* Prices may differ from that shown
This is a tale of two journeys. One very impressive and one very unimpressive. Norwegian was an unknown airline to me on my recent visit to Rome, but I flew with them as it was the cheapest available fare. Norwegian air has recently expanded its fleet in recent years and branched out of Scandinavia into the rest of Europe.
Me and my boyfriend decided to go to Rome in May and looked into booking flights. I always use Easy Jet as the price is right and I think they've got an unfairly bad name, but after using SkyScanner, I saw Norwegian airlines popping up for about £50 less than Easy Jet. I tried to find some online reviews for Norwegian and didn't find much, but the few things I did find were all good so I decided to go ahead!
The main thing I noticed was that the very cheap flights were at normal times! 5pm and 9pm are the flights I chose which suits me perfectly. On Easy Jet I find when you get a bargain you're usually flying out in the middle of the night.
We did fly home on Friday 13th and the rates for this date were a lot lower than other dates around then (September 11th was also cheap, but the date didn't suit us), but this was the same on all airlines. Our two return flights came to £192 including one piece of checked luggage between us. Luggage was £15 each way which is cheaper than Easy Jet as far as I'm aware.
I have previously flown with a lesser known airline - Vueling and wasn't at all impressed, but from the minute I started booking my flight Norwegian was far better.
Norwegian classes itself as one of the youngest and greenest flights in Europe. As an eco-warrior I love the greenest statement! They also offer free Wi-Fi on board the plane which is amazing and something I've never seen before. It wasn't very fast, but you can't really complain.
It's also worth noting that their in-flight magazine was fantastic! Lots of really interesting features and way better than any other airline magazine. They also have television screens and headphone sockets so you can watch some of the TV they put on for free.
=Journey 1 - London Gatwick to Rome=
It's safe to say I was really excited about my trip and we arrived about 3 and a half hours before our flight was due to leave as we were going to get a drink in the lounge. Upon arrival we found the Norwegian area, but no desks - it was all self-check-in machines. It was so simple! I simply typed in my reservation code, scanned my passport and got my luggage tag. There were about 15 machines open so I can't imagine queues building up too much and there were staff on hand if you ran into problems.
Then came the scary bit - we had to send our luggage off on the conveyer belt ourselves. I don't like trusting myself with that responsibility! You simply scanned your luggage label that you just received from the check in machine and send it off! I was terrified it wouldn't work and I'd be left luggageless, but it was fine. Once again, very quick indeed.
Our flight departed on time with very friendly staff on board. I didn't buy any food, but it looked fine and reasonably priced for an aeroplane. As I've said the free Wi-Fi was a great bonus and the seats were very comfortable with plenty of leg-room. I really couldn't fault this flight at all and it started our holiday off perfectly!
=Journey 2 - Rome to LGW=
For my return journey back to London Gatwick things were much less impressive. Due to bus times, we had to arrive a little earlier than we would have liked - about 45 minutes before check-in even opened, but we thought we'd secure our place in the queue and get through to the lounge early.
How wrong we were! Check-in opened 10 minutes late and the first two couples were called forward to the two desks (we were the 3rd couple in the queue). Both were standing there for about 15 minutes before one couples luggage went zooming off and they were given boarding passes and the other couple were told there was a problem and to step aside. We were called forward and were praying for our fate to be that of the first couple, but unfortunately we were also told there was a problem and to step aside. After about 20 minutes and 3 other groups being sent through to the lounge and 2 groups joining us at 'the side', the first couple were asked to come back and try again. This time they were let through and we were called up and all was successful this time - thank god! The lady at the desk told us we were sitting next to each-other in row 11 and we took her word for it. We were never told what the problem was or apologised to for being cast aside with no explanation. The rest of the queue were getting very impatient as it had hardly moved an inch in nearly an hour.
We went through security and grabbed some pizza in the lounge before going to our gate. The hold-up with check-in meant boarding was delayed, but the signs were never changed to reflect this - we were never told there was going to be a delay, but when 20 minutes had passed since the gate was meant to close, we kind of guessed there was a problem. There was not a single announcement to tell us there was a delay so we were just sitting there without a clue.
