Norwegian Air Launches Nonstop Flights from Oakland to London
Norwegian Air has been in the news a lot lately. Last year, the airline took the travel world by storm by announcing that it was planning to offer $69 one-way fares from the US to Europe. And then it started expanding — at a seemingly alarming rate. In 2015, the airline announced it was adding nonstop service from the Northeast (Baltimore [BWI], Boston [BOS] and New York [JFK]) to the Caribbean (Guadeloupe Islands [PTP] and Martinique [FDF]) — and starting one-way tickets were really cheap. Then, earlier this year, the carrier announced it was adding three nonstop flights from the US (New York [JFK], Los Angeles [LAX] and Fort Lauderdale [FLL]) to Paris (CDG).
And today, Norwegian continued its expansion by beginning its Oakland (OAK) to London (LGW) route, flying between the cities every Monday, Thursday and Sunday. With the start of the route, this is first nonstop flight from Oakland to the UK. Norwegian has serviced OAK since 2014, with routes between the Bay Area and Stockholm (ARN) and Oslo (OSL). With this new addition, the low-cost carrier now offers 39 nonstop routes from the US to London, Paris, Scandinavia and the Caribbean — more European routes than any other European airline.
One-way fares from OAK to LGW seem to hover around the $444 mark, though some dates are as low as $394. However, don't forget that if you book on the Norwegian version of the website, you can get discounted fares — those same outbound one-way fares fall to $336 and $299, respectively. On the return, one-way fares from LGW to OAK fall as low as $255 ($225 when booked on the Norwegian version of the site). You might be best off booking separate one-way tickets, as round-trip fares seem to be higher — the lowest I found for a three-day trip was $831 in September ($659 when booked through the Norwegian version of the site). As always, it's best to compare on your own.
I was very impressed with Norwegian's Dreamliner product when I flew round-trip between JFK and OSL earlier this year. Everything from the service to the comfort in my Dreamliner economy seat was above and beyond what I would have experienced on a domestic carrier. TPG Editor-in-Chief Zach Honig, TPG Contributor Mitch Berman and TPG himself were all also impressed and enjoyed their flights with Norwegian.
Norwegian is also working to improve its rewards program, Norwegian Reward, by making it easier for travelers to earn "elite status" with the carrier. It's offering frequent flyers perks such as fast track, free seat reservation and free checked bags. Unfortunately, Norwegian is still not a transfer partner of any major points-earning credit card, nor is it part of an alliance.
Keep in mind that although Norwegian's fares can be shockingly low, it's very much a no-frills carrier. Be aware that you will have to pay for things that are normally free-of-charge, such as selecting your seat. However, that perk is available as part of Norwegian Reward's "elite status." Even though you may have to pay these fees, you might be better off taking advantage of the low fares as opposed to booking an award flight to Europe and paying hundreds of dollars in taxes, fees and additional surcharges. There's a lot to like about what Norwegian is doing.