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From Europe to the U.S. on a Budget Airline: My Experience with Norwegian Air’s 787 Dreamliner

norwegian air window 787 boeing dreamliner

I have to admit that when I had agreed to give Norwegian’s transatlantic Dreamliner Experience a try, I was a bit skeptical. A budget airline that offers transatlantic flights? What were these flights going to be like? Memories of budget flights I had taken within Europe with a certain Irish budget airline (whose crazy CEO had suggested standing room on flights a while back) popped into my head. Memories that included throwing a fit over a fee for not having printed my boarding pass (a fee that was more expensive than the ticket itself). Memories of radio commercials for said airline playing so loud from the speakers on the plane that you were barely able to hear your own voice. The list could go on, but let’s not go there.norwegian air dreamliner 787Of course I have not only had horrible experiences with budget airlines. I still treasure the memories of countless AirAsia flights which were all smooth and painless, and I was curious to see how Norwegian would compare. Plus, I was highly impressed that an airline was finally offering flights from Europe to the U.S. at an affordable rate. Prices for a flight from Stockholm to San Francisco start at an incredible $187, and flights from London to New York start at $249 (Note: London – NYC seems downright expensive compared to the Stockholm – San Francisco route, but that is because the airport fees in both London Gatwick and New York JFK are among the highest in the world. Stockholm – NYC flights start at $158, Oslo – NYC at $167). Not all seats are sold at these rates, but if you are planning a trip well in advance, it is possible to snag one of these amazingly cheap tickets.norwegian airlines top dealsI am familiar with this concept thanks to train, bus and European air travel: the earlier you book, the cheaper the tickets are. With Norwegian though, I was surprised to see that less than a week prior to my flight from Berlin to London, from where Norwegian runs its transatlantic flights (in addition to Stockholm, Copenhagen and Oslo), Norwegian didn’t only come up as the cheapest option in my flight search, but still offered flights for 29 Euros, as I had seen advertised in some magazines and at the airport in Berlin from where I’d flown to Israel the month before. I was happy to see that I didn’t necessarily have to plan my trip months in advance to get a great deal like this, but could still spontaneously book a flight at that cheap rate five days prior to my departure.norwegian air window 787 boeing dreamlinerMy next moment of joy was when I discovered that I didn’t need to print a boarding pass, and that I wouldn’t have to fear a fine for not having a physical print-out, instead, I didn’t even need to present my booking confirmation on my smartphone – my passport was enough.

Before I got on the plane, I was a bit worried that the planes would have rows as narrow as Ryanair’s, where the pockets on the back of the seats (to store your magazines and other stuff) are missing, just so they could fit in another row of seats or two. I can tolerate no leg room (I am 5.7′ and have long legs) for a two hour flight, but not for seven or eight hours. I also wasn’t sure what to expect entertainment-wise, knowing that most other low cost carriers don’t even have monitors.Β 

Check out my short video: What’s it like to fly Norwegian Air?

I had read though that the Boeing 787 Dreamliner was one of the most modern planes out there – if not the most modern one. From extra large windows for better views, plus a button to darken the window should the sun disturb you (instead of window shades), an automatic dimming light system that changes according to the time of day or night, better (ie. lower) cabin air pressure which is supposed to reduce jet lag, power outlets and a USB charger. And the environmentalist in me was happy to find out that the Boeing 787 is the most fuel efficient airplane on the market. The Dreamliner itself sounds amazing!Norwegian Air windowsAnd it turned out, the plane lived up to my expectations and all of my worries were unfounded: Legroom in the plane was spacious, there was room to store a book in the backseat pocket, and each seat has its own TV screen. In fact, the thing that impressed me most was the entertainment selection on my flight. Even the music selection, which I usually ignore, had plenty of albums that I wanted to listen to, and ranged from billboard chart topping hits, to classics, to a whole bunch of jazz and classical music. My flight wasn’t even long enough to listen to all the albums that sparked my interest, and I hadn’t even checked out the movies and TV shows yet. If you are planning to take the eleven hour direct flight from Copenhagen to Los Angeles, do not fear: there are enough Hollywood Blockbusters and Classics to keep you entertained for the entire length of the flight (and back!).

The snack bar, also accessible via the 9′ high-tech touch-screen monitor, allows you to order food simply by clicking on the item you desire, and it will then be brought to you shortly after. Prices aren’t cheap – $11 for a sandwich, $4 for a chocolate bar – but that is to be expected. You can, however, order a full hot meal when booking your flight (more on that below).norwegian air dreamliner screenThe other thing that I absolutely loved was that I didn’t only have a USB charger (most planes have them these days), but also a power outlet on the side of my seat to charge my laptop. I made use of both of them a lot and being able to work on my laptop without it running out of battery was a huge plus for me.

You’re also able to purchase accessories like a blanket ($5) or a headset ($3) – for some people it might be annoying having to pay for these things but let’s not forget that Norwegian has to cut its costs somewhere to be able to offer their incredibly low fares, and I for example used my own headphones. If you book premium economy, these add-ons are already included, as are the meals.norwegian Air economySpeaking of meals: This is the only aspect of the flight where I see room for improvement. Even the flight attendant looked apologetic when she handed me my pre-paid vegetarian meal, offering me to add some fish, because it looked quite meager. Considering that the extra cost for a meal isn’t insignificant, I’d expect a little more here. Other than that, I didn’t find anything to complain about during the flight – like I said, the Dreamliner itself and the service on board were faultless.

Norwegian Air being a budget airline, I was curious to see how much the extra charges, or ‘hidden fees’ would add up to. The first time you come across potential additional charges is when you choose your fare and start the reservation process. Here it actually pays off to read the fine print: Norwegian gives you the chance to pay an additional $60 to the basic fare (LowFare), but for that, you’ll get a seat reservation, one piece of luggage and a meal included in your ticket automatically.norwegian upgrade offerI chose to stick to the Lowfare to see how much extras would add up to. Checked luggage is charged at $42, and if I’d like to reserve a window seat (or any seat, but why would I want to reserve a middle seat?), that would be another $42. Now my total was already at $382.20 which, in a way, already contradicts the ‘budget’ aspect. However: Let’s not forget that I was looking at a flight two weeks from now.

With an added vegetarian meal though, the price comes to $417.20, which is pretty steep. Remember though that Norwegian had given me the option to choose a better fare option, the Low Fare +, which includes all these add-ons and is $357.20.norwegian airlines payment on low fareThe last step to confirm my reservation: Making the payment. If you’ve ever taken a budget airline, you know that they charge an extra fee for payments made with a credit card. Norwegian is no different, but at least it is possible to avoid the $7.30 fee if you decide to pay with a debit card. Since I don’t own a credit card that doesn’t have to be paid off entirely the next month anyway, I am fine with putting the payment on my debit card, but I know that most people prefer credit card payments. However, a 1.99% credit card surcharge is not outrageous.norwegian credit card feesIf you were to pay your ticket with a credit card and you opted for the Low Fare+, this would come to $364.20. So if you are one of these travel types I admire who travel only with carry-on only, don’t care about a seat reservation and survive on a New York bagel bought before boarding the plane in NYC, you can get away with the Low Fare ticket, which comes to $304.30 with the credit card surcharge.norwegian food pricesWhat I discovered when I was going to finish my reservation was the little box saying ‘Need More Time?’, offering me a 4-hour money back guarantee should I decide to cancel my ticket within the next four hours. That way, travelers can reserve a ticket at the lowest price but should they find a cheaper fare or change their minds for whatever reason, they can still cancel without being charged.norwegian credit card feesWhile the NYC-London deal is good (thanks to the large amount of daily connections on this route it is possible to find similar deals on regular airlines), I think what makes Norwegian really stand out are the fares offered from the West Coast to Europe. $187 incl. taxes from San Francisco (Oakland) to Stockholm? Los Angeles to London for $249? Yes, please! And remember that if you decide to fly to Stockholm or London on this low fare, you can transfer within Europe on the cheap by taking another inexpensive Norwegian flight, say to Rome or Madrid, or like I did to Berlin.Norwegian Air San Francisco to StockholmDuring a quick search, I found return flights from L.A. to Copenhagen for $465 which is a steal. If you accept the no-frills policy and the fact that extra fees for meals and baggage are part of the concept of a budget airline and your priority is flying on a low fare, you can’t go wrong with them. The Dreamliner Experience was nothing but pleasant for me, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend a transatlantic flight with Norwegian Air.norwegian airline screenBy the way: Norwegian also runs long-haul flights between Europe and Bangkok, starting at $204!

