Icelandair 767-300/ER economy class Reykjavik to San Francisco

Icelandair 767-300/ER economy class Reykjavik to San Francisco

After a fun two days in Iceland, it was time to go home. This ended up being a really fun and unique trip for me, and I was definitely feeling a twinge of sadness about having to pack up and leave. I couldn’t help but to think about all the amazing scenery and all the amazing people I had met over the last two days, and I do believe I was frowning as I climbed aboard the Flybus at the main bus terminal in Reykjavik for the 45 minute ride over to KEF.

Despite the sadness, I was mostly feeling upbeat and extremely satisfied with myself for doing this trip. I had successfully scratched Iceland off my bucket list – yet I felt a hunger to see more of it. Somewhere out there in the barren landscape between Reykjavik and Keflavik, I made a promise to myself to go back to Iceland someday.

But then, like a baseball bat to the lower back, well…it felt like I got whacked with a baseball bat to the lower back.

Somehow the combination of throwing my heavy backpack over my shoulder and walking down the stairs of the bus upon arrival at KEF wasn’t something that my lower back agreed with and I tweaked it good – so good in fact, that I couldn’t even bend over 5 inches without wincing in pain. Perfect timing to have to go sit in economy class for 8 hours, eh? Getting old blows.

Reykjavik / Keflavik, Iceland (KEF) – San Francisco, CA (SFO)
Sunday, October 21, 2018
Aircraft: 767-319/ER
Registration: TF-ISN
Duration: 8 hours 39 minutes
Seat: 26E (economy class)

Icelandair 767-300 rendering by norebbo
Icelandair 767-300/ER side view illustration by
KEF-SFO route map
Our route from KEF to SFO this afternoon. Thankfully we avoided having to do that sharp 90 degree turn as indicated by the dotted line.

The only thing that sucks more than flying injured is to fly injured while trying to get tons of pics and video footage for the trip report. All I wanted to do was find a dark corner to lie down and die in, but nope – the show had to go on and I hobbled around the airport in pain trying to get the shots I needed in order to keep SANspotter fans happy. All two of them!

KEF airport exterior
Curbside, KEF. Pretty amazing shot considering how my other hand was reaching around behind me to nurse my freshly injured back!
Icelandair baggage drop KEF
Why is it that the baggage drop lines are completely vacant when I don’t have any bags to drop? This would have been a total zoo if I was checking luggage today.

Being occupied with trying to get trip report footage is a good thing sometimes. Especially here at KEF. This is a beautifully designed airport, stuffed full of the latest technology and cuisine. Unfortunately, it’s far too small, and it’s not hard to imagine that it was designed and built before the Iceland “fad” got big a short while ago.

It seems everybody wants to visit Iceland (and they’re arriving every day), but this airport just can’t keep up. There’s nowhere to sit during peak hours, so be prepared to stand in crowds of people while you wait for your flight to board.

The lack of seating is such a problem that you probably won’t mind having a short layover in Reykjavik. So go ahead – book that flight with a 1 hour connection at KEF. There won’t be anywhere to sit and wait anyway.

KEF airport central terminal
Don’t let these benches fool you – once you leave this central area of the terminal, there will be nowhere to sit.
KEF airport departures
It’s true – nothing will make you feel like an old man faster than struggling to read the tiny text on the departures board while holding your lower back to help ease the piercing pain.
Keflavik airport departures
I hobbled over to a flight information board closer to eye level only to find out that I’m way too early to be at the airport. As usual.
KEF airport terminal
Who likes sitting anyway? It’s off to the gate area where we’ll be standing until getting on the plane!
KEF airport design
Despite the lack of seats, it sure is a good looking terminal. Normally I cringe thinking about having to sit on the floor at an airport, but I would’ve licked the floor of this one if someone dared me to do it.
No place to sit Keflavik airport
This is the only open seating I was able to find on the departures level, and I came back 5 minutes later and every last square inch of it was occupied. I imagine the scenario was a lot like the “musical chairs” game we played in elementary school – and if your class was anything like mine, we all played dirty. There’s no time to be polite and cordial when fighting for the last remaining seat!

My flight was shown as departing from gate D28, but by the time I arrived there was a flight to LHR still in the process of boarding. Well, “boarding” is a generous word considering that these are all bus gates and the actual airplanes are located on the other side of the airport.

KEF boarding gate
D28. Currently queueing for LHR, but STANDING by for SFO. (See what I did there?)
Icelandair 767 at gate KEF
Pretty much the only gate in the place with a jet bridge. The AvGeek in me would have been totally disappointed if this was my flight though because I wanna go outside!

