Our trip to Iceland is about as spur of the moment as we get at trip planning. One day we were throwing around the idea about visiting because they would allow vaccinated people into the country and a few days and a flash fare sale later we had airline tickets.
While we didn’t have much choice because the fare sale was only for economy class tickets, we had already discussed if paying extra for premium economy or business class is worth it for a TATL trip.
Sure, flying from JFK to Frankfurt in Singapore Airlines business class was great and I even got a few hours of sleep (with the help of a sleeping pill). However, Singapore doesn’t fly to Iceland and I don’t always want to drop 72,000 miles each way for a ticket.
We tried flying NYLON in Premium Economy on Virgin Atlantic and for the trip there, we hardly slept at all. Everyone on the flight wanted to eat dinner and by the time that was done, we only had about 3 hours left of the flight. Sitting in a recliner, we only napped for 30-minute segments and arrived extremely tired. At the time, that flight cost 55,000 Delta SkyMiles each way, which was better than the 120,000 for an Upper Class seat.
It was at that time when I questioned if business class was worth it for short TATL flights. Best case scenario, I’m going to sleep for 2-3 hours and even that probably isn’t going to happen. That’s why we tried Premium Economy. We thought maybe we could get a similar amount of sleep for fewer miles. But if we couldn’t get much sleep in premium economy, why pay extra for a mediocre meal and a few inches of recline.
That’s where we are. I booked 2 round-trip tickets on Icelandair for 50,000 Citi ThankYou points each. I even got back 10,000 points for having a Citi Rewards+ card.
That doesn’t mean that Icelandair isn’t trying to get me to fly in Business Class. They have a program called “Class Up” that lets you bid for an upgrade. For our flight, the lowest offer we could make is $240 per person. Paying an additional $500 for a one-way upgrade to the equivalent of a domestic first-class recliner seat doesn’t seem to be worth it for the six-hour flight. I remember when I paid $150 to upgrade to business class on Alaska Airlines for a Transcon redeye flight where I only got about 1 hour of sleep. Even then, I didn’t think the upgrade was worth the cost.
After committing to the fact that we’d be flying in economy class, I went to the internet to find reviews. Know what I found? I found plenty of reviews of Icelandair’s Saga Class seats but very few people wrote about what it was like to travel in economy. There are 25 Saga seats per plane and 234 standard seats so almost 10x more people fly in economy on every flight. However, the majority of the reviews were for the minority of the passengers on the plane.
The few people who wrote about Icelandair’s economy class said that the seats are more comfortable than you’d find on the typical US or European carrier. Seat width is 17.6 inches and pitch varies between 31-33 inches. That’s equivalent to Delta’s 767 that flies the same route and much better than the 17.2 width and 30 inches of pitch we have on our flight to New York.
Might I regret this decision? Possibly. But I will have learned an important lesson. The same as the lesson I learned when we flew from Paris to Houston to Orlando instead of a more direct flight because the TATL segment had a better seat. As we flew over Florida, I just wished I was home. That was the last time we added hours to our flights just to get a better hard product.
If I regret my decision, I can always bid for a Saga Business Class seat for the flight home.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary