If you have been paying any sort of attention to airline deals, you cannot have helped but to notice Norwegian Air Shuttle. Norwegian is largely a newcomer on the American scene, offering inexpensive flights from the U.S. to Europe and parts of the Caribbean.
But Norwegian is what would be a budget or a la carte carrier, meaning that you pay for most things individually based upon your needs. Paying for baggage is nothing new (but it actually less than the American airlines bag fees if you pay online in advance, with the fee only being $17 each way), but Norwegian also requires you pay for your seat selection ($17 each way), and all on-board refreshments.
Still, with the fares they are offering, I decided to give them a whirl, especially since they are now offering flights from the West Coast to Europe. Below is my Norwegian Air Shuttle review.
The Carry-On Situation
Norwegian Air Shuttle is very strict about its carryon policy, weighing carryon bags just as they weigh checked bags. They are not as ridiculous as Spirit Airlines, who requires you pay for bags placed in the overhead bin, but if your bag is over 11 pounds, expect to pay extra. And be sure to measure you bag to make sure it fits their required dimensions. To repeat, they DO weigh your bags. Be prepared and don’t get caught up because your carryon is too heavy. Checked baggage is only $17 if you purchase ahead of time, but it has to be at least 25 hours before your flight (or you can buy a ticket that includes one checked bag).
Surprisingly, the legroom was pretty darn sufficient on Norwegian. It seemed to have as much as or more than the domestic carriers have had on recent flights, so that was a huge plus (especially for someone like me who is 5’10”). It is by no means a first class cabin, and they only have one class of service, but the seats didn’t seem to be jam-packed onto the planes.
Speaking of seats, they weren’t uncomfortable. They were pretty on-par with various U.S. carriers, although the seats did seem very thin. Like super thin from front to back, not in width. The backs of the actual seats were discernibly thinner than other planes I have frequented. They reclined, but they weren’t super plush (but really, what airline seats are LOL). But given the seat situation, I can imagine it would be less comfortable on a long-haul flight, especially something like from the West Coast to Europe, nonstop.
***Update: I have learned that Norwegian does have two classes of service on their trans-Atlantic flights. This DEFINITELY makes me more willing to fly them over the pond!
You have to pay for everything onboard, so be prepared. That being said, it wasn’t nearly as expensive as it could have been. A big bottle of water was a few bucks and the airline served local rhum of our destination onboard for only about $6. Other than the lack of complimentary juice, soda, and water, the prices were on par with domestic carriers.
At least on the flights that I was on, Norwegian does not have seat back entertainment. That could be a huge pain on a long flight to Europe. However, Norwegian Air Shuttle seeks to make up for that fact by offering free Wi-Fi on its planes. My guess would be so that you can stream whatever you desire on your flight. But be sure to bring a battery pack, because the flights I was on didn’t have power outlets to charge your electronics. This could obviously hamper your ability to enjoy the flight and completely drain your phone on even a 5-hour flight.
The Flight Attendants
The flight attendants were actually relatively nice onboard. They were definitely about getting a quick boarding process, and we actually left early. But they were relatively nice and friendly onboard.
All in all, I would fly Norwegian Air Shuttle again. But it would be most likely for a medium-length flight of no more than five to six hours. I don’t know if I would be willing or able to fly nonstop from the West Coast to Europe in a single class of service on Norwegian. Their seats are thinner than most (in thickness) and I am not sure how I would feel nine hours into a flight. But I will definitely try Norwegian again, and for the price, it is a great bargain for Caribbean and exotic getaways. And, based on my update, if they do indeed have two classes of service across the pond, that is a definite enticement to give them a try to Europe!