Iceland is at the very top of my list of places to visit this summer. I mean, I don’t think it takes more than watching this video to convince someone they have to visit:
So I’ve been doing some investigating the past week or so about how I plan on getting there. I figured I’d share my general findings for anyone else that might be interested in going this summer. I’ll break down my findings by alliance, and my research is by no means thorough, so take it for what it’s worth.
The only OneWorld option to Iceland is Air Berlin, which offers service to Reykjavik out of both Dusseldorf and Berlin. Award availability is excellent, as you can see below.
The catch is that Air Berlin flies one-cabin aircraft on the route, and their seats have 29-30 inches of pitch. We’re talking about a 3+ hour flight, so while it can be a great deal, I just think it’s worth throwing that out there for those of you that are on the tall side.
American and British Airways both charge just 10,000 miles for a one-way coach award ticket between Germany and Iceland, which is a fantastic deal if you’re already in Europe and want to add on a quick side trip to Iceland.
Lufthansa has service multiple days a week from Dusseldorf, Berlin, and Hamburg to Reykjavik. Oddly they don’t have any nonstop service from their two biggest hubs — Frankfurt and Munich — to Reykjavik. Award availability on these flights is fairly good, especially on the Berlin to Reykjavik route, where nonstop award availability looks as follows:
SAS also offers service between Oslo and Reykjavik, and this is probably the Star Alliance route with the best award availability to Iceland. Searching only the nonstop flight from Oslo to Reykjavik, here’s what award availability looks like:
Both United and US Airways charge 60,000 miles for roundtrip economy or 100,000 miles for roundtrip business class between the US and Iceland. They both allow a stopover — US Airways only at a transatlantic gateway city or a Star Alliance hub, while United will generally allow it just about anywhere.
Aeroplan considers Iceland to be “Europe 2,” and they charge 75,000 miles for coach or 105,000 miles for business class. They allow two stopovers, though. You can have one in each direction.
I think the major challenge with booking an award ticket to Iceland this summer from the US on Star Alliance is the lack of transatlantic award space. That’s why United is probably the best program to book through, since you can lock something in now, and then make changes at reasonable costs as the departure date approaches and better options open up. United doesn’t charge for routing changes up until 21 days before departure, and at that point they charge just $75 for changes. Best of all they allow changes to itineraries after departure, should you still want to optimize your return itinerary during your trip.
Delta will be resuming their seasonal New York to Reykjavik service this summer, which will run from June 3 through September 2, 2013. Awards are priced the same level as everywhere else in Europe (60,000 miles in coach or 100,000 miles in business class). Award space in business class actually looks fairly good for the dates it’s operating (the dates in “green” are available at the low level):
Unfortunately there’s no way to tie this in with an award to mainland Europe, given that no SkyTeam carriers fly east from Iceland.
I really, really, really, really wish Icelandair would join one of three big alliances (and for that matter I think they should — I see only upside for them in doing so).
While it’s not quite as good as joining one of the three big alliances, Icelandair does have a partnership with Alaska Airlines, at least through May 31, 2013, when it’s being terminated.
If all of the above award options fail and you book a revenue ticket on Icelandair, just book it by May 31, 2013, so you can still at least accrue Alaska Mileage Plan miles for your ticket.
The Alaska redemption chart on Icelandair (through May 31) looks as follows:
While those redemption rates aren’t great given the other great uses of Alaska miles and also that Icelandair’s business class is more like domestic first class, it’s still not a bad deal if you can book Iceland as a stopover and continue in business class to Europe for a total of 80,000 miles roundtrip.
Business class award availability on Icelandair can be searched using ExpertFlyer.com, though based on a few searches availability doesn’t seem to be that great for this summer (not that we should be surprised).
My biggest travel aspirations this summer are to visit Iceland and Northern Europe. So those would tie in together great with a Star Alliance award, routing my travel through Oslo with a stopover there. Then I can book a cheap ticket using British Airways to Helsinki, and also hopefully visit Stockholm and Copenhagen.
Anyone else hoping to visit Iceland this summer?