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88 Comments

    1. I was kind of glad that they don’t have that on transatlantic flights (yet?), only on flights within Europe. Otherwise I would’ve wasted hours on Facebook πŸ˜‰

  1. You’ve truly convinced me.

    Although I have heard of the low prices, I still wasn’t sure about what the experience would be like. I’m 6ft4 so leg room is really important to me. Now seeing you said there was ample room alongside with many fantastic features, I’ll be sure to check it out when I plan my trip to the US next year. πŸ™‚

    Thanks for the article!

    1. Speaking of ample room – I didn’t even mention the overhead storage for the carry-on… also designed with plenty of space for the ever growing carry-on pieces πŸ˜‰ But also, since you have to reserve a seat when you book the flight, that’s actually good for you because that way you know where you’ll sit and you can choose a good one with lots of leg room πŸ™‚

  2. We recently saw a flight from Bangkok to Stockholm for under €200 with Norwegian, so we will probably be using their long-haul flights very shortly! When it’s that cheap, you can’t really say no, right?! Good to know they have vegan options, even though they might be a bit meagre.

    1. I almost booked Stockholm to Bangkok the other day! It didn’t work out for logistical reasons but that’s such an amazing price! As for vegan food – as long as you stock up on snacks, you’ll be fine πŸ˜‰

  3. Wow, that’s fantastic! It’s my first time to read about Norwegian Air, and it’s great to know that we have more options flying into Europe from Asia!

    1. Definitely the most put together I’ve seen so far πŸ˜‰ But they’ve won several awards in the past, including several Passengers Choice awards, so they must be doing something right πŸ˜‰

    1. Mike, I did not, but I was offered the ticket in return for an honest review and not given any restrictions in what to write or what not to write.

  4. This is awesome! I was considering flying Norwegian from Bangkok to Europe, but ended up choosing a different route. Nice to know that they’re a decent airline for future trips πŸ™‚

  5. Great review and I have to say thanks for the post because I am looking to fly to the US with them next year – but I was worried they would be another version of Ryanair. Now I feel secure making the booking, the price is amazing!

    1. Thanks, Emma! Best tip for when you book: look up which seats are the best (on seatguru.com) on the plane you’ll be taking (probably the Dreamliner)

    1. Great to hear that! πŸ™‚ I am surprised that not more people know about them already.. I hope they’ll extend their flight connections to the US to other cities soon!

  6. Wow, that is flipping amazing! If you’re smart about how you book your ticket, you can save some serious cash. With a seatback entertainment system, the value of this airline is off the charts!

  7. So you say the flight attendant offered you a serving of fish? You said it was a vegetarian meal, so I was curious as to if the meal otherwise even include fish to begin with.

    Thanks for the review, it was really informative.

  8. Great to hear that these flights are comfortable, and come with plenty of entertainment! I’ll be in Europe at least twice next year, and I definitely plan to look into flying Norwegian!

  9. I just came back from a STO-OAK trip and it was great. You meet a lot of budget travelers on that flight too. The connection from Oakland airport to the city or onward can be a bit of a pain when coming back late at night, but the connection to BART is very convenient. I highly recommend getting in on these fares while they’re still low.

    1. Glad to hear that, Drew! I actually just booked my first Europe – California flight on Norwegian because the fare was too good to resist πŸ˜€

  10. Hi Dani, I’m actually going to make a write up of this on my blog soon but if you change the currency to NOK, you’ll see a sizeable discount on the fare. You need a tiny bit of FX knowledge to see this right away but for example, I recently booked a trip to Germany and the USD price was around $680, while the NOK price was 4750, converted at the rate on the day would have been about 580$.

    That’s $100 saved! A lot of extra bratwursts and beers for me to enjoy!

  11. Thanks for the thorough review. I’m looking to book Norwegian for NYC – Athens and it’d be the first time flying this airline and on a 787 Dreamliner so I was looking for some info before committing.

