Category Archives: Icelandair

Icelandair Allowing Redemptions on Alaska Airlines Again Beginning January 20

The biggest splash this site has ever made was when we wrote about the ability to buying Icelandair Saga points to redeem for cheap first class tickets to Hawaii. It was so successful that Icelandair stopped allowing it.

Gary at View from the Wing reports that Icelandair will allow points redemptions on Alaska Airlines again beginning January 20th, though at higher rates. Continental US and Canada are 25,000 miles for coach and 50,000 for First; Hawaii & Mexico are 40,000 in coach and 80,000 in First. Previously it was 20,000/30,000 for all flights.

You can buy Saga points at roughly $1.23 $.0123 per mile (I was an English major, sorry). That means that you can buy domestic first class tickets for $615 round trip within the US (assuming there’s availability for award tickets). That’s a pretty good deal in many cases.

This is also good news for everyone who found themselves stuck with Icelandair Saga points.

Happy to answer any questions.

UPDATE: Icelandair/Alaska Redemption Deal Ends Tonight (8/31) at 8pm Eastern

Hello all.

I just received an email from Icelandair telling me that the Icelandair deal as we know it will end at 8pm Eastern Time tonight, August 31st. I don’t know much more, but here’s what I do know:

- They are going to pull Alaska Airline redemptions tonight. They will come back at some point, but it will be at different redemption levels.

- They are still working through the taxes issue people have had – if you have emailed them, they will get back to you.

- The points are good for 4 years.

- If you are stuck with points that you purchased, you are basically stuck with points that you purchased. You can certainly wait until Alaska redemptions come back. You can redeem for a Radisson Hotel (34,000 points for a top level Radisson Blu, down to 18,000 points for a Park Inn (22,000 for a “Level B” hotel). See hotels here.

- If you feel you can’t let the points sit in Icelandair (which is what I would do – let them sit there), the best points.com exchange is with US Airways, which will get you 593 Dividend Miles for every 1,000 Icelandair Saga points.

- Redeeming on Icelandair isn’t a bad deal at all (at least not in coach), especially during the summer. The chart is here, but it’s 50,000 points to Iceland from the Eastern US and 60,000 to most of Europe (that works out to about $575 for a flight to Europe – not too bad).

- If you do wish to top up your account so you have enough points for a Europe trip, remember that the 20% mileage purchase bonus goes through September 28th.

- Thanks to the literally hundreds of people who have written me and posted comments here helping others through this deal. And thanks to Icelandair, which has been incredibly helpful as they’ve dealt with more calls than they’ve ever received before.

- And those of you who tend to post on blogs about how bloggers “kill the deal” please save your comments for elsewhere.

I’m on vacation, but I will try to answer whatever additional questions people have today. Unfortunately, this is all I know at this point.

Icelandair Update: What To Do If You’ve Been Overcharged on Taxes

Quick update this morning: A number of people have written me (and posted on other sites) that they feel they have been overcharged on taxes for tickets purchased with the Icelandair/Alaska Airlines deal. For non-Mexico travel, taxes and fees should be in the $60-70 range. For Mexico tickets, it will be higher than that (I don’t have the exact amount in front of me, but I seem to remember it was something like $125/ticket – let me know if I’m wrong).

If you have been charged taxes that are significantly higher than those amounts, my Icelandair contact has asked that you send an email to icc@icelandair.is — they’ll investigate. I believe that a couple of days ago they started charging taxes (US Departure tax, Passenger Facility Charges) that should not be charged on Award Tickets. I’m not 100% sure of that, but I think this may explain why some people are seeing charges in the $150 range instead of $70.

If you hear back from Icelandair, please post your experiences here.

UPDATE: a few (or more than a few) have said that they have emailed that address and not heard back yet. I spoke with my contact at Icelandair and they know about the emails and are working through them one-by-one. They will get to yours if you sent them an email, but it will take a bit of time. They’re swamped (again). Thanks for everyone’s continued patience.

Icelandair Will Launch Service to Anchorage (and 2 Other Cities) in Summer 2013

To those of you new to OTR, I swear that I don’t only write about Icelandair. Really, I promise.

That said, I thought I’d pass along that Icelandair will launch twice weekly service next summer between Anchorage and Keflavik, Iceland. I was going to say that you could use the Icelandair points buying deal to get to Iceland reasonably from Anchorage, but the flights are actually pretty (relatively) cheap: about $700 round trip during the summer.

The good news for folks in Anchorage is that this opens up a moderately reasonable way to get to Europe during the summer. Tickets to Europe (for the cities I checked) are less than $900 round trip, about $400 or so (at least) less than other options to Europe. It’s only 2 days a week, but beggars can’t be choosers.

Icelandair will also launch twice weekly service to Zurich and St. Petersburg for the 2013 summer season.

Thursday Icelandair Update: Points Are Now Processing

Hi all. Good news: Icelandair is once again able to process points. Purchases from yesterday should now be processed – you will receive an email if you purchased yesterday with confirmation.

Today’s purchases are in-process and should be complete by end of day.

If you purchased yesterday and DID NOT receive an email, Icelandair asks that you contact points.com. Good luck with that :)

A Clarification on Stopovers and Connections for People Booking the Icelandair/Alaska Airlines Deal

I’ve gotten A TON of questions from readers who are trying to take advantage of the Icelandair/Alaska Airlines deal and book flights from Newark/Boston/DC/Chicago/Atlanta/Texas and are having difficulties. I (think) I now know why:

Icelandair has been kind enough to clarify the rules around stopovers and connections. You are permitted one stopover or one open-jaw on a ticket. As I guessed earlier, a stopover is any flight that has a 4-hour or greater layover. Virtually ALL flights from the East/Midwest/South have a 4-hour+ layover in BOTH DIRECTIONS when heading to Hawaii. That’s considered TWO stopovers, and the rules do not permit it.

The Icelandair team assured me that booking a connection UNDER 4 hours is not a problem, and booking ONE stopover (or what you might consider a long connection) is not a problem. But two 4-hour+ connections is not allowed.

I’m happy to answer questions – either post in comments or email me at jared (at) onlinetravelreview.com.

NOW DEAD: An Icelandair/Alaska FAQ…And How to Bring The Price Down Below $300 Via Miles Sharing…and 10 Day Wait Period Lifted

THIS DEAL IS NOW DEAD. SEE HERE FOR FINAL DETAILS.

OTR reader Steve has passed along what should be an improvement to the Icelandair/Alaska deal:

Through September 28th, Icelandair is giving a 20% bonus when you transfer miles to someone else. Incredibly, they only charge 3,000 ISK ($25) to transfer miles to someone.

So, if you buy 50,000 miles it will cost you $525. If you then go and transfer those miles to someone, they will have 60,000 miles (because of the 20% bonus). Those 60,000 miles, then, will cost you a total of $550. That means you are either getting 2 first class flights on Alaska for $275 each roundtrip, or 3 coach flights for $183 each roundtrip. Just a thought.

An FAQ on the whole Icelandair/Alaska thing:

Q: Is it 20,000/30,000 (coach/first class) one-way or round trip?
A: Round trip. I promise. Round trip. They only allow roundtrip redemptions on their own flights, they are not going to allow one-ways on partner flights.

Q: This sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?
A: Perhaps. But the main reason this works is because the devaluation of the Icelandic Krona has cut the value of their currency relative to the dollar in half. And it’s not THAT crazy — Avios only charges 25,000 points for a coach roundtrip from the West Coast to Hawaii.

Q: What’s up with the 10 day waiting period people are mentioning?
A: I don’t know. Some people who have called have been told they need to wait 10 days before booking because they are a new account holder. That sounds like nonsense, and because I’m guessing they have 2 people working in their call center, calling them back likely won’t help.

The fine team at Icelandair has now waived the 10 day waiting period to help everyone out.

A piece of advice I’ve never shared here (but now that I think of it, I should have) is to sign up for all of the frequent flyer programs out there. They’re free. Just get yourself a number. I have FF accounts with all sorts of random airlines precisely for this reason – who knows why you might need it down the road? It’s free, and my kids get a kick out of the mail some of these airlines send (Kingfisher luggage tags)?

