The introduction of new, remarkably fuel efficient planes like the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 have led to two significant developments in the commercial airline industry: the emergence of really, really long routes (think Singapore to “New York” nonstop) and the application of the low-cost-carrier business model to longhaul flying. The former is useful and convenient for premium passengers especially, but the latter is special because it affords more people more opportunities to travel. Norwegian Airlines is one of the most prominent operations to do this; it’s taken advantage of relatively lax EU laws and has set up shop all over Europe to offer cheap flights to the Americas and Asia. Is it glamorous? Far from it. For the price though, Norwegian is comfortable enough and can certainly be considered “higher flyer” for its excellent value proposition.
Perhaps the most-puzzling, counterintuitive aspect of Norwegian Airlines — or at the minimum, of its brand — is that the vast majority of its longhaul flights don’t go anywhere near Norway. While the carrier is headquartered in Oslo, it has established foreign subsidiaries, including in the UK, in Ireland, and even in Argentina (go figure!). Together these subsidiaries operate under their parent company’s name and all offer extraordinarily priced airfares in select, mostly-leisure markets. For higher flyers willing to stray from a premium cabin, there’s a lot of potential here for outsized value.
Because Norwegian Air is a low cost carrier, getting a great deal on a ticket isn’t hard, although you are likely to be subjected to “a la carte” fees on top of the base fare. You’ll have to pay up for your food and for your checked luggage and for your seat assignments — if you want them of course — but flying Norwegian can still be worthwhile despite these nuisances. Say you want to fly from Boston to London, for example, you’ll have plenty of choices; dozens of airlines fly this route/offer a 1-stop connecting flight. Average fares typically run $700, but Norwegian routinely undercuts that standard…
Surely under $200 one way AND direct is too good to be true! What’s the catch? The best part of Norwegian is that if you know what you’re getting in to, there isn’t one. Similar to the mini trip report about Spirit Airlines (“(Dis)Spirited Away”), this one will include both a review of Norwegian’s economy class — to give you an idea of what to expect should you choose to fly — and a “How To” guide to help you dodge the peskiest of pesky fees. Unlike Spirit though…
…Norwegian has a decently-good reputation. Its fleet of 787s are new, spacious, well-maintained, and everyone has access to complimentary in flight entertainment. The service isn’t equal to what you would get on say, Singapore Airlines, and the catering definitely isn’t, but you’d be surprised by how solid both are. This airline, simply put, is a great option for those who are traveling far and who are on a budget. I got to experience this all for myself on a single Norwegian flight from Boston to London Gatwick…
- $119 for the base fare (!!!), plus $45 for a seat assignment, and $8 for priority boarding for a total of $172.
- Plus $17 for various snacks once on board, bringing the total expenses to $189.
For a transatlantic crossing, that price is stunning, even after you include the paid extras. So, at those rates, is Norwegian worth it? Well, stay tuned for:
- How To: Navigate Norwegian Air’s fees to get exactly what you want
- Norwegian Air Economy Class Review, Boeing 787-9, BOS-LGW
…to find out! In the meantime, thank you for reading and thank you for supporting The Higher Flyer.
(Spoiler alert: it is worth it! What a value to be had!)