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Jaunted Travel Awards 2014 / The Jauntys / Iceland Travel / Reykjavik Travel / WOW Air / KEF / Big Ash Problems / → All Tags
It's that time of the year again, the time when the year just plain ends. Alas, we can't just let 2014 go that easily, especially since travelers spent it both up in the air and up in arms over a crazy range of topics. Now we take a brief look back at the best and worst of 2014 with the Jaunted Travel Awards,or as we fondly refer to themThe Jauntys.
Does it seem like everyone and their mom went to Iceland in 2014?
Iceland had a stellar year, thanks in part to Mother Nature turning up the heat on Bardarbunga volcano just enough to attract the world's attention (but not to ground flights), and also thanks to irresistible travel porn videos like this one.
The premieres of filmed-in-Iceland movies like The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and Oblivion put Iceland's incredible scenery in front of the eyeballs of the general public, while specialized travel like corporate retreats and destination weddings brought visitors who maybe wouldn't before have considered Iceland for a trip.
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As 2014 quickly comes to a close, there's no better time than now to think through exactly where we want the next 12 months to take us. Forget trend pieces trumpeting generic destination hotspots; over the next week, we'll share with you where our own Jaunted contributors personally want to go in 2015.
First up is Rayme, who splits his time between Chicago and Australia and looks for sun, scenery, and nightlife when he travels:
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Around 5pm EST, their US website finally went live, advertising specials and bookable deals in US Dollars, with some flights as low as $99 and $125 one-way. Despite those unbelievable numbers, the airline is a reputable one. WOW has been flying between Iceland and Europe since 2011, and we didn't think twice to book them earlier this year for a trip to go waterfall-spotting and hot spring-soaking in Iceland.
Think fast and have your credit card ready, and here's what you need to know to score WOW Air's cheapest US deals:
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We hope you are sitting down, because the long-awaited budget flights between the US and Iceland are finally happening and already on sale.
Icelandic low-cost airline WOW Air has been serving up spicy low fares from their home at Reykjavik-Keflavik Airport to Europe since 2011. This morning they announced their next destinations: Boston from March 2015 and Washington DC from June 2015, with flights from $125 each way.
Deep breaths. Notoriously expensive Iceland is indeed about to become a much more affordable hotspot for 2015 travel, but the deals don't stop there. WOW Air is also offering specials from their new US destinations to continue on to Europe and the UK, including £99 each way on over to London or Copenhagen.
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This has really been Iceland's year.
A slew of movies have used the country's famous landscapes for their setting, the erupting volcano of Bardabunga has opened up new tourism experiences (so long as there's no ash cloud), and it just so happens that we went to Iceland ourselves for the first time this year.
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This may sound weird, but our New Years resolution for 2014 was to fly WOW Air, a low-cost airline based in Iceland. Its awesome name aside, WOW intrigued us for its fleet of pink A320s, humor on Twitter, and promise of cheap flights to the notoriously expensive Reykjavik.
To complete that resolution, we booked Flight WW 201, departing Reykjavik-Keflavik at 6.45am and arriving London-Gatwick at 10.50am. That early flight and mid-morning arrival into Gatwick was ideal to then catch the train into town in time for lunch with a friend, followed by an afternoon napthe best way to ease back into London.
So here’s how it went...
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While commercial air traffic has been giving Iceland a wide berth over the past week or two, a few Icelandic airlines are eager to capitalize on the action.
For a start, an Icelandair pilot opted for a scenic routing and extra circle over the volcano, which provided passengers with a good view of the most active zone. A resulting smartphone photo quickly went viral.
Now the Iceland-based low-cost carrier WOW Air (yes, that's really their name) is promoting travel on their cheap fares from European airports to not only visit Iceland, but the eruption in particular. Fly to Reykjavik on Wow from one of their many destinations from 39 EUR each way (we paid $150 for a flight from London earlier this year on Wow), and then make your own way to the north of the country to connect to a sightseeing flight on Mýflug Air.
We opened this week by warning you that Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano - backgrounder from the Icelandic Met Office here, pronunciation tutorial embedded at bottom - had very pointedly begun to rumble. Let this be your official update that as of last night the volcano did indeed erupt, that an aviation red alert has been issued by Iceland's authorities, and that an air traffic ban is now in place around the entire Bardarbunga system. Happy Friday.
Technically there are no big ash problems yet, because the eruption doesn't seem to have kicked up any actual ash. Nonetheless Agence France-Presse is already throwing around phrases like "global travel chaos" in articles about what the next few days might bring. You guys did take our advice on Monday and purchase travel insurance, right?
Ever since the 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland led to air travel becoming extremely volcano-vigilant, passengers have purchased transatlantic tickets with the silent prayer of "please don't let a volcano ruin this." That prayer may soon prove fruitless, however, as big ash problems may once again be on the way.
Seismologists aren't the only ones keeping an eye on the recent rumblings over in Iceland, with travelers tuned to the news for the first signs of any ash cloud. There was a pair of earthquakes—greater than 5.0—and both struck near the area in and around the country’s Bardarbunga volcano. As a result, the country bumped its aviation alert up to red, but after a period of calm we’re back to an orange level.
A new movie hitting theaters this summer is just one of many recent projects to show Iceland some love.
The independent film Land Ho! follows two old fiends, Colin and Mitch, as they travel through Iceland after Colin's split with his second wife.
We have long been fans of the airline safety video, and from the funny to the serious we’ve got a spot in our travel hearts for each and every one of them. The latest one on our must-watch list is the new update from the folks over at Icelandair.
No jokes or Icelandic humor here, but what things do reveal are some of the awesome sights, sounds, and scenery all available over in Iceland. Safety videos usually don’t double as a tourism advertisement, but in this case it kind of does.
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Know what sounds nice? A long weekend in Iceland. While most Americans would chose to fly Icelandair or seasonal non stops from the US on other major carriers, we managed to fit an Iceland trip into a visit to London, all because of the availability of cheap one-ways on Easyjet. What proved to be most notable about the entire EasyJet travel experience is the time spent at the airport, and not actually on the flight.
For the 7.35am departure from London's Luton Airport (LTN), we reserved a £12 4.15am National Express coach bus from Victoria Station, which arrived to LTN at 5.25am. From there, we clutched our print-at-home boarding pass and, with no luggage to check, we headed straight through to airport security. Luton seems better equipped than Heathrow to handle crowds of passengers at security as, despite the morning rush, we were through security and handled (not manhandled!) in under 10 minutes. So far, so good.
Airside, Luton is a massive food court, with the boarding gates located down hallways. Passengers find seats only in the main central area, and then stand to rush and line up at the gate the minute info screens announce their flight. This early in the morning, when budget airlines love to sell their seats cheapest, the terminal resembled a safe house during an evacuation drill. Every available seat was taken, and passengers clutched their luggage on their laps as there simply wasn't room to spread out.