Category Archives: Icelandair

Video: Top 5 Unique Tours in Iceland

iceland unique tours

We’ve prepared a fun little video for you this week! To see more of these, Like Us on Facebook! We’ll be publishing them every now and then on our Facebook Page. Enjoy!

Planning a Summer or Fall trip to Iceland? It’s important to book hotels and tours early to this wildly popular destination. Give us a call! 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

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Travel News: Alaska Airlines’ New Premium Class

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Alaska Airlines’ New Premium Class Section Now Available For Purchase
Upgrades start at $15, starting in January fliers will enjoy a seat with extra legroom and additional perks. The airline will debut its Premium Class section for travel on select routes beginning Jan. 5, 2017, as it continues a significant retrofit of its all-Boeing fleet. You can now purchase seats with up to four more inches of space between rows. In addition to four extra inches of legroom, passengers seated in Premium Class will enjoy early boarding, snacks and complimentary drinks. Alaska Mileage Plan MVP, Gold and Gold 75K members will be eligible for complimentary upgrades into Premium Class at the time of booking, or up to 24 hours in advance of travel, depending on status and the fare purchased. With the addition of Premium Class, Alaska’s most loyal customers who aren’t able to upgrade into First Class will see a significantly increased likelihood of getting a seat with more legroom near the front of the cabin. For more information around upgrades for elites see the Alaska Airlines blog: Treat yourself: Alaska Airlines launches new Premium Class. Initial prices for Premium Class seats range from $15 to $79 in addition to base fares and are based on the length of the flight. Seats in the new section can be purchased at the time of booking through alaskaair.com or Alaska’s mobile apps, during check-in, and at the airport.

Chinese Visa Scanning on the United App

On October 20 United Airlines introduced new functionality in their mobile app that makes travel to China easier than ever. Customers can use their iPhone, iPad or Android device to scan their Chinese visa to complete check-in through the United app. This new functionality delivers a convenient channel to provide visa information during the 24-hour check-in window prior to departure. 

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Icelandair Adds New US Destinations And Extra Flights

Icelandair is to increase its seat capacity by 11.5% next year as it continues to build up its network linking Europe and North America. The carrier is adding two new destinations in the US next year, Philadelphia and Tampa, which will take its number of North American routes up to 18 flying through its Reykjavik hub. Icelandair will begin flying to Philadelphia on May 30, 2017 and the service will initially run as a summer-only route which will operate until September 20, 2017. If it is successful, the route may eventually become year-round. Tampa will be added as a new destination from September 7, 2017, operating twice per week, and will complement the existing Orlando route, which runs five times per week. Both services will operate year-round from next September when there will be a daily service from Iceland to Florida. The airline also serves 26 destinations in Europe including five UK airports: Heathrow, Gatwick, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow. Sister carrier Air Iceland also flies from Reykjavik to Aberdeen. 

Ottawa’s Winterlude Festival Set For 2017

In 2017 Canada marks its 150th birthday, with holiday-makers invited to join in the countrywide, year-long celebrations. The main focus for national events will be the capital city Ottawa, where 12 epic months of big, bold, immersive and moving experiences will be on offer. The first major ‘National Partner Event’ of the Ottawa 2017 calendar will be a special edition of the annual Winterlude festival, which will wow visitors over three fun-filled weekends, 3 – 20 February. Next years’ will be the 39th edition of Winterlude, when Ottawa will be transformed into an enchanting city of all things snowy and frozen. Organizers are promising a festival that will be bigger and better than ever, with some 600,000 revelers expected to descend on the capital. The bumper sized celebrations will be centered in and around three downtown locations, all of which will be free of charge to the public.

US Preclearance Expanding To Stockholm In 2019

The United States and Sweden signed an agreement on Friday to expand the preclearance to Stockholm’s Arlanda airport. There are other airports wishing to join the program from number of countries. The Swedish government said it hopes the increased ease of travel will have positive consequences in making Sweden a more attractive place for international companies to base their headquarters in. The goal of the so-called Preclearance program is to extend security and thwart the arrival of unwelcome visitors before they reach the US but the advantage for all travelers is to clear Customs before getting aboard the plane, and to avoid long lines upon arrival. The airports embarking on the process to join the program include Bogota, Buenos Aires, Edinburgh, Kansai, Milan, Reykjavik, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo, and Saint Martin. More than 10 million travelers fly to the U.S. from those airports each year. The program already screens about 18 million travelers per year arriving from 15 airports mostly in Canada, the Caribbean and Ireland.

Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm at Night

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Filed under Alaska, Canada, Icelandair, News, Sweden

WIT Agent’s Insider Look: Vatnajökull and Jökulsárlón

This week we’re taking a close look at WIT Agent Wailana’s trip to Iceland early October. Today we continue along the Ring Road from Vik to Vatnajökull and Jökulsárlón.  

