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I just booked a $129 flight to Europe from JFK. Here’s how I did it

April 29, 2022
6 min read
plane at terminal
I just booked a $129 flight to Europe from JFK. Here’s how I did it
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Norse Atlantic Airways wants to make it cheaper to get to Europe — a lot cheaper.

It's attempting what its predecessors have so far failed to accomplish: a sustainable business model offering deeply discounted, no-frills transatlantic flights.

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I just spent a mere $129 for the airline's inaugural flight from the U.S. — its June 14 departure from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Oslo, Norway (OSL). I paid for a fare that gets me a seat, a personal item to be stored underneath my seat and absolutely nothing else. I'm not even sure if water is included.

I recently crossed the Atlantic in Singapore Airlines' lavish business class. It's fair to say that this seven-hour, 35-minute crossing will be just a tad different.

While you'll have to wait until June for my report on what it's like to fly Norse and one of its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, here's what it's like to spend so little for such a long flight.

Norse is offering two classes of service — economy class, in a 3-3-3 configuration, and premium class, in a 2-3-2 configuration.

Of course, I'm sitting in the back for this flight. One of those premium seats costs $349 — $220 more — which is still cheaper than anyone else's economy fares. But I want really cheap. The cheapest way to fly across the Atlantic.

(Screenshot courtesy of Norse Atlantic Airways)

Norse is currently offering a limited schedule on this route for the month of June, but will increase to daily service by July.

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Upon selecting an economy fare, you're presented with three different fare options. I went for the bare-bones economy light fare. For $219, the economy classic fare is available, which gets you a carry-on and checked bag, and a meal. Economy Plus ($399) — not to be confused with United's extra-legroom offering — allows you to select your seat, and features priority boarding. It's also a refundable fare.

(Screenshot courtesy of Norse Atlantic Airways)

Bag fees are next. Norse's $25 ask for a carry-on is cheaper than what Spirit charges on a lot of its domestic routes. It also offers three weight-based tiers of bags: a light bag up to 33 pounds ($60), a standard bag up to 50 pounds ($70) and a heavy bag up to 70 pounds ($170). While this may seem steep, American, Delta and United all charge $75 for the first checked bag up to 50 pounds on their transatlantic basic economy fares — so the 50-pound fee is actually $5 cheaper. To be completely transparent, I might have to eventually cave on the bag situation and make a $25 investment for the right to bring a carry-on. I'm not sure how I can travel to Europe with so little stuff, and I say that as a light packer.

(Photo courtesy of Norse Atlantic Airways)

For seat selection, Norse offers three different tiers of seats, which are based on the location in the cabin and if they come with any extra legroom. Extra legroom costs $120, a seat closer to the front of the cabin costs $75 and a seat in the rear of the cabin costs $45. The airline charges the same for a window or aisle as it does a middle. As for me, I'm rolling the dice, fully expecting to be assigned a middle seat in the aft of the plane.

Norse then gives you the option to order a meal for one or both of the meal services. It doesn't offer you a choice of meal beyond a variety of special dietary meals — the fish and ravioli entrees are for illustration only, the website says. Whether or not the actual mean matches the illustration, I won't be partaking. I'm looking forward to my pre-flight smorgasbord (the flight does depart just before midnight, after all).

If you don't select a meal, you're warned of your choice to forego sustenance for the long transatlantic flight.

(Screenshot courtesy of Norse Atlantic Airways)

Finally, you're offered some convenience-based extras: priority check-in ($20), priority boarding ($15) and even an option to purchase the right to check-in at the airport ($10). (In the age of COVID-19, airport check-in has become the norm rather than the exception for international travel as many airlines require in-person health document checks.) You can also purchase carbon offsets for $6. For $129, I'll be happy to be the last person on board.

More: Norse Atlantic launches with some amazing flight deals

(Screenshot courtesy of Norse Atlantic Airways)

Finally, it's time to enter your personal information, which should look familiar. The airline is also collecting known-traveler numbers, an indication that it plans to offer TSA PreCheck, which is a must at JFK's busy terminals.

All major U.S. credit cards are accepted as payment. I purchased this very inexpensive ticket with my Chase Sapphire Reserve card, which will net me 3 times the points on this travel-related purchase.

It was at this point that I saw the only real glitch of the process — and it was kind of funny. It seems that Norse forgot to upload its logo to its payment processing service. Did I just book a flight on Merchant Logo Airlines?

(Screenshot courtesy of Norse Atlantic Airways)

After a few minutes, I received a confirmation email. For just $129, I was now booked on Norse Atlantic Airways' inaugural U.S. flight. Will I survive this flight with absolutely no frills? Stay tuned.

Featured image by (Photo courtesy of Norse Atlantic Airways)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
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Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees