What is flying Norwegian Air like and how to make the most of it
The ultimate Norwegian Air review & guide
I’ve seen Norwegian Air’s incredible international flight deals flash across my screen so many times. But I had always steered clear of flying Norwegian Air. For me, part of taking a vacation is the experience that comes from flying a full service carrier. That being said, Norwegian Air’s cheap fares and excellent onboard experience may make them my new airline of choice for certain international destinations. Flying Norwegian Air definitely made my travel stress free, with a little planning. From booking to on board, this ultimate Norwegian Air review can help you get the most value from your ticket too.
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Full service vs low-cost airlines
So what is a full service airline? Generally, full service airlines include checked bags, assigned seats, meals, beverages and other amenities with the price of an international ticket. Low-cost airlines, like Norwegian Air, do not. Simply put, you are getting a lower price with less of the comforts and services. However, even many of the full service airlines now provide discounts to those passengers who can forego checked bags or advance seat assignments.
Now, if you’re flying domestically on a shorter flight these things may not be such a big deal. However, on a 10 or more hour international flight you may start to get a little more concerned. That’s a long time with no food, for me at least! And therein lied my apprehensions about flying Norwegian Air. I was not quite convinced it wouldn’t be torture. Despite my misgivings, I decided to give flying Norwegian Air a go.
Where does Norwegian Air fly
So if you’re flying Norwegian Air from North America, you can take off from several US cities. From the east, you can choose from airports in Boston, New York area, and a few cities in Florida. On the west coast, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland and Seattle. And in between there is Chicago, Austin and Denver. If you’re flying Norwegian Air out of Canada your options are a little more limited. Norwegian air flies out of Hamilton, Ontario, a city just outside of Toronto. Moving down to South America, you can catch a Norwegian flight out of Rio de Janeiro and several airports in Argentina.
Of course, being a European airline, they fly all over Europe. On the African continent options for flying Norwegian Air are the Canary Islands and Morocco. And that leaves Israel, Jordan, Dubai and Thailand. This list is giving me some ideas…
Keep in mind that routes from these various destinations may vary greatly or not exist at all depending on the time of year. For this reason, Norwegian Air’s handy dandy route map can be very helpful. You can search based on your starting point, budget, ideal temperature or the type of destination your looking for.
Booking a flight on Norwegian.com
Norwegian Air’s website and booking experience is one of the most user friendly out there in my opinion. First of all, if you would like to change the language or currency of the website you can do so from the home screen. At the bottom of the home page after all the menu options is an option to choose your language. Just hit go and this will change the language and the currency to the corresponding country.
Extras or no extras
Flying Norwegian Air can be super cheap…if you can manage not to tack on a lot of extras. The cheapest flights Norwegian Air advertises are their LowFare tickets. Basically, these allow you to bring a carry on. And that’s it.
Naturally, Norwegian Air touts their LowFare+ tickets as having the “Most Value!” LowFare+ international tickets include one checked bag, up to 2 meals on board and a confirmed seat reservation. (Note: Meals are served on the long haul international flights and not on most inter-European flights.) From the US, it is usually $90USD more to upgrade from LowFare to LowFare+ one way or $180USD round trip. And you generally save about $50USD as opposed to buying all those services separately, if you need them. That is, if this option is available. On some super long haul flights (like Jordan or Thailand) sometimes LowFare+ is not an option.
Truthfully, I love the option of only paying for what you need. If you are traveling on a budget and plan well, this can make for a very affordable vacation. Personally, I prefer to spend my money when I land. So let’s focus on the LowFare ticket. This is the cheapest fare you can book when flying Norwegian Air.
Add-ons for flying Norwegian Air
So how much do all the extras cost and what are your options? There are sooo many. From fishing rods to diabetic meals you can have it all when flying Norwegian Air…for a price.
For budget conscious travelers, the key to keeping Norwegian Air low cost is understanding exactly what you can bring when you are flying on a LowFare ticket. That is to say, carry on only. It’s possible. I’ve done it. Yes, it took some serious planning.
A 10kg (22lb) carry on is always allowed flying Norwegian Air, as well as a small personal item. Norwegian Air states on their website that the small personal item is maximum 25 x 33 x 20 cm. And 10kg is the maximum combined weight for the carry on and the small personal item. It is tight but you can make it work. I was able to get everything I need into a carry on and small backpack for a 1 week trip to Europe.
However, if you cannot get by with just a carry on (and I understand), Norwegian has an add on for that too. However, if you check a bag or special equipment, baggage charges are per leg of travel. That means you pay for a bag on the outbound flight and the return. That being said, prices vary. For example, 1 checked bag costs $100USD and 2 cost $280USD flying Norwegian Air from LAX to Bangkok. On the other hand, 1 checked bag costs $78 and 2 cost $215 flying from LAX into Amman, Jordan. You can check prices for your destination using this city pair list.