Q: Why can’t I find availability?
A: Availability is pretty good to Hawaii from San Jose and Portland, especially. Check on Alaska Airlines’ website before calling (and waiting on hold with) Icelandair. When I called yesterday it appeared that availability matched what was available on Alaska Airlines’ site, but others are hearing differently. I fear you may be traveling down a rabbit hole if you ask Icelandair to search for availability. UPDATE: Fares book into W class for coach and A class for First. Expertflyer has a free 5-day trial that can help you with this.

Also I’m not hearing much success from the East Coast because availability is quite poor.

Q: Are stopovers permitted?
A: Yes they are. You’re allowed 1. That does not mean there will be availability, but you can stopover. A stopover is any connection longer than 4 hours. This is the reason you can’t book connections to Hawaii from the East Coast – you’ll end up with 4-hour+ connections in both directions.

Q: What is the change fee?
A: It’s 10,000 ISK or roughly $80

Q: Why are people being told that they need to book 2 separate awards when they have a connecting flight?
A: I’m not 100% sure. However, as this post from Million Mile Secrets notes American Airlines will make you book two separate awards for any flight that involves a connection longer than 4 hours. Given that most East Coast to Hawaii flights have 8 hour (or overnight) connections, I think that is what is causing this problem (inasmuch as having to pay $600 for a first class ticket to Hawaii constitutes a “problem”.)

A couple of other random points:

- Even after the 20 percent bonus goes away September 28 this is still a great way to get to Hawaii cheap in first class going forward.

- Obviously do not purchase points until you know that there is availability with Icelandair.

- The people I’ve spoken with in their call center were wonderful, but I’m guessing they’re not used to this kind of call volume (at least not since the $61 fare to Reykjavik from years back). Please be nice to them.

- Please post any success stories, though it sounds like we may not have any for a while because of this odd 10 day thing.

- This deal has brought lots of new people to Online Travel Review. Welcome! If you care: I’ve been writing this thing for almost 9 years. I don’t think business class is as great as most other bloggers seem to think it is (see here). I’m not a trip report guy, so if you’d like 32 photos of someone’s soda on their flight, you’ll have to visit elsewhere. I think it’s amazing that by opening a credit card you can go nearly anywhere in the world you want for free. That’s insanely awesome. I have a chart-making program that I like so I’ve created some charts I think are useful that you can find in the right hand column (ie, differences between Business Credit Cards; how to get to Hawaii using miles; a chart of how many miles it takes to go anywhere on all US airlines). And this little piece about flying with my then-3-year-olds is probably my favorite thing I’ve written here. Well, that one and this one about fathers.

In any case, welcome. Hope you stick around for a while. You can email me anytime at jared (at) onlinetravelreview.com. Oh, and if you want any help figuring out the whole credit card thing, I’ve worked with lots of people who have used my free credit card planning service. It’s free, and we’ll get you enough miles for that trip you’ve dreamed about.

UPDATE: Someone who said they were from Icelandair (I have no reason not to believe them, especially since the IP address they posted from was in Iceland) posted this mini-FAQ in the comments of the main post. I thought I’d post here, but with the caveat that when I called them yesterday they had availability from Portland (PDX) to Honolulu.

Hello everyone,

Thank you for your interest in our Program but due to heavy load on our Call Center we just wanted to clear a few things:

1) Availability on Alaska Airlines is limited and seats for Hawaii for the coming months are not available is limited in our systems (agent checked just over a minute ago).

2) Availability is controlled only by Alaska Airlines and not by Icelandair.

3) Registration in the Saga Club is under Construction and can therefore take a longer time again also due to heavy load on our Call Center.

4) Miles expire in the end of the fourth year from they were earned.

We hope that answers some of your questions,

With best regards,

The Icelandair Saga Club

NOW DEAD: It’s Good from All Cities – Buy Icelandair Miles to Fly on Alaska Airlines to Hawaii in First Class for $328 Round Trip….Really

THIS DEAL IS NOW DEAD. SEE HERE FOR FINAL DETAILS.

