Icelandair is a remarkable airline with an even more remarkable hub and transit principle. Geographically situated perfectly between Europe and America/Canada, Iceland makes for comfortable flight times before and after transit. I wanted to test if this system was efficient enough for business travelers as well. Naturally, I traveled in the Business Class, or as Icelandair calls it, “Saga Class.” The flight was exclusively on the Boeing 757-200.
The route went from Munich to Reykjavik, then on to Toronto, Canada. Icelandair has an extremely sophisticated system and a broad range of destinations. As a result, nearly every flight from Europe arrives in Reykjavik at the same time. Transit time is typically between 50 and 90 minutes, meaning that onward flights, including those to the US and Canada, also depart almost simultaneously.
Check-In and Lounge
The check-in process in Munich went smoothly. A single counter was available for Business or Saga-Class guests, and Economy Premium guests could also check-in at the Business Class counter. Unfortunately, no information was provided about the lounge. When asked, the staff member indicated that there was a lounge, but it was located at the other end of the hall. Check-in was in Terminal 1A, while the lounge was in Terminal 1D. The walk took 15 minutes each way. Not so nice…
Fortunately, I had checked in about 2 hours before departure, and the security check was quick and efficient thanks to the Fast-Track lane. This allowed me to spend some time in the lounge, which was functional. Cold, hot, and alcoholic beverages, as well as soup and warm and cold snacks, were available. The obligatory peanuts were also on offer. Overall, it was OK for short- and medium-haul flights in today’s world.
Boarding began on time. Unfortunately, there was no announcement that Saga-Class (Business Class) guests and Economy Premium guests were allowed to board first. Consequently, when the flight was fully booked, there was a rush, and the status guests were not pleased. Personally, I find pre-boarding pleasant because there is always enough storage space in the compartments on the plane afterward.
It is worth mentioning that Icelandic mineral water was already available at the seat. I personally like the specially shaped bottle. Well then, Skál (Cheers)!
Seat and Entertainment
The push-back of the aircraft from the taxiway began promptly. The captain announced in Icelandic and then in very good English. The purser also welcomed passengers in a message in Icelandic and English. The departure was on time to the minute.
The seat in the Saga Class (Business Class) is still one of the old guard. This means a wider fabric seat with an adjustable backrest. It is not possible to lie flat, but in my opinion, it is not necessary. The big advantage of this seat category is the significantly wider seat compared to today’s Business Class seats (except for Singapore Airlines!).
The entertainment system was later installed in the backrest of the front seat. It has a touchscreen and a USB connection. It responds promptly. The only downside is that the selection of around 48 movies is not very up to date. I had trouble finding decent movies, but this is certainly a matter of personal taste. The USB connection is useful for charging your mobile phone.
The catering is quite decent, served on porcelain dishes, and with an extensive drinks menu. I had the opportunity to order meals in advance via the internet, which I did, but received an error message. When I checked to see if anything had been selected, some meals were listed that I had not chosen. In reality, the meals were ordered and available onboard. For those who had not pre-ordered, there was a choice of two menus onboard.
First, a drink and salted pretzels were served. For the main course, I had chosen ham with cucumbers, salad, bread, butter, and panna cotta. I also chose fillet with beetroot salad and potatoes in the next round. It was delicious.
The service itself is rather Nordic cool and functional. The crew was always ready to fulfill requests but didn’t exude joy. I assume this is due to the Nordic mentality. All in all, it was okay.
After a flight time of around 03:45h, I landed in Reykjavik on time. The aircraft parked at the gate, and shortly after, I was in the terminal.
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Connecting in Reykjavik
I was most curious about the transfer procedure in Reykjavik. It was rush hour in Reykjavik, and almost all flights from Europe arrive at the same time. The transfer time of 55 minutes was rather tight, especially since Schengen exit procedures had to be completed. The airport itself is a modern building, with lots of wood and glass. Very nicely designed and stylish!
The Icelandair Saga Lounge is located in the Schengen area. This means that when traveling from Europe to the US or Canada, you have to visit the lounge first and then go through the exit procedures. This can be quite difficult to manage time-wise, especially since it was unclear how long the exit process would take. Fortunately, my concerns were unfounded. The exit process is automated, with a machine scanning your passport and eyes. There was absolutely no waiting time, and the whole process took just one minute to complete, even during rush hour!
The Icelandair Saga Lounge is an absolute must-visit! It is beautifully decorated and has a wide selection of snacks, as well as cold, hot, and alcoholic drinks. The snacks range from warm to cold options and are constantly replenished or changed. The highlight is a fireplace with seating in the middle of the lounge. It’s definitely worth a visit. Every minute spent there is worthwhile!
The gate for the onward flight is only 2-3 minutes away on foot. Boarding started on time, and the departure was also on time! The flight time from Reykjavik to Toronto was 5:50 hours, and I arrived on time.