A Guide to Reykjavík Airport

Reykjavík Airport.

Although Iceland is not the biggest country in terms of surface area, travelling between the south, west, north, and east can take a deceivingly long time. This is mostly due to the endless fjords and peninsulas you’ll weave through on the way. While these are quite often a sight for sore eyes, sometimes, you just don’t have the time or ability to make the journey. In these cases, domestic flights are a lifesaver, and, as luck would have it, there’s a domestic flight airport smack dab in the middle of Reykjavík: Reykjavík Airport. It’s been a topic of much debate due to its close proximity to residential areas, but for now, it’s here to help you explore Iceland in the quickest way possible. 

 

Airlines, destinations, and pricing

Three airlines fly from Reykjavík Airport, each to different towns and villages in Iceland. Icelandair flies to Akureyri in the north, Egilsstaðir in the east, Ísafjörður on the Westfjords, and Vestmannaeyjar islands in the south. Eagle Air (look for Flugfélagið Ernir on search engines) flies to Höfn in Hornafjörður in the southeast, and Norlandair flies to Bíldurdalur and Gjögur on the Westfjords, as well as Nerlerit Inaat in Greenland. Additionally, should none of the flight times or destinations meet your needs, Mýflug Air offers charter flights tailored to your plans.

This wide range of destinations allows a full and free exploration of Iceland for those who don’t have the time, desire, or capability to drive between the different parts of the country. Keep in mind that, as with most things in Iceland, airline tickets are probably quite a bit more expensive than what you’re used to. Prices for a one-way ticket range anywhere from ISK 14,000 [$99, €92] to 60,000 [$424, €395], depending on demand and location. To avoid the highest prices, book your tickets well in advance.

A group of people coming off an aeroplane at Akureyri Airport.
Photo: Golli. A group of people coming off an aeroplane at Akureyri Airport.

How to get to Reykjavík Airport

There are several ways to get to the airport. Firstly, with a walking distance of about 30 minutes from the city centre, there’s the option of going on foot. On a nice day, it’s a beautiful walk that will take you past Vatnsmýrin Nature Reserve, a small, protected moorland with 83 different plant species and plenty of birds. It’s equally pretty in winter as it is in summer, with the colder temperatures luring mystical-looking steam from the water.

If you don’t have a lot of luggage, you could also rent an e-scooter from Hopp. This is a great way to travel quickly and easily between locations while also enjoying the city. They have a pay-per-minute system, so depending on how far away you are, it might even be cheaper than taking the bus. Simply download the Hopp app, rent a scooter, and ride to the airport. Once you get there, you can park the scooter on the edge of the sidewalk and leave it for somebody else. 

A third option is to use Strætó, the public transport system which will take you almost to the door of the airport. Bus number 15 stops in a one-minute walking distance from the airport. If you haven’t been using Strætó, the best thing to do is download Klappið app, where you can purchase a single fair. For up-to-date pricing, see Strætó’s official pricing page. It is also possible to pay with cash, but as the drivers don’t have any change, you’ll have to have the exact amount to avoid paying more than you’re supposed to. 

Buses number 6, 4, and 15 at Hlemmur bus stop.
Buses number 6, 4, and 15 at Hlemmur bus stop.

If you have a rental car that you’re not dropping off before your flight, you can park it by the airport for a fee. The parking system uses automatic number plate recognition, which means that the system will calculate how much you owe based on the time you entered and exited the parking lot. To pay, you’ll need to create an account with Autopay. You should do this within 48 hours of exiting, or a late fee of ISK 1.490 [$10, €10] will be added to your charge. 

Lastly, there’s the option of taking a taxi. This is the most hassle-free way, allowing you to enjoy your journey without having to make any additional transportation plans, but note that taking a taxi in Iceland is very expensive. A 5 km trip within the city during the daytime will likely cost at least ISK 2,666 [$19, €18], or about four times the amount you would pay for a bus ticket.

How much luggage can you bring?

As for many international flights, on domestic flights in Iceland, 20 kg is a common maximum weight for checked-in bags and 6 kg for handbags. This will, of course, depend on the airline you’re flying with, so make sure to familiarize yourself with their rules. Security restrictions on what is allowed in hand luggage are similar to international flights, meaning that firearms, clubs, sharp tools, and anything else that could be considered a weapon are not allowed. However, you are allowed to travel with liquids. For a full list of restricted items, visit Isavia’s baggage information page

How long before departure should you arrive?

Seeing that the airport is a fraction of the size of Keflavík Airport, arriving to check in about 60 minutes before your departure is sufficient. The aeroplanes used to fly domestic flights are smaller than those used for international flights, and the amount of flights taking off and landing is far smaller than at Keflavík. This means that there are fewer people going through, leading to a less busy airport. There are also just two terminals, so you there’s no chance of getting lost and missing your flight. 

