AWESOME: Icelandair Introduces Stopover Buddies

This is one of the more creative “services” I’ve seen an airline introduce. On the surface it’s sort of creepy, though in reality it’s just plain awesome.

Icelandair’s business model is based largely around connecting passengers between the US and mainland Europe, via the airline’s hub in Reykjavik. One of the cooler aspects of flying with Icelandair is that they offer stopovers in Reykjavik, where you can stop enroute for up to seven days without increasing the cost of your ticket. It’s a smart feature, since it’s both a selling point for the airline and also gets people spending money in Iceland.

Icelandair-Business-Class-1

But the airline is taking hospitality on the ground to a new level, with the introduction of Icelandair’s stopover buddy. Through this program, you’ll be assigned an Icelandair employee who will show you around Iceland for a day, based on your interests. Here’s how the program is described:

This winter, you can book your very own Icelandair Stopover Buddy to travel with in Iceland. But it’s not just any adventurer — it’s an Icelandair employee!

Our staff are as versatile as they are many – they do all kinds of interesting activities when they’re off-duty, such as sea swimming, mountain biking, heli-skiing, cross-country running, knitting pink jumpers, and a lot more. You know, quirky and eccentric stuff mixed with your usual variety of extreme sports.

The service itself is free of charge, so it’s the perfect addition to your Stopover.

Icelandair-Stopover-Buddy

Here’s a video highlighting the stopover buddy service:

Here’s the form for requesting a stopover buddy, as well as the terms & conditions. So how does Icelandair’s stopover buddy program really work, in practice? Based on the terms & conditions, here’s what I’ve figured out:

  • The program is only available for travel between February 2 and April 30, 2016
  • Slots are filled on a first come first service basis based on matching interests, and you’ll hear back within 72 hours of your email request
  • Once you’re matched with a buddy, you’ll be provided a potential itinerary for the day, and will be introduced to your buddy via email, so you can work out the details
  • Your time with your stopover buddy will last no more than one day, and you can bring up to four people with you on the itinerary
  • The meeting point will be the lobby of the Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Natura, regardless of where you’re staying
  • While you’re responsible for your own costs, the cost for the buddy are paid for by Icelandair, and no gratuity is expected

Icelandair-Buddy

So, what kind of activities can you expect to take part in? If you’re into food, you could be paired with this cabin crew:

If you’re into biking, you could be paired with this captain:

If you’re into adventure, you could be paired with the CEO (okay, I’m guessing this one is unlikely, but it seems to at least be a possibility):

Bottom line

What an incredibly innovative concept from Icelandair. It’s awesome that employees are willing to volunteer their time to do this (or maybe they’re being compensated for it, I don’t know), as it’s always great to get insight from a local. As an introvert, I can’t decide whether I’d love or hate this. Given what a gorgeous country Iceland is and how valuable local insight is, I would probably do it if I were flying with them.

Iceland

Kudos to Icelandair!

What do you make of Icelandair’s stopover buddy program?

Comments

  1. That is pretty darn cool. I am an introvert to, but I frequently hire private guides/drivers when I am in Asia and it is a good way to see things. I would definitely try this.

  2. When I priced out my flight from ORD to HEL via KEF last year on Iceland Air I saved $70 by booking each segment separately instead of taking the free stopover offer.

  3. Neither Iceland nor Icelandair has been on my radar. Now they are. Like RakSiam (comment above) I’m pretty introverted, and my partner and I tend to hire private guides as well for tours.

    This is innovative, and I really hope it works. I’m not an early adopter either, so I look forward to reading some reviews!

  4. When I lived in WDC, I always planned on flying this route, but it never seemed to work out. Over the last couple of years, it seems that the fair via RKV became more expensive and not as convenient. This little gimmick seams like it may make it worth while though! Give it a try Lucky!

  5. @Andrew I agree! I’m quite confident they are compensated. Too awkward for me though. I’d be worried about bothering the person the whole time or being their “job.” Icelandair historically has killer deals sometimes from their hubs.

  6. This would be such an interesting opportunity, and a brilliant marketing idea. I would love to return to Iceland someday, and this type of promotion would be a lot of fun. I took a 2 day Iceland stopover on Icelandair last summer. I had a blast. I took a one day tour with a company called GeoIceland that I thought did a great job. Iceland is such a cool place and I found the people to be pretty interesting. I ended up meeting some local folks and they took me to a rustic local cafeteria style place for dinner.

    My flight to Frankfurt on Icelandair was really nice with the stopover. Saga Class is similar to domestic first class in the US, but with tasty Icelandic lamb for dinner and a pretty nice Saga lounge in Keflavik.

  7. I know what I want to eat on my layover. (Nothing in the T&Cs about not being able to screw your stopover buddy.)

  8. I’m also a bit on the introvert side whilst travelling but I would have no problems with this based solely on it being Icelanders.

    I’ve been to Iceland countless times for holidays not just Reykjavik and Icelanders are the nicest, most level headed, educated, accepting people i’ve come across when travelling. I even got married there infront of a giant waterfall on the south coast.

    I know this is a generalisation of a population but Iceland and its pop is fairly small and every single person has just been awesome from guides, to random strangers in bars and clubs, airbnb hosts, arranging my wedding with officials and photographers etc.

    I plan on retiring (many years away still) to Iceland.

    Ok gushing over.

  9. I stopped in Iceland in 1967 on the way to Cairo………..this makes me want to go back and do the ocean swimming………..first airline commercial that really ever impressed me…….except the Christmas Canada thang of course…………

  10. Wow what a great offer.
    I just returned from Iceland last monday! What a country and wat an unbelieveble friendly people.
    I hope to visit again and would choose roadcycling or cooking with a local.

  11. Introverts of the world unite; preferably in an Icelandic thermal pool with a group of IcelandAir staff. I hope to take advantage of this stopover perk.

  12. Good grief. I know a few of these “stopover buddies” personally and judging by my previous experiences in Iceland and elsewhere with them, this has the potential of either being absolutely incredible or a total disaster.

  13. As is common with many airlines, most of the the Iceland employees would not be native Icelanders. Nevertheless, it could be a huge hit, or a disaster. I wonder how specific one can get as to the specs for your buddy……..

  14. This looks like an amazing marketing move to differentiate Iceland Air from “competitors”. I agree it all depends on how the ground experience is going to unfold. If it keeps its promises looks like they just created a very disruptive differentiation.

  15. I didn’t get the “creepy” vibe at all. Quite the contrary, I believe the FI crew will be creeped out by passengers taking advantage of this offer far, far more often than the other way around. I would like to be able to take advantage of this offer.

  16. I had planned to possibly accept this offer, even if I am traveling alone. But it expires before I planned my stopover end-of-September, 2016. Am hoping it will be continued, or has this been a winter-only offer running previous to 2016? Thanks!

  17. I was lucky enough to experience the stopover buddy with a flight attendant named Uner.
    We saw incredible falls, went on a glacial hike, then went quadding on the black sand beach!
    It is an incredible country with extremely intelligent employees of Iceland Air.
    I highly recommend the program!!

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