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Delta to Launch New Route Between Detroit and Iceland

The new service from Detroit to Reykjavik will begin in May, competing with Icelandair's recently-announced route

by Lauren Smith

December 5, 2022

Goðafoss Waterfall Iceland / Photo: evenfh/Shutterstock.jpg

Just days after Icelandair announced a new seasonal route between Detroit and Reykjavik, Delta has taken up the challenge and announced its link between the cities, starting next spring.

From May 15, Delta Air Lines will fly four times weekly between Detroit (DTW) and Keflavik (KEF), near Reykjavik, marking the first time Delta has connected the two cities since 2003.

The airline will operate the route with one of its narrow-body Boeing 757-200 planes, equipped with 193 seats, distributed in 20 First Class, 41 Comfort+, and 132 economy class.

Photo: Boeing 757-300, Delta Air Lines – Courtesy of Aric Cheng / Unsplash

“Delta is excited to further connect the United States and Iceland with new service to our hub in Detroit,” said a spokesperson for Delta. “Launching in summer 2023, this route will bring the total number of flights between the countries to 36 weekly.”

Delta currently flies to Iceland from New York (JFK), Boston (BOS), and Minneapolis (MSP). With the addition of Detroit to the mix, the airline will be selling 6,248 seats per week in both directions between the U.S. and Iceland next summer.

Delta’s new route to Iceland will also compete against Icelandair’s recently announced service to Detroit. Both carriers will operate the route four times every week on a summer seasonal basis, with Delta pausing the service on October 27.

Are the twin flights a coincidence? Or are Midwesterners suddenly clamoring to get to the coveted touristic destination next summer? While Iceland has become a popular adventure tourism destination and a gateway to Europe for North Americans, it’s more likely Delta is just defending its turf from Icelandair.

Icelandic bay. Photo: Courtesy of Norris Niman / Unsplash

Delta has a history of fiercely defending its position at key hubs against new entrants and expanding incumbents. For example, last year, the airline added three new routes and upped frequency at its hubs in New York and Minneapolis, shoring up its position against competitors.

However, a battle between Delta and Icelandair can only benefit passengers, who now have double the flight options and will probably see the warring airlines slashing prices to compete.

So, should you pick Delta or Icelandair for your trip? Delta’s network of domestic flights connecting in Detroit allows it to tap into a vast customer base. On the other hand, Icelandair can’t compete on U.S. connections, but it’s marketing the flights as an affordable gateway to Europe. 

At Keflavik Airport, passengers can seamlessly connect to flights to more than 25 destinations across the continent. Icelandair also allows round-trip customers to stay up to seven nights in Iceland on stopovers, just for the cost of extra tax and fees.

According to Delta, flight DL 236 will depart Detroit at 7:55 PM on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays, landing in Reykjavik at 6:20 AM local time the following day. The returning leg, flight DL 237, will operate on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, departing Iceland at 8:05 AM and arriving in Detroit at 10:55 AM.