A Simple Trick to Leverage Points With Icelandair

Icelandair is a bit of an enigma, several US flights to Iceland and beyond, not a terrible way to get to Europe and often inexpensive — and also offering the most service to an interesting destination.

For a short while they had a partnership with Alaska Airlines which provided incredible value and drama, and dirt cheap first class awards to Hawaii. Mix a reasonable award chart for Alaska Airlines travel with selling miles for low, low prices and a feeding frenzy ensued. Alaska redemptions were pulled, and then brought back in early 2013.

Unfortunately this partnership ended June 2013. Most US customers have had few realistic options for earning and redeeming miles when flying Icelandair.

There is one way to make real use of otherwise-stranded Icelandair points, as SanDiego1K emails me.

We flew to Iceland last week. A friend had suggested that I sign up for Saga Club even though it will likely be the only time I fly IcelandAir…

You get no free food in coach with IcelandAir. However, I noticed prices given in both local currency and Saga points on the return. This is also true for their duty free catalog.

You can use points from your outbound flight to buy food or duty free on your return.

The [Flight Attendant] wanted me to have a card, which I didn’t have. She asked for a printout from the website. For some reason, she though my boarding card was insufficient, though I had to provide my passport to travel with said boarding card. But in the end, she took the number.

They value the points at about $.01/mile. Thus, for [Boston-Reykjavik], 2413 miles, I got roughly $24 credit. The flight attendant also took my credit card as backup. She had no way to check my points balance, and this ensured payment.

The program is here and it will work most easily if you sign up for the program far enough in advance of travel that you’ll actually have your membership card to show the flight attendant (which is a requirement).

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Exchanging Saga Miles for Dividend Miles might be a better deal for some people, even with the bad transfer ratio.

  2. You will not be mailed your card until you complete your first flight, so you certainly will not have it on your return. It will be at the discretion of the flight attendant if she allows you to pay with points with a printout or your number without a card. Alternatively, you can pay 500 ISK to have your card mailed to you in advance.

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