    1. Hi Dave, glad that it helped to make up your mind. One thing I love about Norwegian is that you choose your seat right when you book your ticket – so you can look up the seat plan beforehand and choose a good seat. As long as you’re not stuck in a middle seat for a trans-atlantic flight, you should be fine πŸ™‚

  12. Thanks for your review. Last Fall I snatched up tickets for my family of 5 from Oakland, CA to Sweden. (Leaving in two weeks!) I was curious if these flights have wi-fi; I’m worried they are not offered on US flights. I am also curious about the entertainment fees of movies, music and wi-fi? I am travelling with three young kids and need them to be entertained. I would love to hear of your experience of sleeping on such a long flight; even if the seats are more spacious, I expect they still won’t be very comfortable for sleeping all night.

    1. Hillary – I can’t wait to hear how your flight goes, please feel free to report back πŸ™‚ My London – New York flight was much shorter than your upcoming flight – I’ve booked my first Europe – West Coast flight with Norwegian just recently (will travel in early May), that one will be almost twice as long (more than 10 hours I think), so I am curious to see how comfortable I am on such a long flight. Apparently there was free wi-fi on my flight but to be honest, I didn’t even try to connect, I cherish my offline time on flights because without the internet distraction, I get a lot more done πŸ˜‰

      As for inflight entertainment: that’s all free of charge and there are sooooo many movies, TV shows and music – I actually wanted my flight to be longer to take advantage of their huge collection πŸ˜€

  13. You’ll never see the worth of a thing unless you try. And in terms to getting cheap flights, to book in advance is the primary tip to catch the best value and meet your budget. Applicable to different airlines though but I can’t tell which among the many can keep the best comfortable flight.

  14. Great article Dany. We are traveling from LA to Stockholm next week. Was able to get it for $400 USD round trip on the low fare option. You mentioned you also chose low fare. I’m curious as to when you got your seat assigned. Were you able to check in at the airport and finally choose or did they select one for you?

    1. Yes, you get your seat assigned when you check in your bags – it pays off to get there early to snatch one of the better seat, or a window seat if you’re like me πŸ˜€ Would love to hear your feedback on your flight – I’ll be going the other direction next week, but from Copenhagen πŸ™‚

      1. Danny,

        How was the flight? Were you able to select seats at the airport? I’m flying LA to LGW next month and was also wondering if you were able to do an online check in(traveling with my girlfriend and we would rather not pay to sit together). Thanks! =)

  15. I’ve flown with Norwegian from London to Malaga last year. It was great for a low cost offering online WiFi, no one else does that and service was as good as other low cost. Ticketing system and onboarding was simpler that others too. This time I’m considering flying to LA so far it’s the cheapest being in August since I’ve been on a 787. The only issue is the 7hr wait at the Oslo airport. Would be nice to see some feedback on what to do while I’m there waiting for the next flight.

    1. Brian – I actually had a long layover in Oslo last year and luckily there was a Starbucks with wifi and power outlets, so I spent most of my time there working on my laptop (just don’t look at the prices.. Norway’s not cheap πŸ˜‰ )

  16. Great review. Is this for the economy cabin or the premium? I couldn’t find it in the review…

    Also I can’t seem to find flights from London to Oakland anymore…

    1. Hi Tiffany, I can’t seem to find flights from London to Oakland anymore, either! I knew there was a dispute about the use of the airport, maybe they had to discontinue the route because of that?
      I’ve flown both economy and premium on Norwegian, and both were great (10 hours in Economy and I was NOT uncomfortable)

    1. Well for me it was worth it to book a LowFare+ ticket on my last flight with Norwegian because I wanted meals and had to check in my luggage. These two add ons would’ve already cost more than the difference between a LowFare and a LowFare+ ticket (I think it was around $80 more?). I like being able to choose my seat though because I definitely prefer a window seat and sites like Seatguru can tell you exactly which seats to avoid πŸ™‚ http://www.seatguru.com/airlines/Norwegian_Air_Shuttle/Norwegian_Air_Shuttle_Boeing_787-8.php

  17. Thanks Dany! I agree with you, but my friends are on a particularly low budget so we decided to risk unassigned seats and split check baggage. πŸ™‚ Thanks for the link!

