Most airlines are engaged in a form of commerce; they provide transportation, food, entertainment and pillows in exchange for progressively smaller sums of money.
Then there's Icelandair. Sure, they'll
take your money and move you and your bag to and from Reykjavik. But fundamentally this is less an airline than a flying tourist bureau and language lab.
Most non-Scandinavian passengers get on the plane knowing next to nothing about their destination, and Icelandair has only seven short hours to change that. They make the most of them.
Every scrap of printable surface in the aircraft -- from napkins and headrest covers to the lids of the in-flight meal boxes -- is inscribed with whimsical lessons in Icelandic vocabulary.
The in-flight entertainment seems able to accommodate virtually every Icelandic film ever made, with room to spare for recent Hollywood hits, while documentaries scour every corner of this geothermal superpower. Whale-watching brochures line the seat pockets. Each in-flight food item
is named for "common natural phenomenon in Iceland" -- including, apparently, "Fabrikkusmáborgar meo fabbrikkusósu" (translated as "3 mini burgers with Factory Sauce").
The unrelenting and supra-liminal message of this sermon (Visit Iceland!) is being delivered to a choir that, 30,000 feet over Baffin Bay, could not possibly be more committed to doing so.