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Norwegian Air flight from JFK to Barcelona: too good to be true?

We are considering taking a 3-day trip to Barcelona (first trip to Spain) then taking a high-speed train to Paris for a two-week stay there. Norwegian Air is offering a $200 fare (one way) for June 4th from JFK to Barcelona. Even with all the added extras, it probably won't end up being more than $300-$350 or so. The fare is so economical that it makes me nervous. Does anyone have any experience with flying Norwegian to Spain with a similar deal? How did it go? I've been doing some research on Norwegian and it sounds like cancellations are what might be problematic. Would very much appreciate any advice. Thank you.

Posted by
6829 posts

I've used Norwegian 3 times transatlantic Chicago to London London to Orlando and was sad to see them pull out of O'hare as they were using 787 Dreamliner aircraft, the best I've ever been on in economy class of any airline.

I would not use Norwegian if with small children or the elderly and if you don't have a lot of flexibility.

When you buy the ticket opt out of the meal service and bring your own food and water. The 45$ fee they charge each way for that is not include in the roundtrip price. To save even more money opt to not select your own seat; there is a charge for that not included in the fare listed.

It is not like the legacy carrier

Posted by
6699 posts

I've been doing some research on Norwegian and it sounds like
cancellations are what might be problematic.

For a rock bottom fare, you have to be flexible in turn. In the worst case, you may not there later than you thought but you will get there. As long as you reset your expectations somewhat, it's still a good deal. Just make sure you add up the total costs because everything is unbundled.

Posted by
18746 posts

What are you going to do about getting back home from Paris? Sometimes one-way fares are very expensive. Be sure you have that figured out before you buy a one-way ticket to Barcelona. The usual plan for a trip like this would be a "multi-city" ticket, a variant of a round-trip that flies you into Barcelona and back home from Paris.

Note also that "3 days" in Barcelona often means "3 nights", which is really two full days and some sleep-deprived/jetlagged hours on the arrival day. Barcelona is a city with a lot of very popular sights for which you'll need to pre-purchase timed entry tickets (assuming you want to go inside them). It can be difficult to put those puzzle pieces together on a very short trip. Most of the sights have entry fees over $20, so I wouldn't want to pre-purchase anything for the arrival day when you may be zombies (at least I am).

Posted by
2177 posts

Norwegian is one of my favourite airlines. I'm not surprised by that price for the flights. I've flown a number of times from Los Angeles to Barcelona on Norwegian and never had a problem, in fact the customer service was very pleasant each time. See if you can upgrade to economy plus ;-)

What I do find problematic is not the flight but your significantly limited time in Barcelona only 2 nights? and it's your first time? I'd take a steal of a few nights from your 2 weeks in Paris to add them to your lean time in Barcelona. Firstly, you will be dead the first day/night so I doubt that day will be any use, secondly many sights in Barcelona now require timed tickets which will make such a short stay so problematic. Consider staying in Barcelona at least 4 nights.

Posted by
7881 posts

I’m a fan of Norwegian Air. That price you quoted is normal. Their planes are amazing. I agree not to get their pre-ordered meals, but you can order food once you’re on the plane and it’s better than the pre-ordered meals. I bring my own food now. I’ve flown them 4 times and we left pretty much on time and always landed on time. I have 3 friends who’ve flown NA many, many times and never had any issues.
I pay for seat selection as i need an aisle seat. Still cheaper than other airlines.
Do be aware though that they are a budget airline and their customer service sucks. But, their Dreamliners make it worth it and many legacy airlines have bad customer service too.

Posted by
270 posts

Just flew denver to malaga via London on Norwegian. Our 2nd trip with them. 550 RT. We left late in denver but it was from deicing. We will continue to use them. Best fares by far from denver to Europe.

Posted by
218 posts

Many thanks, everyone. It sounds like NA is solid all around. I also found an even better deal flying direct from San Francisco to consider. It's good to hear that economy seats on the Dreamliner are comfortable since I notice that their upgraded seats are pretty expensive. As for our flights back home, we can use our United air miles for one-way seats from CDG for 30,000 miles each. Not bad. I'll do a bit more research about what Barcelona has to offer (going to the Sagrada Familia is our main focus) and see about extending our stay.

