I spent the past 36 hours recovering from jet lag after 16 hours flying Stockholm to Copenhagen to San Francisco on SAS Scandinavian Airlines Friday, Dec 30. That 11 hour long-haul economy class flight was the most uncomfortable I have experienced in the past few years. My butt was so sore during the flight and my back was stiff all day yesterday. The highlight of the flight was seeing En Kongelig Affaere / A Royal Affair, the 2012 Danish film starring Alicia Vikander. After five Copenhagen trips in the past three years and another visit planned for summer 2017, it was educational to gather some Danish history knowledge in my head since there are still lots of Royal palaces in the city comprising many of the major tourist attractions I have visited. A 2011 Norwegian film, Hodejegerne / Headhunters, offered up a good action film about an art thief in Norway with an interesting plot twist. The in-flight music selections sucked and any of the newer films I cared to see are films I had already seen on flights in the past two months. I was bored for several hours on the plane and Kelley demanded my eyeshade for her sleep and then fell sound asleep, trapping me inside the seat row with my extra eyeshade up in the luggage bin.
Many times during the long-haul flight I thought about how it is much more enjoyable flying on Norwegian’s B-787 Dreamliner aircraft compared to the cramped SAS A330 aircraft. At least on Norwegian I plan to bring my own food and drink onboard for the flight. They seemed rather stingy with the food and drink service on SAS and the aircraft design had virtually no room to get up and stretch without blocking the flight attendants in the back or toilet access for other passengers.
Fortunately I only have one more ticketed flight on SAS long-haul from Chicago to Copenhagen next July.
Norwegian Airlines Oakland, California to Stockholm, Sweden $149 one way / Stockholm ARN to Oakland $110 one-way Jan-March
Which leads me to the current deal available with Norwegian Airlines for $149 one way Oakland to Stockholm and only $110 one way from Stockholm to Oakland available on several dates from January to March 2017. I fly United Airlines nonstop from San Francisco to London next month. Our return flight for the United ticket is scheduled for August 2017.
I already ticketed Kelley a flight home from London in February for London Gatwick to Oakland on Norwegian Airlines for $310 one-way for LowFare+ economy class to end her portion of the trip. Norwegian LowFare+ gives her one checked bag, food and drink and an assigned seat.
I do not have a ticket back from Europe to California yet. My plan is to fly to Portugal and check out this Iberian peninsula country I have never been, but hear so many good things about from residents and travelers. Beer prices in pubs are comparable to Poland and Slovakia at less than 2 EUR per 0.5L.
Currently, I can ticket my itinerary across Europe and back to California for $260 to fly London-Porto-Lisbon-Stockholm-Oakland with Iberia, Ryanair and Norwegian.
Norwegian Airlines Oakland, California OAK – Stockholm, Sweden ARN
($239.00 for LowFare+ with one checked bag, meals and self-selected seat assignment.)
Norwegian Airlines Stockholm, Sweden – Oakland OAK
(1,549 SEK / $170.10 USD for LowFare+ with one checked bag, meals and self-selected seat assignment.)
Oakland to Stockholm, Sweden = $259 round trip, if you get by with a single carry-on and smaller bag or $409 round trip for LowFare+ with checked bag, seat and meals included.
Stockholm is quite expensive, but the US Dollar is so strong right now 1 USD = 9.10 SEK. Three years ago on Jan 1, 2014 the exchange rate was 1 USD = 6.44 SEK. The US Dollar has gained 41.3% in value, while inflation has not increased anywhere near that level in Sweden. In other words, travel costs in Sweden and Norway (1 USD = 8.64 NOK) are as good a bargain as Americans have seen in the past decade. Accrue some Choice Privileges points, the most valuable hotel loyalty currency for discount stays in Norway and Sweden, and you can possibly afford to visit these countries.
Three days ago I purchased meals from a McDonald’s in Sweden while staying at Quality Inn Stockholm Arlanda Airport for 10,000 Choice Privileges points, after discovering the big supermarket in the isolated shopping mall location of the hotel had closed down last month. I had already planned my shopping list of smoked salmon, baguette and brie dinner with 3.2 beer during the Norwegian Airlines flight. We had not planned for grocery shopping in Krakow, Poland, where I could have bought a feast for $10 in the grocery store and packed it on the plane. I still had one carry-on bag allowance for the Norwegian Krakow-Stockholm flight. Instead, dinner was McDonald’s in Sweden with a menu totally in Swedish at $89 SEK for chicken breast burger, fries, soda and double cheeseburger. Salmon dinner at the hotel restaurant was priced around $30 per person. The shocking aspect to me was the meal at McDonald’s in Sweden cost only $2 more than what the same meal would have cost in the USA according to an American menu I found online. I can’t recall the last time I ate at McDonald’s for more than anything but a $1 soda or $1 fries.
Anyway, if I find myself back in Stockholm in March for the $110 Norwegian Airlines flight back to Oakland, California, I will probably make an effort to get myself all the way into the city to get at least some tourism out of the transit stop or perhaps try out the Clarion Hotel at Stockholm Arlanda Airport for 20,000 Choice Privileges points. The Clarion Arlanda hotel is actually located at Arlanda airport and there are many more food options available at Arlanda airport compared to the location of the Quality Inn Arlanda, about five miles from the airport.
Loyalty Traveler – Flight Review: Norwegian Air OAK-ARN (Jan 26, 2016).