Part of the reason we decided to visit Iceland was that I read about a discounted round trip fare. While the original sale notice I saw was for flights on Delta from Boston, it didn’t take long for the sale to extend to other cities and Icelandair matched the fare on routes where they compete with Delta.
I checked the prices from JFK-KEF and found round-trip flights for just over $500. I wanted to burn our ThankYou points so I went to the Citi ThankYou travel portal and booked the two tickets for 100,000 points.
Sure I made some mistakes and booked a basic economy ticket and ended up paying an additional $325 for seat assignments and baggage fees. But still, paying $1325 for two round trip tickets to Iceland didn’t seem like a bad deal when it costs over $200 for a one-way ticket to New York from Orlando and $400+ to fly to the west coast.
That’s when it set in that I booked us for a 5-hour flight in coach. I previously said that paying for a premium class ticket to Europe isn’t worth the extra money. I’m not able to sleep well on the overnight flight when traveling east and I stay up for most of the daytime flight home. It was time to put myself in that economy seat and see if my opinion was right or wrong.
The majority of reviews I found were from bloggers who flew in Icelandair’s SAGA class. Here’s a review for the rest of us who end up sitting in the back of the plane most of the time.
Icelandair FI 614 and FI 615
Icelandair departs from JFK Terminal 7. We arrived the day before our flight, which is something I like to do when positioning for an international flight, if possible. We splurged and stayed at the TWA Hotel for the evening which, despite some cutbacks from its opening, is still an amazing place to visit.
After heading to Junior’s in Brooklyn for lunch, we picked up our luggage and took the Airtrain from T5 to Terminal 7.
Terminal 7 is home to a hodgepodge of airlines from Alaska, United, British Airways, and Icelandair. We arrived early so the check-in line wasn’t long. In fact, the biggest delay was from people who hadn’t enrolled in Iceland’s COVID entry system and had to do it before they could check-in for the flight.
No comments about the amount of luggage we brought for a 7-night trip to Iceland. We also had to pack for 2 days in New York (with totally different weather), and cold weather clothes take up more room than warm weather ones.
Once checked in, there was no line for security. Once through, we entered what could only be called a shell of a terminal. Most of the shops and restaurants were still closed and we didn’t want to grab anything to eat at Dunkin or Hudson News. I took the time to charge up the laptop and make sure that I had enough shows downloaded to the iPad.
The gate area was nothing to brag about.
Our flight was delayed a few times but eventually they started the boarding process. Our Icelandair 767-300 featured a 2-3-2 configuration in economy and I picked 2 window seats. Sharon let me have the window for the outbound to have the best chance of catching some sleep.
Since this flight left from the US, masks were required to be worn the entire time on the plane.
Immediately upon getting settled, I noticed that these economy seats had plenty of legroom.
I’m not saying that they had room to stretch our but if I removed my pack, I could put my legs almost straight under the seat in front of me.
I pulled up the IFE system which worked well but the selections were limited. Since this was a red-eye flight, I decided to put it on the flight map.
Shortly after taking off, the captain informed us of our shortened flight time of 4 hours and 30 minutes because of a strong tailwind.
Unlike our flight to London on Virgin Atlantic where everyone wanted to eat a meal after takeoff, almost the entire flight tried to go to sleep after takeoff. I didn’t notice if they offered any drinks or snacks because I managed to sleep for about 2 hours, which is my average for most flights.
After waking, we were approaching Iceland and were greeted by a sky full of clouds, a regular occurrence for most of our trip.
FWIW, I love sitting in the rows just behind the wing because it makes for amazing pictures like this one.
On our flight home, we sat in almost the exact seats, but I had the aisle this time. The flight wasn’t nearly full so the cabin crew said it was OK to store my pack in the overhead compartment.
If you were wondering, 4’6″ Sharon had plenty of legroom. This is why I feel it’s a waste to pay for us to sit in the premium seats so that I can have a few more inches of knee space.
I did take advantage of the beverage service to try the Gin and Tonic.
They offered snacks and sandwiches to purchase but we had just eaten in the airport before our flight so we weren’t hungry. We also had a bag full of snacks we brought for the trip just in case they didn’t have places to buy such things in Iceland.
I don’t have much more to say about the experience. For a 5-6 hour flight, Icelandair economy class is perfectly acceptable. You’ll get more space than you have on domestic US flights and the food I saw looked edible, unlike what you’ll get served in First Class seats at home.
I guess the most important thing I can say is that we’d fly on Icelandair in economy again in a heartbeat. In fact, we even talked about possibly flying through Iceland to get to the UK or Europe on future trips. That way we’d get to eat at Messinn again. We’re not above visiting a place just for a meal. 🙂
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary