Iceland has not only been in the news recently for their amazing soccer performance in the last Euro Football Championship, but also their airlines have been making a huge push into the US-Europe market. The two main carriers, WOW Air and Icelandair have both been on a very aggressive expansion, and that has many people on both sides of the Atlantic watching.
Although WOW Air’s expansion has its own merits, Icelandair has been the most prolific in terms of expanding capacity and network in North America. They started flights to Montreal this year, and have expanded capacity on flights to Portland (PDX) and Chicago. Earlier this week, they announced flights to Philadelphia and Tampa. They plan on expanding their passenger numbers by about 450,000 during 2017. They also plan to have their brand new 737MAX be delivered in the coming years.
Icelandair offers a very unique product. With three classes of service, Saga Class (Business) Economy Comfort and Economy, they try to differentiate their product based on the needs of the passengers. They have a video on YouTube that shows off their cabin classes. They also have one of the more unique airline offerings in the industry: a stopover with a local Icelandic person in order for you to “experience Iceland like a native”. The opportunity to try this stopover makes Icelandair a very attractive option, although their onboard business class product is sub-par when compared to their competitors across the pond (even when looking at airlines like LaCompagnie). Either way, the chance to experience a new airline is always exciting. They even have a video that shows how their classes are different.
The airline (alongside with WOW Air) is trying to copy the Gulf carrier’s model of a connecting hub. People can travel from Boston to London for much cheaper than say British Airways or Delta, with a short (or long) connection in Iceland. With the added option of the “guided stopover”, it has a very solid offering for budget travelers.
I’m always intrigued by niche airlines. Icelandair is no exception. They carry more people than the population of their country a couple of times over. They offer competitive fares (in both business and economy). Iceland is the land of ice and fire, and probably the next place I want to visit most in Europe. Hopefully I will have a chance in the near future to visit the island nation and experience both Saga Class and Economy Class on their 757 or 767.