when word came that Norwegian was introducing service from LA to London with a low-ish fare, i couldn’t resist. i mean, who wouldn’t want a cheap way to get to Europe — on a Dreamliner, no less? i flew on the inaugural LAX-LGW flight (they have been flying from LAX for a little while now to Scandinavia) and got a roundtrip ticket for around $680. there was a slightly cheaper fare available when it first went on sale but i missed it. still, $680 west coast to Europe and back during summer? sounds PHAT — pretty hot and tempting.
well, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. or well, no, actually, it is. i knew what i was getting myself into, i just didn’t know it would be so odd.
at the airport
i took a Delta Shuttle flight from SFO-LAX to get to LA and speedwalked to the International Terminal to check in. i was sort of expecting a bit of a hoopla for the inaugural, but there was no hooplaing to be had. it’s ok, i guess, since i completely forgot i booked the inaugural until about a week ago.
i was able to skate by with hand luggage only since you have to pay for each checked bag. and yes, they weighed it. it came in at 9.2 kg with an allowance of 10 (=22 lbs). WINNER! although i weighed at home just to be safe, i knew i was cutting it close. i always travel with a carry-on only but often times it umm, is slightly over. CLARIFICATION UPDATE: it was 1 10kg carry-on + unweighed personal item. YMMV when it comes to the personal item, but i’ve never had anyone weigh it (with this or any airline, knock on wood).
sidebar: return flight update just wanted to say they did not weigh my carry-on on the return flight from Gatwick. i used the kiosks to get my boarding pass and there was someone there supervising the kiosk cluster, but i just walked away after getting it. maybe it was because i still had the yellow “APPROVED” tag on the handle (i was cognizant not to tear it off just for this reason!), or maybe he didn’t care/didn’t notice, or maybe it’s not policy there. YMMV, but good deal.
they were selling upgrades to their premium (not-very-special slightly larger recliner seats) for $300 at the gate. i was too cheap to pay that, but in any case, i’d already paid $35 each way to get an exit row seat and hell if i was going to pay more. i should note there is also a credit card fee (about 1%), but that’s typical of European airlines. my total ticket cost was $750 including seats and fees.
oh, by the way, prepaid, one bag is $42, two bags are $92.
i’m assuming the security area at the LAX International Terminal is undergoing renovations, because if not, well, it sure needs it! (it’s a definite stark contrast to the renovated terminal itself — so nice!)
i didn’t preorder any meals ($35-42, including a hot dinner and a cold breakfast, as well as drinks) so i used my Priority Pass to get into the Korean Air lounge to stuff my face with their food — cold finger foods and ramen, but who am i to complain. FREE.
this is key, folks. if you didn’t preorder and aren’t planning to order food onboard, you need to pig out beforehand. (read on for more details on what is and isn’t available in-flight.)
the lounge had a view over the gate, and alas, sadly there truly wasn’t anything going on for the inaugural. i actually asked at check-in if they were planning something and she said no, but i was hoping for a surprise. (surprise, no surprise.)
i did try and get some shots of the plane before boarding, though, but it was hard due to the layout of the terminal and the sun being in the wrong place (damn sun!). i learned that the plane, named after Edvard Munch, was the newest 787 in the Norwegian fleet (thanks @AirlineFlyer and @JA815A!), although after all of the plane substitutions they’ve been having (to non-787s) i was just glad to get a Dreamliner at all.
welp, the plane is your standard Dreamliner with the mood lighting and fancy windows. there were power plugs and a cool in-flight entertainment system that has a USB port for charging your devices (similar hardware, it seems, as what’s on LAN planes and the United 787). that’s pretty much the only amenity thing you’re going to get for free — the IFE.
the plane was pretty much completely full, with lots of young people taking advantage of the low fares (i imagine). certain rows were pretty much hipstertown.
the Android-based IFE system was very responsive, and they even have a multitouch Google Earth-like map feature. the movie selection was limited compared to other systems and the music selection even more so. there’s enough to keep you entertained for a flight, but don’t expect to be spoiled for choice.
you can order stuff once airborne with the choice to swipe your card each time or to keep a tab open so you only swipe for your first purchase.
NOTE THE PRICES!
i ended up ordering a blanket because i stupidly forgot my hoodie at home and it was freezing by the emergency exit. i also stupidly waited until 3.5 hours before landing to buy it; i should have just done it early on but my machismo stood in the way. :\
but yes, you saw right. YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR WATER. no, they do not have a drink service (unless you pre-ordered a meal). no there are no blankets and pillows waiting for you on the chair. i didn’t see any hot items available for touchscreen order, so it seems like the only way to get something hot is to preorder, but i didn’t look too carefully.
so yep. i was pretty much on a fast for the flight. no liquids, no foods, no nothing.
some more pictures from their IFE system:
teehee Uckfield and Dorking.
when we landed at Gatwick, there was a TV crew waiting to interview random people coming off the plane. i doubt you’ll see me but they pulled the guy behind me to talk to so maybe? if anyone spots me, let me know.
a brief word about the crew: it was a very diverse(-looking) team, and while they seemed nice and knowledgeable enough, i didn’t really interact with them since well, i was too cheap to pay for anything except that blanket.
so the question of the hour: would i fly them again? only if the price was super right. i’d rather pay a bit more and have things included (baggage, though i rarely check bags, food, WATER), although i clearly survived quite well so i know it’s doable. plus, they aren’t partners with anyone so you can’t “earn valuable miles” except with their program, which is limiting.
moral of the story: if you fly with Norwegian, be prepared to pay for everything. eat up beforehand and bring a bottle of water with you on the flight. is this the future of the airline industry? ack!
i have a return flight in about a week and a half, so we’ll see how that goes!