Iceland is one of the most popular travel destinations on the planet, and though the number of airlines serving the country’s international airport is growing, Icelandair remains one of the top choices to get there. Iceland’s national airline has increased the number of planes, routes, and staff as flying to the Land of Fire and Ice has risen in demand, while still maintaining their popular stopover service. This is a program in which passengers can spend up to seven days in the country before continuing on to another European destination at no extra cost.
With twelve American and three Canadian airports offering direct flights, Icelandair has made Iceland more accessible than ever for North Americans. But even the shortest routes are over five hours, and the longest well over twelve, making it well worth it to upgrade to Icelandair’s business class if you can snag a deal.
What to know about Icelandair business class
Icelandair’s business class is called Saga Premium, which can be a little confusing because their loyalty program is called the Saga Club. While it’s certainly worth it to join up, especially when flying the airline regularly, note that signing up for Saga Club does not come with upgrades to Saga Premium (that comes with reaching status level Saga Silver).
Saga Premium can be booked the old fashioned way (by paying for it) on any aircraft in Icelandair’s international fleet. Each plane on each route offers Saga Premium, the number of available seats will just depend on the type of aircraft serving your route.
The most important thing to know about Saga Premium is that the seats are more comparable to premium economy on other airlines: the seats do not lie flat. There is greater space in these seats—the legroom is 40” (101.6cm) versus Economy’s 32” (81cm)—with wider seats and a power socket.
Saga Premium’s dining service is more like a traditional business class. Passengers are greeted with a menu, including alcoholic beverages and Icelandic snacks and sodas, then served either a three-course meal on North American flights, or a two-course meal for European ones. Beyond this, there are no notable distinctions between European and North American Saga Premium service.
Best routes for Icelandair business class
Iceland flies from several North American destinations. In the United States, flights originate in Anchorage (this is the 12-hour flight), Seattle, Portland, Denver, Minneapolis, Chicago, Orlando, Raleigh-Durham, DC, Baltimore, New York, and Boston. In Canada, Icelandair flies from Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal.
Icelandair flies to most of the major cities in Western Europe, but note that every route from North America will include a stopover in Keflavik, Iceland’s main international airport, which is located about 45 minutes from Reykjavik. Icelandair offers a stopover program in which passengers can stop in Iceland for up to seven days before moving on to their final destination on mainland Europe. It’s a great way to visit Iceland and your dream European city in one trip. For Saga Premium Flex passengers, which is an upgraded version of Saga Premium with more flexibility to change the ticket, the stopover length is unlimited (per visa allowance). Read more about the stopover program here.
Any of the North American flights are worth upgrading to business class, though none quite as much as from Anchorage. Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver also take between 7-10 hours, so those can be well worth the upgrade if comfort is a concern. All of Icelandair’s North America flights arrive in the morning, so ideally you will want to sleep on the plane to get in tune with Iceland’s time zone.
Examples of deals we've found on Icelandair in Saga Class
- Boston to Bergen for $996 roundtrip
- Orlando to Dublin for $994 roundtrip
- Chicago nonstop to Iceland for $991 roundtrip
The Icelandair business class experience at the airport
Icelandair business class lounge access
The Icelandair Saga Lounge (yes, another thing called Saga) in Keflavik is a relaxing escape before boarding. There are a few places to eat and shop in the Keflavikk airport, but seating can be hard to come by when not dining at a restaurant. The Saga Lounge has both food and places to rest in ample supply, as well as Wi-Fi, eye-catching Icelandic design, and landscape views.
Note that the lounge is situated in Zone A, which precedes passport control in Zone D for flights to and from North America. This line can take 15-20 minutes to get through before reaching your gate. Saga Premium grants you expedited through general security, but not passport control.
You can learn more about the Saga Lounge on the Icelandair website.
When flying on Icelandair from other destinations both domestic and international, a Saga Premium ticket can grant lounge access to a partner airlines;s lounge, which you can search here.
Icelandair business class check-in
Priority check-in is one of the best perks of Saga Premium when traveling from Iceland, because that line is frequently long and slow. Premium passengers have their own lane, plus the ability to fast-track through security. It’s still recommended to arrive 2-3 hours prior to your flight, and to download the Icelandair app for check-in. Saga Premium does not necessarily grant fast track access at airports outside Iceland.