When we finally boarded, we were horrified to find out our seats weren't together at all. Mine was 30F and my boyfriend's was 11F. Even with all the problems at check-in, we were still no later than the 15th people to check in so we really should have had seats together especially as the woman told us we had! We should have double-checked, but I still couldn't believe it. I'm terrified of flying so not having my boyfriend next to me was a big deal and I hated every second of it.
My knowledge of airports and airlines isn't fantastic so I have no idea how much of this was the airlines fault and how much was Norwegian's. Either way I feel like the airline should have made apologies for the delays, which they did not. I arrived home at 3am very grumpy and disappointed that our holiday ended on a low!
Overall I'm not sure what to think of Norwegian. As I've said my first journey was so impressive I just couldn't believe it. My second journey was not good, but that may have been more of the fault of the airport rather than the airline.
I probably would use them again as the prices were very reasonable and the airline is still fairly new, maybe they will iron out these problems! I'm still going to give it 4/5 as my outbound journey was so overwhelmingly good and I'm sure all airlines have bad days!
Last year, I was standing on an airbridge at Bergen's Flesland airport, waiting to board a flight to Oslo Gardermoen on the first leg of a two sector journey to Edinburgh. As I stepped onto the aircraft and turned into the aisle I noticed a smell - not an unpleasant smell - but the heady aroma of new leather. I looked around the passenger cabin. Gone were the tired seats and fittings and instead I saw a light, airy and spacious looking interior - off-white bulkheads and cabin fittings and smart charcoal grey leather covered seats. That was the moment the thought struck me.......I had been using this airline for over two years and had come to regard it as a reliable and reasonably priced carrier which has been improving continuously. It was time I got myself organised and wrote a review about Norwegian Air Shuttle, or 'Norwegian' as they have now branded themselves. So what is it that impresses me about this airline?
Assuming you have internet access, booking could not be easier. I book flights online regularly with several carriers and this is among my favourite websites for speed, ease and clarity. Go to "www.norwegian.com" and the homepage will offer you the choice of booking your chosen destination and date immediately or looking first at the Fare Calendar. This latter choice is worth trying if you can be flexible with your dates as you might just find a bargain. What you will not see are those wonderfully tempting give-away fares only to be disappointed when you see the final bill. Norwegian include the taxes and transit fees at the outset so you are spared the shocks. As with all "low cost" carriers, however, you will have to pay a modest fee to check-in luggage - more on that later. You are also able to reserve the seat of your choice at this stage if you wish - again for a fee. This website can be viewed in ten languages (including English) and you can choose to see your fare displayed in six different currencies including the GB pound and the Euro. If internet access is a problem for you then telephone 0047 21 49 00 15 or book through a travel agent.
My check-in experiences have always been problem free though this, of course, is largely due to the handling agent. All relevant information from Norwegian seems to get to the right place at the right time, however. Fast check-in via kiosk is available at some of the destinations served by the airline.
For a "low cost" airline, these must be some of the most generous weight allowances around. Yes, as with carriers of this type you must pay to put luggage in the hold but £6 per piece per sector for an international flight (European) is not excessive and for this you may carry up to 20 kg. However, should you wish to check-in a second piece of luggage then you may...although that will incur a further £6 per sector. This added flexibility can be extremely important for some travellers. You may take hand-luggage on board up to 10 kg at no added cost.
Norwegian came into existence in 1993 as a regional airline within Norway. They have been growing ever since into the fifth largest "low-cost" carrier in Europe. Since 2008 they have been taking delivery of Boeing 737-800 aircraft (48 are currently on order) adding to the existing 737-300s and MD80s they had been operating. By 2014 they propose to operate - in their words - "the most modern and environmentally friendly fleet" in Europe.
