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Bernie Reviews: From Seattle To Reykjavik, Icelandair Saga Class

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Bernie Reviews: From Seattle To Reykjavik, Icelandair Saga Class

Markus Eigenheer

Bernie Reviews: From Seattle To Reykjavik, Icelandair Saga Class
February 10
13:58 2019

I’m terribly, terribly, moody. Except, I don’t turn happy all of a sudden. But, oh to be involved in the exchange.

Björk Jokes and Game of Thrones


See, I had promised myself at the start of this adventure that I would not make any Björk jokes. Thankfully, no one heard me vocalize this promise.

I think it lasted all of about a quarter into when “Human Behaviour” showed up on my playlist. Then came the jokes about moshing to Sigur Rós.

My wonderful joke about how the Mother of Dragons doesn’t understand SEAD fell on deaf ears. It was a national tragedy. It’s weird how music nerds tend to not overlap with Game of Thrones nerds. Even weirder that so few people understand what SEAD means. SEAD, DEAD, Area denial.

At least the latter could’ve saved the Wall. Westerosis need to learn modern combined-arms warfare.

All of this was going on before I put on my swan costume fleece and made my way to the airport.

Astute readers will notice I’m wearing a Game of Thrones T-shirt


At least I am good at motifs. Anyway. I made my way to Sea-Tac to check in. Weirdly, I was checking a bag. Why? Iceland’s cold.

Interestingly, Icelandair uses a very oldschool Priority Tag. Photo: Bernie Leighton

Okay, granted it’s usually much warmer than climates that bear the brunt of Continentality, but it’s colder than Redmond, WA, where I live.

I needed all the winter gear my arsenal could bring forth.

Icelandair is a participant in TSA Precheck, so after bag drop, I made my way to the furthest south checkpoint at the airport, as for some reason that is now the only Clear + Precheck lane in the entire airport.

Icelandair uses The Club in S. Just because they do, doesn’t mean I did. I had a lovely chicken curry in the American Express Centurion lounge and made my way to S.

“The Club” does not have Champagne. Photo: Bernie Leighton

Unfortunately, the plane, celebrating 80 years of Icelandair, was obscured by a lack of windows, a jetbridge, and an angle.

Icelandair never usually parks at this gate. So, of course when they bring in a special livery for us. Photo: Bernie Leighton

Let’s go on board


One wonders how Air Canada and Delta appoint their Premium Economy products to Keflavik. Photo: Bernie Leighton

Saga class is a 2-2 product with 40″ of pitch and a reclining seat. It’s got a footrest. So, it’s roughly the same as North American domestic business class – with a footrest!

Thing is, from the West Coast to Iceland is around eight hours. Icelandair has a large pillow and blanket, amenity kits, and headphones. Top that off with the fact the 757 fleet has their original overhead bins – and you don’t have much storage. Especially given that the amenity kit is a large, irregular, shape.

It’s best to view it as a Premium Economy product these days. Though, on routes to the rest of the Eurozone, it is more than business class. It’s a paradox.

Icelandair can’t offer the state of the art Trans-Atlantic business class products the majors can, but on their intra-European flights, they’re up there with Aeroflot and Turkish. No Euro-J.

Isn’t it fascinating how the exact same seat can be perceived so wildly differently given the stage length?

It’s very solid bedding, that’s for sure. Photo: Bernie Leighton

The blanket is excellent, the pillow is very good, but a little big for the seat. A weird problem, I know, but it’s true.

In-Flight Entertainment


It’s good. I can’t recall who made their system but the screens have wonderful contrast. And more importantly, watchable content.

For example, they stock roughly half of season five of my favorite comedy, “the Americans.”

Like I said: Game of Thrones T-shirt. Photo: Bernie Leighton

Bernie, that’s not a comedy? To which I say, it is when Ollie North took over as a technical consultant.

No steel-eyed PGU operator would feel guilt over lighting up a collaborator. Trust me. Reagan fan fiction.

Still, the fact it’s on the IFE. That makes it good IFE.

WiFi


Oh GEE. And by that, I mean Global Eagle Entertainment.

I am told their WiFi system aboard Icelandair’s 737 MAX fleet will be faster when certified… which will take place in the coming weeks.

The 757 WiFi though. Woeful.

Now, yes, much of Icelandair’s West-Coast flying takes place at challenging latitudes, but so too do many flights of airlines that fly from North America to Asia, or other European destinations from the West Coast. Their WiFi Works. I’m mystified as to why Icelandair did not adopt a major player in the space.

The one thing that is very nice about Icelandair WiFi is that it is free for customers in Saga class and Saga gold members.

If you are neither, it’s only €12 for the duration of the flight. That is great value. It’s just, not exactly the fastest or most reliable.

Service

When I boarded via L2, there was a lady handing out Icelandic Spring Water. They allege it’s basic in pH. Turns out that water was for Economy passengers. Oops. Too late. Already had one in my hand.

From there, I made my way to seat 5F. It’s a seat. I already went over my impressions. It’s soft enough. I think it’d be better if the footrest was integral to the seat, not mounted to the seat in front of you. Still, it’s nice there’s a footrest.

Shortly thereafter, a man came by to offer me some Canella Prosecco Spumante DOC.

I don’t really know much about Prosecco other than dentists are not fans. I enjoyed it from its plastic cup, but I can’t really say much about beyond the fact it was okay. My true love, Delta, does Prosecco – their Prosecco is just okay, too.

Really starting to think Prosecco is some sort of millennial craze I’ve missed – and now that I have, it’s a fad I shan’t want to join.

Service overall is much the same as any other North American or European Airline in business class outside of Air France.

No dine on Demand, not too many drink runs. A Trans-Atlantic Airline is a Trans-Atlantic airline. Just this one has a different seat than the other guys.

Food


Some caramel popcorn with my tea. Intriguing. Photo: Bernie Leighton

Icelandair is a one-tray affair in Saga class. I can’t say it bothers me. If anything, one-tray affairs are the better choice – they give you more time to get some rest on these short flights.

Smoked salmon, chicken, potatoes, dessert, orange drink. Photo: Bernie Leighton

It’s definitely Trans-Atlantic Business Class fare. I don’t know what to say beyond the fact it was good, but not mind-blowing.

Perhaps I should have had more wine as it’s very hard to get any rest on a sub-eight-hour flight with recliner seats. Especially with the insulting time change.

Alcohol either would have let me get some sleep, or made it worse. Really not sure here.

Also, rather than breakfast – you get a choice of chocolate bars. Not sure what I make of it, it was a good bar!

Verdict


Icelandair is off in their own little world, and they do a fine job of it. It was a great flight, if an insomnia rocket of truest form.

Keflavik: 0545. Photo: Bernie Leighton

Thing is: I’m not Icelandair’s target market at all. I’m a Delta guy. Any airline outside of Delta Group 1 is kind outside my target market unless they fly rare, Soviet-era airliners.

And, chances are – I flew Delta to get there.

Yeah, Icelandair Saga to Keflavik is probably superior to Delta Premium Select – definitely better value.

That opportunity cost, though.

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About Author

Bernie Leighton

Bernie Leighton

Aviation media is the only career where you can be in Papua New Guinea one day, and then go to Bangladesh the next; for no reason than to fly on rare airlines, rarer aircraft, and visit new countries. I write about aviation. I mostly love Russian planes. I'm a Trivia geek who flies helicopters and loves meat.

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