For my first flight on Icelandair, for my birthday four day weekend in Reyjkavik, I decided to book Economy Comfort class, via my travel agent, which was slightly more expensive that Coach. The added benefits were that the middle coach seat was blocked so only two people in a row, a whole one inch (1″) of extra pitch (woohoo!), lounge access (this was the selling point for me) and a meal with wine onboard. So was Economy Comfort worth the added costs? I don’t know as I didn’t fly in Economy Comfort from Newark (EWR) to Reykjavik (KEF).
When checking in online the day before, I checked the seating chart to see if the other seat (the aisle) was occupied for the flight (it wasn’t). While I thought it a bit weird that the seat map showed only two seats and not the blocked middle seat, I stayed in my assigned 4A window seat. After using the Economy Comfort separate check in counter, I proceeded to the Lufthansa lounge that Icelandair uses.
Lufthansa Lounge Newark
When I first entered the small lounge, it was really packed (every seat full) so the agent told me I might want to come back in 1/2 hour after the Germany flight departed.
Waiting in the common area of the Newark gate is a bit depressing, there are two pubs, a coffee stand and a general store, these are the times that I miss my hometown Philadelphia International Airport with a plethora of options. I did, however, utilize the free charging centers and jumped on wifi (sadly at a cost, not free). After the Germany flights departed, I went back to the lounge and it was pretty empty with about ten people on the business class side. There are about 20 lounge chairs, three high top tables and four low top tables to choose from. The hot and cold foods were fresh and interesting, however, all with dairy so I could only look no touch. I opted for wine instead and then opened my Corner Bakery sandwich I had brought with me (luckily, I was not thrown out of the lounge for my outside food as I was by USAirways in PHL Terminal F in the past).
Icelandair Boarding at Newark
Icelandair boarded a few minutes late and the gate was surrounded by such an interesting mix of passengers. I had to smile at the young mom who told the other mom she was going “there” as she pointed to the gate saying “I don’t know how to pronounce it”. It was Reykjavik and I wondered how many others just said “I’m going to Iceland”. Boarding for Economy Comfort class was allowed at the same time as Business (Saga) class passengers. The fact that you get most (not all) of the benefits of a business class ticket for less was surprising to me. As I boarded the plane, I was immediately handed a bottle of Icelandic water to carry to my seat. I was told to turn left and found my seat, 4A, which was bigger than I thought it would be and without a middle seat blocked out.
Surprise Upgrade to a Saga Business Class Seat
I had a (very) warm blanket, soft pillow and another bottle of water waiting in my seat as well as larger than normal windows. It was then I realized (the note confirmed it) I was upgraded to an Icelandair Business class Saga seat but since the curtain was ahead of me, I realized it was sorta Business class – the seat but without what? The privacy due to the curtain? I could live with that as I think the other passengers in the two rows – 4 and 5 who were also upgraded to the better seat (it is about same size as U.S. domestic First Class, nowhere near a true flat bed international business class product).
The flight attendant from business class welcomed me onboard and offered complimentary ear buds for the IFE system which was built into the seatback in front of me. Unfortunately, the flight attendants found people in the back to bring up front and enjoy the Saga seat so my empty seat became occupied by an Icelandic woman who would grow to hate me with all of my ups/downs during the flight as I climbed over the seats due to the reclining seats ahead of us.
Icelandair On Board Food From Newark
As it was a late flight departure, near 8 pm, there was food service not long after takeoff. Economy Comfort passengers (which I technically was) enjoy free meals from the “meals for purchase” brochure as well as drinks. The options were varied and consisted of sandwiches, salads and snacks served in a takeaway box. I had a special “low calorie” meal (pre-ordered). The special meal was a surprisingly a tender chicken breast with vegetables. Despite eating my sandwich in the lounge, I easily finished this portion. Passing on the wine, I stayed with bottled water the entire flight.
Icelandair Service and IFE
After dinner, I caught up on my X-Men and found the IFE (in flight entertainment system) crisp, clear and easy to use via touchscreen. I loved the many Icelandic facts “100% literacy”, “…ice cream obsessed” and surprisingly the number of golf courses (66 – one for every 4,824 residents). Want to shop duty free, just navigate the screens. Want to book airport transit or day tours, again, just touch the screen and order from the airline (this is GENIUS!).
During the flight, the business class flight attendants were attentive but not overly so – I could peek through the curtains to see a slight advantage in service to the folks up front. I did take advantage (without issue) of the business class lavatory rather than walk to the back of the plane – I had no qualms going through the curtain – actually I got a bit stuck in the curtain as it was in the middle of our row – half in business, half in row 4 and with my sweater and the velcro closure, well my clumsy made it just easier to go forward to extricate myself from being enveloped in the curtain (that’s my story folks).
At one point, after the movie and the various Icelandair documentaries (very interesting to learn the history of the airline, it’s holdings and Iceland) with the lights out, I rested my head on the window and stared out. I saw white lights in the distance that might have been the Northern Lights. As the captain didn’t announce anything, I wasn’t sure (talking to passengers from the JFK flight which leaves at the same time as the EWR flight, they said that they saw them during the flight so maybe I did see them!).
Overall Impression – Icelandair Business Class Saga Seat
It was a good flight to Reykjavik, Iceland. The larger Saga seat upgrade was a nice surprise, the service attentive, the IFE excellent in function and selections and the food quite tasty. With the free stopover to Iceland on the way to/from Europe (I was going to London), Icelandair Business Class (Saga) is a great option to consider or you can try your luck and book Economy Comfort and hope for a free upgrade like I experienced.
Have you flown Icelandair? If not, would you consider it based on their “free stopover” program if your flight to Paris, London or Rome was cheaper?