Reykjavík Airport from above.
Photo: Golli. Reykjavík Airport from above.

Are there food and beverages at Reykjavík Airport?

At the time of writing, the airport’s cafeteria is temporarily closed. However, there are a few vending machines where you can purchase food and coffee. Domestic flights generally do not offer food and beverages aboard, but if you think you might get hungry on the way, bringing your own refreshments – food and drink – is perfectly fine.  

Special assistance and hidden disabilities

Should you require a wheelchair or special assistance, please contact the airline you’re travelling with beforehand. This will allow them to plan ahead and make any necessary arrangements for your arrival. 

If you have a hidden disability, you can opt to wear the sunflower lanyard to make the journey as comfortable as possible. Airport staff are aware that passengers wearing them might need more time, patience, and understanding, and they will be happy to help you make your journey easier. If you don’t already have one, lanyards are available at the check-in desks in the departure hall and at the information desk in the arrival hall. 

Private flights

In addition to domestic flights flights and flights to Greenland, Reykjavík Airport is a common stopover for private jets. Due to Iceland’s convenient location in the middle of the Atlantic, it’s the ideal place to refuel your plane or divide up the journey between Europe and the United States. With its close proximity to Reykjavík city centre, it’s easy to hop off for a few hours to explore the attractions of the city or grab a bite at one of its exceptional restaurants before heading off again. 

Proposal to Make Domestic Flights Part of Public Transportation

Air Iceland Connect

Domestic Icelandic flights should become part of Iceland’s public transportation system and be subsidised by the state, says Independence Party MP Vilhjálmur Árnason. RÚV reports that Vilhjálmur would like to see domestic flights receive government funding, the same way that municipal buses and ferries currently do.

The current state of the domestic flight industry was discussed by Alþingi’s Environment and Transport Committee, which met at Vilhjálmur’s request on Thursday morning. Iceland’s leading domestic airlines have been curtailing their operations, both reducing their flight frequency and selling aircraft. Representatives from Eagle Air, Air Iceland Connect, and Isavia all attended Thursday’s meeting.

Vilhjálmur argued that it is part of the government’s agenda to support public transportation. He voiced his support for what is being called ‘the Scottish solution,’ a reference to the Scottish government’s policy of subsidising “air travel to the remotest parts of the county” in order to “support and develop direct routes across Scotland to foster inward investment, stimulate local business and maintain a thriving tourism industry.”

If this system were to be put into place next year as has been proposed, the first step would be subsidising domestic air fares. “I think that it’s entirely clear that domestic flights can’t compete in this small market with the increasing number of passengers,” Vilhjálmur said. “It won’t be enough to just increase domestic flights.”

“We need to make guaranteed contributions in order to maintain some basic services,” he continued. “Create a public transportation system so that flights can maintain a set frequency and price stability. And then we’ve got to assist customers at the other end. We’ll do that via the Scottish solution.”

Domestic Flights Will Likely Depart from Keflavík in the Future

There is a strong possibility that domestic flights will be offered directly from Keflavík airport when there facility expansions there are completed, RÚV reports.

This is according to Minister of Transportation Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, per a written response he gave to an inquiry from Social Democrat MP Albertína Friðbjörg Elíasdóttir. Albertína also inquired as to whether the new facilities at Keflavík would be sufficiently able to accommodate domestic flights. Sigurður noted that the architectural plans are still being designed, but that they do anticipate the need for domestic flight facilities.

Currently, flights to destinations within Iceland only depart from the Reykjavík airport not far from downtown, although there is a longstanding debate over whether or not the airport should be moved to a less populated, less central location.

It hasn’t yet been decided when construction on the expanded facilities at Keflavík airport will begin. Should a date be set soon, it’s likely that construction would be completed in 2022 or 2023.

High Winds Trap Passengers On Board Landed Flights

Serious weather conditions necessitated the cancellation of all domestic flights on Saturday and lead to widespread delays at Keflavík Airport, RÚV reports. All domestic flights were announced to have been cancelled as of 2.00pm, and many international flights were delayed.

When winds are too high (over 50 knots), jet bridges cannot be used for safety reasons. As such, passengers on Delta, Easy Jet, and British Airways flights that landed at Keflavík Airport around 9.00am were stuck waiting inside their planes. It wasn’t until around 1.00pm that wind conditions allowed travelers in landed planes to disembark and for some boardings to resume.

Authorities are monitoring weather conditions to determine if scheduled domestic flights can resume as usual tomorrow. According to the Icelandic Met Office, it looks as though the heavy rainfall and gale-force winds will likely dissipate overnight.

Travelers are reminded that although roads remain open, the current weather conditions, particularly in Southwest and West Iceland, will make driving more difficult. Drivers that must travel this afternoon are reminded to be cautious and monitor road conditions at www.road.is.