  18. I just booked a flight on Norwegian Air, LAX to London, and I am terrified. I paid only $487 for two tickets, and I read a lot of bad reviews, with technical problems and late departures, and people sleeping in airports. I am tempted to lose the money and fly on a real Airliner, what do you all think??

    1. Hi Rose, I flew from Copenhagen to LA with Norwegian in May and my flight experience was excellent! I had read some negative reviews as well but my flight was on time, the flight attendants were attentive and friendly, no technical problems and I love the Dreamliner planes they’re using.

  19. Thanks for your nice review.
    I’ve flown OSL-FLL 5times since Norwegian launched their long haul services.
    Only once has the plane been delayed at arrival due to closed airport in both MIA and FLL. Every other flight has been within 30min on schedule. Sorry, one landed 1 hour prior to planed… πŸ™‚
    I never order any of the extras as I don’t worrie about where I sit for a few hours. Only carry-on every time and the food. I share your experience. Room for improvement.

    Next Norwegian LH flight in about 6 weeks! πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Jay, I’ve also just booked another trip with Norwegian – couldn’t resist a transatlantic flight for €213 (Berlin – Bangkok)! Also took them from London to Berlin recently and can’t say a bad word about them! πŸ™‚

    1. How was your flight, Veronica? Just flew Norwegian again last week (Berlin – NYC) and had a great flight. Our pilot even pointed out the Northern Lights when we flew over the Arctic Circle πŸ™‚

  20. Last year I flew from Tel Aviv to Copenhagen and then on to New York City for less than 300 bucks ….. insane right! My flight to Copenhagen was good, as was my flight to New York, but what scared me just a little was that at the last minute a Norwegian Airlines plane was not available. They gave us a LOT Polish Airline’s Dreamliner. It was OK, but there were times where it felt like the engines were moaning and groaning and having a hard time keeping up. The plane felt a bit dingy and tattered, (but nothing like the Air Yugoslavia flight I took from Belgrade to New York City back int he 1980s … that plane was held together with tooth picks and bubble gum),and sometimes it would just vibrate and we would all just look at each other without saying anything. The crew was a mix of LOT and Norwegian. They were very young and amateurish. There didn’t seem to be a purser, and I feel the attendants needed one. I would certainly fly them again, especially given their prices and no crash safety record however LOT Polish dreamliner is nothing compared to Air Canada’s dreamliner, which I flew on with Air Canada from Toronto to Tel Aviv. That was amazing, no fear! The economy airlines always frighten me a bit because I fear low prices may result in potential cuts to maintaining craft integrity and safety. We will see how my next flight goes. I am planning to fly them to Barcelona later in 2016. Its either Norwegian or SATA and by the reviews nobody in their right mind flies SATA, so Norwegian it is!!! CIAO …. Keep Flying!!!

    1. Thanks, Anthony! Tel Aviv to New York for less than $300 is insane indeed, wow! I didn’t know that LOT’s Dreamliners were scarier – or that any Dreamliners could be scary, for that matter! I thought they were all relatively new? I love the Dreamliner experience with Norwegian.. almost tempted to book all my transatlantic flights with them just for the awesome planes (love that they have plugs, and the windows!) πŸ˜€ But what you say about low prices resulting in cutting maintenance costs – I definitely feel that way every time I fly Ryanair πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

  21. Hello i am going to be traveling to london in April for the first time! i was wondering how to go about booking a flight for the dreamliner instead of the regular planes. Is it alot more expensive?

    1. Hi Carina, as far as I know all the planes Norwegian uses on that route are Dreamliners. No extra pay for the superior experience πŸ™‚

  22. Great review, thanks! I’ll be flying to LA in June from Oslo, and, considering I don’t know how long I’ll stay in California, I chose Norwegian because no other airline offers ONE-WAY transatlantic tickets for these incredibly low fares… 257 euros one way, NON-STOP Oslo-LAX. I’ll write again to tell how it was as an experience!

