If you’re looking for a lie-flat bed, Icelandair’s “Saga Premium” business class is certainly not for you. But if you’re looking for excellent service at a good price point, Iclelandair is worthy of consideration.
A $512 fare drew to me to Icelandair. That was more than fair for a nine-hour flight from Reykjavik to San Francisco, but I cannot see myself paying much more for what amounts to an upscale premium economy seat.
The aircraft was parked at a remote stand, so passengers queued up in the gate area to board a bus to take us to the aircraft. The bus was delayed, trapping a gaggle of passengers in essentially a small holding pen in the gate area for far too long.
Reykjavik (KEF) – San Francisco (SFO)
Tuesday, August 20
Depart: 05:oo PM
Arrive: 06:55 PM
Duration: 08hr, 55min
Distance: 4,204 miles
Aircraft: Boeing 767-300ER
Seat: 5A (Business Class “Premium Saga”)
Jumping off the bus, I sprinted up the stairs in order to capture a few pictures of the business class cabin before it filled with passengers.
Icelandair 767-300 Business Class Seats
Icelandair’s Premium Saga Business class features 25 seats, spread over five rows in a 2-1-2 configuration. Seats are really more like premium economy class seats…recline is very limited and legroom is sufficient, but not generous. In short, the seat is like a domestic first class seat in the USA or Australia or a premium economy seat on British Airways.
That said, there were certainly some business class touches like a very comfortable blanket and pillow.
I was not able to sleep/nap on this flight, though the daytime hours of the flight also contributed to this. This seat would be a no-go if I wanted to sleep on an overnight flight in the opposite direction.
Icelandair 767-300 Business Class Cleanliness
The cabin was not very clean. I found trash, including food, around my seat.
Icelandair 767-300 Business Class Lavatory
I changed into my pajamas on this flight, giving me a chance to check out the lavatory shortly after takeoff. While very spartan, it was clean. When I changed out of my pajamas toward the end of the flight, the lavatory was still clean.
Icelandair 767-300 Business Class IFE + Wi-Fi
Seatback monitors provide a selection of movies, TV shows, and music. A total of 55 movies were available and there was only I found interesting that I had not already seen: V is Vendetta…all the way back from 2006.
Business class passengers receive free wi-fi onboard. I was looking forward to high speed internet onboard this flight and it did work well…for the first two hours. Then it cut off and remained off for the rest of the flight. With a fairly limited IFE library, I actually had a few moments to pull out a book in read.
Not because I did not have work to do, but because the in-seat power port did not generate enough juice to keep my laptop charged. This is a recurring problem with my three-prong laptop plug. I was able to find a workaround by plugging in my adaptor into the plug, then using a USB C to USB C cable between my laptop and the adaptor. While that was not sufficient to charge my laptop up, it did stop the drain (at 18%).
Noise-cancleling headphones were provided.
Icelandair 767-300 Business Class Meal Service
Icelandair offers all passengers the chance to pre-order meals up to 48 hours before the flight. Economy class passengers receive a 10% discount when they pre-order versus pay onboard.
Unfortunately, I blundered in failing to pre-order a meal for this flight, even though I booked months in advance. I was really looking forward to trying Icelandic lamb, but wound up with a choice between a cold tapas platter or beef short ribs. Here’s the menu for the flight:
Service began with a choice of beverage and cheese biscuits. Preparing for the red meat, I ordered a glass of red wine. A hot towel was also offered.
Meals, like in premium economy class, were served on a single tray with appetizer, main course, and dessert. No salad or soup was offered.
The appetizer was lemon-marinated Arctic char with pickled fennel and dill seed aioli…the best part of the meal.
Braised beef short ribs can be hit or miss on an airplane. If they are stringy and tender, it’s one of the better airline dishes. If well-done but not tender, it is one of the worst. I won’t say the main course was horrible, but let’s just say I preferred the potatoes, mushrooms, and green beans to the beef.
I skipped the chocolate and caramel mousse for dessert, but drank a cup of coffee.
Dinner after takeoff was the only formal meal service of the flight. Throughout the rest of the flight, snacks were available, including:
- Almond/cranberry mix
- Protiene bar
Business class passengers can also request food from the economy class buy-on-board menu.
