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. 

How to Get Around in Iceland

Biker crossing a busy road in Reykjavík.

Although Iceland is a small country with small towns and cities, the ground to cover can sometimes be enormous. In Iceland, there is no one best way to travel everywhere, as walkability, road conditions, and public transport options vary significantly between areas. Deciding on the best option to get from one place to another entirely depends on where you are and the destination you want to reach. From Keflavík airport to the capital area, rural villages and the Highland, here is our guide to getting around Iceland.

Transportation to and from Keflavík International Airport

If you‘re flying to Iceland, odds are you‘ll land at Keflavík Airport, as most international air traffic goes through there. From Keflavík to Reykjavík, Garðabær, or Hafnarfjörður, we recommend taking the bus, which has services 24/7. It departs directly from the airport and offers one stop each in Hafnafjörður and Garðabær, as well as most hotels in Reykjavík. Tickets can be bought in advance or at the airport.

If you‘re not one for the bus, a private transfer can also be arranged with or without a chauffeur. 

If you‘re skipping Reykjavík entirely, a rental car you can pick up at the airport is the most convenient option. Make sure to consider where you‘re going, what types of roads you‘ll be travelling on and whether snow and ice are possible. 

Getting around Reykjavík

Reykjavík city bus.
Photo: Golli. Reykjavík city bus.

Are you only here to see Reykjavík? Then stick to public transport and walking, as driving and parking in the city is usually expensive and not the hassle-free experience you want for your vacation. Downtown Reykjavík is not large and can easily be covered on foot. 

Alternatively, electric scooters are available for short-term rental from Hopp and Zolo, and bikes can be rented for a few hours up to a week or more. This is an excellent option for slightly longer distances, allowing you to experience your surroundings while travelling.

For colder days or trips outside your nearest surroundings, Strætó, the primary bus system in Iceland, is there to take you across the city, to the suburbs or nearlying towns. While Icelanders are less than happy with Strætó, it does the job. Just be mindful that it doesn‘t arrive as frequently as you might be used to at home, so plan ahead to avoid excessive waiting times! Kids 11 and younger travel for free, and a single adult fair valid for 75 minutes costs ISK 630 [$5, €4]. 24 and 72-hour passes can be purchased with a discount at the 10-11 convenience stores on Austurstæti street and Laugavegur street. Each pass is valid for one person. 

There is also the option of taxis, but if you‘re trying to save money, we advise you to use them sparingly. A 5 km trip within the city during the daytime will likely cost at least ISK 2,666 [$19, €18]. 

Seeing the countryside by car

Empty Icelandic road
Empty Icelandic road.

If you want to see everything Iceland has to offer, the best way to do so is by car. While buses run between towns, trips are not frequent, and the timing might only sometimes suit your needs. Additionally, unless your goal is to walk and hike a lot, you‘ll probably miss out on some fabulous places, as public transport is geared towards the day-to-day needs of locals. If you decide to go with public transport, Public Transport offers a handy map with a comprehensive look at what sort of ground transportation is available in Iceland and where it can take you.

Alternatively, there are heaps of preplanned trips where the itinerary, driving and accommodations – for the trips exceeding a single day – are taken care of for you. You might also choose to go by bike, but be aware that outside the capital area, you‘ll be biking on the main road along with cars. 

If you‘re in a time crunch but want to see the island’s west, north or east side, perhaps flying is the best option. From Reykjavík, you can fly directly with Icelandair to Akureyri, Ísafjörður, Egilsstaðir, and Vestmannaeyjar islands. Flights are available several times daily, with time in the air usually less than an hour. This is not cheap, but it might help you make the most of your trip.

Hop on a boat: seeing Iceland by sea

While in Iceland, you might want to visit one of our smaller islands or remote places that can only be reached by boat or on foot. Ferry rides to popular places, such as Viðey island, Flatey island, Drangey island, and Hornstrandir nature reserve, can be purchased online. Of course, they depend on seasons and weather, so we advise you to look into that beforehand. 

As mentioned above, Vestmannaeyjar islands can be reached by flight, but you can also get there by a ferry called Herjólfur. It offers trips multiple times a day, all year round.

Helicopter and plane tours: seeing Iceland from above

If you’re not one for hiking, maybe a helicopter tour or a plane ride is the ideal way for you to explore the island. See the continental rift, where the North-American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet, Vatnajökull glacier, the biggest glacier in Iceland, or the Reykjanes volcano area, where frequent eruptions have been reshaping the landscape since early 2021.

