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Watch us fly Icelandair 2 different ways: Business class versus economy

Jan. 27, 2022
4 min read
Watch us fly Icelandair 2 different ways: Business class versus economy
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With a very exciting northern lights-related video in the works at TPG, the team needed to make their way over to Iceland. And, what better way to arrive in a country than by trialing that nation's flag carrier?

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Icelandair was founded in 1937 and has been synonymous with Iceland ever since. On international routes, the airline flies a combination of Boeing 737, 757 and 767 aircraft, but following a TPG report outlining why you should fly the Boeing 737 MAX over the larger 767, we were eager to try out this newer, fresher 737.

Related: The 7 most extreme ways to see the northern lights

We boarded a 2-year-old Icelandair Boeing 737 MAX 8, departing London Heathrow (LHR), flying for two hours and 36 minutes to Keflavik Airport (KEF). I tried out Saga business class, while Liam Spencer, TPG U.K.'s senior social media manager, headed to the back of the plane and compared my experience to Icelandair's economy class.

Watch the full video of our experience here:

Saga business class - Nicky Kelvin

Seat: 1F

We paid: £552 (about $740)

The cabin was very smart and the seat was large and perfectly comfortable for a short flight like this. I was particularly impressed by the food. Although served cold, the steak and potato salad main course was fresh and delicious. The dedicated gin menu with local options was a noticeable and impressive touch.

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The service was particularly excellent. The crew was warm, friendly, efficient and up for a laugh. One of the crew poked fun at me during the flight in the most perfect way, keeping the experience fun and light-hearted.

There were some downsides: Icelandair flies this aircraft on journeys of five hours and more, and for a longer flight the seat would have become uncomfortable with its poor recline and lack of foot or leg rests in Row 1.

An Icelandair business-class ticket holder gets access to the Aer Lingus lounge when departing Heathrow's Terminal 2, but the food and drink offering here was very disappointing with the only hot food option being a soup, which tasted artificial and straight out of a can.

Considering the cost, I struggled to find the value for such a short flight.

Economy - Liam Spencer

Seat: 22F

We paid: £136 (about $182)

"I loved the fresh cabin on the 737 MAX 8 which felt clean and particularly modern with its charcoal color scheme. The service was extremely efficient — from check-in through boarding, and my meal arrived less than two minutes after I ordered it. This was impressive given how extensive the menu was with a number of different food and drink options."

"It wasn't all great, however. The meal that did arrive was sadly almost inedible. The 'Viking lamb' broth tasted like dishwater with bits ... and wasn't cheap at £7 (over $9) per serving. The headrest on my seat was also extremely flimsy and definitely wouldn't have held in place if I'd attempted to sleep on it, and this would definitely be a bad thing if I'd been booked on a longer flight."

"Additionally I was had to purchase IFE headphones for an additional £3 ($4). This seemed expensive given their quality and the fact that lots of other carriers provide them for free these days."

Related: Play vs Icelandair: Comparing Iceland’s newest and oldest airlines

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 80,000 Points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $1,600.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • Get up to $300 back per calendar year on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.
  • Breeze through security with CLEAR® lanes available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership when you use your Card. Learn more.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees