My one-way flight from JFK to Oslo via Reykjavik was my first time flying Iceland Air. I selected the airline because I used Thank You Rewards points to book the flight and this one was the cheapest.
I arrived at JFK with four bags to check in, plus two carry-on bags and my purse. I was relieved to see there was zero line to check in. When I wheeled what was now my entire life over to the agent, she said, “Is this all for you?” I laughed. “I’m moving. I know I need to pay to check the extra bags.” “One moment,” she said.
I stood at the counter exhausted, wanting this one last hurdle to finally be over, hoping that none of my bags would be above the weight limit. She walked away and asked her colleagues some questions as I waited.
When she returned, the agent, whose name I believe was Farhat, told me that she had tried to get me upgraded, but all the space was full. What? I was shocked. No one had ever tried to upgrade me before since I’m not some fancy frequent flier member or anything and this was my first time flying with Iceland Air. She said that she had tried because I was paying for an extra bag and that I looked nice. I was so close! She was, however, able to get me exit row seats for both legs of my trip.
As if that wasn’t already great news, she also told me she didn’t want to charge me for two extra bags. Because my backpacker backpack wasn’t so large, she would only charge me for one extra piece of luggage and consider my backpack a carry-on item. If I could shove my purse into my carry-on bag, it should be no problem. I don’t know if this woman sensed the stress and exhaustion in me or if she was always so nice, but she is hands down the best agent I’ve ever met.
Leg 1: JFK to Keflavik
Departure: 8:40pm, taxiing to just after 9pm (thanks to JFK’s poor runway management)
As soon as I stepped onboard, a tall handsome man greeted me with a bottle of water. I easily found my huge exit row seat, but was concerned by the lack of a screen in front of me. I searched the side of my seat, but found nothing. I asked the handsome man (I believe his name was Valur or something especially Icelandic like it, but let’s just go with that) and he laughed. It was under my seat and I was certainly not the first person who had asked him. He showed me how to take it out from under my seat. In addition to being handsome, I felt Valur was genuinely happy to help.
The onboard entertainment program included an interesting mix of American and Icelandic films and television programs. I was too tired to watch an entire film, so I attempted to watch an Icelandic investigative crime series called Svartir Engler (Black Angels), but it was episode three and I couldn’t get into it so I watched the pilot episode of JJ Abrams’ new show Alcatraz, which was intriguing.
The only downside to Iceland Air, and no doubt the reason it’s cheaper, is that food is not included. They only have food for purchase, which is uncommon for a transatlantic flight (even though it’s only 5hrs from NY to Reykjavik). I purchased a decent ham and cheese baguette (from Valur).
At this point I was so exhausted it was time to pass out. Luckily these exit row seats inclined (on many American airlines exit row seats don’t recline). I loved that I was able to just pop the Sigur Ros channel on and go to sleep.
When I woke up, we did receive free Icelandic yogurt, which I love thanks to Siggi’s in the U.S.
As the flight landed in Iceland, I was able to listen to a customized playlist featuring Sigur Ros and Bjork.
The 1hr 30 min layover in Keflavik was uneventful. I ate a ham and cheese croissant which was very delicious.
Leg 2: Keflavik to Oslo, Gardermoen
Departure 7:50am, Iceland time (4hrs ahead of EST)
On this leg, my exit row seat was odd because it was right where everyone was boarding the plane. There was no Valur on board, but at this point I was so exhausted I passed out right away and basically slept the entire flight.
When we landed in Oslo, we didn’t get an actual gate, but instead had to go down a flight of stairs. This was problematic because it was raining, I was wearing high shoes, and carrying a heavy carry-on bag. I was literally the first person off of the flight, however, and managed to ask one of the guys outside to help me carry my bag down to the shuttle bus. There was no passport control because we had done that in Iceland. Miraculously, all of my four bags came out right away and I was out of the door in no time!
This was just one trip and I’d have to take more to really say for sure, but from my experience, Iceland Air is a great airline!