Taking Flight with the Aurora Borealis and Icelandair

Contemplative travelers yearning to connect with the universe in deeply personal ways have been given a unique opportunity to experience one of Earth’s most glorious, but maddeningly elusive wonders – the Aurora Borealis – thanks to Icelandair’s creation of Hekla Aurora, the aurora-themed aircraft launched by the increasingly popular transatlantic air service in 2015.

With its distinctive, aurora-hued exterior and a one-of-a-kind polar light display inside the plane’s main cabin, this spacious Boeing 757 brings the shimmering greens and blues of the aurora to life in an exciting, accessible way.

“Hekla Aurora provides an authentic Aurora Borealis experience to all those who fly on her. The on-board light show provides the perfect beginning to any transatlantic flight by showcasing the natural beauty of Iceland’s famous northern lights,” said renowned Icelandic meteoroligst Birta Lif Kristinsdottir in 2015 as he taught passengers more about the phenomenon on the plane’s inaugural flight from London to Reykjavik.

The LED experience has already become a soothing balm for frustrated travelers who have hoped against hope to catch a glimpse of the northern lights, only to be thwarted by Mother Nature’s unpredictable scheduling.

To have any chance of spotting the spectacle, at a minimum, one needs to be in a corner of the world where the phenomenon is most likely to occur and present during a period of time when one of the natural wonder’s cycles is actually happening – while also then being outside at precisely the right time on a full and very dark night that is clear of rain, snow or fog.

Being physically present in Iceland between September and mid-April helps increase the chance of success – since Iceland is one of the best places on the planet to witness the wondrous color dance – but even this is no guarantee, as any one of the myriad, unsuccessful aurora-seekers out there can attest.

So catching the imitation version is the best many curious, but busy travelers can hope for. And it appears to suffice for many. The reviews for the plane to date have been excellent, ranging from “cool” to “impressive.”

As for the plane’s name, that too is integral to this innovative Icelandair experience. It’s a combination of the name of one of Iceland’s most active volcanoes – Hekla (also a traditional given name for Icelandic girls) – and the Latin term for the natural light display that has made humans stop, look up and stare, awestruck, into the night skies, since well before mankind began to practice mindfulness.

To learn more about how you can book a flight, see “Where will Aurora be next?”

And remember, keep looking up.

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