By Maya Kachroo-Levine
February 13, 2019
Credit: Getty Images

A go-to for transatlantic travel, Icelandair operates — you guessed it — out of Iceland, and has for more than 80 years. And their widely popular “Icelandair Stopover” is a program they’ve offered since the 1960s. Essentially, if you’re flying from the U.S. or Canada to Europe, you can add a stopover in Iceland on Icelandair for no extra charge. You can opt for a 24-hour jaunt in Iceland, giving you just enough time to check out the Blue Lagoon and enjoy a nice meal in Reykjavik, or you can stay for up to seven days. They’ve added quite a few perks to their stopovers over the last 50 years, too. You can now book excursions on your stopover, like a trip to scout the Northern Lights or an exploration of the South Coast and Glacier Lagoon.

Iceland has been at the very top of my travel list for the last few years, so I fully understand the impulse to book as soon as you see an appealing flight price. And Icelandair pretty much has the market cornered in terms of reasonable Iceland flight prices. However, I often hesitate to book because I (perhaps wrongly) assumed Icelandair is a budget aircraft, which could mean unnecessary delays or a not-super-comfortable flight.

In reading online reviews of Icelandair, I found that travelers are quite satisfied with their experience on the airline. And that while Icelandair may not be considered a premium air carrier, it no longer carries a “budget airline” stigma. In fact, several Icelandair reviews refer to it as a “hybrid carrier,” because the amenities are much nicer than the price would have you believe. To save you the trouble of scouring the internet to find out what people think of the Icelandair check-in process, and how travelers rate Icelandair business class, we did it for you. So here’s what you need to know before booking that cheap Icelandair flight:

How is Icelandair business class?

First off, as business class goes, the prices aren’t bad at all. “It’s not unusual to see business class fares between the U.S. and Europe for around $1,700 with a stopover in Reykjavik, which is great for business class,” Ben Schlappig wrote on One Mile at a Time.

Schlappig went on to point out that Icelandair’s Saga Class Lounge is extremely impressive, with tasteful decor and decent food offerings. Finally, he detailed the comfort level of the 2-2 configuration business class seats.

“The seats have roughly 40 inches of pitch, so are slightly more comfortable than domestic first class seats in the U.S.,” said Schlappig. “The recline is limited, but that’s almost a blessing since it means the person seated in front of you doesn’t end up in your lap.”

What about Icelandair baggage rules?

Here’s the Icelandair baggage breakdown: Saga Class and Economy Comfort Class passengers get two checked bags each, while Economy Class passengers get one checked bag each, according to Seat Guru.

"If you are traveling with baggage, you must go to Icelandair baggage drop off at the airport to drop off your baggage. If you are traveling with carry-on baggage only, you can go directly to security,” Seat Guru added.

What do I need to know about Icelandair check-in?

When you’re looking for your Icelandair flight status and online check-in, the system is fairly easy to navigate. “Online check-in is available 36 hours prior to departure to Europe and 24 hours prior to departure to USA and Canada,” said Seat Guru. If you are traveling with baggage, you must go to Icelandair baggage drop off at the airport to drop off your baggage. If you are traveling with carry-on baggage only, you can go directly to security.

What is Icelandair economy class like?

In terms of what you get for an Icelandair economy class ticket, they deliver more than the bare minimum, while not going above and beyond. “As a hybrid/low-cost carrier, Icelandair provides some amenities for free, like carry-on luggage and entertainment, but charges for other things, like meals and seat selection,” said The Airline Guru at Travel Codex.

You’re getting what you paid for — perhaps a little more even, and certainly not less. “For the price, it gives you the ‘extras’ that you’d expect on a hybrid carrier, and I was perfectly content with the value of the ticket and the amenities I received,” summed up The Airline Guru.

What should I know about Icelandair’s stopover program?

Instead of simply choosing between one-way and round-trip tickets, you can also choose Icelandair’s specialty option: Icelandair stopover. “You can stay in Iceland for up to seven days without any additional fees for your flight between the US and Europe,” said Via Hero.

And the program continues to grow, now even pairing up stopover participants with Icelandair employees who will show you the sights.