On-board Service and Crew
On-board service is consistent. I have come to expect the crew to be smart and courteous. All staff speak English well. The food service on-board is fairly standard for a "low-cost" carrier and, of course, you will have to pay if you wish to partake. On flights longer than one hour there will be a trolley service offering hot, cold and alcoholic drinks, sandwiches, salads and snacks. Warm snacks such as panini or burgers will only be served on flights of longer than two and a half hours duration. Expect to pay 20 NOK (approx £1.90) for a hot or cold drink and 45 NOK (approx £4.20) for a cold sandwich. (This is a better deal than you will find at a Norwegian airport.) The quality of the food and drink is perfectly acceptable although I would describe the choice as standard rather than inspired. (Having said that I find the cinnamon buns hard to resist!) On longer flights - over three and a half hours - entertainment is available in the form of music channels and current, family-friendly films. (A headset will cost 40 NOK - approx £3.75)
Speaking entirely about my own experiences I can say that the flights I have taken with Norwegian have taken off on time and have landed on time, a little early or, at the most, ten minutes late.
Ah yes, the space question. This is the only real negative I can find about Norwegian. I cannot tell you the precise seat pitch but I can say I feel that there is a little less space between seat rows with Norwegian than I have found with some other carriers. Having said that I find the design of the cabin feels spacious (and I suffer from claustrophobia!) and I have no difficulty stretching my legs out under the seat in front of me. But sometimes the seatback facing me feels quite close. Apparently the airline is making a small reduction in the number of seats in the cabin to bring about some improvement in this situation. So, if you'll pardon the pun, I'll be watching this space.
This is where Norwegian is proving to be a winner. Yes, you pay a little to check-in your suitcase and you pay for your cup of tea but these small things aside, I feel as if I am flying regular-scheduled-carrier with this airline. There is little of the "low-cost" carrier feel about this company. However the fares are good. Here's an example. My journey from Bergen to Edinburgh cost me £110 (including luggage). The next best fare I could find with any other airline was £163 - and the journey would have been one hour longer. Norwegian have 178 routes between 84 destinations in Scandinavia, Europe - including the Canary Islands and Greek Islands - and also to Morocco and Dubai. I find I get a good choice of routes, convenient flight times and good service for the price and the fare is very often the lowest available for a given route. Occasional offers can be attractive too - at the moment a fare of (from) £29 is being offered from London to Oslo or Copenhagen (one way). Even if you want to take to a suitcase and have a coffee and a cinnamon bun on board you will still get change out of £40. I think that is fairly attractive.
I am not employed in aviation and I know I am not qualified to make any definite proclamations here. However, I have twenty years experience as a frequent flyer - in both commercial and small private aircraft and I can say I feel confident when I fly with Norwegian. They are currently showing a safety demonstration video prior to take-off in the form of a 3d animation rather then have crew members provide the briefing. I am rather impressed with this. It cuts across language barriers and holds your interest - important especially for frequent flyers as we can get little blase about this part of the flight. Occasional articles in the airline's in-flight magazine are designed to inform and educate the passenger about safety issues. I find this to be an indication of how seriously Norwegian view safety and security.
Facilities for Disabled People
I am able bodied and although I have escorted mobility-impaired people in the past I have no experience with this carrier. Therefore I cannot give an objective view of how well disabled people are assisted by Norwegian. Their website gives specific information for people with special requests for their flight, so I would recommend talking to the airline's staff before you book to make sure your requirements can be accommodated.
Frequent Flyer Programme
The frequent flyer programme introduced in December 2009 has two schemes; one for the individual traveller called "My Reward" and the other for companies to use, labelled "Corporate Reward". Under the "My Reward" scheme, if you buy a full-price, fully flexible ticket you will receive 10 percent of the value in "CashPoints" and if you use the low fares you will receive 2 percent in "CashPoints". When the time comes to exchange your points, each "Cashpoint" is equivalent to 1 Norwegian Kroner (NOK). This all sounds very generous, but when you consider that currently 1 NOK is the equivalent of 11p in Britain the rewards are put in perspective. On the positive side, though, is the fact that you can begin to use your points immediately - no need to save up to a certain amount. You can make a part-payment with your points not only for flights but also for the 'extras' such as checked-in luggage costs. Nonetheless, I cannot see this benefitting an occasional holiday-maker at all. It is, as it states, a scheme for frequent flyers.
