Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Icelandair reintroduces ‘Stopover Buddy’ service

Icelandair, which has long encouraged travelers to stop over in Iceland on their way to or from Europe, has upgraded an optional feature intended to make stopovers that much more appealing and personal.

The seasonal service is called ‘Stopover Buddy,’ through which airline employees serve as passengers’ concierges, tour guides, and personal hosts for up to a day. Introduced last winter, the program pairs guests with an employee from the CEO to pilots, flight attendants and others who can provide an insider’s insight into Iceland and its culture.

Icelandair's Buddies launch this year's service at KEF
“Travelers are seeking local, unique and personalized adventures in an experience economy,” Birkir Hólm Guðnason, Icelandair’s CEO said in a statement announcing the return of the service. “Our Buddies are passionate and friendly individuals who can not only help take passengers off the beaten tourist track but also educate them in local culture.”

The Buddies, all locals, also boast some impressive local connections.

Sverrir, a second officer, has a brother in the Icelandic band Of Monsters and Men and could arrange an exclusive meet at the Iceland Airwaves festival, which this year features more than 200 artists including an appearance by Björk. Hlíf, a flight attendant, is related to the captain of the women’s national football team and could take passengers to watch her at a local game. Bjorn, a captain, is an avid adventurer and could help a passenger plan the ultimate proposal in a beautiful, secluded location in Iceland’s back country.

The program, which runs from October through the end of March, aligns well with research and travel trends that show today’s travelers are increasingly seeking more authentically local experiences. In ever-increasing numbers, tourists are opting for local accommodations through services like Airbnb and HomeAway as opposed to staying in large chain hotels, and seeking out connections within the community they are visiting. Services like Icelandair’s Stopover Buddy service also help meet the desire for a more personal, local connection.

This year, the program is focusing on celebrations and making them all the more special, whether the reason for the celebration is big or small. For example, personal celebrations can range from a honeymoon to crossing something off one’s bucket list to simply celebrating time off work.

There are also a number of traditional Icelandic celebrations and festivals during the winter months, and a Stopover Buddy can serve as an insider guide and local host. Festivals include the Food & Fun festival, the Days of Darkness festival, the arrival of the Icelandic Yule Lads, the Winter Lights festival in Reykjavik and Annual Beer Day.

The Buddies can arrange activities from the traditional to the arcane, from watching the Northern Lights to taking part in a Viking Clap to celebrating one’s birthday ‘Beyond the Wall’ with a Game of Thrones expert.



The service is free for passengers taking advantage of the airline’s transatlantic stopover service, which allows passengers to stop over in Iceland for up to seven nights at no additional airfare. More information is available and a buddy can be booked through Icelandair’s Stopover Buddy webpage at http://www.icelandair.us/stopover-buddy/.

Visit my main page at TheTravelPro.us for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.



Photo provided by Icelandair
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