Earlier this month, Icelandair announced that it would begin operating direct flights from Kansas City, Missouri to Reykjavík, Iceland. The service, scheduled to begin in May, is the first-ever nonstop, transatlantic flight from Kansas City.
And it's just one of a growing number of direct flights from the heart of the United States to Europe.
Air France will connect Paris and Indianapolis; Flights from Cleveland and St. Louis will also get direct service to Iceland's capital city. And, albeit farther south, British Airways will soon fly from Nashville to London.
"We don't see this as our only opportunity for a European link," deputy director of operations at Kansas City Airport, Justin Meyer, told Travel Weekly. "We think the viability is there for the market to support Icelandair and perhaps even more."
Although some may scratch their heads at the decision to increase flights between the Midwest and Europe, it's been a long time coming. The reason is twofold: increased accessibility and increased demand.
One technical reason behind the heartland's transatlantic surge is the increased availability of smaller, more fuel-efficient planes.
Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner — which British Airways will use on service between Nashville and London — is often cited as an example, alongside the Airbus A320neo. These energy-efficient aircraft allow airlines to operate more frequent, less-full flights between far-flung destinations.
The aircraft are so successful that in September 2017, Boeing announced it would increase production of its 787 Dreamliner by 17 percent next year.
Direct travel from Midwest cities to Europe is also direct evidence of a more global society.
It’s now estimated that 42 percent of U.S. citizens are passport holders — an increase of 15 percent since 2007. In 2016 alone, there was an eight percent annual increase in the number of Americans traveling abroad.
As budget airlines increase their service (and advertise transatlantic flights as low as $99 from Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, and St. Louis), cheap travel to Europe is no longer a cosmopolitan fantasy. It’s a reality. Airlines are just beginning to tap into a new demographic in the middle of the country.