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Norwegian Air: Too Risky?

I'm looking at booking round-trip airfare for my family of four from the SF Bay Area-Rome for late June-early July timeframe. I love that Norwegian has a nonstop Oakland-Rome option at better prices than I see with other carriers. I've flown them several times before and have had good experiences. But I'm a bit worried about pulling the trigger given Norwegian's recently reported financial woes. Any PoVs here: should I just pay more now for a more stable airline vs. risking my Norwegian flights getting cancelled late in the game and then being forced to pay a lot at the last minute for new tickets with another carrier?

Thanks advance for any input.

Wendy

Posted by
2525 posts

Consider trip insurance confirming the carrier is not excluded.

Posted by
6764 posts

I think that things are so speculative at this point that I would take the risk if you're talking about substantial savings. An airline can have "financial woes" (that could mean a number of things and literally span years) and still survive and run certain segments very profitably. They always have the option of cost cutting and pruning some flights (European rules would of course make you eligible for compensation if your flights get cancelled). Case in point about "who knows what the future will hold?" is Alitalia which has been discussed at nauseum on this forum and in print. That same airline is debuting non-stop service to Rome from my airport in a few months. Everyone predicted it would be dead by now. Insurance won't help you against an airline that cuts certain routes or goes belly up, so you have to be OK with your decision - the EU rules would compensate you for your loss, but obviously would not do anything if you had to scramble to buy new tickets. Whether something is "too risky" totally depends on your level of risk-aversion, and everyone is different. I would only care about getting my money back and I'd be flexible about rescheduling with another airline at a time when tickets are within my budget.

Posted by
3626 posts

The whole travel insurance issue made me wonder. I took a second to look up the coverage I use which is associated with a credit card.

Trip Cancellation expenses covered for “ financial insolvency of the travel agency, tour operator or travel supplier you booked with.”

Trip Cancellation expenses not covered for “travel arrangements canceled or changed by a common carrier unless the cancellation is the result of severe weather or an organized strike affecting public transportation.”

It sounds like (at least for my coverage) airlines, trains, buses are treated differently than other businesses. Even so, if you found you did have coverage, all it would do would be reimburse your original fare, not pay for the new, walk up, last minute fare.

It is all about how comfortable you are with risk. Only you can decide.

Posted by
6570 posts

I've already purchased tickets for Boston-Madrid and Paris-Boston end of May. They seem to be selling some planes and still taking delivery of others. Many route changes inside Europe and out are being executed.
I've got a plan B if plan A falls through. Who knows? I'd like to think that the 3rd largest budget carrier in Europe would have routes and would be a merger target--at the least.

Posted by
8959 posts

Everyone's got different tolerances of risk. For me I wouldn't fly Norwegian. If purchasing a ticket is gonna cause you stress everyday from now until departure, then go with one of the larger airlines even if it's gonna cost more. One less thing to worry about.

Posted by
5024 posts

There were reports before Christmas that Norwegian had 10 days to secure finance and we are past that deadline with no news update being released.

Personally, I wouldn’t book anything with them at present. If they go bust, I would feel vindicated. If they survive, I would kick myself for not booking with them.

In the words of my hero “Do you feel lucky? Well do you, punk”.

Posted by
1198 posts

Another thing to consider is the flight schedule. It looks like Norwegian flies that route 3 days a week. So if your flight is canceled it may be 2 or 3 days before you get out. Would Norwegian be able to get you out through another route? Perhaps. But with summer travel comes fuller flights resulting in limited flexibility to reroute.

Posted by
8054 posts

I love Norwegian and wouldn’t hesitate to book a flight with them. I think the chances of them going under is slim to none. A friend explained it to me, but i can’t remember any details. So, not offering proof for my opinion, only my opinion.

Posted by
3551 posts

You are going peak season and very difficult to get a rd trip if a snag happens with Norweigian.
You are 4 traveling and prob with lodging reserved, right.
If u are unsettled do not risk it . I believe u have too many factors involved for another option at last minute. Swiss and Delta have recently posted a sale for Europe, not sure for when..

Posted by
7787 posts

Norwegian Air site shows the following fleet
787- 31 planes ( how many are in service because of the Rolls Royce engine problems is not disclosed)
737-800- 118 planes
737-max-14 planes

Given the history of reports going back to early 2018 of financial troubles and still no clear resolution, It takes more optimism than I possess, to buy a ticket for travel 6 months out.

Posted by
4450 posts

European rules would of course make you eligible for compensation if your flights get cancelled

Not if the notice of cancellation is given in advance 7 days or more of your departure.

Posted by
44 posts

Thank you to everyone for the insights and information. Much appreciated!
--Wendy

Posted by
7787 posts

Anyone else share my view that it ( the Reuters report) looks more like 'band-aids', not a true cure?

Posted by
249 posts

Am flying Norwegian in late April round trip to Rome. Have no qualms. Oakland has become a cash cow for Norwegian and I don't think any of those flights are in jeopardy. Perhaps they will cut back at some of the other airports in the East (like the ones in New York at a smaller airport that I can't remember the name of. Norwegian is very big in Europe. Also if you are worried, ask Roberto (a Bay area gentleman who was born in Italy and comments just about daily about things in Italy) about Alitalia, which has threatened to go under numerous times in the past few years now.

Posted by
8054 posts

My good friend bought a ticket on Norwegian Air, on my recommendation, yesterday morning for a flight to London that left this evening. Flying back in a week. We’ll see if NA goes under between now and then...

Posted by
3176 posts

If you choose to buy insurance, do your research beforehand to learn how people have been reimbursed when an airlines goes under.

Something I keep in mind is that airlines struggling to stay afloat cut corners. Are those corners regarding aircraft maintenance or hiring more inexperienced pilots as senior ones might have left due to pay issues? Who knows until after the fact.

Posted by
8054 posts

I don’t trust legacy airlines not to cut corners. I have no doubt United does.