Heathrow press releases

12 September, 2017

Icelandair revolutionises in-flight entertainment with a flying ovation at 35,000 feet

Icelandair 'Ahead of Time' performance at Heathrow


Airline staff and actors star in ‘Ahead of Time’ an immersive theatre production in the skies on a flight from London to Iceland

  • Icelandair deliver a show stopping performance that puts staff at the heart of unique in-flight entertainment and proves that the journey is as important as the destination
  • Three-act immersive performance, ‘Ahead of Time’ was directed by Gideon Reeling and took place on an 11-hour flight from Heathrow to JFK via Iceland
  • The plot takes inspiration from the airline’s progressive philosophy across their 80-year history, championing female empowerment and achievement
  • The ‘Opening Flight’ marks the start of Stopover Pass, a free performances series for passengers starring Icelandair staff alongside Icelandic talent
  • Launched in response to a greater demand from consumers for both better customer service and more original in-flight entertainment with a human touch
  • Passengers can transform their boarding pass into a Stopover Pass for free: icelandair.us/stopover-pass 

Icelandair has pioneered a new form of in-flight entertainment; an immersive theatre production entitled ‘Ahead of Time’. The show starred talented Icelandair staff as well as trained actors, who engaged with the audience from arrival at Heathrow to touchdown in JFK. This one of a kind event took place over 11 hours and across three countries, using the transatlantic journey as a unique stage for a passport to performance.  

To help realise this impressive production, the airline partnered with immersive theatre experts Gideon Reeling. In celebration of Icelandair’s 80th anniversary the plot line champions the airline’s history as pioneers of modern day travel and drew inspiration from their rich history. Lead character Edda took the audience on an inspiring and entertaining journey through time, mirroring the airline’s progressive and forward-thinking philosophy with themes of female empowerment and equality.

  • 1915, Iceland gave women the right to vote, becoming one of the first countries to do so
  • 1937, Icelandair traces its roots back to this year when fledgling airline, Flugfélag Akureyrar, was founded at Akureyri on the north coast of Iceland  
  • In 1985, Icelandair hired the first female pilot, Sigríôur Einarsdóttir
  • In 1989, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir became the world’s first democratically elected female president and named Icelandair’s first Boeing 737-400
  • Women’s rights day 1999 – An all-female crew flew one of Icelandair’s aircraft for the first time

Travelling through time guests were immersed into different eras across 80 years and beyond. Passengers experienced life before the internet, providing an understanding of flight bookings prior to the digital age - they were written on cards and stored in a shoebox! Audience members were also treated to a menu inspired from the 1950’s, a safety demonstration given by an air hostess from the swinging sixties, a modern ballet performance at the boarding gate and even serenaded by a farmer from 1937 singing an Icelandic folk song. A pilot announcement left them musing the possibilities of future air travel, with moon landings on the horizon. Guests were also given a personal message of empowerment to take away.

In an innovative approach to customer service, Icelandair ran Stage School training, directed by Gideon Reeling, to add immersive theatre skills to their staff’s repertoire. The theatre experts also led the creative direction and production of the performance including rehearsals, audio experience, menu development and sourcing or re-creation of archive props and period costumes.

Kate Hargreaves, Founder of Gideon Reeling, comments, “The magnitude of the challenge to pull off this performance made the project even more special. The hard work that has gone on behind the scenes has culminated in an amazing spectacle. The Icelandair staff have been fantastic and their attitude and energy have helped make it a great success.”

‘Ahead of Time’ is the first in the Stopover Pass series of free performances for Icelandair passengers, being staged in celebration of their 80th year. This was announced following research which revealed passengers are now demanding better customer service and more unique entertainment with a human touch; Icelandair has set about serving both in style. 

Birkir Hólm Guðnason, CEO at Icelandair, comments, “Throughout our 80 years, we’ve always put customer service at our heart and we’re pleased to pioneer a new form of entertainment and value-added service for passengers. We responded to the research findings with the launch or Stopover Pass which aims to transform wasted time whilst travelling into time well-travelled.”

Simon Eastburn, Director of Airline Business Development at Heathrow said: “We were delighted to host the first part of Icelandair’s ‘Ahead of Time’ production, sending passengers on this exciting journey! We work hard to bring passengers closer to amazing experiences every time they fly and the Icelandair approach to entertainment from the moment they arrive means this will truly be a journey to remember.”

To find out more about the ‘Ahead of Time’ and transform your boarding pass into a Stopover Pass visit: icelandair.us/stopover-pass 


#MyStopover @Icelandair

Notes to Editors

Icelandair Stopover Pass

Icelandair have launched a free performance series to mark the airline’s 80th anniversary, Stopover Pass. When on a Stopover until March 2018, Icelandair passengers can transform their boarding pass to a Stopover Pass to be in with a chance of gaining access to a range of incredible performances featuring Icelandic talent and gifted Icelandair staff. To find out more and see how you can transform your boarding pass visit: icelandair.us/stopover-pass 


Icelandair is a transatlantic airline and offers a unique opportunity for passengers to take a Stopover in Iceland for up to seven nights at no additional airfare. Since the 1960s Icelandair has encouraged passengers since to enjoy an Icelandair Stopover and now offers the service from 28 European destinations to 19 North American gateways.

Immersive theatre group, Gideon Reeling

Gideon Reeling make truly interactive, theatrical experiences. Their work has been created for many diverse locations and audiences: for theatres and arts venues but also on city streets and for public festivals, schools, and music festivals, aboard a river cruiser, in the back of vans, in pitch dark elevators, and soaking wet dragon boat races, for private parties, in clubs, pubs, galleries, online, in houses and gardens, parks and stately homes and even in a skip. Audience participation and a sense of inclusive playfulness are central to their work. 


Heathrow is Europe’s largest airport and one of the world’s top international aviation hubs. As the UK’s global gateway, Heathrow welcomes more than 76 million passengers every year with a commitment to making ‘every journey better’. The airport is home to more than 80 airlines and is Britain’s largest cargo port, helping to drive British trade growth by connecting the nation to more than 190 destinations around the world. Following an investment of more than £11 billion over the last 10 years, Heathrow is currently ranked by passengers as the 'Best Airport in Western Europe’ for the third year running and the ‘Best Airport for Shopping’ for eight years in a row.