airport, just outside Reykjavik.

Even with the stopover in Iceland, these flights are a timesaver when flying to Scandinavia from most of their US gateways. Plus, the airfares are always among the least expensive for service between the USA and Europe.

Icelandair encourages passengers flying between the USA and Europe to take a few days and explore Iceland. The scenery is spectacular, the food world-class and the forces of nature powerful.

The Icelandair Web site makes layovers easy and affordable with specially-priced hotel rooms, shuttles from the airport to downtown Reykjavik and deals on rental cars for those who plan to explore the countryside.

The marketing and PR folk at Icelandair tout the main benefit of flying with them as the opportunity to break your trip in Iceland for a day or so. I agree. Anyone who hasn’t been to Iceland should make the journey. I’m planning on returning on a future trip to Europe. I also know that most of us – curious as we may be – want to get from Point A in the USA to Point B in Europe.

An airline needs more than only an exotic intermediate destination as a reason for leisure and business travelers to fly them across the Atlantic. Icelandair offers savings in both time and money.

Icelandair saves time. Connections from the USA to Oslo, Stockholm and Glasgow are among the shortest flights available.

Icelandair saves money in coach, too. Most often, Icelandair airfare is the lowest between two markets. If it isn’t the best in the market, it is very close to the best. Plus, the airline’s Web site normally has a collection of online deals.

Icelandair also has big business class savings. Business class is a major bargain. Between the USA and Scandinavian destinations I checked business class fares on Expedia. Icelandair comes in at about half the cost of other business class fares. For example, checking on a flight from MSP to Oslo, in mid-May, the lowest Icelandair business class fare was only $2,302. The next lowest (KLM/Northwest) fare was $5,093. Between Boston and Oslo, the Icelandair online business class airfare was about $2,000 less than the cost of the nearest competitor.

Business class on Icelandair is comparable to flying first class on most domestic flights in the USA. Meal service is excellent, exotic malt Scotch is available and individual CD players are distributed with a selection of movies.

If you are planning a business trip to Europe, check out the Icelandair schedules. Flights don’t connect to every destination every day. But, when the connections work, the savings in business class airfares make shifting your trip worthwhile – often to the tune of thousands of dollars.

Or, besides saving lots of money, plan to spend a day or two on the road in Iceland to make your schedule jive with the flights you want. The break in your travels helps one adjust to jet lag. The Icelandic cuisine is exceptional, especially the lamb and the fish. The countryside is an experience. The duty-free stores at the new terminal are exceptional (stop on your way into Iceland as well).