I decided to make a trip report from my April 8, 2023 flight from Keflavik (BIKF) to Minneapolis (KMSP), with Icelandair’s 737 MAX 8.
PART ONE: DEPARTURE
Our flight was scheduled to leave Iceland at 5:25 PM (local), so we arrived at the airport at around 2:30. All of the North American flights leave from Keflavik within about an hour of each other, so the airport was packed. I quite enjoyed Keflavik Airport however. It is intuitive to navigate, has tons of windows, and is build around a center atrium with lots of shops and restaurants.
Lovely art instillation outside of the airport, as seen from the Avis shuttle
The day prior to our flight, April 7, Iceland was slammed with winds (quite common in Spring) excess of 50 miles an hour. Flights were delayed severly, and I was actually concerned ours would be too, because of the knock on effect.
We had some time to kill at BIKF, the perfect opritunity for some terminal spotting! I got this shot of an Edelwiess A320-200 preparing for a flight down to Zurich.
Luckily, only 1 hour late, TF-ICS, our ride to Minneapolis, Ryanair’d its way onto Keflavik’s runway 19, after a quick flight up from Manchester, England. It taxiied its way over to Gate D21, where we began boarding at around 5:00 PM.
TF-ICS showing up at the gate, then seen through the orange stained glass.
We settled into our seat back in Economy. Icelandair is very comfortable, with partially reclining seats and large seatback screens (I didn’t take a picture of those). There was a PLAY A321neo loading up for its flight to Baltimore at the gate beside us. The announcements take twice as long on Icelandair, as its said in Icelandic, then repeated in English. Luckily, we watched the safety video on our seatback screens, so people could select their preferred language.
I reviewed the safety card (noting the absence of the word “MAX” from the top), and caught a picture of Icelandair’s “Thingvellir” special livery, on a 757-200. We taxiied over to runway 17 and waited while a 757 (which my aunt and uncle happened to be on) took off for Seattle/Tacoma.
PART TWO: FLIGHT
Takeoff! We roared down the runway and lept into the windy Icelandic sky. The second the gear left the ground, the plane was tossed from side to side. I caught a picture of the town of Keflavik. The buildings in the middle - right of the photo are old US military barracks, from the Cold War.
Both from the ground and from the sky, Iceland looks like Mars (PM me if you want more pictures). The wind died down as we passsed through the first, thin layer of clouds.
Goodbye, Iceland! I’ll be back someday!
I paid the $15 for Icelandair’s Wi-Fi. It was exceptionally fast, think 5G. Icelandair offers Wi-Fi on their 757/767 fleet as well, but was described as “3G speed.” I think it was worth it though, so I could track my flight as we crossed Greenland. You can see the cluster of Icelandair planes making their way West, to places like Boston, Charlotte, and New York.
There’s no other word to describe it: Greenland is absolutely stunning from above. Given that we were just beginning our Atlantic crossing, we were at a lower altitude than most wide bodies are flying to mainland Europe. The mountains of this desolate island are normally cloaked by clouds, so we were very lucky to see this.
Greenlandic sea ice covers the west coast. This picture was taken about 30 miles south of Nuuk, the administrative capital and largest settlement (population 17,000) of Greenland. Fun fact: Greenland is actually a territory of Denmark, so its federal capital is technically Copenhagen.
Over Northern Canada, they served dinner. We were going against the time zones, it was the same level of light it had been on takeoff. I had a baguette. It was mid. I would say if your desperate, sure, its not the worst, but I’d suggest you buy something at the airport. To see Icelandair’s menu, click HERE.
PART THREE: ARRIVAL
We initiated our approach into Minneapolis just north of Duluth, right along the coast of Lake Superior. It got pretty bumpy here, and the cabin crew passed out our United States Customs Declaration form. We were parallel with a Delta A330 in from Amsterdam, and we landed parallel to each other at KMSP.
We banked east, to align with the approach path onto KMSP’s runway 12L. I think I took this picture just south of Mille Lacs Lake, Minnesota. The farmlands are still covered in snow and ice, a common site until later in April or even early May.
The north Minneapolis suburbs unfolded as we made a little S turn for traffic flow. Our pilot gave a lengthy announcement in Icelandic, then failed to translate it into English, so I have no clue what he was saying.
Downtown Minneapolis and Lake of the Isles in the foreground. The long, flat building in under the aileron is US Bank Stadium, the home of the Minnesota Vikings.
Thud! The pilots absolutely Ryanair’d us onto 12L, then smashed the brakes. I don’t see why, as its over 10,000 feet in length. We did make the first runway exit, which was nice to avoid taxiing all the way around the FBO stands.
All in all, I’d say this was a very nice flight. I’d recommend Icelandair even over Delta for a trip to Iceland. Icelandair also have a product called Icelandair Stopover, which allows people to connect seamlessly though Keflavik to a multitude of European destinations, while spending time in Iceland between flights.
Click HERE to see photos of the Icelandair cabin (not mine).
Here’s my rating:
Aircraft & Cabin: 9/10
IFE & Wi-Fi: 9.5/10