  23. Hi! I’m planning to go from London to New York at the end of july and would like a bit of advice if thats ok ?:)
    I’ve never flown by myself before and was a little sceptical about Norweigan Air as I’ve never heard of them before…did you fly general economy? are the seats spacious enough? I’m not exactly the biggest but also not the skinniest gal…ryanair seats were fine for me, but not sure about the 7hr flight! I’m glad to see that the entertainment was good, will keep me going for for the 7hrs!
    would love for you to give me some advice and to settle my anxieties about Norweigan if thats ok as I’ve read some bad reviews (as i’m sure most reviews out there of most airlines are bad lets be real!), and they’re so much cheaper compared to other airlines!!
    Thank you so much πŸ™‚

    1. My London – NYC flight was great! I booked the LowFare+ which included meals, baggage and seat selection, so that I was able to choose a window seat. The entertainment system is excellent (great selection of movies and TV shows), the food was good, the seats were comfy – bigger than Ryanair for sure! I am about to book another flight on Norwegian, which will be my third trans-Atlantic flight with them πŸ™‚

  24. Hi there,
    I’ve just come across this post as I’ve just booked to fly London to LA next spring, the price was too ridiculously good not to do it πŸ™‚
    So I just had a question as you seem to have flown on the dreamliner with Norwegian a few times now…in terms of seats do you know which are extra leg room and if the exit row seats are comfy? thanks!! πŸ™‚

  25. I read a review on seat guru that the attendants kept window shades dark and even if you sat in a window seat you didn’t have control of the window so didn’t make sitting by window worthwhile. This was on an 11 hour flight beven during daylight hours. Also had trouble choosing a seat as the Norwegian map didn’t match seat guru. Usually prefer window seat but only back left available. Is it noisy?

    1. Hi Monet, I don’t know how the attendants kept the window shades dark because each window can be controlled via the button below it? I also loved that the windows on the Dreamliner are bigger than other plane windows! And our pilot even pointed out the northern lights when we flew over Iceland on my last trans-atlantic flight with Norwegian. As for the seat – not sure about how noisy it is because I am using noise-canceling headphones.. The seatguru map should match the Norwegian Dreamliner though?

    2. Hi Monet, I am not sure how the flight attendants kept the window shades dark because there aren’t shades and you have control over how dark/light you want to have your window with a button below it. The windows in the Dreamliner are bigger than in other planes, btw, which I loved! Our pilot even pointed out the Northern Lights when we flew over Iceland on my last trans-atlantic Norwegian flight. As for the noise – I use noise-cancelling headphones on flights, so I can’t really answer this, but I don’t think it’s louder in the back than in other parts of the plane?

  26. I can’t seem to find the info – was entertainment included or was that an extra fee as well? Also does economy have the usb ports and outlets or is that just business class? Thanks!

  27. I have purchased return ticket to fly from London Gatwick to Los Angeles. I have not booked my seat yet. I was not able to book a seat online as it says that I can only book my seat 24hrs before departure. Please let me know whethe it is Okay to go directly to the check in desk on the day of my departure without pre booking my seat online.
    Thank you

    1. That’s weird, I was always able to select my seat right when I purchased the ticket. If you don’t book a seat in advance, you’ll probably end up with a crappy middle seat but who knows, maybe you’re lucky and the flight isn’t full πŸ™‚

    1. Yes you can, Kugan! On one of the flights I took I didn’t purchase the food through Norwegian but brought enough food with me to keep me full for the trans-atlantic flight πŸ™‚

  28. Thanks for all of the great information. I have a question if you are still checking these comments.

    Do the armrests between the seats raise up and out of the way?

  29. I’m looking into a flight to Stockholm in June and if I go through Norwegian Air its $1604 RT in USD, and through Kayak it’s $1263.80 RT in Euro = $1330.00 USD. Can I book using a US bank and pay the USD = to Euro fee ($300 saving) or am I stuck with the higher rate?

    1. Hi Robert, booking in a different currency on the Norwegian website can actually save you some more money- if you feel comfortable using the site in a different language (Swedish for example). I’ve tried that and the rate it showed me was cheaper than the US$ price. However, you might also want to check GoogleFlights and might get a cheaper rate – the price you mention seems pretty steep to me.

      1. I should have mentioned that the fare is for 2 Lowfare+ economy seats from Los Angeles to Stockholm using Google.com/flights. I guess the real question would be, do I need to have the money in that currency (Euro or SEK) or will it let me purchase using USD on a site that has the currency set for something other than USD? Has anyone successfully done this?

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