It’s not often that an airline will go the extra mile to publicise its own flight delays.
But Icelandair has received nothing but praise after one of its pilots took a detour to give passengers a once-in-a-lifetime aerial view of an active, lava-spewing volcano.
The flight was passing not far from Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano, which only this Sunday caused the country’s aviation warning level to be set at the maximum red alert.
And while extraordinary 50-metre fountains of lava continue to provide an amazing visual display on the mountainside, no much-feared and highly-disruptive clouds of ash have yet emerged.
That meant that yesterday a pilot was able to safely go around the island again to show the volcano in all its glory, according to a tweet posted by the airline, and those on board were able to capture some pretty sensational photographs.
Icelandair thanked one passenger for their image, writing: “Our pilot made an extra circle around #Bardarbunga this morning to let passengers check it out. Thanks to Erla Vinsý!”
Gisli Olafsson, an Iceland-based emergency response director whose Twitter feed is dedicated to monitoring the country’s volcanic activity, was quick to assure social media users that the pilot’s actions were completely safe.
He said it was an “informed aviation decision” and that they were “well above any potential threat area”, and joked: “One @Icelandair flight ‘delayed’ due to #Holuhraun #eruption - pilot added a sightseeing tour - nobody complained :-)”
It now seems that Icelandair may have unwittingly set a precedent for passengers’ expectations, with some on Twitter asking if they can have a similar fly-by experience.
In pictures: Icelandic eruptions
In pictures: Icelandic eruptions
A plane flying over the Bardarbunga volcano spewing lava and smoke in southeast Iceland
An aerial picture shows lava flowing out of the Bardarbunga volcano in southeast Iceland
The Bardarbunga volcano system has been rocked by hundreds of tremors daily since mid-August, prompting fears the volcano could explode
The Bardarbunga volcano spewing lava and smoke
Fire and smoke rising from the Bardarbunga volcano
In this aerial view, fountains of lava, up to 60 meters high, spurt from a fissure in the ground on the north side of the Bardarbunga volcano in Iceland. The alert warning for the area surrounding Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano remained at orange, indicating that it is showing increased unrest with greater potential for an explosive eruption
Smoke and lava rise from a fissure in the ground on the north side of the Bardarbunga volcano in Iceland
A close up of lava from an eruption on Holuhraun, northwest of the Dyngjujoekull glacier in Iceland. Lava fountains danced along a lengthy volcanic fissure near Iceland's subglacial Bardarbunga volcano, prompting authorities to raise the aviation warning code to the highest level and close the surrounding airspace
A man stands near to a lava eruption on Holuhraun, northwest of the Dyngjujoekull glacier in Iceland
Smoke rises from the lava eruption on Holuhraun, northwest of the Dyngjujoekull glacier in Iceland
The sky over the site of a lava eruption on Holuhraun, northwest of the Dyngjujoekull glacier in Iceland
The lava eruption on Holuhraun, northwest of the Dyngjujoekull glacier in Iceland
Clouds over a 1-km-long fissure in a lava field north of the Vatnajokull glacier, which covers part of Bardarbunga volcano system
A magma along a 1-km-long fissure in a lava field north of the Vatnajokull glacier, which covers part of Bardarbunga volcano system
An aerial view of white clouds of smoke and steam rising from a fissure eruption of the Holuhraun lava field north of the Vatnajokull glacier
Leon Hans said it looked like a “great view”, and added: “Can you ask my pilot of the flight 8.10 tomorrow morning from Helsinki to Amsterdam to do the same?”
Others were simply appreciative. Sharon Somerville said: “That was a very kind thought, your pilot. Love your airline; love your country.”
For those wondering whether it is worth booking a last-minute flight out to Iceland to see the active volcano for themselves, the ash warning for aviation continues to stand at orange and there is still lava pouring out of Bardarbunga.
Yesterday a spokesperson for Iceland’s department of civil protection said the eruption was “still going on at the same pace as before”, while recent reports from the ground suggest that, if anything, activity increased this morning despite heavy rain.
Kristin Jonsdottir, a geophysicist at Iceland’s Meteorological Office, said lava is currently emerging from a fissure and has covered an area of about 6.2 square km. She said that even if it closes, further eruptions “cannot be ruled out”.Reuse content