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When it first launched US service in 2013, Norwegian Air was best known for its operational issues, including a few days-long delays. Now, with plenty of flights under its belt, the airline has improved dramatically. Last night, TPG Editor-in-Chief Zach Honig flew Norwegian from JFK to Oslo. Here are five reasons he really enjoyed the flight.
Two very unexpected things happened to me within the past 24 hours: 1. I flew Norwegian Air and 2. I actually really enjoyed it.
I’m currently in Norway to travel on the world’s longest 737 flight. Because I’m a crazy person. A few weeks ago, SAS began offering $778 round-trip business-class fares on this nearly 5,000-mile flight, so I figured I might as well head out on a mid-week mileage run. The catch is that the discounted fares were only available from Norway to Houston, so I had to make my way to SVG.
Since we often cover incredibly cheap transatlantic fares on Norwegian Air Shuttle — such as this $308 round-trip from New York to Berlin and this $369 round-trip from Oakland to Copenhagen — I decided to give the airline a shot en-route to Norway.
I booked a seat in the Premium cabin, which cost $595 for the one-way flight, compared to $362 for economy (which doesn’t include baggage, seat assignment and meals). I’ll have a review within the next week or so, but I was so excited (and surprised) by my positive experience that I wanted to share something now. So, without further ado, here are the five reasons I really enjoyed my flight on Norwegian Air:
1. Norwegian operates new 787-8 Dreamliners on all long-haul flights — The airline currently has a fleet of eight 787-8s, with several 787-9s on order and expected to enter service next year. Norwegian offers two cabins on its 787 Dreamliners — economy, with 259 seats, and 32 seats in the “Premium” cabin, which is perhaps a modest step up from domestic first class in the US. In other words, the seats don’t lie flat, but you do get a fair amount of room. Norwegian will also begin flying from New York to several destinations in the Caribbean within the next few months, but not with the Dreamliner. As for service to Europe, the airline’s CEO shared plans to launch even more competitive fares as soon as 2017, starting at just $69 each way.
2. The flight attendants actually smile — I generally find that the crew’s attitude sets the tone for a flight. If the flight attendants are rude and resentful, as they sometimes are on US carriers, you’re probably not going to have a great experience. On last night’s Norwegian flight, however, the flight attendants were friendly and kind. The service wasn’t over-the-top, but the crew did their best to be as accommodating as possible.
3. Premium class is decently comfortable — You’ll obviously find the best fares in the regular economy cabin, but if you don’t mind spending a bit more, I very highly recommend opting for the Premium cabin. You’ll get a wider seat, more recline, a footrest, a blanket (but no pillow), complimentary wine, breakfast and dinner (depending on the route), your pick of seat at booking and two checked bags. Norwegian even gives you lounge access at select airports (unfortunately, the airline uses Korean Air’s subpar lounge at JFK).
4. The food is great — I was served dinner a bit over an hour after departure and breakfast 90 minutes before landing. The first meal consisted of a moist, flavorful steak, a small pasta salad and a small piece of cake, along with bread and wine. I only wish it had been served a bit earlier in the flight — the journey from JFK to Oslo is only six hours long, so I would have preferred to have the dinner box (which looks like its breakfast equivalent above) just after takeoff, instead. Breakfast was also served a little early for my taste, but the bagel with lox was fresh and fantastic.
5. There’s solid, free in-flight entertainment — Norwegian charges fees for many of its economy services, including checked bags, meals and beverages, but in-flight entertainment is free. I was actually looking forward to trying out Norwegian’s free in-flight Wi-Fi, which the airline promotes heavily on its site. It wasn’t until after takeoff, however, that I realized internet is only available on Norwegian’s 737s. Still, the IFE was comprehensive, with a selection of HD films and TV shows. You also get a USB port and power outlet for charging gadgets, and free earbuds (which were actually decent) in the Premium cabin.
Overall, I really enjoyed flying Norwegian, and I wouldn’t hesitate to do so again — even in the regular economy cabin (if the price is right). Stay tuned for my full review of the flight.
Have you ever flown Norwegian? Share your experience in the comments below!
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