Saga Premium tickets include two 70.5lb (32kg) checked bags, while Economy Premium and Flex allow for one 50.7lb (23kg) checked bag.
The Icelandair business class experience in the air
Icelandair Saga business class seats
Icelandair operates several types of Boeing aircraft: 757, 767, and 737 MAX 8 and 9. All of them have Saga Premium in a 2x2 configuration, except the 767 which is 2x1x2. The number of total seats available in this class varies by aircraft as well. Each seat offers 40” (101.6cm) of legroom and 20.5” (50cm) of seat width.
As previously mentioned, Saga Premium seats recline more than economy seats and they are wider and have more legroom, but they do not lie flat.
Benefits of flying Icelandair business class
The major benefits of Saga Premium class include upgraded seats and meal service, priority check-in and lounge access, and being able to check two bags. The class also comes with delightful amenity kits, including Icelandic skincare products, a dental kit, socks, eye mask, and ear plugs. All of it is packaged in a clean, Nordic aesthetic that invokes a sense of Iceland.
Saga Premium passengers also get a blanket and pillow, high-quality headsets for in-flight entertainment, pre-flight drinks, and Wi-Fi.
Icelandair Saga Class meals
A three-course meal service is prepared during flights to and from North America. This includes an appetizer, a cooked main dish, and a dessert. A variety of snacks are available at all times, and Icelandic chocolate is also handed out at various times. Try Icelandic candy bars like Rís, it’s a crunchy, chocolatey local favorite.
Saga class includes champagne and pre-flight drinks, plus other alcoholic beverages to accompany meals or whenever you please. Brands hailing from Iceland are available, including Gull beer, Reykjavik Distillery gin, and Reyka vodka. On a recent flight, there was even a gin and tonic menu with different gins paired with different tonics.
Icelandair business class vs economy
The differences between Saga Premium and Icelandair’s Economy classes are distinct:
- Saga Premium offers priority check-in, security clearance, and lounge access.
- A meal service, Wi-Fi, and alcohol are included in Saga Premium class.
- Saga Premium passengers can check twice as much luggage at higher weights.
- The seats are larger, more comfortable, and recline further. Plus, passengers get upgraded pillows and blankets for sleeping.
- And for status pursuers, Saga Premium will yield a higher number of points.
The only way in which economy noticeably excels over Saga Premium is on child and infant discounts, which are higher in economy class.
You can read more about the differences between Premium and Economy on the Icelandair website.
How to book Icelandair business class
How much does it cost for a business class ticket on Icelandair?
Saga Premium often costs between $1,100 and $2,000 roundtrip, depending on route and time of year. At Scott's Cheap Flights, we've found our members deals under $1,000 roundtrip.
How to upgrade to business class on Icelandair for free
Being a Saga Silver or Saga Gold status member is the only official way to snag a free upgrade to Saga Premium.
How much does it cost to upgrade to business class on Icelandair?
Saga Premium often costs about $600-$1,000 more than an Economy ticket depending on the route and time of year. The overall price is higher during the high season of summer, and lower during winter and shoulder seasons, though these times are growing in popularity.
How many miles to upgrade to Icelandair business class?
It takes 40,000 tier credits earned within a 12-month period to reach Saga Silver, and 80,000 to reach Saga Gold. These are the two classes that enable passengers to earn upgrades.
How to bid for a seat upgrade on Icelandair?
Icelandair offers a Class Up program in which economy passengers can bid on upgrades for eligible flights. Before the flight, an email is sent to the passenger with the option to bid for an upgrade, and the price range option for their flight will show at that time. There is no average cost since it’s based on availability and demand, but generally you can expect to pay $300-$500 per leg. This is in addition to the fare already paid. To bid, you'll select a price, input your credit card info, and will be automatically charged if your bid is accepted.
Although Icelandair’s business class seats do not lie down flat, the cost is worth the benefits. Having a comfortable, spacious seat and upgraded meal service can make the long flight more bearable, while priority check-in and lounge access always improve the airport experience. Icelandair’s economy service is excellent, but the fact that Saga Premium seats don’t break the bank make it an accessible and enjoyable way to travel to and from Iceland.