Vatnajökull

Some of Iceland’s most spectacular natural phenomenon is centered in the SE of the country, to Vatnajökull National Park. Known for its gorgeous glaciers, ice caves, dark textured waterfalls, you can easily spend a few days exploring the park.

At 2884 square miles—about 12% of the country’s surface—Vatnajökull is the largest national park in Europe. It incorporates Kristinartindar mountain, Morsárdalur valley, and the area around Svartifoss. The park was founded in 2008 as a combination of former Skaftafell and Jokulsargljufur National Parks—and is home to Iceland’s highest mountain (Hvannadalshnúkur), largest glacier (Vatnajökull), and Europe’s most powerful waterfall (Dettifoss).

The Crystal Cave of Svínafellsjökull ice dates back centuries, with brilliant colors. A 22-foot entrance, height tapers down only to 4 feet at the far end. The cave is known for its popping sounds, buffered blue ice.

(c) BTCV, Creative Commons

The area known as Skaftafell was once inhabited, but due to volcano eruptions under the Vatnajokull ice-cap, severe floods forced many farmers to move to higher ground. Now the region is federally protected, and remains Icelanders’ so-called summer playground. Hikers can enjoy glimpses of birch wood, endemic birds and arctic foxes. Not far from the trailhead is the waterfall Svartifoss—the black falls—which cascades down 20 meters over black basalt columns. Travelers have likened the polygonal shapes of these columns to honeycombs or Islamic muqarnas designs.

(c) Arian Zwegers, Creative Commons

Jökulsárlón

If you see one natural sight in Iceland, see Jökulsárlón. This inland lagoon is littered with icebergs—a ghostly landscape of stark blues, whites, grays, and blacks. It’s like standing in the middle of Antarctica, or some prehistoric fairy tale. You may even catch glimpses of seals. The lagoon flows out to the ocean, and glacier bits collect on the shore like beached whales.

The glacier tongue that created the lagoon is an outlet of Vatnajökull, which advanced until about 1890 during Europe’s “Little Ice Age.” Around the turn of the century, the pressure of the glacier eroded the earth, creating a deep basin. Warming climate then melted the ice over a matter of decades, resulting in the lagoon we know today.

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Best time to go? October through May for ice climbing and other winter activities. May to mid-September for summer trekking, and rock climbing.

Only in Reykjavik for a night? You can still see Jökulsárlón! Check out these day trips from the capital.

Stay Tuned for Friday and the East Fjords!

Thinking about a trip to Iceland next summer 2014? Call 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com to chat with one our agents! Wailana would love to share with you more insider tips about traveling to Iceland!

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Filed under Europe, Iceland, Icelandair, Our Travel Agents, Where in the World is the WIT Agent?

Agent Trip Report: Reykjavik

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Downtown Reykjavik

Last week, WIT Agent Wailana headed out to Iceland to find out firsthand exactly why this small country’s tourism has exploded in the past 5 years. In 2010 alone, half a million travelers arrived on Iceland’s shores. Willamette Intl Travel has sent several clients there on layovers and road adventures, and the island continues to call to families and single travelers alike.

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typical street scene

 

Report by Wailana

I arrived at 6:45am from the nonstop over Seattle. The Reykjavik airport is quite small, and it was quite easy to pass through customs and passport control.

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Hallgrimskirkja

There’s a Saga Club Lounge accessible for Saga Class and Comfort Class travelers (Saga members can also take advantage of the British Airways business lounge in Seattle). It’s a perfect place to relax for a brief respite, with local artwork, fireplace and waterfalls filling the space.

At the arrivals terminal, rental car kiosks are abundant and it’s a painless procedure to go pick up your pre-paid car. You can also take the airport shuttle bus into city. It’s a bit of a 45 min drive from Keflavik airport to Reykjavik, but as soon as you arrive in downtown, it’s very easily navigated.

 

 

I definitely recommend spending the first day taking it easy as you recover from jet lag. After you’ve IMAG0559checked in to your downtown hotel, you can walk along the harbor, explore the petite streets, or pop into a nearby café for some local treats. The city has a great selection of restaurants, brunch joints, and cozy cafes—Icelanders love their coffee! Don’t forget to pop into a bakery for some fresh delights—I recommend trying the local wheat croissant!

The sky was overcast, but not too cold at about 60 degrees F. Reykjavik’s weather is notoriously unpredictable—there’s a local saying, if you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes and it’ll change! The best time to go? June to August, summertime means mild climate and peak tourist season. Keep in mind, however, that prices tend to double if not triple during this time.

Highlights of Reykjavik:

–         Hallgrimskirkja Chuch, influenced by the basalt formations all over the country. Climb to the top of the 73m bell tower for some great panoramas.

