Review: Icelandair Saga Business Class B757-200, Reykjavík (Keflavik) – Seattle
Quirky Icelandair is one of the few major airlines left in the world that does not form part of any major international airline alliance. It operates on a model that offers connection to many European destinations through their hub in Keflavik Reykjavik Iceland. It is also known for offering the Iceland Stopover program that allows for a free seven day stopover in Iceland at no extra charge. Today’s journey was courtesy of a deeply discounted business class fare that would allow us to get over to Europe from the United States. How would our paid travels fare with one of the lessor travelled European airlines?
This post is one chapter on our trip to Jordan, Israel and France during the end of the pandemic. This trip was enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status, Hertz Gold Plus Rewards and Alaska Mileage Plan. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.
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✈️ Read more from this trip:
- Introduction: Driving 1,265 kilometres in Jordan, Israel and France via Icelandair, Turkish Airlines and Royal Jordanian Business Class
- My Favourite Long Layover Restaurant at SeaTac Airport: 13 Coins
- The Club at SEA Business Lounge, “S” Concourse, Seattle Tacoma, USA
- Icelandair Saga Business Class: Seattle – Reykjavík
- Icelandair Saga Business Class: Reykjavik – Paris Charles de Gaulle
- The Residence Inn by Marriott Paris Charles de Gaulle Central Airport, France
- Salon Paul Maxence Lounge, Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport Terminal 2A, France
- Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge, Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport Terminal 2A, France
- Turkish Airlines Business Class: Paris – Istanbul
- Turkish Airlines Business Lounge: Istanbul International Airport, Turkey
- Turkish Airlines Business Class: Istanbul – Amman
- What to Expect Driving through the Kingdom of Jordan
- Dead Sea Marriott Resort and Spa, Jordan
- Top Five Tips for a Day of Canyoning – Hiking the Wadi Mujib Trial, Jordan
- Petra Marriott Hotel, Jordan
- How to Tackle the Ruins of Petra, Jordan
- Is it Worth Seeing Petra by Night?
- Al Manara, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Saraya Aqaba, Jordan
- Going Local: Al Mohandes Cafeteria, Aqaba, Jordan
- Memories Aicha Luxury Tented Camp, Wadi Rum, Jordan
- Getting Sandy in Wadi Rum, Jordan
- The St Regis Amman, Jordan
- Views from the Citadel in Amman, Jordan
- Royal Jordanian Crown Lounge, Queen Alia International Airport, Amman, Jordan
- The Petra Lounge, Queen Alia International Airport, Amman, Jordan
- Royal Jordanian Business Class: Amman – Tel Aviv
- The Sheraton Tel Aviv, Israel
- The Intersection of the World’s Religions, Visiting Jerusalem, Israel
- Visiting Tel Aviv’s Beaches, a Day at Gordon’s Beach, Israel
- The Dan Lounge, Ben Gurion International Airport – Terminal 3, Tel Aviv, Israel
- Turkish Airlines Business Class: Tel Aviv – Istanbul
- Turkish Airlines Miles and Smiles Lounge, Istanbul International Airport, Turkey
- iGA Sleep Pod, Istanbul International Airport, Turkey
- iGA Lounge, Istanbul International Airport, Turkey
- Turkish Airlines Business Class: Istanbul – Paris
- The Westin Paris Vendôme, Paris, France
- Returning to the Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
- What’s Left of the Notre Dame Cathedral, Sacré Coeur and Montmartre, Paris, France
- Bateau Mouches Seine Cruises, Paris, France
- Le Cafe de la Paix, Paris, France
- Bouillion Pigalle, Paris, France
- Le Café du Trocadéro, Paris, France
- Extime Lounge, Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport Terminal 2B, France
- Icelandair Saga Business Class: Paris – Reykjavík
- Icelandair Saga Business Class: Reykjavík – Seattle
Review: Icelandair Saga Premium Business Class, Boeing 757-200, Reykjavík (Keflavik) – Seattle Tacoma International Airport
This would be the second time I would fly this exact route and my sixth Icelandair flight overall. For our past experience on the Icelandair Boeing 757-200 aircraft, please see our past review of Icelandair Saga Business Class B757-2 Seattle – Reyjkavik and for our flight out on this route, please see Icelandair Saga Business Class B767-300ER Seattle – Reykjavik.
