While the COVID-19 pandemic realistically is far from over, though too many people think that it is, the ability of fully vaccinated Americans to vacation overseas has thankfully returned. The first European destination to open up post-COVID is Iceland, and this otherworldly island nation is seemingly overnight experiencing a resurgence of U.S. visitors.
On June 20th, national flag carrier Icelandair began four times weekly non-stop Boeing 737 MAX 8 flights (160 passengers) from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. This service is in addition to Delta Air Lines daily Boeing 757 non-stops which started back up in late May. Icelandair’s service will be expanded to daily 216-seat Boeing 757’s on July 16. The flight from the Twin Cities to Iceland takes just over six hours, making it a possible long weekend destination.
Yours truly will be making his first foray to Iceland in early September (via DL) for a long-awaited vacation, and will return with a complete report and anticipated great photos to share. Delta also offers non-stop flights to Iceland from Boston and New York-JFK, while Icelandair flies from ten U.S. cities to KEF, as well as from Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, in Canada.
Icelandair has operated the MSP-KEF route (Keflavik International Airport serves the capital city of Reykjavik) for 20 years. While Delta has the advantage of being able to fill its flights with passengers connecting at its MSP hub, Icelandair has its own advantage, offering onward connections at KEF to more than 20 destinations in Scandinavia, the U.K. and Central Europe. Icelandair also offers stop-over packages for travelers who want to explore Iceland either to or from their onward destination.
Icelandair serves MSP from Terminal 2 (Humphrey), and Delta flights utilize Terminal 1 (Lindbergh).
As reported by the Metropolitan Airports Commission (metroairports.org), airline traffic at MSP is quickly rising as all carriers are restarting routes, increasing frequencies, as well as adding new destinations. In July, airlines are currently scheduled to operate 421 daily departures, a dramatic increase from 139 a year ago in June. Close to 200 destinations are now being served, with even more to come in the weeks ahead.