If Seattle is on your travel bucket list but the idea of being cramped in economy class for hours kept you from visiting, this might be the offer you’ve been waiting for: The flag carrier of Iceland, Icelandair, is selling tickets in Saga Class to America for prices starting at €584. Only catch: you’ll have a layover in Reykjavík. Travel dates are available until September 2021.
Worldwide travel restrictions are in place to slow the spread of Covid-19. We strongly recommend gathering detailed information about the travel and quarantine restrictions that apply to your desired origin and destination.
A good start is the International Air Transport Association (IATA) website. It provides current updates on a country’s immigration policies. Even better, the Covid-19 Travel Regulations Map is one of the most useful tools you can find.
Here are the cheap routes that we were able to find between Europe and the United States:
Icelandair has a unique business model. They fly passengers back and forth between Europe and the USA, always via their hub in Reykjavík. For these flights, they use reliable Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft. While the 757 features a 2-2 seating in Saga Class, the 767 sports a 2-1-2 configuration.
Icelandair Saga Class
Even if the airline promotes its Saga Class as a business cabin, it is much closer to what other carriers offer in premium economy. While baggage allowance is very generous (2 x 32kg) and also the catering is included and better than what you’d find in economy class, there are no lie-flat seats.
But it is all about expectation management. Typically, you get what you pay for. And since the price is very low, you can’t expect the whole business class experience. Priority boarding and check-in, free lounge access, complimentary WiFi, and seat reservation make up for the lack of up-to-date seats. At least a little.
Here’s a flight review that’ll give you an idea of what Saga Class is all about: Icelandair Saga Class Reykjavik to New York
Search & Book
The fare rules state that this deal will be available until December 9, 2020 for travel between December 16 and September 30, 2021. This is the last day your inbound flight may arrive. There are no further restrictions to this fare. Travelling Saga Class allows you to add a stopover up to a full week in Iceland.
Why is booking with an airline better than with an online travel agency?
More often than not, online travel agencies offer lower fares than airlines do. We still recommend booking with the airlines directly. There are three main reasons for that:
- The Covid-19 Pandemic
During the worldwide outbreak of Covid-19, planning international travel got more and more risky because of ever-changing restrictions. In contrast to many online travel agencies, most airlines modified their terms & conditions to become more customer friendly. Rebooking conditions are eased, change fees are waived and cancellations are much easier when there is no third party involved.
Further, by adding an OTA to your plans, you increase the risk of one service provider involved going bankrupt. Now, the airline and the online travel agency involved could vanish along with your money.
- Better Customer Service
In case any problems like delays, cancellations or missed connections arise, you can communicate directly with the airline. The airlines has to take care of you because you have a contract with them.
If a travel agency issues your ticket, you may have to reach out to them first. You also depend on your OTA to forward you information like flight changes instead receiving them directly from the airline. You may get a prime exhibition of responsibility shifting rather than problem solving.
This especially applies for premium tickets. You don’t want to spend more than €1,000 to wind up with some budget OTA’s telephone hotline in case anything goes wrong.
- Baggage Fees
Economy fares not including hold luggage are more and more common. In most cases, travel agencies charge much higher baggage fees than the airlines themselves. If bags are not included in your fare, airlines are often the cheaper alternative.
Icelandair issues tickets for all flight segments in booking class A. Since the airline is not part of any alliance, your options to earn miles are limited. A roundtrip from Paris to Seattle should roughly get you:
- 12,510 on Alaska Mileage Plan
- 10,010 on Jetblue Airways
Information & Tips for USA
The USA offers many sights, natural wonders and cultural significance. Thanks to numerous airlines offering flights across the Atlantic, it is always pretty inexpensive to get there. Alternatively, you can also cross the Atlantic by boat.
Immigration, ESTA & Visa Requirements
The USA has one of the strictest entry regulations in the world. Most EU citizens, among others, are lucky to be able to participate in the so-called Visa Waiver Program. If you get an electronic entry permit (ESTA) for about €12, you don’t need a visa for entry.
The Best Time to Visit
Due to its sheer size, the perfect time to visit the USA varies greatly from region to region. In winter, Florida is very popular due to the mild temperatures. In the summer the West and East Coasts are flooded by tourists which drives up the prices for hotels and flights and during the Indian Summer in late autumn New England is a very popular destination. The hurricane season between July and September can be dangerous in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. Florida and the southern states are regularly struck by these tropical storms. Blizzards occur from the East Coast to the Midwest during the winter months and regularly put air traffic and public life on hold.
The US dollar is widely used throughout the world and accepted as a currency in most tourist hotspots worldwide. That being said, carrying cash isn’t necessary in the US, all you need is a credit card! These are very common in the USA and are accepted pretty much everywhere without any issues. If you already have a credit card in your wallet, you should make sure that it does not charge a foreign currency fee if possible. Carrying a few dollars in cash doesn’t hurt though. You might need cash e.g. for the bus ticket if you want to buy it directly from the driver. Most of the time you even have to give exact change.
All Dealz for USA
Cover Picture: Ditmar Lange