In summary, I would now choose this airline, not only because of the competitive fares but also because of the choice of routes and their consistency of service. Based on my experience and that of my family and friends, I would not hesitate to recommend this company.
(NB: this review appears on other sites under the name of ALM1 or The Travelling Geordie)
I fly between Norway (Oslo) and the United Kingdom (London) roughly 5-8 times every year. I always check all the airline companies I can think of for prices, and I can only ever remember Ryanair being able to compete.
The web site has a simple, to the point and very functional design. It features an ingenious fare calendar, which shows you the cheapest possible flights you could get for the destination you want for the entire month. If you're flexible on your departure dates, this feature will enable you to find cheap tickets fast and effortlessly.
Once you have paid for your tickets online, pfd receipts are sent to your e-mail account, and if you wish, you can have a receipt by sms to your mobile phone free of charge.
In terms of baggage, you are charged 50Nok (roughly £5) per bag you wish to bring with you, and each bag may not weight more than 20kg. I don't think there is an upper limit to how many bags each passenger can bring. The drop down menu goes at least to 7, if not higher.
My experience with Norwegian staff has been that they are polite and have a professional attitude.
Although Norwegian is a budget airline company, flying with Norwegian is comfortable and effortless.
As mentioned, Ryanair is usually able to compete on price, but Ryanair have a lot of hidden fees in their pricing system, which, even if you end up paying slightly less than for other airline companies, are extremely annoying. I would also argue that Norwegian offer better customer service than Ryanair. However, I have found myself choosing Ryanair frequenly for Norwegian destinations, because if you order far in advance, even with the additional fees, Ryanair tends to be far cheaper.
Norwegian Airlines is a budget airline from Norway, initially known as Braathens.
Personal experience: I used them to fly from Copenhagen to Warsaw and although the flight was only short, the seats were more spacious than the majority of budget airlines and the service was great. Not as in your face as Ryanair or Wizzair. The red and white design was quite stylish and gave it an air of superiority over it's fellow cheap flight competitors! The flight, was about 15 pounds including tax.
It's main hubs are Oslo, Stockholm and Warsaw.
Flying from the UK - Norwegian could take you to: Stockholm, Oslo, Trondheim, Stavanger, Bergen and Tromso from London Stansted, Oslo and Stavanger from London Gatwick, Warsaw from Birmingham and Oslo from Edinburgh (plus numerous indirect flights to Norwegian towns via Oslo)
They fly all over Europe and to Marrakech from Norway and all over the Mediterranean and Paris from Warsaw.
I'd definitely recommend a trip with Norwegian, they are without doubt one of the more comfortable budget airlines. Should you wish to fly to Svalbard, they also have reasonably cheap flights to Longyearbyen from other Norwegian cities.
Just decided to add on some details:
Domestic pets (leave your zebras at home, folks) can travel in the hold around Europe (UK excluded) for 40 euros.
Policy on changing tickets:
*taken from their website
You may change the destination and date of travel. Each change costs NOK 200,- per international flight and NOK 216,- per domestic flight (incl. VAT) per person per leg of a journey, plus any applicable change in fare. A service fee of NOK 65 per person per way on international flights and NOK 71 per person per way on domestic flights(incl. VAT) will apply when you change tickets by phone.
You may also change the name of the ticket holder. Each change costs NOK 300 per international flight and NOK 324 per domestic flight (incl. VAT) per person per leg of a journey. If the price of the new flight is lower, no refund will be made. Changes to the name of the ticket bearer will only incur a fixed surcharge. For more information on how to change your flight details, click here.
That works out considerably cheaper than easyjet or wizzair's charges for amendments.