The days of needing to re-mortgage the house for a flight to Europe are over. Particularly if you want to take advantage of Norwegian’s wizard-level pricing. Join Zoe Macfarlane on her LAX-LGW journey.
While you can probably guess Norwegian’s origins, you may not know how extensive – and bloody cheap – their network is.
I’m talking some seats as low as US$240 one-way from Los Angeles to London, Stockholm or Oslo. That’s like one outfit from Lululemon (and a good excuse for a US shopping splurge stopover)!
So, does a fare that low mean it’s standing room only? Or that you have to wash your dishes before disembarking? Come with me & find out:
CHECK-IN & BOARDING
The most in-yer-face budget-y experience with Norwegian is sadly the first encounter. While other airlines at LAX’s Tom Bradley had short-ish check-in lines, there’s no such luck with the Norwegian queue. It almost extended to the door. Not an ideal start.
The long lines are in part to timing – there are three Norwegian flights to Europe, departing around the same time. And only one line for all destinations. So, expect to get in a long-ass line unless you’re in Premium Economy.
Even arriving over two hours early, I was still whisked to the front of the queue to be able to make my flight. Your check-in time is best extended to three hours here.
Group boarding was a much more efficient process – in fact, it started 10 minutes early. When does that ever happen?
THE CABIN & SEAT
The last time I flew a low-cost night flight, I vowed never again. It was like sleeping in a coffin made for a 500-year-old ancestor.
Norwegian’s 258 economy class seats were a little less ‘plastic’ than the-flight-that-still-gives-me-nightmares. The seat pitch is 79-81cm and width 44cm, so pretty similar to the other US-Europe carriers (click here to check out handy comparisons).
The lower tray table levels helped with workspace room, particularly when the seat in front reclined. There was also a USB outlet and single-plug headphone jack.
To prep for a Norwegian journey, think more train, less plane.
The girl next to me was horrified at paying for the extras but, as I pointed out, either way, you’re being charged for them. At least with Norwegian, you can keep it at the end (awesome if you’re on a return ticket).
I came prepared with my own pillow, blanket, and headphones. It’s $5 to get your own static-y blankie if you don’t do the same, and earbuds are $3.
FOOD & DRINKS
Like Jetstar or Scoot, that pay-for-everything vibe extends to sustenance. The Low-Fare ticket is Norwegian’s bare-bones option and you’ll pay upwards from $3 for snacks and drinks.
I purchased the Low-Fare+ for the bag and seat selection, so I received dinner and breakfast, as well as drinks. No one cares if you bring your own food onboard, though.
Dinner was chicken and mash, and it was reasonable, if not a little dry. A sandwich and weird-looking sponge cake arrived for breakfast, which I promptly handed to my neighbour (the horrified one). It was 4.00am L.A. time at this point so… just no.
ENTERTAINMENT & SERVICE
The movie selection was light (especially new releases), but it was free so, I’m not complaining. If you want to stay connected with the rest of the planet, there’s Wi-Fi onboard (for a fee, duh).
For a low-cost carrier, the service was decent. While I didn’t have any requests myself, one stressed-out woman had paid for a window seat but hadn’t been assigned one. The attendant was quick into action.
I had to travel on a specific date so didn’t manage to wrangle a fantastic price for my flights (but it was still the cheapest flight).
Aside from a slow, chaotic check-in experience, Norwegian is a very palatable option. It’s not so no-frills that you get a low-rent feeling and the staff were the same standard as most airlines flying across the Atlantic. Secure a bargain (and leave enough time between your AU-US leg), and it’s a winner.
P.S. A side bonus of people buying their own drinks instead of the free-flowing booze-fest of full-service airlines is that you barely have to wait to get into the bathroom.
Flight: DL70906, LAX-LGW daily
Class: Economy, Seat 36D
Aircraft: 787 Dreamliner
Timing: 10 hours 20 minutes (though we landed 30m ahead of schedule)
Loyalty: Norwegian only
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