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Flying Iceland Air Saga Premium

Flying Iceland Air... just not to Iceland!

Iceland Air's Saga Premium Class Review:

This was my first time on Iceland Air, and the deal to Helsinki was shockingly reasonable, considering a direct non-stop to Reykjavik was almost twice the price. I decided I may as well try the premium cabin, since I already felt like I was getting a deal just choosing Finland over Iceland to begin with.

Check-In Process, BWI:

Might honestly have been worth it just to bypass the economy line, which was several rows deep. Flying out of BWI, despite the lack of lounge, felt very seamless and luxurious. I made the executive decision not to tempt myself into buying things by checking in a larger suitcase, and instead decided to cram everything into a roller carry-on and a weekender shoulder bag. Had I not been in Saga Premium, this plan might have backfired on me; about twenty minutes before boarding, gate attendants asked everyone to come up and check everything but their small carry-ons, as the flight was fully booked. With a Saga Premium seat this did not apply to me, and I was allowed to keep all my luggage with me and take it on the plane.

From BWI (Baltimore) I was first on the plane, along with the rest of the Saga Premium members and seat holders. It felt a little chaotic, with passengers just asked to make up their own lines once boarding started, but the process itself was fairly smooth.The same could not be said of my flight back from HEL (Helsinki) where it was more like a free for all that didn't seem to have any real boarding process to speak of. Both my layovers in KEF (Keflavik) were the most structured, with taped off lines for Saga Premium members.

On-Board Experience:

The seats were fine enough for a 6 hour flight. Amenities included the usual business class fair - lip balm, lotion, sanitizer, a very hard toothbrush, a shockingly nice eye mask, and a somewhat lackluster pair of socks. Also the standard blanket and pillow. We were served champagne before take-off, along with a small treat. One most of my flights that was a little chocolate bonbon, but I did get a box of macarons on my HEL-KEF flight, which delighted me.

Post-boarding Champagne and Macarons

In general, I would say the food on Iceland Air was top notch. I read it got a bit spotty over COVID, but if so, they've really turned it around since then. I had no issues getting the option of my preference - the same could not be said of United, which habitually runs out of the better ones whenever I fly them - and I wasn't disappointed on a single meal I was served on board, and the same could be said of the drinks.

I had two dinner meals between my four flights, and both menus were different each time. On my way to KEF I had the lamb meal, and on my way back to BWI i had a fish stew (?) which while delicious, didn't look anything like a stew. My flights from KEF to HEL and back had no menus, just a single set meal - breakfast on my way to HEL, and a light lunch charcuterie spread on my way back to KEF. I would say these two were the weaker options.

In-flight Gin Library

The alcohol selection served on board was better than most business class flights I've taken. The gin library was a nice touch. They also had a small single-serve bottle of champagne available (which I had with dinner in one of the photos above) as well as a decent selection of wine and spirits. I'm not a particularly big drinker, but I felt compelled to try the gin and was not disappointed.

Iceland Airport Layovers:

To be honest, I wasn't particularly impressed by the airport, which I had assumed would be fairly spectacular, or at the very least a cut above the more pathetic varieties found in the US. I didn't get a gateway either time I landed in there, so was forced to trudge down the stairs in the blistering cold to a transport bus to the terminal proper. Each time we were taken into Terminal D... which is a madhouse.

If you know anything about KEF - which I did not until arrival - they have a terminal specifically for US, Canada, and UK flights. That's the D-gates, and it's cramped, crowded, and has one single restroom for all the gates. The majority of it is a walk-through store area, which sells cool handicrafts but offers no places to sit. There's also a large grocery area, and then an Sbarro of all things. The C-gate area is above it, and is by and large much nicer, and also includes the Saga lounge. The lounge itself seemed nice, but Iceland Air has brutally efficient 1hr layovers, which didn't leave much time to enjoy it. It also was packed to the gills, being the only lounge in the small airport.

Saga Premium includes access to the Saga lounge - but that's only if you're not flying out of Terminal D. The D-gates have no access to the lounge whatsoever.

Check-In Process, Helsinki:

BWI's boarding and check-in was pleasant enough, but hardly special. HEL, on the other hand, was a dream. Saga Premium members have access to priority security lanes, as well as access to two of the lounges in Helsinki. The one closest to my gate was the Aspire Lounge.

The Lounge was unsurprisingly packed, with a layout that had it seeming much smaller than it appeared. They had an entire second floor with seating, along with a long hallway from the main area that led to more tables. Food was shockingly good, and they definitely know their audience with that gin bar.

As I mentioned earlier, the boarding process itself was a bit of an outlier to the whole experience. They sort of piled us all into a tiny corner of the airport and had people board without any real system. Luckily I was near the gate so I boarded early enough, but there was no staggering between Saga Premium and economy.

Would I do it again?

For flight segments no longer than 6 hours, the seats are comfortable enough, and the service and food more than make up for the fact they're not lie-flats. Considering Iceland Air doesn't fly hauls much longer than that, I think its a product worth considering again. The biggest perk to this seat class beyond impressive in-flight meals were priority boarding and lounge access in airports, which as I learned in KEF, is very dependent on the airport itself.

I wouldn't call it a resounding yes, but if I find another good deal on Saga Premium, I'll take it! As it is, Iceland Air is rarely the most straightforward route to Europe for me, and Iceland isn't an easy place to do a quick layover, so my chances of taking it again otherwise are few and far between.

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