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–         Austurvollur Square and the parliament building

–         Walk along the harbor at Saebraut street

–         Stop at the indoor Kolaportid flea market (10am-5pm weekends) for some snacks

–         Harpa Concert Hall, for a tour or world-class concert

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Harpa

–         Try seafood at one of the wharf restaurants on Geirsgata, lobster soup

–         For some cute boutiques try Hverfisgata street. Knitted wool is big in Iceland, so don’t forget to pick up some new mittens or cap!

–         Check out the 1200 years of history at the National Museum (10am-5pm daily summer)

–         If history’s your thing, check out the Culture House for a chance to see some medieval manuscripts (though at the time of writing, these were withdrawn for repair until further notice)

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Library in the Culture House

–         Most beer in Iceland is nothing to write home about, but Islenski Barinn specializes in more than 30 beers from microbreweries all across Iceland.

–         Dine out. As Iceland imports a lot of fruits and vegetables, food tends to be expensive. An entrée of lamb or puffin will easily be US$35-50. The plus side is that most main courses come with soup and/or salad, and in good portions.

–         For some nice walking after your meal, head up to Öskjuhlíð, a pine-forested hill and local landmark. Sitting atop the hill is Perlan, originally built as to house hot water storage tanks. Now you can find a couple souvenir shops and the Saga Museum.

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view from the harbor

Only there for a day or two? Take advantage of one of the spectacular day trips.

Tune in this Friday for: The Golden Circle (Thingvellir, Geysir, Gullfoss)

Thinking about a trip to Iceland next summer 2014? Call 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com to chat with one our agents!

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Vendor of the Month: Icelandair

Vendor of the Month: Icelandair

This month’s VOTM is Icelandair, Iceland’s main airline. Iceland is emerging as a major tourist destination—in 2010, 500,000 tourists visited Iceland, and that number is expected to increase exponentially in the next year. Hop over for your unforgettable vacation in the timeless land of glaciers and geysers!

Why choose Icelandair?

Icelandair offers three classes of service: economy, economy comfort, and SAGA class. In 2008, the entire fleet received an interior cabin upgrade and refurnishing. They also offer loyal clients the opportunity to earn miles. Their main hub, Keflavik Airport, is a small airport with Schengen immigration clearance to Europe. So you only have to pass customs once before entering other Schengen countries. Russian passengers can also transit without a visa through Keflavik, provided they are departing on the same day.

Icelandair airplanes are equipped with inflight entertainment system, complimentary soft drinks, and magazines. Economy comfort and saga class passengers can enjoy Keflavik’s exclusive lounges, and share those with partner airlines—for example, Icelandair’s Seattle lounge is the British Airways business class lounge. Willamette Intl Travel has contract fares in business and coach with Icelandair, call us for details.

Beginning October 2013, Icelandair will launch scheduled service from Newark Airport (EWR). This service will operate four times per week. This counts as the 11th Icelandair gateway in North America and the 36th gateway worldwide. For our readers living in the Pacific Northwest, one of the prime USA gateways is Seattle!

With over 75 years in operation, Icelandair offers service to Iceland from Boston, New York-JFK, Seattle, Denver and Toronto with seasonal service from Washington, D.C., Minneapolis-St. Paul, Orlando Sanford, Halifax, and Anchorage (starting May 15, 2013). Connections through Icelandair’s hub at Keflavik International Airport are available to more than 20 destinations in Scandinavia, the U.K. and Continental Europe.

New in 2013: Flights to Zurich and St. Petersburg. Beginning June 1, Icelandair will fly nonstop to St. Petersburg 2x a week through September 17. Head to St. Petersburg from June to September, the best season to visit, where the warm summer months and the legendary “White Nights” (June-July) are alive with festivities. St. Petersburg is a city bursting with incredible architecture, open air museums, historical sites and of course the Hermitage, where some of the world’s greatest treasures have been housed for centuries. The overwhelming beauty and opulence that was once the former capital of Russia is again a vibrant, walkable, friendly city that offers a hearty welcome to all. For US citizens, visas are required and may take up to six weeks to obtain.

Did You Know? Only Icelandair allows passengers to stopover in Iceland at no additional airfare. Stay up to 7 nights in Iceland and try out special stopover rates and packages! On your way to Europe? Have two vacations for the price of one!

What’s there to see/do in Iceland? There’s a plethora to see and do in Iceland, especially for lovers of the outdoors. See the Northern Lights, take an hour to unwind in the Blue Lagoon. Go horseback riding, puffin watching, snowmobiling, whitewater rafting, walk on glaciers and kayak in the sea. Depending on the time and season you go, there may be various options available.

If Iceland is not in your plans till 2014, WIT Agent Wailana is traveling in October to explore Iceland and its magnificent glaciers, geysers, and landscape, and would love to share her firsthand knowledge with you on her return Who knows—she may even spot a mountain troll or a dwarf! 

Tune in next week for more on the destination of Iceland!

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