Icelandair is running a promotion through September 28th where you’ll earn a 20% bonus when you buy their Saga Club miles (you need to first create an account on their website to be able to get to this page)…

Why do I mention this seemingly useless piece of information? Because it’s not useless. Icelandair sells their miles quite cheap…How cheap?

You can buy 25,000 miles + a 5,000 mile bonus for 39,500 Icelandic Krona. I’ll save you the Googling and tell you that that is $328.

Why do you want 30,000 Saga Club miles? Because as you see here, it will only cost you 30,000 Saga Club miles to get yourself a FIRST CLASS roundtrip ticket on Alaska Airlines to all of their destinations in the US (Alaska and Hawaii included), Canada and Mexico to or from Seattle (see the full list here). Yes, I know it says “Continental U.S. and Canada” but I spoke with Icelandair and they said that the list of cities I linked to is actually the correct list of cities, and they include Hawaii, Mexico and Alaska. Coach tickets are 20,000 miles roundtrip ($228). There is a fuel surcharge, but it’s generally $40 or so.

Yes, you read that correctly: a roundtrip first class ticket to Hawaii will cost you $328.

You can purchase 100,000 miles per account per year.

Using those points on Icelandair isn’t bad either (chart here): JFK/WAS/MCO/MSP to Iceland is 50,000 points in coach ($541 to purchase those points), while a roundtrip ticket to most of Western Europe and Scandanavia is 60,000 points ($658). Not a crazy good deal, but if the seats are available during the summer season, that’s about half what you’d pay to actually buy a ticket.

But again – this would definitely be worth it for anyone in Seattle. Assuming seats are available, anywhere they fly from Seattle is just $328 for first class.

UPDATE 1: This may actually be good for anywhere Alaska flies (not just to/from Seattle). I have a call in to Icelandair. I’ll keep everyone posted.

UPDATE 2: I confirmed with Icelandair that you can fly anywhere for 20,000 miles in coach and 30,000 in first class ($228/$328 when you buy the miles). That’s a bargain.

UPDATE 3: Thought it would be helpful to link to my chart of which airlines fly from what cities to Hawaii.

UPDATE 4: The fine folks at Icelandair have contacted me with some additional information (they have been incredibly helpful) about airline tickets. They have lifted the 10 day restriction. Seriously, they’re good people, right? Also, for those of you with ExpertFlyer (or the like), their Alaska Airlines availability books into A for first class and W for economy. That should help you determine availability BEFORE you call them. They’re getting hammered with calls, so please be patient. I’ll add this to the FAQ.

UPDATE 5: Stopovers ARE permitted. Same rules as those found on Alaska Airlines. I’m also keeping a running FAQ here. In that post you’ll also see about how to get the price below $300.

How Can I Get an Award Ticket on Icelandair If I’m Not a Saga Club Member?

Quick hint for anyone looking to use frequent flyer miles to get to Iceland: Sure, you have a couple of more weeks to use up those Skymiles for Delta’s certain-to-be canceled summer-only service from JFK to Keflavik. But if you want to go any other time of the year, you’re stuck with Iceland Express (no frequent flyer program) or Icelandair.

Although Icelandair has their own frequent flyer program (Saga Club) and limited partnerships, one of those partners is Alaska Airlines. You can use 50,000 Mileage Plan points for a roundtrip coach ticket to Iceland on Icelandair (coach tickets to Europe are only 55,000 miles. Business Class tickets are 75k and 80k for Iceland and Europe, respectively, though their business class is akin to what you’d find on a domestic flight up front.)

If you don’t have Mileage Plan points, they’re a transfer partner of Starwood Preferred Guest (yet another reason to get the American Express Starwood credit card), so you’ll get the 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 points transferred, allowing you a ticket to Iceland for only 40,000 SPG points. Not too shabby.

Now, Icelandair’s winter and spring fares are not that expensive, so this may not be the best use of those 40k SPG points, but who am I to tell you that you should lay out cash instead of using those points you’ve acquired? It’s also a nice backup to Europe if your larger airlines aren’t showing availability.

Switch to our mobile site