The Icelandic highland: how to get there

Landmannalaugar hiking trail in the Icelandic highland.
Photo: Berglind. Landmannalaugar hiking trail in the Icelandic highland.

The Highland is one of the most breathtaking places in Iceland, and for those with adventurous spirits, this is an ideal place to visit. However, getting there can take some careful planning. The roads‘ opening times depend on seasons and weather, they are very rough and neither suitable for small cars nor inexperienced drivers. Along the way, you might also encounter some big and unpredictable glacier rivers that must be crossed. It might, therefore, be prudent to opt for one of the Highland buses or even a planned trip. If you‘d prefer to go at it alone, plenty of suitable car options are available

A Profitable 2023 for Icelandair Despite Q4 Challenges

Icelandair Boeing 737 MAX

Icelandair rebounded from years of losses to an ISK 1.5 billion [$11 million / €10 million] profit in 2023, with passenger numbers up 17% and plans for expanded flight service in 2024 despite fourth-quarter challenges.

A profit after a series of challenging years

In a report on its Q4 and 12-month 2023 performance, Icelandair revealed that the airline earned a profit of ISK 1.5 billion ISK in 2023 [$11 million / €10 million] in 2023, which is a significant turnaround from last year when the airline experienced a loss of ISK 800 million [$5.9 million / €5.4 million]. As noted by RÚV, Icelandair had previously reported losses since 2017. 

“It is an important milestone to report a profit after taxes for the entire year after challenging recent years. Revenue generation was very strong this year, and we successfully met the high demand across all our markets, especially from North America to Iceland,” Bogi Nils Bogason, CEO of Icelandair, told RÚV yesterday. He is positive about the outlook.

“The market to Iceland is rebounding following recent events, with Iceland remaining a sought-after destination. We are also seeing a higher proportion of bookings across the Atlantic than before. Our flight schedule for 2024 will be about 11% larger than in 2023, with 57 destinations, including three new ones – Pittsburgh, Halifax, and Vágar in the Faroe Islands,” Bogi Nils stated. 

The number of passengers flying with Icelandair was 4.3 million in 2023, an increase of 17% since last year. Seat utilisation for passengers within Iceland in 2023 also increased by 2%. The airline’s liquidity position amounted to ISK 44 billion ($323 million / €297 million) at the end of the year.

Fourth-quarter performance marred by geological unrest

Icelandair’s announcement highlighted that seismic activities, volcanic eruptions, and air traffic controllers’ strikes significantly impacted the airline’s fourth-quarter performance: “Following the news that the town of Grindavík was evacuated due to anticipated volcanic eruptions, bookings dropped significantly.” 

Mbl.is reported that shares in Icelandair had fallen by 6.9% during the first trades on NASDAQ Iceland this morning.

Play Introduces “Stopover” Option

iceland budget airline play

The airline Play announced today that passengers on their connecting flights to and from Iceland can stop over in Iceland without an additional fee. This applies to passengers travelling between North America and Europe and they can now book a “stopover” for up to ten days using Play’s website interface, Viðskiptablaðið reports.

“Play is focused on offering competitive prices for its markets and with this service, travellers will be able to visit two countries without paying extra, using the airline’s online booking platform,” Play’s press release read.

Competing with Icelandair’s “stopover”

Icelandair, Iceland’s other international passenger airline, has offered the “stopover” option for a number of years. In their case, passengers travelling across the Atlantic can stay in Iceland for up to seven nights without an additional fee.

“This increases our offerings and will be a valuable tool in the competition for customers in our markets,” said Birgir Jónsson, CEO of Play, about the company’s new product. “It’s an unequivocal benefit for passengers to choose Play if they want to travel across the Atlantic and are intrigued by the attractiveness of Iceland. This new service on our website will simplify the process of booking a stay in our beautiful country and will increase our airline’s esteem abroad even more.”

In the United States, Play flies to Baltimore, Boston, New York and Washington DC, but also offers flights to Toronto in Canada. In Europe, the airline has over 30 destinations.

Air Traffic Controller Strike Aborted Due to Eruption

Reykjanes eruption Iceland eruption

Industrial action by air traffic controllers planned for tomorrow morning will not take place due to the volcanic eruption on the Reykjanes peninsula, Association President Arnar Hjálmsson confirmed with Mbl.is. The round of strikes began December 12 and, disrupting morning flights to and from Iceland for airlines Play and Icelandair. The work stoppages continued on December 14 and 18.

The volcanic eruption began shortly before midnight last night, 3 km north of the town of Grindavík.  The eruption has not affected air travel and Keflavík airport remains open, despite its proximity to the site of the eruption.

