Reader Ray asks,
What’s the most efficient way (point wise) to get from SFO (JFK is ok too) to KEF? Iceland Air doesn’t seem to play point game?
Icelandair does play the points game, but they no longer represent anything approximating good value with their points.
Three years ago Icelandair was a partner of Alaska Airlines and offered an amazing deal for travel on Alaska. It was so good that Icelandair removed Alaska Airlines redemptions entirely from their program briefly.
Paid travel is frequently the best way to get to Iceland since awards are expensive and paid tickets can be relatively inexpensive.
Leaving aside Wow Air, straight up buying Icelandair roundtrips from New York next spring price out reasonably such that you’re not going to want to spend ~ 60,000 miles plus taxes for an award in my opinion.
Iceland is a very short transatlantic flight. A flight from Boston to Reykjavik is shorter than flying from San Francisco to Boston.
Given that I wouldn’t pay the increment for a premium class of service in miles probably, some will pay the ~ $1500 that you can sometimes buy business class tickets for (though right now I see these same flights as above pricing more like $2000).
This can be seen as an opportunity to use points which redeem as cash for a ticket but don’t transfer to miles.
Implicit here is an assumption that your miles can go to more leveraged uses, so if they’re limited you’d want to save them for higher-value redemptions… and also that with such a short flight I wouldn’t travel out of my way via Europe with all of the extra flying that entails in order to get to Reykjavik on an award.
For ‘zone’ or ‘region-based’ award charts, Iceland is going to be an expensive redemption if it’s considered part of Europe. New York – Iceland will cost just as many miles under many award charts as San Francisco – Istanbul.
Another way this could make sense though as part of an award ticket is through a mileage program that allows stopovers. While flight service to and from Iceland, even from within Europe, can be limited you may be able to use a program like United’s MileagePlus when you’re going to go to Europe anyway to make your Europe destination the ‘stopover’ and add on a flight to Iceland and back.
United allows a stopover for no additional miles on a roundtrip award. Then it’s viable as part of an award ticket.