Open for business: What to know about getting to Iceland on points this summer
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Iceland said last week that it would welcome international travelers back “no later than June 15,” according to its prime minister. As countries start to relax restrictions put in place from the novel coronavirus, you may want to add the small country to the top of your list if you’re considering traveling this summer or fall.
For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Since March 20, foreigners (excluding European Union citizens, U.K. citizens, EFTA citizens and people living in the Schengen Area) have been forbidden from entering Iceland, except for essential reasons, according to Iceland’s Directorate of Immigration.
Only travelers from within the approved areas may visit Iceland, and they must immediately enter a 14-day quarantine upon arrival. But Iceland is beginning to slowly ease travel restrictions.
As we previously reported, the first phase will allow travelers from the Faroe Islands and Greenland to visit Iceland without enduring a quarantine period. Iceland then expects to ease entry restrictions for visitors from overseas by mid-June. Travelers who opt to take a COVID-19 test upon arrival — and test negative — can enter without the mandatory two-week quarantine.
That means you might be able to take a trip to someplace other than your backyard this summer or fall. Here’s how you can get to Iceland.
Iceland flight deals currently available
Round-trip deals from cities like Newark (EWR), New York-JFK, Boston (BOS), Washington, D.C. (IAD) and Chicago (ORD) to Reykjavik (KEF) are available for select dates between June and January 2021 for as low as $379 round-trip on Icelandair.
You’ll find the cheapest deals on online travel agencies (OTAs) like Orbitz, but you may avoid potential headaches by booking directly through the airline. Icelandair isn’t a low-cost carrier, so it doesn’t charge for things like carry-ons, checked bags, or seat assignments. Note Icelandair has a fare class called Economy Light, the only difference being that it doesn’t include a checked bag. If you plan to bring a lot of gear, you’ll want to avoid this fare class.
If you want to book an Icelandair flight using points and miles, you are pretty much limited to using Alaska Airline Mileage Plan miles as your only redemption option (unless you have miles in Icelandair’s own Saga Club loyalty program). I’m seeing round-trip flights from Boston to Iceland for 70,000 Alaska miles plus taxes.
Alternately, you could redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for flights through the issuer’s travel portal, or American Express Membership Rewards through Amex Travel. If you find a cheap fare this can be a solid deal.
Related: The best airline credit cards
Getting to Iceland on points
Nonstop flights from the U.S. and their originating cities include:
- Delta: New York-JFK and seasonally from Minneapolis (MSP)
- United: Newark (EWR)
- Icelandair: Anchorage (ANC), Edmonton (YEG), Toronto (YYZ), Montreal (YUL), Boston, New York-JFK, Newark, Philadelphia (PHL), Washington, D.C., Chicago, Minneapolis, Orlando (MCO), Denver (DEN), Portland (PDX), Seattle (SEA) and Vancouver (YVR)
- American Airlines: Dallas (DFW) (shifting to Philadelphia in 2020)
- Air Canada: Montreal and Toronto
Redeeming miles to get to Iceland isn’t as easy as many other European destinations, especially if you are looking to fly nonstop. That said, there are several options. If you are in New York, Dallas, Montreal or Toronto, you can redeem miles much more easily on a U.S.-based airline (or if you are open to a flight with a layover).
I’m not seeing any summer availability on Delta, but I’m seeing decent availability on select routes like Newark and Boston for 75,000 Aeroplan miles in Lufthansa economy. Note that the taxes are pretty high here, but there’s pretty good availability all summer.
Aeroplan partners with a number of transferable points programs, letting you instantly top up your account when you’re ready to book an award. You can transfer points to Aeroplan at the following ratios:
- American Express Membership Rewards: 1:1
- Capital One miles: 2:1.5
- Marriott Bonvoy: 3:1 (with a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 points transferred)
United also has solid economy award space from the East Coast as well as West Coast cities like San Francisco (SFO). Round-trip fares on Lufthansa start at 66,000 United MileagePlus miles plus taxes.
Where to stay in Iceland with points
There are only a handful of points hotels in Iceland, but most won’t drain your entire points balance.
Note that both Hilton hotels say they are not accepting guests “for a short period.”
The Canopy by Hilton Reykjavik is located right in the center of the city, which makes it a great location if you don’t plan to rent a car. One huge plus of this hotel is that breakfast is free to all — no Hilton elite status needed, which is the case for all Canopy properties. This particular perk can potentially save you hundreds of dollars, especially if you’re traveling with family, as food in Iceland is notoriously expensive. I’m seeing rates for July travel starting at 37,000 Hilton Honors points a night.
The Reykjavik Konsulat Hotel is a Curio Collection hotel if you’re looking for something a little more upscale. The hotel was built in the 1900s and was once a department store owned by Consul Thomsen’s family. Today, you’ll find a sauna and whirlpool with exposed original stone walls. Similar to the Canopy, the Konsulat is located in the city center. I’m seeing some July dates starting at 47,000 points a night.
Several Design hotels have decent availability in August. 101 Hotel and ION Adventure Hotel, both Category 7 Marriott Bonvoy properties, have good availability in August for 60,000 Bonvoy points a night.
The Radisson Blu 1919 Hotel is right in the city center and close to nightclubs and the famous Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur hot dog stand. This property costs 70,000 Radisson points per night for a standard room (two guests) or 105,000 points a night for a premium room (three guests).
Understand cancellation policies before buying an airline ticket
Before buying any airline ticket in the current realities, understand the cancellation and rebooking policies for the carrier you book. Airlines have been adjusting their policies to be more friendly for future bookings, but what that means can vary from airline to airline, and they may differ depending on whether you used cash or miles.
While you’re now often able to rebook an airline ticket for a future date without a change fee, just remember that you’ll likely still be on the hook for any fare difference from your old ticket to the new one.
Featured photo by MartinM303/Getty Images.
WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.