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This week, Icelandair announced that it will add four weekly nonstop flights between Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD) and Keflavik International Airport (KEF) starting in March 2016. Available year-round with service on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, these flights will connect to more than 20 destinations in Europe.

iceland air flight map
New nonstop Icelandair flights from ORD-KEF will begin in March 2016.

For travelers from the Midwest, the ORD-KEF flights will open up more opportunity to visit what’s fast becoming one of the most popular destinations in Europe, and for Icelanders and other Europeans, the flights will offer easier access to Chicago and its environs. Coming on the heels of the airline’s added service to Seattle, Newark and Minneapolis-St. Paul, the news of these Chicago flights also positions Icelandair to grab a larger piece of the US-to-Europe market.

Iceland’s Gullfoss.

Iceland’s position between North America and mainland Europe — as well as its opportunities to see the Northern Lights, visit glaciers and geysers and ride small, furry horses — makes it an ideal stopover point. You can also take advantage of up to a 7-day stopover at no additional charge.

icelandair screenshot
Over the next four months, ORD-BOS-KEF itineraries cost between $960-1,600; for example, July 26-August 21, 2015 is $1,111.

Icelandair’s current ORD-KEF flights currently require a connection at Boston’s Logan International Airport (BOS) with a domestic flight from O’Hare on JetBlue, and show economy-class prices ranging from $960 to $1,600 over the next four months. (If you have the extra cash, you might want to consider booking in business class for its snazzy amenity kit.) Hopefully, nonstop flights will bring lower prices along with the shorter travel times.

Courtesy of Icelandair
Icelandair’s Saga Class amenity kit. Photo courtesy of Icelandair.

Redeeming for a Flight

Though Icelandair’s Saga program has limited transfer partners, such as Hilton HHonors, you’ll likely receive a better value (and better availability/much less hassle) by booking using a credit card that allows you to redeem points to cover everyday travel purchases. A $1,111 Icelandair flight will cost approximately 100,000 Barclaycard Arrival miles after factoring in the 10% mileage rebate on redemptions, but considering you earn two miles for every $1 spent on the Barclaycard Arrival Plus card (which currently offers a 40,000-mile bonus after you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days), an Icelandair flight could be a good redemption.

If you do travel through Iceland and stay long enough to explore, be sure to visit the WOW Air $99-Fare Guide to Iceland and Layover Lowdown: Iceland’s Keflavik International Airport — and enjoy!

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
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  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
16.49% - 23.49% Variable
Annual Fee
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

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