Inspiration – Icelandair

A two-week trip to Iceland filled me with love for the land of volcanoes, icebergs, elves, and chocolate-covered licorice. It also filled me with ideas. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing a mini Iceland-Inspiration series of clever ideas, interesting exhibits, and approaches to ponder. Enjoy!


Let’s start at the very beginning, shall we? I love when museums, zoos, and aquariums find clever and unexpected ways to incorporate interpretation into their spaces. And now I also love it when airlines do it, too. Icelandair did a great job seeding little interpretive moments – from history to geology to language – throughout the plane and flight, so that my introduction to Iceland began before my plane ever touched down.

Here are some of my favorites:

Plane Names and Volcano Stories

Meet Surtsey.


Along with being a kick-ass baby island, Surtsey was also the name of my plane. All of Icelandair’s planes are named after Icelandic volcanoes, and a small interpretive panel on the side of the plane shares a little bit about your plane’s geology while you’re waiting to board.


This is a horrible picture. The mob behind me was getting restless.

The in-flight magazine also gives a brief overview of Iceland’s other volcanic structures, complete with a pronunciation guide for trying your tongue at some Icelandic (it took two weeks, but I can finally say Eyjafjallajökull).


The overviews are short, and a nice example of basic information with a twist:

GRÁBRÓK |GRAU-broke| Grábrók is the name of a crater that was formed in a fissure erruption in West Iceland less than 3,000 years ago. Children love running to the top of this friendly volcano, which stands just a few meters from the road.

Language Lesson Headrests


Language tips on every seat. Other tidbits included:

“Good night” is “góða nótt” in Icelandic. It has a soft and cuddly sound.

In Icelandic it’s customary to say thank you after each meal with the phrase “Takk fyrir mig.”

“Ást” is the noun for love in Icelandic. But the verb is different. Be careful not to say: “Þú ást mig.” That means: You ate me. Use the verb “elska” instead.

The phrasing is conversational and playful, and I saw more than a few fellow passengers turning around throughout the flight to read their headrests and practice the expressions.

Condiments and Napkins



Runes and friendly encouragement. Who could ask for more?

What I enjoyed about all these instances of interpretation was how they were subtle, sweet, unexpected, and often a little tongue-in-cheek. It became an in-flight treasure hunt, searching for the next morsel of information. I didn’t use the bathrooms, but I’m still wondering what Icelandic I might have learned in there…

Where have you experienced unexpected interpretive moments?

Has anyone else enjoyed the interpretive touches on Icelandair? Has anyone else creeped out the person sitting behind them by trying to subtly take a photograph of their headrest and failing at the subtle part?

One thought on “Inspiration – Icelandair

  1. Pingback: Inspiration – Icelandair (again) | Museums Askew

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