Apr142016

Flight Review Norwegian Stockholm to Oakland for $211 one way

This week I flew Norwegian Airlines for my return from Europe on a one way ticket Stockholm to Oakland. Actually, I flew Norwegian all the way from Vilnius, Lithuania with a flight to Stockholm ARN the day before on a separate $71.20 ticket. The ticket price for ARN-OAK was ridiculously low at $147.70 came out to $210 one way after paying for checked bag and assigned seats.

Having flown WOW Air last summer, the main differences flying Norwegian Airlines are:

  1. B787 Dreamliner aircraft with seatback IFE offers dozens of free films, games and video. WOW Air had no free entertainment.
  2. No charge for one carry-on bag at 10kg/22 lb and one smaller bag for under seat. WOW Air charges for carry-on bag.
  3. Norwegian flies nonstop between Scandinavia and USA. Also nonstop routes via London LGW and Paris CDG.

Norwegian VNO

I was kind of panicked that we would be charged for having too much stuff with our regular size carry-on bags and another bag that might be questionable as an underseat bag. There was no issue at Stockholm Arlanda Airport check-in. There were people boarding the plane with larger bags than ours.

There is a premium economy section in the first five rows of the aircraft. An announcement was made stating seats were available for an additional $400 USD.

No thanks.

We were in row 7 behind the bulkhead row 6. The B787-800 aircraft is a 3-3-3 configuration. I booked us aisle seats across from each other with me in the middle section and Kelley in side section. Both seats beside her and beside me were occupied.

After Kelley’s last three transAtlantic flights in American Airlines Business Class, she was complaining about the lack of leg room right away. Admittedly she has long legs, but I tuned her out. Get into the zen of travel and bear it is the best way to handle long-haul economy. Easier for me to say since I have short legs. I like the aisle for long haul flights to get up at will and walk around the plane when I feel cramped. Norwegian being an international carrier means the seat belt sign is not on most of the flight in the way US airlines keep it on relentlessly while flight attendants are roaming about the cabin and the last bit of turbulence was 30 minutes earlier.

Glad I had aisle seats

One second after the announcement was made “Boarding Completed”, I jumped out of my seat and asked the flight attendant if I could move to Row 8. The 3-seat section in Row 8 behind Kelley was completely empty. Kelley and I scored 3 seats for the two of us. She said that made all the difference in the flight since she could lay down – on me. That eliminated much of my mobility for the 11 hour flight.

Window Filters, No Pull Down Shades

A cool feature of the Norwegian B787 aircraft is there are no window covers. There is a window darkening feature with around ten dial settings. The entire flight from 1:00pm Stockholm time to 3:00pm Oakland time was bright sun daylight. Nearly everyone had their windows darkened, and the cabin was fairly dark. I brightened the window a bit to stare at Greenland for a few minutes mid-flight.

Videos Galore, but no Music

Norwegian B787 aircraft have a nice seatback touchscreen video system. I could have watched all three Hobbit films to kill the flight time.

Instead, I watched three films with three of the most talented young actresses I have seen in recent years. Suffragette with Carey Mulligan was based on the fight for Women’s vote in the 1912-1918 period. This movie caught my attention due to photograph I took of a statue for Emmeline Pankhurst last year beside the Palace of Westminster in London.

Emmeline Pankhurst

Emmeline Pankhurst (1858-1928) was leader of the British Suffragette Movement. Her role in the movie was brief and played by Meryl Streep.

I binge watched movies one after the other seeing Carol with Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara (too slow), then Brooklyn with Saoirse Ronan (I love the sound of Irish accents and I realized she bears a striking facial resemblance to a checkout woman at my local Costco), and Black Mass with Johnny Depp (I was in grad school in Massachusetts when his Boston gang empire crumbled and hit the news headlines).

Kelley slept for 8 hours of the flight. I was wiped out and blurry eyed by the time we reached Oakland. Kelley had to drive us home to Monterey.

Norwegian IFE

Norwegian B787 touchscreen seatback monitor. There is a headphone jack and USB power port on the monitor.

Toilets

The plane had a problem with the toilets and sinks, although Kelley said she did not experience any of the problems I did. In two different toilets, the sinks were filled with water and not draining. The first time this happened, the sink finally sucked down after I had been in there several minutes. The second time in a different bathroom the sink remained clogged.

