Normally I love writing about cooking and baking but recently I’ve been keen to try writing about other interests. One of my passions is travelling and exploring new places (time and finances are always a constraint, though!) so what better excuse than to write about them?
I like writing reviews and talking about times when myself and my family have had a great experience with a product or a service, so I felt that I had to write about our family’s fantastic experience flying with IcelandAir. Usually, our family holidays fit a pattern. We have a UK based holiday in May and a week abroad somewhere in August. The week abroad is usually somewhere we can fly to from Leeds Bradford, which is our nearest airport. Sometimes if we can fit it in I go away with Mr SmartCookieSam for a couple of days. This hasn’t happened for a couple of years, though as we have both been too busy with work and family commitments. This year was different. My brother emigrated to Canada two years ago and had recently got married. Although we couldn’t make the real ceremony due to work commitments and my son’s GCSEs, we wanted to go over and celebrate the wedding.me doing. My mum was also going over to Canada a couple of weeks earlier and staying a bit longer so she was also on the flight search mission.
My husband gets annoyed with the lack of flights from the north of England, it always seems to be that everything goes from Heathrow or Gatwick. To be fair we aren’t far from Manchester airport but we do worry about getting stuck in traffic on the M62 and then missing our flight. He didn’t want a long drive home after no sleep feeling jetlagged or struggling on an expensive train ride feeling shattered. My mum then found a gem of an idea! She found that you could fly to Canada and the US via Reykjavik with IcelandAir and that there were flights going from Manchester. We thought this was perfect so my husband started investigating. Instead of getting worried about being stuck on the M62 we would get the direct train from York. He then found out that if you wanted to break the journey and have a stopover in Reykjavik for up to seven nights, the cost of the flight would be the same.
This made me so excited. Last year I was really envious of my son going on a GCSE Geography field trip to Iceland. He swam in the Blue Lagoon and saw beautiful waterfalls, lakes, lava fields and the Geysers. Every photo he showed us made me more and more determined to go there. I had seen pictures of this stunning country and both Mr SmartCookieSam have always wanted to visit. My son loved the place and knew that we would too. Every time I had got a near chance to go to Iceland, the flights wouldn’t fit in around the time we had. So when my husband thought that we could combine a few days in Iceland and then go onto Edmonton to visit my brother and his family, I at last thought all my dreams were coming true. In the end we booked four days in Reykjavik and we loved it so much. We are definitely going back as Iceland has so much more to offer and plan to go for a week and tour round the country instead of just staying in Reykjavik.
IcelandAir offers three different booking classes Economy, Economy Comfort and Saga Class (Saga instantly made me think of OAPs on holiday, but it is their equivalent of Business class!) As we had four people and four flights to pay for, the only option to us was Economy. My husband being over 6 feet tall was worried about the lack of leg room, especially on long haul flights. We needn’t have worried, my husband felt there was much more leg room than on other airlines, like Jet2 which we have flown with a lot recently.
Our first flight with IcelandAir was on 1st July and we flew from Manchester Terminal 1 to Keflavik Airport. Check in time was quick and easy and the staff on the check in desk were efficient and friendly. The same went for the ground crew at the departure gate and thankfully we didn’t get the hassle of getting on and off a shuttle bus. Using an air bridge made it so much easier for families with young children, of which there were a few on the flight.
Each plane in the IcelandAir fleet is named after an Icelandic volcano or landmark and there are about 28 aircraft in total. They are mainly Boeing 757s which are narrow body aircraft and have a long enough range to fly to North America and Europe from Iceland. One of the fleet, which is easily the most beautiful aircraft I have ever seen has been named Hekla Aurora. This aircraft was given a special Aurora Borealis livery to advertise IcelandAir’s #MyStopOver campaign. The inside of the cabin also lights up with LED mood lighting and provides a restful and peaceful setting. More about Hekla Aurora later on in the post.
