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Icelandair and Airport

Planning a trip to Iceland, but seeing so many poor reviews about the airport and airlines. I know most people take the time to complain rather than complement, so I know not to take this as gospel. So I am looking for a little knowledge - a heads-up for anything about which I should be aware.

Are April and May overly busy times to be there? Its my understanding that the airport is small and crowded, and we need to allow an extraordinary amount of time to get through. Is this correct?

I know that Icelandair economy does not serve food unless ordered - which is fine. But I read that the Wifi is not always working and that wifi is necessary to order food should I choose. Is this accurate?

I just want to be super prepared so I am not so stressed out before I even leave! Thanks in advance.

Posted by
2252 posts

We have flown to Iceland numerous times, and go again this week. So far no issues;)

April is definitely a slow season there and basically still winter/spring, and May is when it starts to get busier.

The airport is small, and flying into it as your destination is super easy and they are very quick at getting you out the door and onto your adventure. Now flying home from there is another story. Allow at LEAST 3 hours. You can self tag your bags, and then you take them to the counter and scan the bag tag and put them on the conveyor belt. Then you go upstairs and go through security, then through duty free and into the area where restaurants and shops are. Then you go through passport control and then back downstairs to the D gates to fly back to the US. They do not announce the gates until about 45 minutes before, so do NOT hang out upstairs before passport control waiting to see what gate! Just go directly downstairs and then when they announce, you do not need to race to get to the gate. The gates are pretty chaotic and there isn't much order. They do another passport check before you board. Sometimes you take a bus out to the plane, but if you get lucky then you can board right there from the terminal.

They do have food that you can buy without ordering ahead, but it is very limited. You do not need to order it with wifi while on the plane. Either order ahead or bring something with you if you have any preferences.

Posted by
767 posts

We have also flown many times on IcelandAir and have had no problems. Sure, you don't get a lot of bells and whistles, but that doesn't bother me a bit. We mainly fly in April and October, and the airport has not seemed overly busy. Make sure you bring your own headphones - they don't offer them for free. They have a great selection of movies and tv shows to watch (all free). We pack our own food so have never ordered anything on the plane. Because the airport is small, things do get chaotic when the gates are announced, but it always seems to look worse than it is. They are a well oiled machine that gets everyone where they need to be fairly quickly. And I have to say their public restrooms are the nicest and cleanest I've ever seen!

Have a great trip!

Edited to add: We have never stayed in Iceland, only connected there, so don't know what the check-in process, etc. is like. However, for people who are just connecting, the passport control is incredibly quick and efficient. The longest we've ever had to wait at passort control is about 7 minutes.

Posted by
15703 posts

I've also been to Iceland numerous times. They are very efficient.

Arriving, I've never had to wait more than 5 minutes for passport control. I don't check bags so it's a quick walk through customs and to the Reykjavik bus.

Returning, I check in online and get my boarding pass in the app. Since I don't need to check bags, I just go straight to security. Never too long a wait. Then it's out through the maze of duty free and pay through the nose shops.

The longest wait I've ever had was my last trip out and going to through exit passport control. The line was very long but it moved. It took about 20 minutes.

When you go down to the "D" gates be ready for big crowds and not many places to sit.

So, yes, the airport can get crowded. But they know what they are doing and it seems to flow smoothly.

However, let me say, the boarding process when you have to be driven out to the plane is not my favorite.

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you everyone for your responses!

We are flying in May. Iceland is not our final destination, but we chose to do a layover there to spend a day or two to look around. Its really the check-in process on the day we leave that sounds like it might be an issue. Is it better to leave in the morning or night? Thanks again - this is all extremely helpful!

Posted by
15703 posts

Is there a reason you want to check in at the airport and not ahead of time online?

Will you have checked luggage?

It seems that you are stressing yourself out ahead of time because you read negative things.

I've found Keflavik airport a fairly easy airport to get around in. I've made connections returning to the US and it was easy. I've also departed from the airport after a stay in Iceland.

Give yourself time, know the procedure and you'll be fine.

The airport even has a webpage describing everything you need to know:

https://www.isavia.is/en/keflavik-airport/before-flying

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks...this is fantastic info! I know there are lots of negative review - people love to complain more than they will complement - which is why I obviously did the right thing posting here! Level heads prevail...thank you!

Posted by
721 posts

The absolute worst part about the airport is that they have too many flights and not enough room. Each gate has two flights leaving at about the same time and there's a crush of people waiting for their boarding to begin. The hallways are narrow and there's no place to sit. Last time we flew through there I said "never again", but I'm sure that I'll return to Iceland sometime for my fourth visit. :-)