Norwegian Airlines: Are they really a Dreamliner?
My partner and I recently took an international round-trip non-stop flight (Oakland, CA - Barcelona, Spain) with Norwegian Airlines. I had read some bad reviews and even had a family friend warn me about the airline. Since the tickets were purchased, I decided to do some research and planning to ensure that we not only survive but thrive on the journey. I’m happy to report, we did. Still, I think it’s important to know what to expect.
Norwegian markets itself as a low cost, long haul airline. Their concept is you only pay for what you really need or want. The most basic fare (LowFare) essentially buys you a seat and one carry-on bag – that’s it. Now, if you know that’s the deal and plan just a little, you can travel the world at a really get price point (a recent fare from Oakland, CA to London was $199 each way – I can’t even get to Florida for that price).
Given this was our first flight on Norwegian, I decided to upgrade to LowFare+, which allowed for a carry-on, one checked bag, seat reservations, and an in-flight meal. If you don't upgrade to LowFare+, checked bags on international flights are an additional cost and range between $65 and $130. In addition, because I wanted to make sure that Jorge and I got to sit together (it’s awkward to wake up to find that you have been drooling on a stranger's shoulder for the last 1000 miles), seat reservations were important. The in-flight meal, the “Nice & Tasty”, priced at $45 if you don’t upgrade, would not be a reason to upgrade, but I didn’t turn it down since it was part of the package. The meal included a small salad, a microwaved hot entree, and a dessert; it tasted better than it looked. The entertainment on the plane was good and included a selection of movies that ranged from out of theater but not on Netflix yet, kid friendly, and international choices, as well as a few documentaries. Current TV shows were also an option. Blankets were $5 (we brought one from home); headsets were $3. I use a Bose Noise Cancelling Headset
http://amzn.to/2zFiJYB (affiliate link) during long flights. It cuts down on the noise (so I sleep better when I decide to snooze) and since this is a wired model, I can plug it in to the entertainment center. The headsets are pricey, but I can't imagine traveling without one.
Norwegian also markets their Dreamliners to have a lower cabin ‘altitude’, fresher air than other airlines, and less noise, all which are intended to decrease jet leg. I'm not entirely convinced, as I had jet lag on both legs of the trip, but I'm in favor of fresh air as a general principle. I did notice that the overhead compartments were configured differently, giving the cabin a roomier feel. I did like the mood lighting for the regular cabin lights; the colorful and tastefully changing gradients of light made me think of the aurora borealis, a nice touch that resonated with all things imaginatively Norwegian. We didn’t have window seats but they are 65% larger with a “sunglass style” shade (you press a button to tint the window instead of using the old fashion pull down shade).
All in all, Norwegian was a positive experience. The airline offers an unbeatable price, and their emphasis on technology is noticeable. I would certainly fly them again. Maybe next time to Rome?
Have you flown with Norwegian? What was your experience?