Most of the IcelandicAir planes are fitted with WiFi and also have impressive onboard entertainment systems. There are films, music and lots of TV programmes you can watch. While we were on the plane I got to watch Deadpool and Eddie The Eagle. I didn’t really listen to the music but there was a broad selection of music including some Icelandic music. Some of this was playing in the cabin when we were boarding and leaving the aircraft. The music gave a relaxing and tranquil atmosphere to the whole experience, especially as it is at a time when I feel apprehensive about flying. The only plane we went on which didn’t have all these facilities was the one which flew us back from Reykjavik to Manchester. Instead, the cabin crew gave out individual tablets to watch films on if you wanted.
We flew with IcelandAir on four flights and were very impressed. The staff were polite, kind, courteous and couldn’t do enough to help you. They spoke impeccable English which puts a lot of British people to shame when they go overseas.
As we were in Economy class we had to pay for all alcoholic drinks and food but it was great that water, soft drinks and tea and coffee were complimentary. On the longer flights to and from Edmonton we did have wine and a tapas snack box, but felt we didn’t need anything other than a drink on the shorter flights.
After our fantastic stay in Edmonton, we flew back home to the UK via Iceland again. This time we transferred straight onto a flight to Manchester instead of another stopover. We would have loved to have stopped over again but we had to fly home due to work commitments! When we were waiting in the departure lounge at the gate it was a lovely surprise to find we were going to be flying on the HeklaAurora! I think this is easily the prettiest livery I’ve ever seen on a plane and it looks even better sparkling in the sunshine. As we were staying in Iceland at completely the wrong time of year to see the real Northern Lights, this was the next best thing! Also the cabin’s interior lighting was gorgeous- different hues of green and blue to match the real thing.
We had been offered an upgrade to sit in the emergency exit seats which was a massive help for my husband. At least we had more room to stretch out. Although it was an overnight flight none of us sleep well on aeroplanes. I closed my eyes for a bit but I don’t think I slept, even with a pillow and a blanket wrapped around me. My family didn’t sleep either. We were still comfortable though as best as you can be on a long haul flight in cattle class! The flight passed very quickly and it felt strange as it never got dark. Before we knew it we were descending into Keflavik airport on a breezy morning at 6.30am.
It definitely blew the cobwebs away realising you had to get off the plane and go on a shuttle bus to the terminal building.
Panic began to set in as we had an hour and twenty minutes before our flight took off to Manchester. Luckily we didn’t have to check our bags through again and we didn’t have to go through security again. We weren’t sure what to do as in the past when I have done connecting flights I’ve not had to recheck the bags in but I’ve had to go through security again. This, to be fair was at Dublin airport flying from Birmingham through to Boston. Also, my mum had had a recent bad experience with a connecting flight at Toronto, where she completely missed her flight. We didn’t want this to happen to us. We needn’t have worried. Although the airport was heaving with people all off on flights here, there and everywhere, we got to our gate in plenty of time. We found out we had to go on yet another shuttle bus which delayed things. The plane looked like it was parked the furthest away from the terminal and near to the runway!
By this time I was just desperate to get home. The plane was full and I couldn’t wait for it to take off. It seemed ages before we got going but I never once felt unsafe or rushed on an IcelandAir flight. I don’t like landing in planes and found two out of the four landings a bit scary for me. The first when we arrived at Keflavik it was very windy and the plane seemed to move from side to side. The final landing at Manchester frightened the life out of me as the wheels came down with such a massive bump, I thought we were going to crash. I don’t know why I don’t like landing so much but I’ve had a couple of nasty landings at Leeds Bradford in crosswinds. The last nasty landing back into Leeds Bradford frightened me so much as the plane lurched forward, I really thought that was the end!
I have had a fantastic experience flying with IcelandAir. I hope to go back to Iceland on holiday in the next couple of years as there was so much we didn’t get to see. Also there will be future trips to Canada to see my family. It is such a great idea to combine a holiday in Iceland if you are travelling further afield and the flight cost was so much cheaper than say if we had flown direct to Edmonton from Heathrow. Also, if you fly to the USA, IcelandAir offer regular flights to various US cities, such as Boston and Los Angeles.
Please note I have written this review purely to share what a great experience I had flying with IcelandAir and haven’t been paid for this post.
Love Sam xx