What to know before you fly to Greenland. | Icelandair
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Greenland is a place like no other. We have no doubt you’ll be in awe of what you'll see and experience there, and we look forward to flying passengers to this most epic destination.

Travel to Greenland brings big adventure: in nature, weather, and other elements. It might also bring some challenges. We want to share some of our local expertise to help make your Greenland travel smoother.

Flexibility is key!

Travelers are drawn to Greenland to experience its incredible landscapes and remote location. The raw nature and remoteness also play a part in making travel to or within Greenland challenging at times, and the country has limited infrastructure.

All airlines face the same regulations and challenges operating in and out of Greenland. We're an airline that knows and understands conditions (and weather!) in this part of the world. We do everything in our power to ensure your travel to and from Greenland is smooth.

We hope you understand that there can be unavoidable disruptions to Greenland travel. We won’t compromise on safety. Flexibility on our part is sometimes needed, and we may share that need for flexibility with you. We don’t do it lightly.

Our best travel tip: Build in some flexibility where you can.

That might mean adding a buffer of a day (or more) on either side of your travels, to avoid stress if there are delays.

Some concrete examples of this:

  • Plan to arrive in Greenland 1–2 days before your cruise departs.
  • Consider scheduling 1–2 days in Iceland after your Greenland visit, before you return to Europe or North America. That buffer can help eliminate the stress of missing your onward flight connections if your departure from Greenland is delayed.
  • If you have a crucial event or occasion scheduled after your return from Greenland, plan to arrive home a few days before it.

Our aircraft

Greenland is enormous. But its population is small (just 56,500). Its airports are small too, even in the most-visited areas like the capital city Nuuk, and the Unesco-recognized region of Ilulissat.

The Greenland airports we serve are mainly small, with short runways only capable of handling smaller aircraft such as our De Havilland Canada (DHC) Dash 400 and 200 (with 76 and 37 seats, respectively). We also use the Dash aircraft on our domestic Iceland routes.

Only one of the airports we serve has a runway capable of handling our Boeing aircraft. We fly a weekly service in July and August between Iceland and Narsarsuaq (UAK), using our Boeing MAX 8 (with a capacity of 160 seats).

Where we fly in Greenland

We fly directly from Keflavík to Nuuk and Kulusuk year-round, and to Ilulissat and Narsarsuaq in summer (with additional winter flights to Ilulissat). Icelandair may occasionally use Kangerlussuaq* as a refueling stop.

The runways at Nuuk and Ilulissat are currently undergoing enlargement and a redevelopment of airport terminals too. These new facilities are expected to open by the end of 2024.

In time, a new airport will be built at Qaqortoq in south Greenland, and this will replace Narsarsuaq airport.

Flights to and from Greenland will no doubt look a lot different after these changes.

Airport names

Some locations in Greenland have Danish names in addition to their Greenlandic names. Some airport codes reflect the Danish names.

  • Nuuk's name in Danish is Godthåb. Its airport code is GOH.
  • Ilulissat is called Jakobshavn in Danish. Airport code: JAV.
  • Kangerlussuaq* is known as Søndre Strømfjord, with an airport code of SFJ.

*Kangerlussuaq airport

While traveling to, from or within Greenland, you may hear of Kangerlussuaq airport. This is one of the few airports in Greenland large enough to support long-range aircraft.

Kangerlussuaq airport is the international hub for Air Greenland – the airline flies from Copenhagen to Kangerlussuaq in larger aircraft, and passengers change there for smaller aircraft to other Greenlandic destinations.

Icelandair doesn’t operate scheduled flights to Kangerlussuaq. We may use it as a refueling stop, if necessary.

Safety regulations

For safety reasons, there must always be a diversion airport open and operating when we're flying to Greenland.

If the diversion airport isn't open or is experiencing bad conditions, the flight could be delayed – even though the conditions at the destination might be good.

Our flights to Nuuk, for example, may be delayed if weather is affecting Kulusuk airport on Greenland’s east coast.