In addition, for those flying to Norway to ski or snowboard or to Florida to golf or surf, you can check your sports equipment for a fee. Although, depending on how much you’ll be using them, it may make more sense to rent where you’re going.
Wondering how Norwegian Air feels about you stuffing a few extra things in your snowboard bag? Click the image below to read more about their full baggage conditions.
Pets and infants
Flying Norwegian Air does not mean you need to go through deprivation for 12 hours. In fact, my first experience with Norwegian was surprisingly pleasant. There was really nothing to complain about. It is possible to preorder a meal, for a $45USD fee of course. But don’t fear. There are plenty of food options onboard. I honestly pictured the onboard menu being exorbitantly priced, since you’re basically held hostage in the air. In spite of my fears, the prices were unexpectedly reasonable. However, travelers on a budget may prefer packing a meal for even better value.
My first time flying Norwegian Air was from Los Angeles to Paris. This is a 10h 30m flight, and it seems I need to eat pretty much every 3 hours. So I brought plenty of food. Also, you can pre-order a meal for $45USD up to 72 hours before departure. However, if you end up in a time crunch, snacks and drinks are available for purchase between meal services on international long haul flights. This is also the case with most other Norwegian Air flights.
When flying Norwegian Air seat assignments can be reserved on a LowFare ticket for a fee. This is possible at the time of booking or up to 6 hours before departure. Once again, the fee may vary depending on where you are traveling.
All seat reservation fees are per leg of travel. Therefore, for a flight from Seattle to Brazil, there is a seat fee from Seattle to London and from London to Brazil. So, if you’re not too picky about seats or if you’re traveling on a budget, foregoing a preserved seat can be a big money saver.
Other add-ons when flying Norwegian Air
There are a couple other extras you can purchase when flying Norwegian Air, namely Priority Boarding and Cancellation Protection. If available, you may purchase Priority Boarding at the time of booking or add it to your reservation up to 6 hours before departure. It costs $8USD per person per leg of travel. If you like to settle in early and be sure your carry on gets on board with you, this may be for you.
In addition, Cancellation Protection is available for purchase when flying Norwegian Air, but only at the time of booking. This service costs $12USD per person, per booking. It covers passengers in the event that they or an immediate family member falls ill or dies. In order to request a refund, you’ll need to cancel the ticket up to 30 minutes before departure and provide the appropriate documentation.
Any other services or fare details an be found under “Terms” located near the bottom of each page during the booking process. This includes such things as the cost to change or cancel a ticket, bringing musical instruments on board and unaccompanied minor service. Furthermore, tickets can be refunded within 4 hours of original purchase, or 24 hours for flights to/from the US and from Brazil booked at least one week before departure. After this most tickets are non-refundable.
Norwegian Air’s loyalty program is quite simply called Norwegian Reward. It allows you to earn CashPoints when flying Norwegian Air, with some hotels, car rentals, online shopping and other partners. This is not a full service airline loyalty program, but it is still worth signing up for and getting the benefits IMHO.
Apply CashPoints towards full or partial payment of a ticket, baggage, pre-ordered meals, seat reservations, ticket changes and more. And after every 6 flights you earn a new reward, which includes 2% CashPoints boost on LowFare tickets, free fast track, free seat reservations and baggage. Not bad. For more details on Norwegian Rewards check out this page.
I honestly expected a little more chaos when checking in with Norwegian Air in Los Angeles. You can check in using their app and check-in kiosks. However, the app did not work for me when flying Norwegian Air into Europe. I checked in directly with a check-in agent, which was smooth and relatively quick. Since I was flying on a LowFare ticket, all I had was a carry on and a smaller backpack, and the agent only weighed my carry on. Once I arrived at the gate I asked for a seat change from a middle seat to an aisle. The gate agents kindly granted my request. Boarding was quick and unpretentious with those needing special assistance first, then groups B and C, and lastly all groups in 2 lines.
On the return from Europe I was able to use the app and the check-in kiosks to check-in. No one was at the check-in counter to check or weigh bags. As a matter of fact, I barely saw an agent in Copenhagen. And while boarding there, nobody weighed my carry on and personal item. Later, at my connection in London’s Gatwick airport, we had to transfer from North Terminal to South for the flight home to North America. The process was well organized with plenty of signage along the way. Upon boarding the flight for LAX, I did not notice any bags being weighed either.
