Flight test: Icelandair premium economy

On board Icelandair.
On board Icelandair. 

ICELANDAIR

THE ROUTE

London to Halifax, Nova Scotia, via Reykjavik.

THE PLANE

Boeing 757-200.

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

Icelandair Saga Club.

UP THE BACK OR POINTY END?

Premium Economy (Economy Comfort) seat 7D to Reykjavik, 5C to Halifax, Nova Scotia. On the second leg, 5C is an upgraded Saga (Business) class seat.

TIME IN THE AIR

Two hours 50 minutes from London to Keflavik airport, arrival on schedule. On time departure to Halifax and short flight time of four hours and 30 minutes means arriving 35 minutes early.

THE SEAT STUFF

Legroom 33 inches/84cm. Oceans of legroom from London to Reykjavik and the middle seat is blocked off, too. Economy Comfort is located directly behind Business class and features eight seats London-Reykjavik. The seat layout is 2-2 l on both legs. On the Halifax leg, a few days after the first, my Saga Class seat has 40 inches/101 cm of legroom. There are normally 44 Economy Comfort seats on both legs.

BAGGAGE

Two checked-in bags up to 23kg each, two carry-on bags up to 10kg each, plus one personal item.

COMFORT FACTOR

After booking Premium Economy (Economy Comfort) online for a bargain fare of £485 ($766 at booking time) I revel in the space and additional benefits such as double the baggage allowance and free food and drinks (excluding champagne). I am even happier to find myself in a Business Class seat en route to Halifax.

THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT

A small seatback touch screen has a selection of relatively new English language and Icelandic movies and a back catalogue of 30. There is a good music library, including an Icelandic channel which shows the country isn't just about Bjork and Sigur Ros.

THE SERVICE

Check-in at Heathrow is very friendly and helpful despite some computer problems. The cabin crew en route to Iceland are smiley and attentive. Check-in for the second leg at Keflavik International airport is quick and seamless and the agreeable staff make the whole Icelandair experience a pleasure.

FEEDING TIME

Pretzels and a welcome drink are offered 25 minutes into the flight to Iceland. Then there is a choice from a limited snack menu - I go for a warm cheese and ham baguette. On the Halifax flight I opt for a warm chicken dish. It's served with wild rice and curry sauce and is pretty good.

ONE MORE THING ...

Lounge access comes as standard for Economy Comfort passengers. It's particularly useful at Keflavik where the modern, spacious lounge is almost empty and allows me to deal with work emails using free Wi-Fi.

THE VERDICT

Icelandair offers an excellent alternative route to North America from London allowing a stopover on this extraordinary volcanic island. The airline itself is rated highly by passengers who use it regularly.

THE FREQUENCY

Icelandair has two daily flights from Heathrow to Keflavik (for Reykjavik) International airport with four onward flights to Halifax, Nova Scotia, per week.

Tested by Daniel Scott, who flew courtesy of the Canadian Tourism Commission.

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