First international stop on our 8 month world tour: Reykjavik, Iceland!
Icelandair is the face and spirit of Iceland and a stopover in Reykjavik allows a glimpse into the soul of the country. It is rare to find an airline that so well represents and respects a country and its people.
I had flown on Icelandair as a young child connecting through Reykjavik on our way to Germany, but I was too young to remember flight details.
So I was excited for my family to begin the international leg of our world tour on an Icelandair flight from Boston to Frankfurt via Reykjavik. I didn’t know much about Iceland other than the volcano that disrupted flights last year. A stopover in Iceland sounded refreshing and a great way to begin our world tour.
Flying out of Boston Logan was a positive, relaxing experience. The international terminal was new, clean, and not very busy.
The Icelandair check-in counter was run efficiently and the line moved swiftly. The counters opened 3 hours prior to our international flight departure time.
We were soon on our way to Iceland!
The 5 hour Icelandair flight from Boston to Reykjavik was a nice introduction to Iceland with Icelandic pride evident in the small details and amenities onboard.
From the headrests displaying Icelandic translation for important words such as “thank you” (Takk fyrir), the in-flight entertainment video options educating about Iceland and aviation history, possible travel tours available to experience the fire and ice of Icelandic nature, and even napkins offering tidbits of Icelandic history, flying Icelandair was interesting and almost like taking a short course on Iceland.
The country and its people are proud of the culture as well as the environment and the beauty found in both.
The airline is also important to the people of Iceland as it connected them with the world and Icelandair shares great respect for both the country and its people. I realized I was not able to write about the airline and my flight experience without writing about the country – and that is unique to all the airlines I have flown thus far. This sign really says it all:
The people, history, nature, and airline are intertwined in Iceland. While American kids grew up playing cops and robbers, children in Iceland play Vikings. The Viking history is present in everyday life along with a mystical culture of elves, trolls, and hidden people.
The children’s meal on Icelandair includes an Icelandic story (with English translation) about a little boy living in the countryside planning a day of exploration. I was given the unique opportunity to also explore the countryside with a local Icelander, and I heard stories of these trolls and hidden people- all told with a twinkle of the eye.
Although all Icelanders may not have personal stories of these mysterious people, many will not deny they may exist! It is part of this magical existence in the culture that makes Iceland so unique. With just over 300,000 people in the entire country, Icelanders are a closely knit community. They realize nature is what formed their country and instead of a fear of volcanoes or earthquakes, they embrace the power and awesomeness of nature.
The open air countryside was a delight to observe- like the freely-roaming sheep owned by farmers that are allowed to wander until the big round up in September.
When observing these sheep eating the grass and drinking the clear waters, it is easy to understand why lamb is so delicious in Iceland. The Icelandic wool sweaters are worn proudly by locals and can be purchased at almost every store in Reykjavik. Even napkins that look like the wool sweaters are a souvenir!
From picking and eating wild berries, feeling the spray mist of a thundering waterfall, surrounded by hardened lava and blowing thermal geysers, to watching the free-wandering sheep as we drove, the experience was refreshing and a great education for my son to observe the powers of nature at work in Iceland.
It is easy to understand the intense pride and respect Icelanders hold for their country and airline.
This feeling of closeness and uniqueness is also present at the Icelandair headquarters in Reykjavik. I was delighted to meet with members of the In-flight services department and learn how they truly care about the experience of Icelandair passengers.
It is now understandable why opportunities to book tours and experience the wonders of Iceland are present everywhere – from the airport to souvenir shops and hotels there is a sense of unity and purpose. The Reykjavik airport is clean and modern and a delight to visit and a sense of country pride and teamwork are obvious.
The shuttle buses between the airport and city are clean and run on time coordinating with the flight arrivals also.
The check in lines at the Reykjavik ticket counter move extremely fast and even with a delayed flight to Frankfurt, I found all things to run smoothly. The flight crews were professional, pleasant, and fantastic representatives of their country and airline.
I did notice the Icelanders are somewhat quiet and reserved at first, but were very friendly and helpful once I initiated conversations. This quieter, more reserved trait tends to be common to Icelanders. However, it is more of a respectful nature and leads to kindness and great hospitality.
Once I understood more about the Iceland culture, it was easy to appreciate the relationship between the airline, hotels, tour groups, and nature. Icelanders embrace their culture and country and want to share ”their home” with those visiting – even if just for a few days.
These small details of country pride make Icelandair unique from other airlines I have flown. From the Icelandic lullaby printed in both Icelandic and an English translation on the pillow covers to the blanket on flights leaving Reykjavik offering the warmth found at the geothermal pools, Icelandic culture welcomed and bid farewell in style.
Regarding the actual flight:
On our flight from Boston to Reykjavik, I found economy class seats to offer great comfort with foot rests and USB power outlets. Comfort class costs more, but offers more comfort and additional leg room for the flights. USB outlets at each seat allow passengers to charge electronic devices while in flight.
The individual entertainment system offers tv, video, and music options as well as interactive maps. I found the map of the world with daylight hours displayed and the distance the airplane is from world destinations to be unique and interesting.
And recharge – or more like reboot – options are easily found upon arrival in Iceland. Jet lag is a mere memory after a wonderfully relaxing 4 step process at the geothermal pools found all over the city of Reykjavik (and the country of Iceland!).
The Blue Lagoon spa is the most touristy option and conveniently included in shuttle options to and from the airport on Reykjavik Excursions. Instead, I chose one of the many local geothermal pools so I could experience these pools amongst the locals. With a fantastic water slide (including a light show inside the dark tunnels), the largest pool is located within walking distance of the Hilton Reykjavik hotel where we stayed. In fact, from the Executive Lounge you are able to see the blue slide of the pool. The pool is part of a large sports arena. A soccer field, running track, petting zoo, ice skating rink and much more offer fun and exercise for the whole family!
Stay a few days in Iceland and dine on fresh food, soak up nature’s healing waters, and take a deep breath of the refreshing Iceland air. The country and the airline will be a delightful surprise of refreshing hospitality and rejuvenation for weary travelers.
A Reykjavik stopover offered my family the opportunity to experience the incredible country of Iceland even before we arrived. Even though it was only a few days, the experience will last a lifetime.
*Icelandair invited me to experience Icelandair travel comfort on our Jet With Kids/Jet With Comfort World Tour. We chose Iceland as our first international destination of our 8 month world tour. As a travel professional, I was offered a discounted rate on the one way flights (BOS-REK-FRA) and granted an unexpected upgrade to business class on the Reykjavik to Frankfurt flight- including access to the Saga lounge in Reykjavik. All reviews are based on professional experience with travel comfort and personal experience as a traveler.
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