Flight schedules remain unaffected

According to a press release from Icelandair, the airline’s flight schedule remains unaffected. “The safety of our passengers and staff is always priority number one and all decisions are made with this in mind,” Vísir quotes the release. “We are following the situation closely and will alert passengers in a timely manner if any changes occur to our flight schedule because of the eruption.”

The airline Play has asked passengers to keep a close eye on messages from them regarding possible disruptions. “We do not expect any disruptions to our flight schedule but safety is always our top priority and the situation is being monitored closely by the relevant authorities,” is stated in a notice the airline’s website.

Repeated air traffic controller strikes

Tomorrow’s cancelled action was the last strike planned this year by the Icelandic Air Traffic Controller Association. The collective agreement of air traffic controllers expired on October 1 and negotiations have gone very slowly. This has been the third air traffic controller strike in Iceland in five years. Arnar asserts that the salaries of Iceland’s 152 air traffic controllers have lagged compared to other professions in the industry in recent years. The strike makes exceptions for emergency and coast guard flights.

Air Traffic Controllers Continue Strike Actions

Keflavík airport Icelandair

The air traffic controllers of Iceland were on strike today for the third time since last week. Their next strike is scheduled for Wednesday morning. Air traffic controllers’ collective agreement negotiations with the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (SA) are at a deadlock. Icelandair’s CEO says continued strikes would increase the likelihood of flight cancellations over the holidays. Iceland’s Parliament may be preparing to step in with legislation to break the strike, according to mbl.is.

Parliament may legislate to break strike

According to mbl.is, the Infrastructure Ministry is preparing a bill to break the strikes, if negotiations remain at a standstill. Minister of Infrastructure Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson did not wish to confirm this, however, when contacted by the outlet. Sigurður Ingi did refer to the responsibility held by the negotiating parties “right before Christmas, following a natural disaster that has cost this society a considerable amount.”

Two unions, the State Flight Staff Association (Félag flugmálastarfsmanna ríkisins) and the Dock Workers Association (Félag hafnarverkamanna), have issued statements in support of Iceland’s air traffic controllers and their right to strike. They underline the right to strike as necessary toward maintaining a just balance of power between workers and employers.

No negotiation meetings scheduled

The collective agreement of air traffic controllers expired on October 1 and negotiations with the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise (SA) have gone very slowly. This is the third air traffic controller strike in Iceland in five years. Arnar Hjálmsson, president of the Air Traffic Controller Association asserts that the salaries of Iceland’s 152 air traffic controllers have lagged compared to other professions in the industry in recent years.

The next strike is scheduled for 4:00 AM-10:00 AM on Wednesday morning. Meanwhile, no meetings are on the calendar between the negotiating parties.

 

Air Traffic Controllers to Strike Thursday Amid Failed Talks

A negotiation meeting between Icelandic air traffic controllers and Isavia was called off at 5 PM yesterday without an agreement, Vísir reports. Air traffic controllers will undertake additional strike action on Thursday morning. 

Next meeting on Thursday at 2 PM

A negotiation meeting between the Icelandic Air Traffic Controllers Association and the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise, representing Isavia (the company that operates all public airports in Iceland), began at 3 PM yesterday. The meeting, which took place at the offices of the State Mediator, concluded two hours later without an agreement being reached, Vísir reports.

The next meeting in the wage dispute is scheduled for Thursday at 2 PM. This means that additional strike action scheduled for the morning of Thursday, December 4, will be implemented.

As reported yesterday, the travel plans of thousands of passengers were disrupted when the first wave of strike actions hit yesterday morning. In addition to the planned strikes on Thursday, similar actions have been announced for Monday and Wednesday of next week.

Commercial airlines Icelandair and Play are now assessing their legal position regarding the issue, stating that the actions of the air traffic controllers have caused significant damage to the companies.

Agreements expired October 1

As noted in an article on IR yesterday, the collective agreement of air traffic controllers expired on October 1 and negotiations have progressed very slowly. This is the third air traffic controller strike in Iceland in five years. Arnar Hjálmsson, president of the Air Traffic Controller Association, has asserted that the salaries of Iceland’s 152 air traffic controllers have lagged compared to other professions in the industry in recent years. The strike makes exceptions for emergency and Coast Guard flights.

Flights Delayed as Iceland’s Air Traffic Controllers Strike

Keflavík Airport

Dozens of flights to and from Keflavík and Reykjavík airports have been delayed this morning due to industrial action by the Icelandic Air Traffic Controller Association. The strike ends at 10:00 AM, but will have ripple effects on flights throughout the day as airlines scramble to get passengers to their destinations. Many are expected to miss their connecting flights.

