LONDON – Just a few weeks after the delivery of its first Boeing 737 MAX 8, Icelandair (FI) has offered a celebration flight to commemorate its debut.
“We are happy to welcome you aboard today, and look forward to welcoming you aboard in the future of Icelandair,” Björgúlfur Jóhannsson, President, and CEO at Icelandair announced to guests onboard minutes before takeoff.
And his excitement is well supported. Last year, the airline passed the milestone of transporting over four million passengers for the first time in its history, since its foundation in 1937.
The numbers are indeed impressive, considering that just three years ago, Icelandair reached—also for the first time—the three million-passenger mark.
Taking Icelandair to the MAX
The aircraft (Jökullsárlón · TF-ICE · MSN 44353 · LN 6792) was delivered to the airline on March 4, 2018.
The plane spent a few days in Moses Lake (MWH) for crew training before flying to its home base at Keflavík International Airport (KEF). There, it received its final touches before entering into service on April 13, operating flight FI622 to Newark (EWR).
Externally, TF-ICE differs from the rest of the fleet, as this is the first aircraft to sport the carrier’s revised livery, which now features a lighter and softer color palette, the removal of the name on the tail, and a grey belly.
The winglets, painted in blue, bear the hashtag #MyStopover on the side facing the fuselage.
Inside, the passenger cabin features 160 seats, of which 16 are in the Saga Business Class section, arranged in a 2-2 layout; and 144 in a 3-3 Economy Class configuration.
As any standard Boeing 737 MAX, the cabin comes with the Boeing Sky Interior, which features LED mood lighting, larger overhead bins, integrated speakers in each row’s passenger service, and modern, sculpted sidewalls that add extra cabin width.
The numerous aerodynamic improvements (including the MAX AT winglets) and the CFM International LEAP-1B engines contribute to reducing the fuel burn rate by up to 14% than the 737NG, an up to 20% when compared to the Classic 737 family aircraft (-300, -400 and -500 variants).
Once onboard, the contrast of the grey leather seats with the Boeing Sky Interior cabin provides an elegant and stylish ambiance.
The LED mood lighting in ice blue reminds passengers that the name of the aircraft, Jökullsárlón, was given after this glacier lagoon and top tourist destination in southeast Iceland.
After the customary ground checks and engine startup procedures, our 737 MAX began to taxi to runway 19 at Reykjavík Airport (RKV), next to the location where the airline’s headquarters are located.
In just 26 seconds the aircraft commanded by Captains Þórarinn Hjálmarsson and Haraldur Baldursson lifted off on a typical Icelandic rainy day.
As the airplane lifted off the ground, all passengers onboard cheered and applauded as we were leaving behind Reykjavík for an exciting scenic tour flight.
The tour flight was hosted by Páll Jökull, a famous Icelandic landscape photographer, who provided guests on board an in-air tutorial on how to take the best photographs taking advantage of the aircraft’s LED mood lighting system.
“Capturing a good photo is a combination of the light available and the composition of what you see out there, landscape and sky,” advised Jökull.
The ‘737′ Craft Beer and the Flight Experience
Once we reached cruise altitude, the friendly Icelandair cabin crew sprang into action.
While the passengers remained most of the time standing on the aisle moving from one seat to other taking pictures, the Flight Attendants never lost their nerve and their smiles while delivering a top-quality meal service.
But perhaps one of the most remarkable features of this celebration is a dedicated Craft Beer. Appropriately named ‘737 IPA’ (Icelandic Pale Ale), which is a blend of US Pacific Northwest hops (as a reminder where the 737 MAX is assembled), and European malts as an homage to the journey these planes will make.
— Roberto Leiro (@rleiro) April 14, 2018
This Craft beer will be available onboard and in the Icelandair Saga Lounge at Keflavik International airport for a limited time.
After overflying Akureyri on the north coast of Iceland, and birthplace of Icelandair as the last spot, we quickly headed back to Reykjavík. Before landing, we flew over the runway to take some pictures of the capital city of Iceland. Our touchdown was at 13:44 local time, completing a circuit of one hour and twenty-three minutes of total flight time.
At our arrival, the aircraft was greeted by the airport’s Fire Department with a customary water cannon salute, and by a cheering crowd of Icelandair employees and their families, who gathered to meet the newest member of the family.
The touristic boom of Iceland is boosting the passenger numbers of Icelandair, and the arrival of the Boeing 737 MAX to the fleet will help to fuel the expansion of the carrier.
Just in 2017, the Icelandair’s flight schedule grew by 10% from 2016, and with the introduction of a new livery, new options for customers, such as a new ‘Economy Light’ fare, and the addition more routes in summer, Icelandair is efficiently responding to the demands of an ever-changing market and a cut-throating competition.