Friday, March 11, 2011

Great service for traveling parents: Iceland Air's Saga Shop

I'm not a shopaholic, not even close. However, when I'm traveling and wandering through an airport or flipping through an in-flight magazine, I sometimes do feel tempted by the shiny assortment of perfumes, cosmetics, creams, and souvenirs.

So why not just buy some stuff on board, right? Except that looking through the brochure on board might not be so easy when you're traveling with kids. And if you do get a free moment, it might not coincide with when the crew is actually selling the stuff.

Saga Shop
When I flew Iceland Air two years ago, I realized that their on-board tax-free store Saga Shop, has a pretty fantastic service: you can pre-order your tax-free goods online before you leave and have them delivered right to your seat on your flight. I tried it out, and it worked great.

No alcohol is included in the assortment you can pre-order, but lots and lots of cosmetics, fragrances, clothing, skin-care products and more is available. So I just shopped online before I left and got a bag of goods delivered to me on board where I paid with my credit card. Easy-peasy.

You do have to put your order in at least 72 hours before your flight leaves, and not all products are available on all flights. Still, if you're traveling with kids on Iceland Air, and looking to treat yourself or buy a present for someone you know, this is a fantastic service.

You can browse their brochure online, or order one to look through at home too.

Potential problems 
Tax-free shopping can feel like a bit of a bust these days if you're traveling inside the European Union, because of the rules restricting and regulating taxation rules within the union. And if you're traveling anywhere at all, tax-free shopping can be somewhat of a challenge because of all the rules and restrictions on bringing liquids and creams on board. (If the containers you're buying hold no more than 100 ml (3 oz), you should be OK though.)

The only problem with my bag of Icelandic goods occurred after my Iceland Air flight landed in Sweden. When I was going through security to catch our domestic, Swedish flight, they wouldn't let me through unless I checked the sealed plastic bag with the creams I had bought.

So I had to toddle back to the check-in counter and put my Iceland Air-bought goods in one of our carry-ons and check it. A total pain of course, but hey, them's the rules these days. I still say it was worth it, because I would have never had time to look through the selection properly while on board, the way I was able do online.

Just be aware that even though some airlines and airport stores will seal your bag to make it possible for you to bring it on board through security, this can't be counted on at all times. Especially if you're changing countries and airlines on your trip, that sealed bag might have to be checked in your luggage or you'll have to leave it behind.

Next time I fly Iceland Air to Sweden, I'll simply transfer my goods to the checked luggage before we go to catch our Swedish flight.

Product recommendations
Saga Shop has the usual international selection of makeup and perfume. They featureElizabeth Arden, Bobbi Brown and many other big brands, but there are also lots of specifically Icelandic gifts. For example they have skin-care products from the Blue Lagoon, Icelandic furry hats, specially concocted creams with organic, Icelandic herbs, and more. I'd definitely recommend the Soley Healing Cream and the Blue Lagoon products, partly because they're nice to use, but also because they make great gifts since they're not available everywhere.

There is also a gorgeous selection of Iceland-made jewelry, clothing, and leather goods available. Some of the jewelry is seriously spectacular, though some of it is kind of out of my price range. Plus, they have a knit baby jumpsuit in merino wool that is just too cute, even though I kind of get itchy just looking at it (I've got a thing about wool).

And seriously, who would not love that furry hat?

Read more about traveling to Iceland:

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