In terms of booking this flight, I had stumbled upon a great discounted business class fare from North America to Paris for travel in the off season. With a ticket price of $1,145 USD round trip, there was nothing not to like. It was even worth positioning in from Vancouver for this fare, so we arrived to the Seattle Tacoma International Airport on a separate Alaska Airlines flight. To read more about how we came across this fare, please see our trip introduction for more details.
We would end up crediting this paid flight to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, earning 125% Elite Qualifying Miles. Icelandair allows for frequent flyer accumulation in a limited number of programs that include Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, Jet Blue Airways True Blue and it’s own program Icelandair Saga Points.
The Lounge: The Icelandair Saga Lounge
We arrived into Keflavik International Airport on Icelandair Saga Premium Business Class Paris – Reykjavík. With about ninety minutes of connection time, we headed straight to the Icelandair Saga Business Lounge for a little exploration.
We have previously visited and reviewed Icelandair’s Saga Business Lounge Keflavik. Little has changed between our visits, so I won’t be reviewing it fully again. Please see our earlier review of Icelandair Saga Business Lounge Keflavik for more lounge details.
New on this visit, the Icelandair Sage Lounge Keflavik continues to have one of the more complicated lounge access rules out there. Since our last visit, they’ve added this clarifying sign for those that aren’t flying on Icelandair metal directly. If you happen to be flying a different carrier, access is entirely dependent on whether your carrier is paying Icelandair for your entry.
We settled in for a short connection in the Icelandair Saga Lounge, enjoying the lounge fireplace with a Gin drink in hand.
Boarding Icelandair Saga Business Class:
It was recommended on our boarding cards to leave for the gate at 45 minutes prior to departure. Our departure time was scheduled for 5:05 PM with an original boarding time of 4:15 PM.
While we were chilling in the lounge, we received a notice by SMS of a flight delay in the lounge to 5:30 PM. This in tern yielded a change in boarding time posted to about 4:50 PM.
We eventually left the Icelandair Saga Business Lounge. As Iceland was out last point of departure from the European Union we had to clear departure immigration. There was no line at departure immigration and we were stamped out of the European Union.
After passing towards the turnstile to let us into the main international lower departure concourse, I used the bar code on boarding card for the turnstiles and found ourselves randomly selected for additional questioning. The questions were pretty easy being solely based on travel history and we were underway really quickly.
We wandered down to gate D31, which appeared to be a bus gate. About a dozen people were queuing already but without any real staff present to manage the line. As a result, I ended up walking around looking at 66 North souvenirs that were price for New York City’s high street instead of being a bit more reasonably priced.
We eventually return and joined the queue at Gate D31. The queue started to process into the hold room.
A screener eventually came along working the line to review passports. When our boarding card was checked, we were provided an opportunity to get to the front of the line. We were asked to “walk up the right hand side of the hold line”. We did as instructed, bypassing all of these travellers. We eventually ended up at front of queue while we waited for a bus.
We eventually boarded a bus out to our remote stand. While Icelandair Saga Business Class was permitted to board first, it didn’t yield transport out to the plane in a separate or private bus.
Once the bus was full, we took the bus out to a remote stand. We were given instructions for double jet bridge boarding through 2L and 4L for all passengers above row 20, with the rest boarding through the rear stairs.
By this point, MrsWT73 started to comment on how bargain basement Icelandair was. The bus transfer wasn’t all to her likely, despite the deep discount on the air ticket and the boatload of Alaska Mileage Plan miles she’d be earning.
Using the front stairs, we boarded Eldborg. Our aircraft was named after a symmetrically shaped crater featured in Iceland.
FI 681 – Saga Business Class (A)
KEF-SEA (Reykjavik Keflavik International Airport – SeaTac International Airport)
October 25, 2022
5:05 PM – 5:50 PM (scheduled)
Booked: Boeing 767-200
Flown: Boeing 757-200
On board Icelandair Saga Business Class:
After climbing those outdoor stairs, we boarded through door 2 L and had a left turn immediately into the Icelandair Saga Business Class cabin.
