Iceland Flight 384
Reykjavik (KEF) to Gothenburg (GOT)
27 May 2016
Depart: 1:20AM (Delayed from 12:30am due to ATC strike)
Aircraft: Boeing 757-200
Seat: 4A (Saga Class)
This flight is really interesting given its operating times. It takes off at 12:30am and lands at 5:15am, although the flight time is usually under two and a half hours. During summer, it can be light for the entire flight, which makes its “redeye” status somewhat confusing.
I had spent the entire evening relaxing in the touristy Blue Lagoon before stepping off the FlyBus at Keflavik Airport. The former US military base now has a beautiful terminal filled with natural lighting which complements the modern, northern design. The bus from the Blue Lagoon to the airport leaves every two hours in the evening. Hence, I was left choosing between the 9:00pm and 11:00pm shuttles for my 12:30am flight.
I decided not to risk missing my flight and took the 9:00pm bus, which got in around 9:30pm and gave me plenty time to enjoy the Saga Lounge.
Icelandair uses check-in kiosks to speed up the check-in process so I had my boarding pass in hand less than a minute after arriving at the airport. Unfortunately, the baggage drop hadn’t opened yet. I waited about 20 minutes before I could leave my bags and head for security, which I got through pretty fast at least.
I quickly found my way to the lounge after looking around the quirky the terminal. Both Ben and I have reviewed the Saga Lounge before, so I will leave that out of this review. Needless to say, it’s an awesome place to pass time given the copious amounts of food and snacks, the many chairs and sofas and the fast wifi.
Due to an air traffic control strike, all Icelandair departures were delayed until around 1:30am, which wasn’t a problem for me since I could continue enjoying the lounge. I used the wifi to watch half of The Grand Budapest Hotel, and downloaded the rest for later. I’ve seen the movie before, but loved it equally as much the second time.
Boarding and Onboard
I got to the gate around 1:00am. There was no clear Saga Class lane, and the hoard of tired passengers wasn’t ready to let a bunch of people squeeze their way past (which is understandable). The gate agents handled it graciously though, inviting all Saga passengers to board from the side of the line instead.
The boarding went well and I was onboard ten minutes after arriving at the gate. We boarded through the second door and I turned left to find my seat in row 4. Waiting at my seat was a blanket and a pillow.
In the end, I think 5/14 Saga seats were taken, which is better than the 3/14 on my outbound flight.
The flight attendants were noticeably stressed on this flight. Due to the delay, they needed to get the aircraft turned around as fast as possible to get back to Reykjavik, since the turn around is only 1 hour and 20 minutes in Gothenburg. The crew also do the two flights back to back, which must be painful after a redeye like this!
This also meant they didn’t spare much time to interact with us before departure apart from distributing the same noise canceling headphones as on my previous Saga Class flight. They provide great audio quality and would be perfect for those who don’t bring their own noise canceling headphones like the QC35s.
The entertainment system consisted of a large screen with USB charging and featured similar content to my other Icelandair flights. The screen was an older model than on my outbound flight, but it was good nonetheless. The seat also features a power port.
We pushed back around 1:20am and made our way to the active runway. Due to the low clouds it was pitch dark out, although it was light above the clouds. Once we burst through them, it was fascinating thinking that it was still night out.
Once the seatbelt sign was switched off and I was done recording the takeoff, I was excited to sleep. However, I’d pre-ordered the fish dinner, which I wanted to try. The crew came by with the meal around 30 minutes later, which seemed fast. The entire meal was served on one tray, which was perfect in this case.
I thought the presentation was beautiful. Furthermore, the meal was amazing. The salmon was fresh and moist, while the accompanying dishes were also delicious – especially the licorice and raspberry mousse dessert.
When we were done, the crew were quick to clear our trays and let us sleep. It was a weird sensation as I had to lower my window blinds to sleep, even though it was 2:00am. The cabin remained bright since other passengers kept their shades open, but with an eye mask on I managed to doze off.
The Saga Class seats are really comfortable and feel like slightly more luxurious US domestic first class seats. The recline is definitely more than you’d get in premium economy on most airlines, but clearly not lie-flat.
My greatest concern was that I’d be exhausted the following day given the early arrival. I managed to sleep for about an hour and woke up over Norway, which wasn’t ideal, but what can you realistically expect on a flight this short?
One really cool thing about Icelandair aircraft is that they’re outfitted with special lights that simulate the northern lights in the cabin. It looks awesome and adds another Icelandic touch to the experience.
There was no breakfast service, which would be superfluous in any case since dinner was served just two hours prior. However, beverages were always available for those who wanted something to drink.
We started our descent around 25 minutes out and the cabin started to wake up at this point. The crew were discreet and tried to let passengers sleep until the last minute, which was kind. I logged onto the complimentary wifi just to check my social media before landing and of course, track my own flight on FlightRadar24 (don’t you just love doing that?!). The free wifi is fast, reliable and much appreciated!
We flew in over a luscious green Gothenburg region on approach and landed around 6:00am, 45 minutes behind schedule. After a short taxi to the gate, I was ready to go and sleep in my own bed for a few hours.
Click here to watch my video review of this flight:
This was one of the more unique flights I’ve taken. The flight time was shorter than a flight from New York to Florida, yet it was a redeye in full daylight. I appreciated the delicious meal, although it cost me an hour of sleep. Anyone can decide whether or not they want to eat or sleep to be fair. Overall, I had another pleasurable flight with Icelandair and I’d definitely recommend flying their Saga Class if you have the chance.
Have you flown Icelandair Saga Class OR on a crazy redeye like this? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below.