Next year, Icelandair will begin seasonal service between Raleigh-Durham (RDU) and Reykjavik (KEF) with connections to most of Europe. The service will begin on May 12, 2022, and operate through October 30, 2022.
Icelandair will be operating service on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays using Boeing 737MAX8 aircraft. The schedule will be:
- The departing flight leaves RDU at 8:30 pm and arrives at KEF at 6:30 am local time.
- The return flight departs KEF at 4:45 pm local time and arrives at RDU at 7:30 pm.
The airfares for travel to Iceland will start at $449 with connections onward to Europe will begin at $499. These fares are valid for roundtrip travel:
- Between May 12 through June 15 and
- August 16 through October 30, 2022.
The sale fares are available for purchase through December 31, 2021. Upon reviewing the fares at the Icelandair website, the $449 and $499 fares are for economy light tickets. Booking information for this new route can be found here.
“We are excited to add Raleigh-Durham to our extensive route network, offering non-stop flights from North Carolina to Iceland with convenient connections to our many destinations in Europe,” Bogi Nils Bogason, president and CEO of Icelandair, said in a statement. “North Carolina is an exciting new destination for our local market, to visit as a tourist or in relation to the world-class university community and the strong high-tech industry.”
A Niche Airline
Icelandair is truly a niche airline. Due to the location of their hub airport in Keflavik, everything runs through KEF. This unique hub and spoke system make connections seamless between North America and Europe. My experience with Icelandair is that they are a very service-oriented airline. Icelandair prices their tickets in five categories from economy light to Saga (business) full flex. Icelandair has its own frequent flyer program called Saga Club and they are mileage partners with Alaska Airlines. Jet Blue members are able to earn miles for cash bookings however, these miles are not redeemable for Icelandair flights.
Saga (Business) Class
Saga Class is what Icelandair calls their business class service. The seats are standard recliner pairs that you would find on domestic first class flights. That’s where the similarity ends. Saga Class is a full-service product. Icelandair staffs Saga class with two dedicated flight attendants for the entire flight except during flight attendant break periods. They offer pre-departure Prosecco and hot towel service. Hot and tasty meals are back in Saga class. The photo below is my dinner from Seattle to Keflavik last October. There is also a snack on-demand menu in addition to the meal menu.
Saga class also offers complimentary gate-to-gate wifi service. The response time on their wifi was better than the 3-G wifi response. Icelandair also features seatback inflight entertainment with a decent selection of movies, TV shows and music. For avgeeks like myself, there are GPS mapping and flight instruments to watch.
Passengers flying in Saga Class also get business class lounge access.
I will be completely honest with you, my Saga class flights had much better food and service than my recent American Airlines Flagship First Class trip from Dallas-Ft. Worth to London Heathrow. The flight on Ameican showed obvious cost cutting in service along with food and beverage in international first class. If you missed that review, you can read it here.
The Stopover Option
Icelandair is unusual in the respect that they allow their customers a free stopover in Iceland. Economy class passengers are allowed a three-day stopover while first class passengers are allowed a stopover for five days.
Icelandair is a well-run airline that delivers on value for the money spent. Last October, I flew in Saga Class from Portland (PDX) to Dublin (DUB) via KEF. I had purchased a spectacular sale for just $1179 roundtrip in Saga class. The people of Raleigh-Durham NC will have a chance to experience this truly niche airline.