I flew New York to Paris for less than $660 on Icelandair -- here's what my first-ever ride with the airline was like

The amazing amount of leg room I had while sitting in an exit row seat. Photo: Sarah Schmalbruch/INSIDER

The INSIDER Summary:

  • I recently flew Icelandair for the first time from NYC to Paris.
  • I had a five-hour flight to Reykjavik from NYC, where I then had an hour layover, and then a three-hour flight from Reykjavik to Paris.
  • All in all, it was an enjoyable experience.
  • I was sitting in an exit row, so I had ample leg room, plus there was a great selection of movies, and the plane was clean and relatively on time.
  • My only real complaint was that there wasn’t a free meal served on the flight.

I recently took a trip to France to visit my sister.

With the help of KAYAK’s price alerts, I was able to book a round-trip flight from JFK in New York City to Charles de Gaulle in Paris for about $A656.

I booked my flight on Icelandair, so I had a five-hour flight to Reykjavik from NYC, where I then had an hour layover, and then a three-hour flight from Reykjavik to Paris.

Although I’ve flown internationally multiple times in the past, this was my first time flying Icelandair. I wasn’t sure what to expect since my ticket had been so cheap.

Keep scrolling to read about my experience.

As I boarded the flight from JFK to Reykjavik, I was greeted by a friendly flight attendant standing at the front of the plane handing out small water bottles.

Sarah Schmalbruch / INSIDER
The water bottles we received while boarding the flight.

It was a nice touch, and the perfect way to begin a long flight -- an experience that usually ends in dehydration for me.

Sarah Schmalbruch / INSIDER
The water bottle helped me hydrate before the flight took off.

A small pillow and blanket were waiting for me at my seat. The pillow was pretty standard as far as aeroplane amenities go, but the blanket was softer than most I had used.

Sarah Schmalbruch / INSIDER
My pillow and blanket.

Much more exciting than the pillow and blanket, though, was the fact that I was sitting in an aisle seat in an exit row. I was overjoyed to find that I could completely stretch my legs out without hitting the seat in front of me.

Sarah Schmalbruch / INSIDER
The amazing leg room I had while sitting in an exit row seat.

While checking in at JFK, I had been informed that no free meals would be served on the flight, so I treated myself to a sad airport dinner before boarding.

Sarah Schmalbruch / INSIDER
The in-flight menu.

But that didn't stop me from checking out the in-flight menu. There was, of course, skyr, a dairy product similar to yogurt that's very popular in Iceland.

Sarah Schmalbruch / INSIDER
The in-flight menu.

There were also typical baguette sandwiches and snack boxes, as well as granola bars, candy bars, and chips.

And for those who like to dull the senses a bit while flying, there was an ample selection of cocktails, beer, and wine.

Shortly after boarding, a flight attendant flipped up the TV screen of the person sitting in the middle of my row so that our whole row could watch the safety video.

Sarah Schmalbruch / INSIDER
The TV screen we watched the safety video on.

The safety video featured real people -- as opposed to illustrated characters -- on vacation in Iceland. They engaged in fun local activities to demonstrate what to do in case of an emergency on the plane, like jumping down a waterfall to showcase jumping onto a slide in case of an evacuation.

I too had my own TV screen that flipped up in front of me, which was nice, but it also took me forever to figure out how to pop the screen up from its place under my arm rest.

Sarah Schmalbruch / INSIDER
My personal TV screen, which has a USB port.

Non exit rows have their TV screens in the headrest of the seat in front of them, like on most planes.

The airline's movie selection was great. Over the course of all my flights, I watched 'La La Land,' 'Risky Business,' '500 Days of Summer,' 'Mystic River,' and 'You've Got Mail.'

Sarah Schmalbruch / INSIDER
So many good movies.

Unfortunately I didn't get to sit in an exit row on my next flight, so my legs went back to their usual cramped position.

Sarah Schmalbruch / INSIDER
My leg room when I wasn't sitting in an exit row seat.

Something I loved was the USB outlet on my TV screen that allowed me to charge my phone during the flight, meaning that I could land at my destination with a fully charged phone.

Sarah Schmalbruch / INSIDER
The USB port below my TV screen allowed me to charge my phone on the plane.

I was surprised to see that in-flight shopping is still a thing. When the flight attendants came by with the cart on one of my flights, a woman in the row behind me actually bought something.

Sarah Schmalbruch / INSIDER
The flight attendant coming by with the in-flight shopping cart.

All in all, the flight was a good experience. The movie selection was great, the plane was clean, the flight was relatively on time, and the flight attendants were nice (plus I loved how all the female attendants did their hair). My only real complaint was not getting a free meal on an international flight.

Sarah Schmalbruch / INSIDER
The female flight attendants all had their hair in the same kind of cool bun.

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