One more question: I find 11 hour long-haul flights pretty challenging so having good in-flight movies is indispensable. Being a low-budget airline, does NA offer movies to while away the hours?

Thanks again for all the help.

Posted by
7881 posts

They have movies, but not the large selection legacy airlines have. On my flight last month from Paris to Oakland, they had 2-3 current movies (JRR Tolkien was one - it was excellent), can ‘t remember the other two at the moment. Then, maybe 6 others that were maybe a year old. They also have tv shows.
10 & 11 hour flights are tough for me too, and that’s why i say the Dreamliner is amazing. They (and the A350) have the lowest cabin pressure (6000’) which reduces/eliminates jet lag - and, equally important, while you’re flying you feel physically better. They pump in more fresh air than other planes. They have natural lighting. They have more head room. And in the regular economy seats, they have more legroom than any plane i’ve flown on.

NA only has 2 class of seats: economy (if you pick your seat early enough you can get bulk head or an exit row) and premium economy (i think that’s what they call it) which is the equivalent of business class - which are way cheaper than business class on legacy airlines. After i boarded, i could have upgraded to their business class for $400.

Posted by
4834 posts

We have never done Norwegian Air, but I have some friends that we met on cruises that have good and bad things to say.

The good is of course the price. That seems to be about it for the good.

The bad is cancellations for sure. One couple we know almost missed their cruise because of a flight cancellation and delay. Fortunately, they had some pre-cruise days planned. Other's have complained about so many things. One couple approaching 80 had to stand in line for three hours. The man had a bad back and had to sit on the floor. They couldn't arrange a wheelchair for him.

If you do Norwegian, plan arriving late, just in case.

Also, check Kayak.com and matrix air for low prices.

Posted by
6829 posts

I always use a tablet with movies I've downloaded from Google Movies or Amazon to supplement in flight entertainment.

Posted by
760 posts

I've flown Norwegian several times and had great experiences. Love the dreamliner planes. They have always had plenty of movies as far as I can remember. Certainly way more than the half dozen or so someone mentioned.

The problem with Norwegian is that they often have only one flight a day between places, sometimes not even that, maybe only one every other day. So if something does go wrong - weather, or they cancel for some other reason - then there aren't the multiple other choices of flights to put you on. You could be stuck for a few days even. On a short trip with little flexibility that would be a big deal. If for example your flight to Barcelona was canceled and there wasn't another one for two days that would mean you'd have virtually no time there. Those are the kinds of things I worry about. As I said, I've been happy with all the flights I've taken with them but if I have a choice of another airline for almost the same price I would play it safe and pick the larger airline with multiple daily flights.

Posted by
218 posts

Thank you all. We went ahead and booked our flight from SFO to Barcelona, which worked out well because the best deal flight is a few days earlier than what we had initially planned so now we're spending a whole week in Barcelona before we take the train to Paris. The 11-hour flight will be a challenge but your description of the Dreamliner sounds terrific and I'm glad to hear that they do offer movies and tv shows. Luckily I don't need too much viewing variety when flying. Last year on the way to Paris from Newark, I happily watched Nottinghill and A Star is Born over and over. I like the idea of downloading favorite movies on the laptop just in case. Now that we're staying in Barcelona for a few days more, we'll have wiggle room should there be any flight delays, just as your friends did pre-cruise, which is a great travel tip when using budget airlines. Again, many thanks for the advice.

Posted by
7881 posts

“Certainly way more than the half dozen or so someone mentioned.”

I said about 9 movies isabel.
I just flew NA, scrolled through the movies many times and that’s about all they had on my flight. One was Casablanca, good movie, but not exactly current. Legacy airlines have way more than NA.

Posted by
7881 posts

That’s great Adrienne!
You jogged my memory, A Star is Born, (with Gaga) was one of the current movies.
That’s great you’ll have a whole week in Barcelona, enjoy!

Posted by
3318 posts

I've flown Norwegian RT back and forth to Europe 14 times in the last several years. I LOVE the airline. That fare is in line with most of their fares to Europe except during high demand times. They are a cut above most budget airlines. Definitely "a la carte"...you pay for what you want and don't pay for what you don't want. I personally buy my ticket, pay to choose my seat (have to have an aisle seat), but that's all. Their food is not great so I bring my own. Their entertainment system is very good...I've always had 30+ movies to choose from on every flight I've taken as well as a good selection of TV shows, games, etc. There is also a food ordering screen on the entertainment system if you want snacks or drinks. I find the economy seats to be quite comfortable and I love the Dreamliners that they use for flights from the US to Europe.
Norwegian has had issues with cancellations this year but that was because they are in the middle of some financial rearranging, for lack of a better term. They suspended service to a number of European cities for the winter and got an extension from their bondholders on their outstanding liabilities to keep them afloat. They seem to be recovering from this issue.
Someone above said that one-way flights are more expensive...I find that just the opposite is true. I almost exclusively book one-way tickets now. Regularly saves me 40%+ on airfare. You just have to know which airlines to choose in which parts of the world.

Posted by
218 posts

It's really good to hear that you made so many transatlantic crossings on NA without a hitch. I, too had read about NA's re-structuring of their finances, selling off some of their planes, changing financial leadership, etc last year or so. I have a good mind to keep abreast with commercial aviation news or at least keep an ear out for unusually high numbers of cancelled flights by NA, should that happen, especially as we get several months closer to take-off. Does anyone know of a website that keeps track of this sort of thing?

As far as one-way tickets being costly, I have found that to be true with the legacy airlines like United, at least with their European flights. They aren't a problem when using their air miles program, tho', which is how I got flights back to Newark from Paris.

Posted by
5640 posts

Adridnne, just so you realize that since November 15 that flat 30,000 miles on United isn't necessarily what you will pay -- different for different airports in Europe and different dates. For SFO-CDG I saw 32,000 miles one day, 70,000 miles the next day. Check the "awards schedule" at the top of the United awards page to see whether adjusting your return date will save you miles.

Posted by
12 posts

Norwegian is great budget airline, but it got a lot of bad reviews since many purchased the cheap fare class yet expect normal economy service like with classic airlines.

A few things to consider if you fly trans Atlantic on Norwegian:
1) the airline may go under sometime in 2020.... it almost ran out of money in late 2019, but got a last minute deal to secure funding thru 2020 (It’s anybody’s guess about when in 2020, or beyond)

2) the budget fare seats (anything not premium) on the Dreamliners do not recline as much, nor have good seat cushion (thiner than on ANA’s 787, for example)

3) the premium fare class (the “business” class) is a great deal to travel in style

4) the checked bag is 20Kg per bag, less than the usual 23kg per bag .... this is a big deal for family travel

5) the carry on bag policy isn’t always enforced (especially for premium class passengers), but if it is enforced, it is a major, cruel pain point

Hope this helps

Posted by
218 posts

Laura, yes I've noticed the miles differential, too so we ended up leaving CDG a day sooner (a Wednesday) than we would have. Otherwise we would have had to use twice as many miles.

Benedict, thanks for the info about flying NA. I'd heard about their strict carry-on policy so I'm prepared to be careful about the size and weight of my traveling backpack. I'm going to keep my fingers crossed about NA staying afloat in 2020 but still keep an ear out for any airline industry signals that might necessitate a change of plans. I figure if NA survived 2018 and 2019 and have continued to provide stellar service and customer satisfaction, they must be doing well. Have a great trip with your family!

Posted by
84 posts

Norwegian has financing for the next 2 years at least, so you should be good to buy tickets for the near future, you can read up about that if you are so inclined. I just barely did the JKF- BCN on NA. I bring my own food, they'll refill your water bottle if you ask, and I have never had trouble staying under the weight limit for the carry on bag. I've not had flight delays with Norwegian, but anything can happen no matter the airline. The planes are quite new and no more or less comfortable than any other plane I've been on. Definitely worth the cheap ticket! That's the only way I could afford to travel!

Posted by
218 posts

Claire and Susan: Thank you both for the terrific news and SFGate article about NA being solid through 2020 at least. Now I won't have to fret about keeping an ear out. What a great way to start the holiday season! Best wishes and happy travels ahead!

Posted by
4834 posts

I just ran a dummy search for one way airfare JAX to Rome next Fall and Norwegian beat Delta by $100. That is not enough for me to use Norwegian.

Posted by
7881 posts

I don’t fly NA for the low price.
I fly NA for the Dreamliner.