Remember how excited I was when I found out that my TAP Portugal flight from LIS to YYZ last year was going to be boarded from a remote stand? The same levels of excitement applied this particular day. All around me I could hear the groans from other passengers who didn’t feel much like going outside into the Icelandic elements one last time, but I was chompin’ at the bit to get some up close and personal time with that big and beautiful Icelandair 767.

Keflavik airport overcrowding
Kind of weird to be all bunched up like this with no 767 in sight. Welcome to KEF I guess.
Icelandair 737 max 8
Since when did Icelandair get 737 MAX 8’s? I had no idea – and I probably wouldn’t have known if I didn’t get the chance to ride the bus to a remote gate.
Icelandair 737 max 8 KEF
Seriously – what is there not to like about bus rides around the airport? Those MAX 8’s sure are pointy.
Wow Air a321 close up KEF
I’m still convinced that a better name for this airline would have been “HOLY CRAP”. “WOW” is playing it too safe in my opinon, and I’m a firm believer in pushing the limits when it comes to branding and marketing.

We had the choice of boarding from the front or the rear of the airplane today, and I naturally gravitated towards the front. I’m not totally sure why it is, but I have a slight phobia about going through rear aircraft doors voluntarily. It just seems wrong IMHO – and as far as I’m concerned those rear doors only exist to be escape holes after a horrific accident of some kind.

Icelandair 767 remote gate KEF
It could have been 30 degrees colder and I wouldn’t have been any less excited. Now THIS is the proper way to board an airplane!
Icelandair 767-300 review
I wonder if they would have let me try the rear stairs too?
Icelandair 767 boarding stairs
Interesting that there was a canopy for the forward boarding stairs, but not for the stairs behind the wing. I guess it just goes to show you that the service is always better at the front of the plane.
Icelandair 767 Saga class
A motion-blurred and brief look at the Saga class cabin as I carve my way back to economy.

I knew this flight was going to be full even before I reached my seat (thanks to having a look at the seat map 6 hours earlier). There was no chance of having an entire section of the aircraft all to myself like it was on the SFO-KEF segment a few days ago, but I was cool with that. After all, it would be a really good way to test the Icelandair cabin crew to see how they act under pressure. Not that I was planning on being difficult or anything…

Icelandair 767 economy class seats
Row 26 on this Icelandair 767-300. And I swear to God I heard my injured back yell out “oh hell no!” just moments before sitting down.
Icelandair 767 interiors
Now that I’ve spent two days in Reykjavik, I had a much better sense of why they chose these particular colors for the interiors of their 767s. It’s “volcanic” gray, I’m sure of it. And isn’t it fun when you blend into the plane you’re on? I definitely had a chameleon vibe going on at this particular moment.
Icelandair on Spotify
Did you know that Icelandair has a Spotify channel? I didn’t, and I can’t decide if it’s really stupid or utterly brilliant.
Icelandair 767 video screens
Still nabbing pics for ya even though my back is in excruciating pain. You’re welcome!

Thankfully one of the only empty seats on the plane just so happened to be right next to me, so I thanked my lucky stars that I had more space to stretch out and to try and find a position that wasn’t so hard on my back. So far so good actually – there were still 8 hours to go yet, but my back wasn’t completely locked up or anything.

Icelandair 767-300 safety card unfolded
I didn’t notice it on the flight from SFO a few days ago, but I diggin’ how the plane looks like it crashed on an iceberg in the very bottom illustration. I would have added a penguin or two for extra realism (perhaps even a friendly seal and a detached engine), but whatever.
Icelandair 767 passengers
Secretly hoping that somebody on this plane is a chiropractor. An emergency adjustment may be needed sometime in the next 8 hours…
Icelandair welcome message
Did you know that I speak Icelandic? Let me translate that caption for you: “That rock-hard and bolt-upright economy class seat you are sitting in has absolutely zero lumbar support, which will inflict additional irreversible damage to your already wounded spine. In less than 8 hours, you will be paralyzed from the neck down and your career as a travel blogger will be over. Have a nice flight!”
Icelandair 767 interiors
Not sure what I’m trying to take a picture of here, but – we’re taking off.
Icelandair economy class review
It was raining during the takeoff, so there wasn’t much to see anyway. For all my luck, there could have been a herd of frolicking (and mating) Icelandic reindeer at the edge of the runway and I missed it again!
Departing Iceland on Icelandair 767
Departing Iceland is like departing Europe except you get to fast forward all the way to Greenland.

