Why to Avoid Iceland Air

Although we travel about 6 months a year, we rarely post reviews of individual airlines. We have been on some good ones and some not so good ones. Probably the best has been Emirates. Their coach is more like business class in the US. And the flight attendants are very good. 

Many people detest United. But with our gold status and flexibility on when we book, we generally get good seats. Service runs hot and cold. But generally it is OK and seems to be improving recently.

We recently flew from San Francisco to Iceland. We chose to fly IcelandAir primarily because it was a direct flight. We also took IcelandAir from Iceland to London because it was the best game in town.

We had paid extra for emergency row seats on both flights as we know we like extra legroom.

SFO – REF (Reykjavík)

Our San Francisco to Reykjaivik flight was 8.5 hours long. We decided to bid for an upgrade so as to be more comfortable. While we would arrive in Iceland at 10 PM our time, it was 7 AM in Iceland and we knew we needed some sleep on the flight. The upgrade bids started at $375 and we bid $405. Added to our fare of $500, it still brought us under the $1400 price we would have paid for business. When we boarded, we noticed that several business classes were still available on the day of departure meaning we could have done a lower bid. Oh well.

We had read the business class on IcelandAir was not very good. And it wasn’t. It started with the lounge in San Francisco where they used the China Air lounge. The selection of food was limited: fish and chips, rice, fruit, vegetables, breads, almonds. We could also pour our own drinks. Plugs were mostly along a wall and at a sun-drench window table. But if you wanted to sit in a normal seat, you didn’t have any power.

OK, it was better than not being in a lounge.

Then it was time to board our flight and settled in. The seats reclined about 4 inches..less than many coach seats. We knew in advance they didn’t have lay-flat seats but had assumed they went back more. Nope. But at least they were wider than coach and had a little more legroom.

Icelandair business class seat recline

The first thing we did was to check out the movies. We didn’t see anything that was current as the movies seemed to be at least a year old. I settled in with The Martian, a movie I had seen many times but it was the best offered. The headsets were not noise cancelling so hearing the movie was difficult.

The food was coach-level food. OK, maybe a little better than coach but far below other airlines’ business class. I kept waiting for some nice dessert to appear but it never did.

IcelandAir business class food

Oh well, after a few glasses of wine, we took an ambien, put on our eyemasks and went to sleep.

Before landing, we were not given any hot breakfast. But we could choose from a cold wrapped assortment of breakfast stuff that we had to order before we went to sleep.

Iceland to London

On the next flight we stayed in coach. We had paid for (and had a confirmation of) emergency exit seats. When I checked in, I discovered they moved us to normal seats. After a call to the airlines, they moved me back but could never figure out why we were moved (no, the plane was the same as when I booked). It appeared that when I added payment for a bag, the reservation showed the total of our extra payments but somehow deleted the seats. If I hadn’t checked-in so early, we might have been stuck in normal coach seats even though we paid for extra legroom

Once on board, no surprise as the seats did not have power plugs. The flight attendants eventually came through with a drink cart. No pretzels or anything else. They then retreated to the galley never to be seem again until right before landing. OK, even United (the airlines everyone dislikes) is not that bad. 

Would we fly Iceland Air again? Not if we can help it

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