Cheap flights to Scotland. The Icelandic ‘trick’ – UPDATED
At the time of writing (autumn 2016) the standard fare for the benchmark New York to Edinburgh route tends to be in the region of $1250. There are presently three European operators pursuing plans to open up budget transatlantic routes again, but so far at least, these don’t seem to have progressed beyond press releases, and statements of aspiration. For the foreseeable future, we are probably locked into what we’ve got, but all is not completely lost. Allow Faraway Fairways to play at being Faraway Airways! and introduce you to a slightly exotic alternative way of doing this for about $500. Sadly, as you might expect, it comes with a few strings attached, but we don’t believe these to be that onerous. In fact Faraway Fairways would even consider them to be a plus, but then we like travel and exploration
We don’t sell this ticket, but we can inform you of its existence; allow us to explain
- This flight isn’t direct between the USA and the UK. It involves a change in Iceland giving you the chance to add another country to your list, and do a bit more
- The cost savings come from an Icelandic based carrier (Wow Airlines) who fly from America to Reykjavik, and then from Reykjavik to Edinburgh at a significantly reduced fare
- Wow Airlines fly Airbus A320’s, so are dealing with proven aircraft with a good safety record
- Budget airlines have a habit of advertising an eye-catching price but only having a very limited number seats available at that price. Usually we say be wary of this, but in this case we believe it to be more sincere
So allow us to show you how this might work. We’ve used a nominal date of mid March, 2017, and an outward destination of New York to model it. The cheapest ticket available on our survey date for our hypothetical travel date was a return between New York and Reykjavik at £89, approximately $116 on the exchange rate of October 2016. The onward flight from Reykjavik to Edinburgh was £59, approximately $77, for a grand total of $192. This would represent a saving in the region of $800 on the comparable New York to Edinburgh direct route for the same date
Flying from Newrak NJ, on March 21st, 2017
Landing at 04.40, you’re obviously posed with the problem of what to do at Keflavik airport between then and waiting for the flight to Edinburgh. Iceland as we’re sure you’re aware is built on volcanic thermals. Well it just so happens that within 22 miles of the airport is something called ‘the Blue Lagoon’. This is the ultimate in natural relaxation. An ideal way perhaps to start you holiday? Over the years the lagoon has had man-made elements added to it such as arching bridges, slatted boardwalks, and restful little islands, but for the most part the abiding impression is one of having been crafted by nature
Even if there is snow on the rocks and the air temperature touches freezing, the water is still at a very warm temperature. It’s all rather surreal
As you’ll have made arrangements to check your bags through onto the connecting flight, all you need is a ‘day-sack’ capable of carrying a swimming costume. There are dozens of shuttle services between the airport and the lagoon. It’s an easy connection to make. The lagoon also has it’s own restaurant facilities and other associated indoor leisure activities so you’ve got lunch covered too
The schedule allows you to spend the entire day here in natures very own health resort. That means you can indulge the healing qualities of the volcanic mud be it through face pack, or a massage.
The volcanic muds are famous for the skin treatments
Would it be totally inappropriate to suggest to those of you who’ve persuaded a non-golfing partner to accompany you on this venture, that this might be for them too? Urm… by the time you land in Edinburgh, you should both be feeling great having had the benefit of the full Icelandic treatment. It has to make for a better start to proceedings surely?
Ah… land in Edinburgh. The connecting flight from Reykjavik to Edinburgh is another saving, and again Wow Airlines oblige. An overnight stay in the Icelandic capital has paid for itself by now, but the onward flight takes off early the next morning from Iceland, and arrives in Edinburgh at 09.10. When Faraway Fairways surveyed this, the price was a mere £59, approximately $77.
Sample for March 22nd at approximately $77
The return flight would of course invite you to repeat the activity, but having fulfilled the requirement of using Wow and an Icelandic stop-over on the outward leg, we’ve come to the conclusion that you qualify for a discounted non-stop return? Allow us to explain….
When we interrogated the flight checking databases for these dates, the least expensive direct flight we found was offered by European carriers. However, Wow Airlines have a ‘relay’ flight which encompasses a 90 minute turnaround. Accepting this offer reduced the price to a staggering £199, or approximately $259. The flight from Edinburgh landed at 13.40, and takes off again at 15.15. This is enough time to affect a baggage transfer and for you to change aircraft before you’re on your way again. If we’re honest about it, Keflavik airport, with its modern eco-architecture and sitting in its lunar volcanic landscape is almost worth the brief stop on its own merit
The return ‘relay’ flight to America is more expensive than the stop-over option, but not massively so
You might of course choose to ignore the relay flight and spend another day in Iceland on the return journey. Faraway Fairways would be inclined to recommend that you have two options. The first is spend the day in Reykjavik and take the opportunity to see a little bit more of this slightly eccentric and colourful capital city. Then laze back an enjoy the evening in this mid Atlantic outpost. Think log fires and a dancing display of the northern aurora if you’re lucky
The contrast between the skyline of the Icelandic capital and that of New York couldn’t be more striking.
Your second option involves the “Golden-circle” tour which is normally considered a staple item for visitors to Iceland, and takes about 9-10 hours. The Golden Circle brings you right into this rugged and raw landscape where the rivers run clean, and the air is beautifully crisp and fresh. The tour features some of Iceland’s most stunning sights, starting with the Geysir geothermal area where the Strokkur geyser shoots a column of water up to 30 metres (98 ft.) into the air every 4-8 minutes in a thrilling display of nature’s forces. The visit continues with Gullfoss (Golden Falls) waterfall, created by the river Hvítá, which tumbles and plunges into a crevice some 32 m (105 ft.) deep. The Golden Circle tour also includes the historical and geological wonder that is Thingvellir National Park, where the American and Eurasian tectonic plates are pulling apart at a rate of a few centimetres per year.
The erupting Great Geysir
So the next question is where do Wow Airlines fly from? Well the answer to that is surprisingly more North American airports than you might think.
- Boston (BOS) Logan
- Los Angeles (LAX)
- Miami (MIA)
- Montreal (YUL)
- New York (EWR) Newark
- San Francisco (SFO)
- Toronto (YYZ)
- Washington/ Baltimore (BWI)
It might also be worth knowing that not only do Wow Airlines have a route from Iceland to Edinburgh, they also have one from Iceland to Dublin, Ireland. Basically therefore, anyone wishing to start their golf tour in Ireland, and cross into Scotland later, can also take advantage of this service. Ultimately Faraway Fairways were offered a trans-atlantic return flight with a stop-over in Iceland on the outward leg, and a relay transfer back to New York on the return leg from Edinburgh, for a total price of £362, approximately $470.
Booking direct through the Wow Airlines website was cheaper than the various brokering sites
Return flight for March worked out for $470. Honestly, the golfers excuses for not playing Scotland are really starting to run out!
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