Iceland’s flag carrier flies from both London Gatwick and London Heathrow to its hub in Reykjavik, where passengers can then fly on to domestic destinations, Greenland and transatlantic to cities in the US and Canada.
Note that Reykjavik is served by two airports: Keflavik (KEF) which serves Europe and North America, and Reykjavik (RKV) which is used for domestic and Greenland destinations.
The airline’s fleet includes B767, B757-300, B737 Max 8 and Max 9 aircraft, along with five De Havilland Canada aircraft for domestic and Greenland operations– the latter were added when Air Iceland Connect merged with the airline in March 2021.
This is a review of a flight from London Heathrow Terminal 2 to Keflavik, operated by a two-class B757-300 aircraft.
Flight FI451 was scheduled to depart at 1310 and arrive in Reykjavik at 1520 local time.
I checked in online which was simple as Iceland has lifted all Covid-19 restrictions for travellers. There is an app you can use, but I opted to download the boarding pass into my wallet on my phone instead.
Icelandair offers various tariffs in economy, with different features for each one. Economy Flex allows ticket changes with no fee, full refunds, a checked bag and seat selection. Economy Standard offers a checked bag and seat selection. Economy Light is the base fare and does not include checked baggage nor seat selection, but all fares allow one carry-on bag (55 x 40 x 20cm; 10kg) and a small personal item.
While my ticket in Economy Standard permitted one piece of checked luggage, I was wary of the queues for check-in so managed to squeeze my cold weather apparel into a carry-on case, though admittedly I was wearing all my bulky gear. I also had my work laptop and essentials in a backpack.
I arrived at Heathrow Terminal 2 at 1100 and proceeded to security, which was very busy but moved relatively quickly. The person in front of me had not transferred their liquids from their make-up bag to a translucent plastic bag, which held up other passengers. Security took approximately 20 minutes.
We were boarding from Gate 3A, which was announced very early on but we only headed to the gate at 1230. It turned out that we could have left it later, as the plane had not yet been cleaned and required the onboarding of catering. We stood in the long queue for approximately 30 minutes.
Boarding began at 1300 and began with business class passengers. The queue moved quickly and we were then crammed onto a bus at 1307. The bus ride was about five minutes long, and full to the brim, so it was a welcome relief when we arrived at the aircraft. Passengers in rows 7-24 were advised to board from the front of the aircraft, and 24-41 from the back. Business class passengers in the front seven rows had already boarded by this time.
The plane was boiling when we got on, which didn’t quite suit my get-up featuring a heavy scarf, puffer jacket and several layers. I told myself I would be glad by the time we arrived in the northern Icelandic climate.
Once on the plane, the pilot made an announcement apologising to passengers for the delay, explaining that this was not their usual stand at Terminal 2 and assuring those that had connecting flights that we would still arrive before 1600. There were many passengers on board travelling to the US via Reykjavik.
We sat on the tarmac for just under an hour before taking off at 1405.
The single-aisle aircraft has 22 seats in premium economy (Saga Premium) in a 2-2 configuration and 194 seats in economy class in a 3-3 configuration.
As you board the aircraft, premium economy is located to the left (just past the one washroom) and there is a curtain behind row 6 to separate the cabins.
The seats feature a light grey design with a darker grey headrest and are comfortable, with a small IFE monitor in front which has a headphone jack and a USB port. There’s also a fold-down tray table. Storage is limited to the pocket in front, the overhead locker and below the seat in front.
Window seats are advised to take in the views during the journey. We flew on a day of sunny blue skies, which made for a beautiful journey to the city, though it became cloudy and rainy as we got nearer to Iceland.
I was sat in a middle seat on row 14, which was fairly well-located as it is close to the entrance (starts at row 8). It is also close enough to the toilet at the front of the aircraft so you can spot if it’s occupied rather than having to queue down the aisle. Row 14 is, however, noisy as it is close to the engines. Rows 10-12 therefore seem like the sweet spot.
Avoid row 7, located adjacent to the toilet, as you’ll have people standing there throughout the flight. Additionally, you have a curtain above your seat as it is the separation to premium economy, and it looked like those sitting in the last row of premium economy had reclined their seats quite a lot. Row 8 is at the front of the cabin on the left and has extra legroom for this reason, but there’s nowhere to store your personal item/carry-on luggage as there’s no pocket in front.
While the flight was delayed, the experience itself was very smooth and we made up most of the time en-route. It was a short trip so I caught up on some work, but avoided paying for the €6 wifi. Nonetheless, the wifi portal homepage is useful for information about the destination (including a five-day forecast of rain), flight and aircraft.
The wifi is free of charge to members of the airline’s frequent flyer programme, Saga Gold, and Saga Class passengers.
The IFE has a decent selection of entertainment including 86 films and 234 episodes of TV shows. Headphones are not provided but you can purchase a pair on board.
While I managed to work on my laptop, the space feels very restricted for those in the middle seat if all three passengers have the same idea. It wasn’t easy to eat, drink and work in tandem.
Passengers in Saga Class and Economy Comfort have an electric socket for a laptop or mobile device below the seat or in between the seats.
Food and drink
This was a short flight so most passengers had bought a meal deal at one of the shops in the terminal.
There is the option of buying snacks, sandwiches and alcoholic drinks on board, and pre-purchasing at least 24 hours before the flight, with an inflight menu accessible via the IFE screen. Note that you can only pay by credit and debit card.
Complimentary drinks were offered at 1440 and included tea and coffee served in sustainable cups, still and sparkling water, apple and orange juice.
The pilot made an announcement at 1626 that passengers should prepare for landing. As the time counted down on my IFE screen, I couldn’t believe that we were approaching Iceland as the white clouds covered any hint of land or sea. The barren landscape emerged a couple of minutes before landing, and we arrived at 1547 local time.
We were off the plane very quickly and attached to the terminal by a jet bridge. As we walked into the arrivals hall, we were met by queueing passengers and quickly realised that it was also a location for departures.
The reason is that there is only one terminal in Keflavik and it is designed with different zones depending on the destination.
Flights to and from the US, the UK, Ireland and Canada arrive at gate D on level 1. Connecting flights to North America also depart from Gate D, which is why we came across passengers en-route to their final destinations.
The airline also offers the Icelandair Stopover, which allows passengers to stopover in Iceland for up to seven nights (at no additional airfare) if they are flying between Europe and North America. It’s a clever means to promote tourism in the country.
Immigration and customs were incredibly quick and we made it to the luggage carousels by 1609 local time. Interestingly, there is a supermarket in the same hall as baggage, with some passengers pushing both a supermarket trolley and a luggage one.
Despite the delayed start, this was a quick flight to Reykjavik and a great option for those transiting to the US or Canada. While I did not have time to use it, I was impressed that there was entertainment on board for such a short flight. Seats were comfortable and the arrival at Keflavik airport was breezy.
2 hours and 45 minutes
Internet rates in November for a one-way London-Reykjavik flight in Economy Standard start at £264.40