It also freaked me out when I was on the toilet and it self-flushed. I remembered reading an article years ago about a woman who was so big that when she flushed the toilet while she was on it, the suction created a vacuum and kept her ass glued to the toilet seat for a long-haul flight from Oslo to the USA. Fortunately my ass still allowed for a gap and I was able to walk out of the bathroom again without assistance.

Food

Norwegian’s ticket system encourages people to buy up for one checked bag and an assigned seat with hot meal service.

Our ticket price was $147.70. The price for a seat assignment $42 and one checked bag $42.

The price for one checked bag and a seat assignment a la carte is about the same price for a package that includes those services, plus food. My flight in January from Oakland to Stockholm on Norwegian was only $66 to get the bundled package of seat, checked bag and food, while this week’s flight was $90.

I booked a la carte for one checked bag and two seats at $126 and skipped the food in the bundled package for our two tickets. We brought salad, a half pound of Swedish smoked salmon and a lot of fruit to eat during the flight. Norwegian flight attendants offered water, coffee and tea.

After the prepaid passengers received their meals, the a la carte food menu was open for other passengers’ orders.

Arrival in Oakland

The flight departed Stockholm about 30 minutes late and we arrived in Oakland about 30 minutes late after around 11 hours, 15 minutes sitting on the plane. Our flight was the only international flight at passport control. Still, it was a slow line. I skipped global entry to wait in line with Kelley. She needs to get her Global Entry appointment.

Overall Impressions of Norwegian Airlines

I read my January flight review of Norwegian again (link below). Many more details about fees and services are in that post.

One aspect of flying Norwegian and WOW Air I have noticed is there have been a large number of children on all the transAtlantic flights. And I have been annoyed by the crying and loudness of the children on all these flights. Fortunately we were on the opposite side of the plane from the crying baby and loud talking toddler in the bulkhead seats. They visibly irritated a lot of passengers.

Crying babies and loud children can happen on any flight. It seems to me I am batting 100% for disturbing child screams on all my long-haul Norwegian and WOW flights. That is what keeps me watching movies nonstop at loud volume.

As someone who loves to travel to Europe, the shift in airline markets with Norwegian, WOW, Icelandair and WestJet offering discount one-way fares from the USA to Europe has been one of the best developments for my air travel plans. Low cost one-way fares allows me to take advantage of the far lower round trip ticket prices on the major alliance airlines when flying from Europe. One-way tickets on low cost airlines like Norwegian get me to Europe where I can then fly American and United round trip tickets starting in Europe back to the USA at big discounts.

Next month Norwegian begins nonstop flights between Oakland OAK and London Gatwick LGW.

I know from studying LAX fares this past year that there will likely be round trip tickets from Oakland to London with nonstop flights for under $200 each way next fall and winter with Norwegian Airlines.

I feel London calling.

Flight Review: Norwegian Air OAK-ARN (Jan 26, 2016)

WOW Air Boston to Iceland flight review (Jul 4, 2015)

WOW Air Review Part 2 Copenhagen to Boston (Jul 17, 2015)

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.

More articles by Ric Garrido »

Comments

  1. It’s nice to see an airline review that’s not focused on champagne and caviar. Thanks for taking the hit and giving us all a realistic view of what can be expected with Norwegian. With the deterioration of frequent flyer programs for leisure travelers, I could very well find myself being a future Norwegian passengers.

  2. Flew a roundtrip with them between OAK and ARN for my Spring break with family a couple weeks ago and was definitely impressed with the Dreamliner and IFE, when in the past it was usually one of the legacies. Crying children were also an occurrence on both our flights and there was an incident where the mother had no milk for her baby and the milk on board was only for coffee, but I’d say that’s more on the traveler and not the airline or flight attendant.

    In the past I was a bit worried when my parents booked a trip around this time last year for travel in November, since I heard about a lot of their problems with frequent delays and not accommodating passengers when one of their Dreamliners goes tech for days, due to their nature of being an LCC. It seems they got things sorted out and I’ve been recommending them to Europe-dreaming friends.

    Parents love Norwegian and their fares so I wouldn’t be surprised if that results on more trips to Europe in the future. Hopefully when that time comes, they’ll have a route like OAK-CDG in the works since Paris is a recurring destination.

  3. LAX-CDG starts late July this year as a seasonal service for Norwegian through October. I would not be surprised to see OAK-CDG start up in 2017.

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