Greenland is enormous. But its population is small (just 56,500). Its airports are small too, even in the most-visited areas like the capital city Nuuk, and the Unesco-recognized region of Ilulissat.

The Greenland airports we serve are mainly small, with short runways only capable of handling smaller aircraft such as our De Havilland Canada (DHC) Dash 400 and 200 (with 76 and 37 seats, respectively). We also use the Dash aircraft on our domestic Iceland routes.

Only one of the airports we serve has a runway capable of handling our Boeing aircraft. We fly a weekly service in July and August between Iceland and Narsarsuaq (UAK), using our Boeing MAX 8 (with a capacity of 160 seats).

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We fly directly from Keflavík to Nuuk and Kulusuk year-round, and to Ilulissat and Narsarsuaq in summer (with additional winter flights to Ilulissat). Icelandair may occasionally use Kangerlussuaq* as a refueling stop.

The runways at Nuuk and Ilulissat are currently undergoing enlargement and a redevelopment of airport terminals too. These new facilities are expected to open by the end of 2024.

In time, a new airport will be built at Qaqortoq in south Greenland, and this will replace Narsarsuaq airport.

Flights to and from Greenland will no doubt look a lot different after these changes.

Airport names

Some locations in Greenland have Danish names in addition to their Greenlandic names. Some airport codes reflect the Danish names.

  • Nuuk's name in Danish is Godthåb. Its airport code is GOH.
  • Ilulissat is called Jakobshavn in Danish. Airport code: JAV.
  • Kangerlussuaq* is known as Søndre Strømfjord, with an airport code of SFJ.
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*Kangerlussuaq airport

While traveling to, from or within Greenland, you may hear of Kangerlussuaq airport. This is one of the few airports in Greenland large enough to support long-range aircraft.

Kangerlussuaq airport is the international hub for Air Greenland – the airline flies from Copenhagen to Kangerlussuaq in larger aircraft, and passengers change there for smaller aircraft to other Greenlandic destinations.

Icelandair doesn’t operate scheduled flights to Kangerlussuaq. We may use it as a refueling stop, if necessary.

Safety regulations

For safety reasons, there must always be a diversion airport open and operating when we're flying to Greenland.

If the diversion airport isn't open or is experiencing bad conditions, the flight could be delayed – even though the conditions at the destination might be good.

Our flights to Nuuk, for example, may be delayed if weather is affecting Kulusuk airport on Greenland’s east coast.

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As we use the smaller Dash aircraft for most of our flights to Greenland, you’ll notice that we don’t offer all our regular international services.

There is no Wi-Fi on board, and no in-flight entertainment on the Dash.

We do serve a limited food and drink menu. You're welcome to bring your own food on board.

Travel tip: Greenland airports are small, with limited facilities (most are without Wi-Fi, and without food or drink available). We recommend you take snacks and a water bottle when you head to a Greenland airport. This is especially handy if there are flight delays and nowhere to buy food.

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Due to the aircraft being smaller, the weight limit for both checked and carry-on baggage on our Greenland flights is a little less than on our international flights.

Travel tip: We strongly advise you to pack valuables and essentials in your carry-on bag – medication, for example.

Aircraft weight restrictions

Weather plays an important part in what weight our aircraft can carry.

In adverse conditions there may be weight restrictions and we may need to reduce weight for safety reasons. On rare occasions we must offload some bags and send them on the next available flight.

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It's important that we have your correct details (especially email and cellphone number) in case we need to contact you regarding flight changes.

You can check this information and update it under Manage booking.

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Travelers might think that visiting Greenland will be like visiting Denmark in terms of roaming, data availability, and pricing, but this isn’t the case. Europeans can’t ‘roam like home’ in Greenland.

Roaming in Greenland – that is, accessing the Greenland system using your home account – is expensive.

Most Greenland accommodation offers Wi-Fi, but it may be patchy. Sometimes you'll require easy connectivity when you're out and about during the day.

Travel tip: We recommend you purchase an eSIM that covers Greenland or a travel SIM for the local network. It will make life much easier (and cheaper) if you can tap into the local network for data usage and to make and receive calls.