Icelandair

Travel Tidbits: smuggled finches, Iceland adventures, middle seats, and more

There does indeed seem to be an uptick in travel and travel news. Here’s some of what we spotted today.

Delta Air Lines will stop blocking middle seat starting May 1. They were last US airline still blocking middle seats.

Delta also announced on Tuesday that it is extending the expiration date on travel credits and bringing snacks back starting April 14. Passengers flying Delta One or First Class on select domestic coast-to-coast flights will see hot food options return in early June. First Class customers on some other U.S. routes will be served boxed meals beginning in early July.

Alaska Airlines now part of oneworld airline alliance

As of March 31 Alaska Airlines becomes the newest member of the oneworld airline alliance. That means that “as a Mileage Plan member, you can earn Alaska miles on all 14 member airlines when you fly to as many as 1,000 destinations in more than 170 countries and territories,” the airline said in a statement.

The new membership also means the benefit enjoyed by Alaska’s elite flyers will be honored on other member airlines.

“You’re an MVP Gold? Without doing a thing, you now also have Sapphire tier status in oneworld (75K fliers are Emerald and MVPs are Ruby in the alliance),” the airline notes, and, “Depending on your tier status, oneworld travel priveleges include priority check-in, access to more than 650 international first and business class lounges, preferred boarding, fast track through security, priority baggage benefits and more.”

Hair Rollers harbor finches

People try to smuggle things – foods, animals, drugs, etc – through airports all the time. U.S. Customs and Border Protection recently spotted a guy who was trying to 29 finches in these hair rollers.

Iceland is hot right now

If Iceland wasn’t high on your travel list before now, the volcanic eruption going on now should be grabbing your attention. Another reason to make plans to head that way: this package offer from Icelandair available to book through April 13 for travel from 10 US cities. Along with roundtrip airfare and three nights hotel, with breakfast, vaccinated travelers get a visit to the new Sky Lagoon, a Northern Lights Board Tour and a one-day pass for the Hop On Hop Off city sightseeing bus.

WOW Air shuttered and airlines, bus lines, travel companies try to help

Beleaguered WOW Air shut down on Thursday, posting a note on its website that all flights had been canceled.

For tickets holders stranded in various cities and airports, and those with tickets for future dates, WOW Air suggests contacting your travel agent or credit card issuer for help and offers this advice:

“Some airlines may offer flights at a reduced rate, so-called rescue fares, in light of the circumstances.”

As of Thursday evening, here’s what airlines, travel companies and even a bus company is offering WOW Air ticket holders in terms of “rescue” assistance:

Early in the day, the Hopper booking site announced that all customers who booked WOW Air flights through its site would get full refunds.

“Hopper will also be paying the full cost of rebooking for all its stranded passengers in transit.”

A variety of airlines are offering WOW Air tickets holders discounted rates on rebooked flights.

Icelandair has a posted a list of discounted Economy fares for stranded passengers en route to, from, or through Iceland. The fares are only available for passengers already on their journey, with a return WOW AIr ticket between now and April 11, 2019.

Other airlines, including Norwegian Air, Aer Lingus, United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic are also offering special “rescue” fares to help WOW Air ticket holders. Check with the airline to see what they can do for you.

Even the Megabus company is doing its part to help.

Are you holding tickets for a WOW Air flight? Let us know how your rebooking plans work out.

Icelandair celebrating Iceland’s soccer team with stopover fun

This year, Iceland became the smallest country ever to have its men’s soccer team qualify for the World Cup.

To celebrate, Icelandair, which sponsors the team, is launching a special soccer-themed version of its famed stopover program.

Passengers can apply to participate in Team Iceland Stopover: a selection of 90-minute, soccer-inspired experiences curated by members of Iceland’s men’s and women’s teams and taking place from May 29 through the end of June, 2018.

The experiences range from attending either a National Men’s or Women’s team match and hanging with midfielder Birkir Bjarnason at his favorite geothermal area to attending the June 16 party to celebrate Iceland’s World Cup match.

Anyone can apply to be part of the Team Iceland Stopover experiences, but there are limited spots. You’ll  need to be flying on Icelandair and your itinerary will need to match up with the program events. See the Icelandair website for more details.

Icelandair welcomes its first 737Max

Icelandair took its first new Boeing 737 MAX 8 on a celebratory flight on Saturday, flying north from the in-city Reykjavík Airport for a one-hour special flight over stunning mountains and landscape before returning to the airport for a welcome party that included tours of the aircraft for hundreds of invited guests.

I was fortunate to go along for the flight.

All Icelandair planes are named after Icelandic volcanoes, glaciers or other areas of Iceland’s landscape and this new Boeing 737 MAX 8, is named Jökulsárlon, after a glacial lagoon.

Here are some more snaps from the flight:

Invited guests on the flight got to taste a special 737 Transatlantic Pale Ale, which will be available for purchase onboard Icelandair flights, starting at the end of May, for a few months.

 

Sigurður Helgason, Icelandair’s past CEO and Bjorgolfur Johannsson, the current President & CEO, toast the new plane with cans of the special 737 Transatlantic IPA.

 

Hundreds of invited guests came to the airport to welcome the plane and lined up for a tour. But first the red carpet had to put out.

 

This is the first of 16 737 Max airplanes Icealandair will receive over the next four years, so keep an eye out for them in the skies and at your airport.

 

Icelandair’s in-flight immersive theater experiment

Last week Icelandair tried something new: an 11-hour immersive theater production that took place on a flight from London to New York, with an on-the-ground bonus performance during a short layover in Reykjavik.

I got to ride along.

The cast was a mix of professional actors from the London theater group, Gideon Reeling, and real airline employees, including pilots, engineers, accountants, ground workers and cabin crew, who had volunteered to attend a special stage school.

The characters ranged from film stars and flight attendants from various decades to a perky party planner, a stone-faced volcanologist, a ram farmer and a pair of barefoot, beaded hippies. And the plot was built around Icelandair’s 80-year history, its can-do philosophy and themes of empowerment for women.

The show – such as it was – took place on board, as the characters mingled with passengers, telling stories about their role in what turned out to be a kooky and somewhat complicated family all headed to a party for Edda who  (spoiler alert…) never appeared.

I’m finishing up a story for NBC News about the event, but here are some snaps from the flight.