Jan262016

Flight Review: Norwegian Air OAK-ARN

Norwegian launched service between Oakland and Scandinavia in spring 2014. I have written about low fares on Norwegian many times over the past two years and I have flown Norwegian several times on intra-Europe flights. Yesterday was my first transatlantic flight on Norwegian from Oakland International Airport to Stockholm ARN.

Oakland to Amsterdam for $210 one-way on Norwegian Air

I purchased a couple of low fare $422 American Airlines tickets a few weeks ago to fly round trip from Amsterdam to Las Vegas. The problem I had was how to get to Amsterdam inexpensively to start these AA flights.

Norwegian solved my problem with $210.10 for a one way flight from Oakland to Amsterdam via Stockholm.

I am writing this post on my five hour layover at Stockholm Arlanda ARN sitting in the Menzies Airport Lounge as a complimentary guest due to my Diners Club MasterCard. That card sure is handy in Scandinavia.

Loyalty TravelerNorwegian Air Oakland to Amsterdam $210 one way Jan-Feb 2016 and I am flying (Jan 7, 2016)

Norwegian

Norwegian 787-800 aircraft at Oakland International Airport

OAK Norwegian

Norwegian ticketing gates at Oakland International Airport OAK.

Norwegian Airlines base fare includes one 10kg/22lb carry-on bag for free, but no seat assignment or meals. One checked bag fee (20kg/44lb) for my flight was $56 and a seat assignment $42 and a meal is $42.

Buying up from Economy Low Fare to Economy Low Fare Plus for $66 included seat assignment, one checked bag and meal. Final ticket price $276 one-way for Oakland to Amsterdam.

First Impressions

The plane was boarded with families first, followed by Premium Economy passengers. There were five rows of 2-3-2 premium economy seats with foot rests in the front of the 787-800 aircraft. The remainder of the plane was boarded from rear to front, five rows at a time.

Economy seating is all 3-3-3 and I lucked out having an empty middle seat beside my middle section aisle seat. There were not many empty seats on the flight.

First impression is seat width seemed small to me. I was glad there was nobody in the middle seat, allowing me to stretch out and use that space.

Norwegian Seats

Seat looks wide with my photo angle.

Dress Warmly for Norwegian; Blanket rental is $5

I think the item that most surprised me inflight was the fact that if you want a blanket, you must order it from your seat and pay $5. The flight was cold. Most people were wrapped up in their coats. I was cold, but I prefer being cold to a hot cabin. A few times I thought about getting my coat out of the overhead bin to wrap around my legs. My sweater kept my upper body warm.

Norwegian blanket

I noticed one passenger wrapped in a $5 red blanket rental on the flight.

InFlight Entertainment

There were about 40 or so movies available with many children’s films. Kind of surprising for me was no music is offered as part of the inflight entertainment. I usually listen to hours of music and often sleep with music playing on transatlantic flights. Most people probably have their own music on devices and there is a USB port in the seatback screen and outlets on the seats to power your devices.

I watched documentaries when I was not sleeping.

There are also video games.

Meals

Meal service is kind of strange with passengers who prepaid for meals getting served and the inflight snack bar orders served afterwards.

Sample Prices:

  • $3.50 soft drinks, cashew nuts
  • $4 coffee, tea, hot chocolate, muffin, candy bar
  • $5 fresh fruit 200 g.
  • $6 Heineken beer
  • $7 wine, hot snack, vegetarian snack, chips ‘n dip
  • $8 liquor
  • $9 salad
  • $16 champagne

I preordered a vegetarian meal on my Low Fare Plus economy ticket thinking I would get something kind of Indian with lots of vegetables.

Wrong.

The meal was pasta. I don’t eat pasta. Glad I didn’t pay $42. Dinner and breakfast were 90% carbs. I exited the plane in Stockholm hungry.

Children and Screaming Children

Unlucky seat placement put me in front of and behind screaming toddlers. Earplugs and high IFE volume solved that issue. The kiddies passed out and so did I after a couple hours when it was after 9pm California time. I had the feeling there were quite a few infrequent travelers on the flight.

The windows have a sun filter shade activated by a switch. When I woke up there was daylight outside as we flew over Iceland on a clear day. The sun was dimmed, but still irritatingly bright as it hit my eyes through the seat space.

Flight Attendants

Al the flight attendants were Asian on my flight. Just an observation. Kind of reminded me of being on a cruise ship with underpaid workers.

Would I Fly Norwegian transatlantic again?

Sure I’ll fly Norwegian again.

Yesterday, before leaving Monterey to catch my first Norwegian transatlantic flight, I purchased my second transatlantic Norwegian ticket for an April return Stockholm to Oakland for $147 USD.

I wish I were staying in Europe for the next three months. I’ll be flying home next weekend with American Airlines on a $422 round trip ticket for Amsterdam to Las Vegas. I have a couple of tickets to fly AMS-LAS, which is why I needed a one-way flight from Europe back to California in April.

Norwegian’s low one-way fares makes it possible for me to buy inexpensive round trip tickets originating in Europe and get back home again without spending frequent flyer miles. I need my AAdvantage miles to get back home from Europe in July, since I flew a Stockholm – San Francisco round trip ticket on American Airlines last November and the return portion of that ticket takes me back to Stockholm again in July.

The ability to fly to Europe for under $200 one-way is kind of amazing after exorbitant fares kept me from traveling California to Europe for five years between 2008 and 2012.

From May 2016 Norwegian will fly nonstop to London Gatwick. WOW Air be another low cost carrier starting service in 2016 with flights from LAX and SFO to compete with Norwegian’s low fares. The combination of low airfares and a strong dollar currency exchange rate makes this a wonderful time to travel between California and Scandinavia/Europe.

Norwegian routes

Norwegian.com poster in Oakland International Airport.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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