I was so excited to be flying Norwegian Air for the first time aboard one of their 787 Dreamliners. To me, this is really a fabulous aircraft. Firstly, there’s plenty of room in the overhead bins. In fact, I didn’t see any passengers or flight attendants struggling to stuff bags overhead on any of my flights this trip. Secondly, once seated I was pleasantly surprised with all the leg room and space for my small backpack under the seat. In this respects, flying Norwegian Air was low-cost but definitely not low quality. Although there was no travel blanket waiting on the seat, they were available for purchase through the IFE (in-flight entertainment) for $5USD.
The USB port and headphone jack were right underneath the screen on the back of each seat. As well, the flight attendant call button and overhead light controls were in the IFE screen. Lights are dimmed on an overnight flight and then brightened close to arrival to simulate daylight, almost like the rising of the sun. This is supposed to help with combatting jet lag. It definitely made for a dreamy experience flying Norwegian Air on the 787 Dreamliner.
Additionally, the 787 Dreamliner’s dimmable windows are too cool. To start with, they are 65% bigger than typical cabin windows. And the dimming feature is like putting on a pair of tinted sunglasses, and you control the tint. Lastly, but very importantly, there are 9 toilets on board this 787 Dreamliner. 2 in premium, 5 in the middle and 2 in the back. You barely had to wait at all.
IFE (in-flight entertainment)
Norwegian Air’s IFE had lots to choose from, with 150 movies on my flight. But don’t forget your headset, or you can purchase one for $3USD that comes in a handy dandy carrying case. On my booking, my flight from Copenhagen to Gatwick had free wifi. Free wifi is available on most European flights. And flying Norwegian Air will feel even less low- cost when free wifi rolls out on many of their other flights as well. You can check if your flight will have free wifi from 2 days before departure here.
Food and drink when flying Norwegian Air
I didn’t pre-order a meal for $45USD, but I was able to scope out the couple’s meals beside me. Meal service starts at the usual time after reaching cruising altitude. Flight attendants have a list of the name and seat numbers of those who pre-ordered. First, comes a choice of drink, including beer or wine. Then, you get to choose between two meal options. On my flight it was beef with rice or chicken with potatoes.It was accompanied by a small salad, no bread, and a brownie. The second meal was breakfast, which consisted of a small meat, lettuce and cheese sandwich. And for your morning sweet tooth, a Sara Lee frosted banana cake came along with it. The meal was nothing special, and wasn’t much different from a full service economy meal. Except, no bread.
Bringing your own food is a great option when flying Norwegian Air for budget conscious travelers. And that is what I did into and out of Europe. This gave me a great chance to sample some of the specialties when leaving Copenhagen. That being said, I had to try something from Norwegian Air’s menu.
All food and drink is ordered through the IFE between meal services. I love this system. Simply use the touch screen to order what you want, swipe your credit card and voila! On the way to Paris I ordered a Tempranillo red wine for $7USD to eat with the meal I packed. And on the way back I ordered the “hot snack” for $7USD, which I was assured was the tastiest. This was a grilled ham and cheese sandwich, or a toastie as the British flight attendant called it. It wasn’t bad. Typical airline food, but it hit the spot.
The service flying Norwegian Air
Flying Norwegian Air from Los Angeles to Paris, the Scandinavian-based flight crew was pleasant, proper, very efficient and not at all condescending. However, they were not overly friendly and were slow to smile. Having said that, my wine order came super fast, in 3 minutes flat. Thankfully, the captain and flight crew made very few announcements on this overnight flight, which was so nice. When they were necessary, which was not even during some minor turbulence, they were short and sweet. And they were made just loud enough to hear comfortably and not startle you out of your seat.
On my flight home from London Gatwick to Los Angeles, the UK based flight crew was more friendly and relaxed. Granted, service was a little slower, but in an affable and very sweet British kind of way. I was really impressed by the service and staff on all the Norwegian flights I took. They certainly helped cinch a great first experience for me flying Norwegian Air.
I really have to admit, flying Norwegian Air was nothing like I expected. The comfort of the 787 Dreamliner made it feel rather full service. In addition, the efficient and friendly flight crew and the amenities and services on board, even if for a fee, added to the positive experience. Personally, I feel the most value can be had if you can fly on a LowFare ticket without all the add ons. However, even if you take the step up to LowFare+ you still might come out better than having flown with some of the full service airlines.
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Hi! I’m Rebecca. KwaFare is a play on the French expression quoi faire or what to do? Follow along with me as I share essential tips for various travel destinations and the best ways to get the most of your travel. I love to explore the world on points and I’m passionate about spreading smarter travel. Subscribe to my newsletter for valuable tips and reviews. When you know what to do you’re halfway there!
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