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Report - Norwegian Air - Seattle to London

We flew this yesterday. I had been worried about flights due to other comments, here and on TA, about cancellations and "wet leasing". I checked flights daily for the two weeks up until our departure and there were very few late planes and almost no cancellations, even the Boston flights that seem to get the most attention.
We purchased Premium Economy seats, which comes with 10kg of carry on, 2 checked bags and included meals. I worried a ton about our carry on - we check no luggage - and made sure we were right at the 10kg, spread out over our two allowed bags - one 21x15x9 and one about 10x14.
Check in went fine at SeaTac. We waited about 10 minutes and the line for Coach was about the same. No one weighed or looked at our bags, even though my research indicates that Norwegian weighs a lot of carryons.
For you SeaTac people, we boarded out of the A gates, not the S gates. Norwegian uses an A gate with no jetway, pulls a few buses up outside and then drives you over to a remote area of the airport to board with a moveable jetway. I'm guessing the same will be true on our return but they'll bus us to an S gate for immigration.
Premium Economy seats are spectacular - the biggest I've seen with any carrier. We had about as much room as you get with Alaska and American domestic First Class. The seats are wider too. We really loved these seats. They recline a fair amount and have a foot rest. I was comfortable the entire trip and, unlike Premium Economy in Condor, where I'm still basically pretty squashed and unhappy, I was happy the entire trip.
I was expected bad food, based on all the reviews. But my group covered the realm of standard meal, vegetarian and gluten free and everyone was pretty happy. My gluten free dinner meal had a simply seasoned chicken breast, white rice, steamed veggies and a salad. For dessert, they included a really nice fruit tray. Breakfast was two rice cakes with turkey and cheese, made into a rice cake sandwich of sorts, which I totally liked, but my traveling companions found funny. My breakfast also included a container of plain yogurt, a granola bar and another big fruit plate. The vegetarian dinner meal was the most boring - the dinner was just the rice and veggies and a salad with no protein source. The breakfast was a cucumber sandwich and some fruit. The standard dinner was a stuffed chicken breast, roasted potatoes, carrots, a nice salad with very nice vinaigrette and some of those pretty and colorful little macarons you see in bakeries. No complaints from us when we were expecting virtually nothing.
Also - tons of reviews said no water was offered and staff was surly. We were offered water at least once an hour but can't speak for coach.
All in all a great trip. Left on time, arrived on time. I'd definitely fly them again. The Coach seats looked as small as all other airlines though.

Posted by David
Seattle, WA, USA
2890 posts

Sounds pretty good, thanks for the report.

May I ask, how long were the lines to clear security at SEA? We're headed out next week, and I've been hearing that delays at security have been bad lately. You went out on a Friday, at what time? How long did you have to wait to get through security?

Thanks, and have a great trip!

Posted by Valerie OP
Tacoma
1543 posts

@David - We arrived at SeaTac at 11am for our 1:35 flight. Lines were long. We normally have TSA Precheck due to Global Entry but Norwegian does not take part in this. The Premium Econ ticket comes with access to Priority Lines for security. We were told this by the Norwegian staff as we checked in. However, nothing on the boarding pass says priority so we thought we might get rejected by TSA at the lines. We did not - they let us right in. So total security line time was under 10 minutes. For the regular line people it looked long...maybe 40 min?

Posted by Dave
Spartanburg, SC
598 posts

Thanks for sharing your experience. May I ask what the difference in price was between the standard ticket and the Premium Economy seats?

Posted by andi
franktown, colorado
1338 posts

Thanks for that additional airline information, Valerie. Norwegian has some very attractive fares to Europe from Denver.

Posted by David
Seattle, WA, USA
2890 posts

total security line time was under 10 minutes. For the regular line people it looked long...maybe 40 min?

Perfect. Our departure is also around 1:30 pm on a weekday. We do have Precheck, too. Hopefully our time getting through security will mirror yours. Thank you for the useful info and enjoy your trip!

Posted by Valerie OP
Tacoma
1543 posts

@David - the PreCheck won't help you at all because Norwegian is not part of PreCheck. Airlines have to choose to be part of PreCheck and Norwegian does not. If you have a Premium seat with Norwegian you might be able to use the Priority line at TSA but it's still an altogether different line than PreCheck.
If you're flying another airline, you should be ok - most do PreCheck, I think.
@Dave - the cost was not cheap. We flew high season as we were date specific - about $1700 or $1800 a ticket. You can go on Norwegian with the cheapest fares with no frills at all for that $400 you hear people talking about but dates are really limited.

Posted by Dave
Spartanburg, SC
598 posts

Valerie,

Thanks for the info. Just trying to figure out how Norwegian compares to the other airlines when you get past the stripped-down $400 ticket.

Posted by David
Seattle, WA, USA
2890 posts

PreCheck won't help you at all because Norwegian is not part of PreCheck. Airlines have to choose to be part of PreCheck and Norwegian does not.

Understood. I should have been more clear: we're not flying on Norwegian (not to flying to London, either). We're headed for Amsterdam on Delta (in Business class, too). Delta does participate in Precheck. So we should have access to the Snob lines through security.

Not my first rodeo. ; )

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
5159 posts

I have been flying Norwegian Air Shuttle since they started flying to the U.S. Their 787s really spoil you. And out of 5 legs flown, we have had no issues other than once my bag being 2 lbs. overweight. I offloaded clothes into my wife's bag.
We are very grateful for the European budget airlines. Although some have some strange terms and conditions, we would be paying twice or three times their airfares flying on Delta or the other big American legacy air carriers. In this case, competition has been good to the consumer.

Posted by Susan
San Francisco
5667 posts

I flew Norwegian SFO-CDG three weeks ago and liked it very much. Flying home on 6/26.

I flew coach and found the seats much better than United or WoW. More leg room and more comfortable. The fact that they have 40% (?) more fresh air pumped in, and cabin lower pressurized really made a difference for me. I felt much better physically during and after the 10+ hr flight.

I don’t usually eat meat and would have preferred a vegetarian meal but there was a mis-communication when booking and I had to choose between chicken or beef. I chose chicken. It was inedible. Very pink and like a rectangle of rubber. I did not eat it.

We were never offered water and I found all the flight attendants I came into contact with, or observed, to be very unfriendly. That said, the comfort in coach and the low price makes me a big fan of Norwegian.

My carry-on was not weighed.

My flight left, and arrived, on time.

**EDIT: Flew Home on Norwegian Air on 6/26.

Carry-on not weighed.

Most everyone boarding had 2-3 bags, most large (backpacks especially) despite the one bag carry-on limit.

Flight attendants were extremely friendly and kind. One in particular.

The two vegetarian meals I had were actually good - for airplane food. Hot meal: roasted veggies with rice and slivered almonds, potato salad with generous amount of hard boiled egg whites, fruit cocktail cup. I was offered a drink, I chose OJ which was good.
Cold meal: pesto, cheese, tomatoes on baguette bread, apple sauce, boxed OJ.

The plane was only 1/2 full so I had a 3 seat row to myself. Felt like I was in Business Class with that much space to relax, move around easily, put my feet up, lie down.

I was offered water once.

Plane left 40 min late.

Posted by elissabi
Seattle
40 posts

I took Norwegian from Stockholm to LAX last year and found the seats very comfortable with not too bad leg room. I thought the service was fine although not as frequent as a recent Lufthansa flight to Europe. I do not recall having any trouble getting water onboard but I purchased the LowFare+ rate which includes meals, baggage and seat reservations. LowFare+ adds $90 each way to the base price quoted on google flights etc.. Sometimes, you can save a little money especially on the Premium Economy seats by purchasing the seats via the Norwegian country website vs US. Not always the case but worth comparing. I did this and the tickets worked just fine.

Posted by CatherineK
Washington
35 posts

We just returned from London to SeaTac on Sunday via Norwegian. After our flight to Heathrow on British (economy, very cramped and food not too great) I was hoping Norwegian would live up to the great reviews my brother in law had given us about them.

We had forgotten we ordered meals ahead of time and it wasn't on our tickets anywhere and so ordered snacks after we took off. Then our meals came and honestly it was some of the best airline food I've had. I ordered beef and it was like a pot roast with veggies.
Since it left from Gatwick (probably the only negative in our opinion) we didn't know that once we went to the terminal there was nowhere to buy water or snacks to bring on the plane (other than an empty vending machine), so we tried to order a few more snacks on the plane about halfway through the flight. At that point almost everything was gone other than potato chips and sparkling water.

We weren't offered water at all.
We were in regular economy and those seats were really nice and comfortable, much better than our flight over.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
9422 posts

Whether to Paris or London I'll take that price of $400 in Economy on Norwegian if I cannot get something better on Br Air.

Posted by Susan
San Francisco
5667 posts

Try them Fred, you might really like Norwegian Air.