The airline Play has announced the disruption of 19 flights, five of them from North America and fourteen from Iceland to destinations in Europe. The arrivals of North American flights and the departures of European flights have been delayed until the work stoppage ends at 10:00 AM. Icelandair has delayed 12 flights from North America this morning along with most of European flights. In addition, a number of flights have been combined and destinations altered. A flight scheduled for London Gatwick will land at London Heathrow and a flight to Paris will end up in Amsterdam. Planned flights to Zürich and Munich will head to Frankfurt, while a scheduled flight to Stockholm is now destined for Copenhagen.

More work stoppages announced

A second round of work stoppages is expected Thursday morning if a resolution to the labour dispute is not reached before then, with further action taking place next week, according to Mbl.is reporting on the labour dispute. A round of negotiations between air traffic controllers and Isavia, the company that operates all public airports in Iceland, ended last night without an agreement. Al­dís Magnús­dótt­ir, the state mediator in the dispute, says discussions will resume later today. However, the parties are not close to an agreement, according to both Aldís and Arnar Hjálmsson, president of the Air Traffic Controller Association. If the dispute is not resolved, further industrial action will take place on December 14, 18 and 20.

Repeated air traffic controller strikes

The collective agreement of air traffic controllers expired on October 1 and negotiations have gone very slowly. This is the third air traffic controller strike in Iceland in five years. Arnar asserts that the salaries of Iceland’s 152 air traffic controllers have lagged compared to other professions in the industry in recent years. The strike makes exceptions for emergency and coast guard flights.

 

Icelandair Resumes Service Between Keflavík and Akureyri in Trial

icelandair akureyri keflavík

Icelandair has resumed service between Akureyri and Keflavík International Airport.

The connection was last offered in 2019, and since then, Akureyri residents travelling internationally have needed to first fly to the Reykjavík airport, and then travel to Keflavík International Airport.

Limited time offer

According to an Icelandair press release, the first passengers on Icelandair’s international connection from Akureyri to Keflavik Airport were treated to a light coffee service at Akureyri Airport this morning. The international connection will be available from October 15 to November 30, 2023. During this period, flights will operate three times a week from Akureyri to Keflavik, departing at 5:50 AM on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, and three times a week from Keflavik to Akureyri on Wednesdays at 9:20 PM, and Fridays and Sundays at 5:15 PM.

The decision was made to schedule the flight early, as accommodation options in North Iceland are limited during the summer. Icelandair has previously stated that it hopes to strengthen and develop the international connection from Akureyri.

The route is currently scheduled as a trial, though service may be expanded in the future if the connection proves popular.

As this flight is an international connection, security screening will be conducted at Akureyri Airport, and it can only be booked in conjunction with an Icelandair international flight.

Looking ahead

Tómas Ingason, Director of Revenue, Service, and Marketing at Icelandair stated to the press:  “The international connection from Akureyri has received a very positive reception right from the start, as it significantly shortens travel time for Northerners to Icelandair’s European destinations. With this connection, we also aim to promote better distribution of travellers around the country and stimulate increased demand for trips to Akureyri, especially during the winter. It’s exciting to announce that those who took the first flight from Akureyri this morning are on their way to various destinations across Europe, including Berlin, Brussels, Frankfurt, Tenerife, Dublin, London, Copenhagen, and Helsinki.”

 

 

Icelandair Launches New Training Programme

Keflavík airport Icelandair

Icelandair has announced the launch of a new training programme, set to begin this winter.

The programme will partner together with the Norwegian Pilot Flight Academy and is intended to give students priority to employment at Icelandair upon graduation.

Applications for the program will be open from September 14th to September 28th, 2023.

Crucial to support aviation

Regarding the recent announcement, Icelandair CEO Bogi Nils Bogason stated: “As an island, Iceland is heavily reliant on aviation, so it is crucial that we offer excellent educational opportunities in the specialized fields of aviation. While Icelandair continues to experience high demand for positions within our company, it is important to support the continued growth of our society and ensure a skilled workforce for the future.”

The programme is open to applicants between the ages 18-30 who have a high school level education and good English skills. Icelandic proficiency is not required, but desirable.

The first part of the training is theoretical and takes place in Sandefjord, Norway, lasting for about 8 months. Students will then go to Texas for 4 months to complete their practical training.

After completing their practical training, students return to Norway for instrument and multi-engine training (approximately 90 flight hours), along with A-UPRT and APS MCC training.

The entire programme takes approximately 18 months.