I’m not normally one to fire up a movie right after takeoff, but I needed something to take my mind off my fresh back injury. What better choice was there than about a grumpy old man struggling to find peace with all the active (and healthy) youngsters around him? Yup – “Gran Turino” was a fine choice indeed.

Now, if you’ll remember from my last post when I made jokes about eating mystery meat in the shape of testicles from small farm animals, I made it sound like that I would never in a million years choose it again. There were so many other interesting-looking things on the menu, and I’d be a fool to choose the same thing twice.

Well, that was before I tweaked my back in way that had me thinking I’d surely be paralyzed in less than 12 hours, and what I needed at this exact moment was comfort food. And I’m here to tell ya – mystery meat in the form of testicles is surprisingly comfortable.

Icelandair economy class meals for purchase
Oops. I did it again.
Flying from Reykjavik to San Francisco
Normally I prefer to cap pics of the meal service with a pic of the scenery outside, but…this is the best I can do being in an aisle seat and all.

Once the movie was finished and the testicles had been consumed, it was time to get to work. I would have much preferred to have slept for a few hours, but the pain emanating from my lower back wasn’t going to allow that.

So, for the next 2 hours, I pecked away at my Philippine Airlines 777-300ER YVR-JFK review as I wiggled around in my seat trying different positions that didn’t have me whimpering in pain. I’m no doctor or anything, but I was certain that sitting in an economy class seat for 8 hours immediately after a back injury only made things worse.

Icelandair 767 rear lavatory
Time for a bathroom break. Mental note: I gotta spice up these lavatory pics somehow. How come nothing ever exciting happens in here?
Full Icelandair 767 cabin
Every seat occupied, except for the one next to me. Nailed it.
Running up the aisles Icelandair 767
Racing up the aisle as if I was expecting an Icelandic reindeer feast to be waiting for me when I got back to my seat.
Flying from KEF to SFO
Wish I could see outside. 🙁
Icelandair 767 window view
The light out there was pretty much perfect too. It took every bit of strength I had in me to not reach across and nab some pics for the ‘gram.

With just under four hours of flying time remaining, I decided that binging on back-to-back episodes of Family Guy was the only way to speed up time so that I could get off this plane and save what was left my mutilated lower back. Is it wrong that I (an old man prone to lower back injuries) still laughs hysterically to immature humor? Family Guy has got to be one of the best TV series ever.

Family guy quote
“You’d better watch who you’e calling a child, Lois. Because if I’m a child, you know what that makes you? A pedophile. And I’ll be damned if I’m gonna be lectured by a pervert.” – Peter Griffin
Icelandair 767 interior colors
“Volcanic gray”. I love it!
Sleeping Icelandair economy class
Next time somebody asks me if it’s possible to sleep in Icelandair economy class, I’m just gonna email them this pic.

Just as it was on my SFO to KEF flight a few days prior, my stomach was grumbling like crazy all the way through the descent and landing. The service is generally very good on Icelandair, but food portions are small – which stings especially bad since all food on this airline costs extra back here in economy class. I probably would have had to spend $30 to get enough food that wouldn’t have made my stomach make really embarrassing noises all the way into SFO.

Icelandair to SFO
Hope they’re awake up there and don’t overfly SFO. I need to get up and stretch my back soon before it splinters into a million (more) tiny pieces.
Icelandair 767 arrival SFO
Welcome to San Francisco! As Interesting as it would have been for the trip report, I’m so glad that I didn’t have to call for paramedics to extract me from this plane.

And that’s a pretty good place to wrap this up. I didn’t really get a sense of how good (or bad) Icelandair cabin crews were after that nearly empty flight from San Francisco to Reykjavik a few days prior, so I was especially looking forward to seeing how they did on this very full return flight. All in all I think they handled things very well – they were friendly, attentive, and generally very proactive with drinks throughout the entire flight.

It was the ground exact KEF that left a lot to be desired though. That place is a total madhouse during rush hour. As a matter of fact, the video I created for this flight sums up my thoughts on Icelandair perfectly:

Finally, I’d like to state for the record that I wasn’t even nervous about the tight connection that I had in San Francisco once I landed. SFO international to domestic minimum connection times are generally better than they are at other US airports, so I was feeling chipper, confident, and upbeat as I stepped off the plane. My back though. Holy moly…

Comments (3)

  1. Albert

    February 23, 2019
    • SANspotter

      February 24, 2019
  2. Albert

    February 27, 2019

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