Posted by Jazz+Travels
Chicago
3551 posts

Since it left from Gatwick (probably the only negative in our opinion) we didn't know that once we went to the terminal there was nowhere to buy water or snacks to bring on the plane (other than an empty vending machine),

Sounds like this passenger after going through security went unfortunately straight to the gate. You can buy all kinds of water (cheaper than on board) and snacks on the 2nd floor concourse area at London Gatwick.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
9422 posts

@ Susan...Thanks for the details on Norwegian Air to Paris. What bugs me the most on a trans-Atlantic flight (and I can put up with almost all sorts of annoyances/crappola ) are those with 2-3 pieces of carry-on, flouting the one piece rule, and then hogging all the overhead bin space so that by the time I bring my one modest piece close to my seat or above, no more space is available, ie, I have to store it under the seat. Luckily, these occasions have been very rare but still it has happened. I will really consider SFO-Paris CDG on Norwegian since the comfort in Economy is better than the proverbial United.

Posted by Susan
San Francisco
5667 posts

Fred, Norwegian Air’s Dreamliner has much more height / head room which is a big plus. That extra significant height makes it easier to stand up and get out of your seat and it means the overhead bins are large and have a lot of room. You may be pleasantly surprised at how much room there is.

I agree with you about people brazenly flaunting the carry on rules.

I forgot to mention they also have “natural” lighting on the plane which, along with much more fresh air and lower cabin pressure than other planes, adds to reduced or no jet lag.

Also forgot to say there’s noticeably more space between seats.

And with a good amount of leg room, it was the first time on a plane that I could stretch out both legs under the seat in front of me and could rotate my ankles. Sounds silly, but on a 10 hr (going) / 11 hr (return) flight that makes a difference for me.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
9422 posts

In Economy every little bit of comfort or space, ie leg space, space between seats, etc helps in making a 10.5 to 11 hr. non-stop flight more tolerable.

Posted by Alex H
Honolulu
12 posts

We have to add 6 more hours to that, flying from Hawaii to the west coast, so we have stopped flying coach at all. If we can't get premium economy, we keep looking.

Going eastbound you seem to get breaks between flights, but for us coming home tends to be two long leaps, one from Europe to the west coast, and then the west coast to HI, all in a day. We could not deal with coach for so long.

I've been seeing Norwegian listed in google flights, I'll keep them in mind for future trips.

Posted by Susan
San Francisco
5667 posts

Alex, that is a long journey for sure. I’ll stop complaining about 10-11 hrs.
You might be pleased with Norwegian, won’t know til you try... : )

Posted by Shelly
Charlotte, NC, USA
149 posts

I'd booked Newark-Paris in February for a late May trip (after booking a separate ticket for the Charlotte to Newark leg); an economy/coach ticket, but paid extra for seat selection. I selected an aisle seat, row 17. In April I was notified that Euro Atlantic would actually be operating the flight ... and they'd switched me to row 34 and a window seat. My experience:
I'm 5'5" and a size 14 (so granted, not slim ... but not obese either!). I felt like a giant sardine in a little can. My knees barely fit with the leg room, and the person in front had his seat reclined the whole trip, which actually meant the seat back was wedged firmly against my knees. The width of the seat was the tiniest/tightest I've ever experienced. I read a lot of positive reviews by folks who fly premium economy or better on Euro Atlantic planes ... but if you're in basic economy, be prepared for discomfort.
My check-in experience with Norwegian was pretty good. Since I had the 10 kilo weight limit for my carry on bags, I'd pared back and packed as stingily as possible. I'd weighed my packed bags in advance on the digital scale at my veterinarian and they came in at 22.1 pounds, so I took out 3 ounces of weight and thought I was good to go. When the Norwegian rep at check-in weighed my bags (a 20-inch roller and tiny daypack), the scale indicated 24.4 pounds!!!! Yikes.
I politely told her I'd take care of it, and wheeled my bags to some chairs to figure how to lighten the load. I already had my iPhone and a few other odds and ends in my coat pockets. I'm not proud of what I ended up doing, but short of throwing away 2 or 3 pieces of clothing, or dumping ALL my liquids (neither of which was realistic), I felt I had no option: I smushed as much as I could in my coat pockets (luckily they were big) and I slipped my mini iPad down the back of my pants/tucked my shirt in. When I reweighed I was at exactly 22 pounds.
Once I checked in I moved everything back to my bags. Before this, I have always religiously "followed" the size/number of allowed bags and any weight limits ... and I'd thought I had this time based on the weight on the vet's scale (oh, and they'd assured me it was very accurate).
The takeaway: If you're flying an airline with a weight limit and you're carry-on only, assume it's a given that they will weigh your bags/size your bags, and unless you're 100% certain of your own scale's accuracy, pack 2lbs. or so UNDER the limit.