Norwegian Faces Wave of Cancellations, Blames Other Airlines

Jun 21, 2018

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Since January, Norwegian Air Shuttle has been grounding planes to replace the engines on its fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. The 21 Dreamliners — 13 787-9s and eight 787-8s — all feature the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engine, which has been creating problems for carriers across the board, including British Airways, ANA, and Virgin Atlantic, among others.

So, while the Dreamliners are rotating being grounded, Norwegian contracted wet-lease operators — EuroAtlantic, Privilege Style and Hi Fly — to take over some of the long-haul routes its Dreamliners were flying. (“Wet leasing” means an airline rents out a plane and crew to another one.)

But the wet-leasing process is not exactly going smooth for the Scandinavian budget carrier.

Cancellations in recent days have been rampant, especially on its Newark (EWR) to Paris Orly (ORY) route, which is now being operated by EuroAtlantic.

  • DY7191 Paris Orly (ORY) 8:30pm Departure ⇒ Newark (EWR) 10:30pm Arrival
  • DY7192 Newark (EWR) 12:30am Departure ⇒ Paris Orly (ORY) 1:35pm Arrival

So far in June, there have been at least seven cancellations on that route, with five in the past week alone (three cancellations outbound to ORY and two cancellations inbound to EWR), according to FlightAware.

Norwegian is blaming the cancellations on the wet-lease operator, saying that the situation is “very frustrating,” and that it “has been outside Norwegian’s control.”

The airline also says it is having problems with two of its wet-lease operators cancelling flights, but FlightAware doesn’t show any cancellations in the past 10 days on the other routes it has leased out, which include one operated by Hi Fly:

  • DY7013 London (LGW) 6:00am Departure ⇒ New York (JFK) 10:20am Arrival
  • DY7014 New York (JFK) 12:20pm Departure ⇒ London (LGW) 10:50pm Arrival

And one operated by Privilege Style:

  • DY7023 Rome (FCO) 6:05pm Departure ⇒ Newark (EWR) 9:25pm Arrival
  • DY7024 Newark (EWR) 11:30pm Departure ⇒ Rome (FCO) 1:40pm Arrival

But, if you’re booked on one of these three wet lease-operated routes, it might be wise to brace for a last-minute cancellation and have a backup plan in mind.

TPG reached out for more details, but none of the three wet-lease operators responded by time of publication.

Not only have the cancellations been numerous, but there have been severe customer service issues for passengers trying to rebook. Norwegian opened up a customer service line to accommodate canceled passengers, and then suddenly closed it with no warning, as this screenshot from a TPG reader shows:

We noted this to representatives at Norwegian, who apologized and passed it along to the airline’s head office for correction. They also told TPG that they have been attempting to re-accommodate canceled passengers.

“We have tried to rebook as many passengers as possible on Norwegian flights out of New York City, as well as offering full refunds,” the Norwegian spokesperson said. “Customers are also entitled compensation for accommodation, if it was not provided directly by Norwegian, and other expenditure. Information how to claim compensation has been sent to passengers by multiple text messages.”

And even though the 1-800 number listed in the screenshot above is not a dedicated customer service line, you should take note of it. There is no other phone number listed on the carrier’s website for customer service, as TPG Travel Editor Melanie Lieberman learned this week. Melanie tried to claim compensation for voluntarily giving up her seat on an overbooked flight in April. She followed up via email several times, but was never given a claim number, so her request kept getting lost in the system. It wasn’t until this reader sent us the screenshot with the 1-800 number that Melanie was able to get through and process her claim.

Wet-leased flights can sometimes be a disappointment for passengers who expect a particular product when they book with a specific carrier, but passengers should be prepared for a potentially bigger headache with Norwegian’s wet leases.

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