Icelandair Saga Class is set up in a 2 – 2 configuration on their Boeing 757-200. Unlike our Icelandair Boeing 767-300ER flight out, this business class cabin was missing a central row. This more compact arrangement made the cabin feel a little less airy.
Icelandair must have had chosen to downgrade of aircraft or a swap from our original Boeing 767-300 ER that we had originally booked. Many travellers appeared to not have seats assigned next to each other, which resulted in on board crew dealing with seat swappers and other seating assignment requests during whole boarding process.
By the time this was all sorted, the Saga Business Class cabin completely full with twenty seats being fully occupied by take off.
We located our seats 2A and 2C. We positioned ourselves on the south side of the aircraft for our flight to North America with light pretty much guaranteed for the whole flight.
Waiting for us on the seat were a bottle of Iceland Bottled Water, in addition to a small lumbar pillow and rolled up blanket.
While the seat space wasn’t super generous, it was more than enough for a seven and a half hour flight to Seattle. You won’t get the same experience as a reverse herringbone business class seat that offers ample work space and space to relax. In seat storage is really limited to the seat back pocket in front of you, and there are no other compartments to charge phones or other devices.
Despite not having storage space, the seats do offer individual seat power. As there is no direct to USB charging mechanism, I would end up fishing out my iPhone North American Plug in order to charge my iPhone while we headed overseas.
The seats also offer the proprietary two pin headphone connectors which were located underneath the pull out table tray in the armrest.
The Icelandair Boeing 757-200’s are older aircraft. Despite this, the Icelandair versions had individual air nozzles above us. Having air nozzles make the trip that much more comfortable.
We were offered a pre-departure beverage of sparkling wine was made available from a tray in a plastic cup. There were no other choices available, such as water or juice.
While we were waiting for the flight to get underway, we were also presented with Icelandair branded noise cancelling headphones. The headphones fit into the two pin holes located in the arm rest.
The Amenity Kits: Hanns Dottir Branded
We were also presented with an amenity kit which was waiting on the seat when we arrived. While Icelandair can get the reputation as being a bit of a low cost carrier, it’s nice that they still offer an amenity kit for a trans-continental flight of over seven hours in duration.
The amenity kits were Hanns Dottir branded, having dropped their partnership with Blue Lagoon from the last time we travelled with Icelandair. The kits contained Hanns Dottir lip balm, personal mist and hand lotion. A tooth brush / toothpaste, ear plugs and eye mask was also found inside the amenity kit bags.
We had a pilot announcement of seven and a half hours flight time to Seattle Tacoma International Airport with radar showing good weather the whole way.
Departing Keflavik International Airport:
As it came time to get underway, we had a short taxi over to the departure Runway 01. We had no waits departing. We appeared to be among the last aircraft to leave Keflavik International Airport in this sequence of fights.
In Flight Entertainment:
As we got underway, I looked at the in flight entertainment options. The Icelandair in flight entertainment system consisted of a monitor in the seat back in front. The monitor was lightly adjustable in case of a seat recline.
The system had been upgraded from our last trans continental flight and contained about seventy movies and television shows; an upgrade from the previous version that consisted of only about thirty movies.
I played with the flight track feature, which pictured our flight track from Iceland to Washington State, USA. Our track would take us over Greenland, Western Canada and eventually down to Seattle, USA.
While there were more movies on the system than in the previous generation, I’d find that a regular traveller on Iceland air might tire of the limited selection quite quickly. Most of the major international airline players have a substantially greater selection, so you’ll have to settle for what you’ve got while flying Icelandair.
In a bit of irritating viewing, the Advanced Video on Demand would often disconnect. This would require you to restart your movie, pass through all the commercials, and then fast forward to where the interruption occurred. While I wouldn’t normally mention it, this occurred five or six times on our flight length; a surprisingly irritating amount.
In Flight Wifi Internet:
Icelandair also featured in flight wifi internet available. The service was available for 12€ for the flight, or on a complimentary basis for Saga Business Class Passengers.
Perhaps a bit irritatingly, the system required a different URL to connect, dependent on the version of aircraft that you were flying on. I would end up discovering a QR code located within the entertainment system. A scan of the QR code would end up linking you to the correct URL.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to actually get the wifi to work on this particular flight. Even after trying a multitude of connection combinations, I was unsuccessful. I eventually gave up on the wifi as a measure of entertainment.
Food and Beverage:
Once we were airborne, the crew passed out the dinner menus. Icelandair still offers a printed menu, which adds to a nice touch for minimal effort.
The Icelandair dinner menu only offers two options; neither one is vegetarian. If you need a vegetarian meal, you’d have to order it in advance as a special meal.
The wine list was also presented. It offered an old world European centric wine list, along with a surprise red from Argentina. Overall, we had no complaints about the wine list.
One of the more unique features of Icelandair are their collection of Gin and Tonics. Icelandair offers a variety of no less than six Gin and Tonic’s, that are all served in individual portioned containers.
If the wine and Gin weren’t enough, there were also Icelandic Gull Beers available, along with Espresso Martini’s.
Rounding out the menu presentation, a series of salty and sweet snacks were also listed on the menu.
The Meal: A Full Dinner
As we climbed to cruise altitude, the supper service started slowly with a beverage cocktail service. I enjoyed an Olafsson Icelandinc Gin with Franklin and Sons Natural Light Tonic water, accompanied with lemon and crisp crackers that appeared to be off menu.
I went onto enjoy the main dinner item which was presented as aVeal Ossobuco with truffle mashed potatoes, fried onions and a Madeira sauce. The veal was racy for an airline meal. Along with being a bit of a drippy meal, I really enjoyed it and it was something completely different than the safe dishes that come to expect most times from international airline cabin food.
We had pleasant sunset views as we finished the meal service with a constant view of the sunset along our entire flight.
I tucked myself into sleep after the meal. I attempted a rest of the reclining seats. While it wasn’t exactly a fully flat seat, it was enough to get some what of a bit of relaxation. The Icelandair Saga Business Class seat itself is pretty compact; especially when it’s reclined in front of you. As I indicated earlier, it was more like a premium economy or a domestic first class product. For the price paid, I couldn’t complain. I did mange to get a little sleep in the light recline of the business class barca lounger seat.
The Second Service: A Light Snack
At about 90 minutes prior to landing, we had a second service. We received a small plate of a canapé stick, with some crackers and cheese. While it was a nice touch, it wasn’t very filling.
If I was sleeping, I probably wouldn’t bother waking up for the second service.
Arriving into Seattle Tacoma International Airport:
We had an easy approach into Seattle Tacoma International Airport. It had been a number of years since we’ve arrived into Seattle Tacoma on an international arrival.
On this visit, we’d get the opportunity to try Seattle Tacoma’s South Concourse arrival facility. The new facility is a marked improvement from the dark basement that Seattle bound travellers used to arrive into.
After disembarkation, we proceeded down a few corridors to access the overhead walkway. We rode the escalators up and over the south satellite terminal apron and taxi ways. It was an easy walk thanks to a moving sidewalk. We had some great views of United Aircraft as we descended into the international arrivals hall of Seattle Tacoma International Airport.
The new international Seattle arrivals’ facility is a world ahead of the rest of the Seattle Tacoma International Airport. The arrivals hall featured a massive arrivals’ area that was in stark contrast the rest of the older Seattle Tacoma facilities which were dating from the 1940’s.
We collected our bags and proceeded through the international connections desk to connect to an Alaska Airlines flight back to Vancouver.
My frequent flier points for this Icelandair flight credited without issue to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan about fourteen days after the flight. While it wasn’t the fastest partner airline credit, it posted without any intervention.
The Bottom Line: Icelandair Saga Class
Icelandair offered a cost competitive way to get over to Europe in a reasonable amount of comfort. While the business class seats certainly aren’t state of the art, we did have access to the usual amenities in business class; additional luggage allowance, access to a lounge at the departure airport and in Iceland, and a full meal along with a complimentary beverages and bar service.
While you won’t ever confuse Icelandair business class seats for a fully flat business class product in a major international airline alliance, it’s a reasonable way to get over to Europe, assuming the price is right.