Five hours into the flight I was hungry once again and ordered some junk food…including potato chips, a stroopwafel, and a tapas box that included meat, cheese, breadsticks, and bruschetta.
To go back to my theme, this was more like a premium economy offering than business class. I should not have eaten this junk food…it gave me a pretty back headache soon after.
A couple hours before landing, I requested a pizza from the back. It was soggy, but tasty.
Icelandair 767-300 Business Class Amenity Kit
An amenity kit included hand lotion, lip balm, and moisturizing spray from Hannes Dottir, an Icelandic brand. Contents also included a dental kit, earplugs, eyeshades, socks, and “do not disturb” stickers.
Icelandair “Icelandic” Touches
Icelandair offered many Icelandic touches, including the catering, bottled water, Hannes Dottir products, and instruction in the Icelandic language on pillows, blankets, and seat covers.
Icelandair 767-300 Business Class Service
I won’t say it made up for everything, but service was very nice, especially by flight attendant Lara. She was kind and attentive. I really appreciated her wonderful smile and her dutiful monitoring of the cabin throughout the flight.
Service is such a critical aspect to the business class experience and I appreciate so much when flight attendants do not just disappear between meal services but keep an active eye on the cabin.
We landed on-time in San Francisco.
Check your “business class” expectations at the door and you’ll enjoy friendly service. Pre-order you meal and you can enjoy a genuine Icelandic speciality. But don’t expect a lie-flat seat or even generous recline…that’s not the Icelandair model.
Your reviews are probably the best out there, and are pretty interesting. However you’ve been posting in disorder (yerevan, then out of knowhere you are in bali, then you are in SFO, then you are in germany, etc.)and it makes it less interesting. Just an advice, i know it’s your blog and you post as you see fit.
Thanks for reading and fair point. I’ve been traveling very erratically lately and the trip reports are not so much out of order so much as me just choosing not to post the same old United or Lufthansa reviews that I have posted so many times in the past.
For example, this trip was BUR-SFO-FRA in United Business, then FRA-VIE-EVN on Austrian, then EVN-ATH-TXL on Aegean, TXL-CPH-KEF on SAS, KEF-SFO on Icelandair, and finally SFO-BUR on United.
This was just a couple weeks after I did LAX-BNE-DPS on Virgin, DPS-SIN on KLM, SIN-SFO on United…
Oh, and there was a BUR-SFO-LHR-MAD-BCN-IAD-DEN-BUR flight in between those two trips.
I’m curious, are you interested in the reviews on the European segments, where there is not much to write about?
I’ve just been focusing on flight segments I think readers will find more interesting (or I feel like writing about).
Thanks for your answer. I’m from Colombia so for me is pretty much flying Avianca all the time. Therefore i would be interested on the European flights since it tells you what to expect. Early this year i got the chance to try Ryanair and easyjet. I never expected that Ryanair would be more comfortable than easyjet, so yes, i would be totally interested. I understand that a lot of your readers maybe are not though.
I find it very odd indeed that they only offer 1 meal on a 9 hour flight, requiring J passengers to make do with that awful junk from Y.
The whole show looks very ‘cheap and cheerful’, and I agree that this is a day flight only choice.
It’s very similar to Jetstar ( Australian LCC) business class.
Most of us care about the hard product and the elephant in the room is the middle single seat.
Business class is half about leg room plus direct isle access for u and no one climbing over u.
Next time u have a chance to review this cabin, it would be interesting how those middle seats work out and how much disruption there is by having two isles and no direction to lean in to avoid isle traffic.
Also, cushion width, total width and obviously seat pitch would be helpful if looked on as mandatory metrics. These are not subjective and thus, very helpful. And no, SeatGuru doesn’t always get it right.
If you want a single middle seat review from another airline (United), see below:
it would probably be better to have the seats in 2-2-1 configuration for direct isle access from 4/5th of the seats (instead of 3/5 as is now)
My spouse and I flew Icelandic Business Class from Paris to Iceland to San Francisco in the summer of 2019, Your description of the aircraft and service matches our own – not much legroom, not a lie flat seat, but decent food/beverages, entertainment, and very good to excellent service. Our major disappointments were with with the ridiculous check in process at CDG, the unorganized boarding processes, and the crowding at both CDG and Iceland gates.
Worse airline I have ever flown with