Norwegian Airlines: the Good, the Bad…and the Water

Oh boy, where do we start with Norwegian Airlines? Fasten your seat belt as we give you a run down on our first experience flying this low-cost airline.

There are three options for economy seating with: LowFare, LowFare+, and Flex. Staying consistent with our Europe Under 2k budget, we purchased the LowFare option. It includes a ticket and one free carry-on bag (10kg and 55x40x23cm). That’s it. No meals, no seat reservation, no service in general. Once you’re on-board you’re basically a ghost to the flight attendants. This really is no exaggeration.

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The Good:

1. Affordable Price- We’ve already mentioned this, so we won’t really elaborate too much. However we’ll stress one more time that their very low pricing in comparison to other
airlines is THE reason to fly Norwegian.

2. 787 Dreamliner- Norwegian has 11 787’s in their fleet today, and have ordered 32 in total. Good thing since this aircraft has several nice amenities:

  • Cabin Pressure- set to simulate 1,800 ft., whereas your typical plane flies with a cabin pressure set to 2,400 ft. This means your jet lag won’t be as bad.
  • In-Flight Entertainment- seat monitors with hours of movies and games to pass the time.
  • Reduced Engine Noise- engines are quieter in comparison to other planes and it makes the plane ride more pleasant, especially when flying overnight.

3. User Friendly Website Interface- Norwegian does have a rather aesthetically pleasing and easy website to navigate, in our opinion. We found the information we needed fast and there wasn’t an overload of unnecessary junk or ads filling the peripherals of the pages. Always a plus, especially when browsing flight options multiple times per week.

The Bad:

1. In-Flight Meal Plan- We did not order meals on the plane, and we have no regrets! Looks worse than a TV dinner and extremely small portions…for $32. Important: If you do not purchase a meal plan, you will NOT be given anything complimentary. Not even that tiny bag of pretzels. Pack snacks, get food before you board the plane, and you should be perfectly fine until you land.

2.Baggage- No free checked bags with the lowest price option, but you do not need that option if you are backpacking. Keep in mind that your one free carry-on is extremely limited. Check the hand baggage allowance here to see what we mean. (We’ll cover purchasing a backpack and what to pack in a future post!).

3.Unhelpful Staff- We had read about this from other travelers before we left, but, perhaps a bit naively, didn’t think much of it. On the aircraft we were just three empty seats to the flight attendants. No acknowledgment from them whatsoever.

4.Lack of Organization- We faced a several hour delay flying Norwegian in Oslo and weren’t made aware until we were already on the train from Oslo central station to the airport. After we got through security and passport control, we, and the other 250+ passengers, were forced to stand outside our gate in a small crowded area for about an hour until they let us near the gate. Once they let us know they were “ready” to board, the staff were yelling back and forth down the tunnel to figure out if the plane was actually ready to board.

5.Crowded- Low fares = packed flights. If you are drawn to Norwegian because of the low prices, expect that many others will be too. It was crazy how busy the bathrooms were, almost non-stop, the entire 11 hours of the flight.

The Water:

Remember, you’re a ghost to the flight attendants. Do ghosts drink water? Nope. But you obviously need to. Don’t expect them to include you in the industry standard of complimentary drink services. If you value being hydrated do yourself a big favor and pay for a couple overpriced water bottles in the airport for the plane ride. Or, better yet, bring your own reusable bottles to fill up at the airport. We recommend collapsible platypus bottles to save weight, space and be environmentally friendly.

Final Thoughts:

You can purchase a seat reservation, meal, and checked bags à la carte for about $30-50 each, or you can pay about $100 more for the LowFare+ package, which includes all three of those options. Like we mentioned before, we did pay extra for the seat reservation to guarantee that we sat together. However, we flew Norwegian from Sweden to London and from Ireland to Norway without paying for reserved seating, and ended up sitting next to each other anyway.

Despite any of the downsides listed above, you cannot beat the price that Norwegian offers. Expect that you won’t get much sleep on board, bring extra water and food, embrace your invisible side, and you’ll be A-OK!

If YOU have flown this airline before we’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below!

PS: Just looked at Norwegian Airlines website and you can fly from Oakland to Stockholm late October, and Oslo to Oakland mid-November for under $400 RT!!

 

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Please Be Seated for Takeoff!

You know you want to go on a trip (that’s the easy part!)…now what do you do??

The first step to going on ANY successful trip is properly planning it. In fact, the 5 P’s of Success are “proper planning prevents poor performance.” Think of this as the budget traveler’s creed as you embark on your own trip. 
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Stockholm 2016

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Welcome!

Hello and welcome to our blog! Hopefully you got a chance to visit our About Me page. Maybe you’re here now because you found us so unbelievably fascinating that you couldn’t resist reading our first post. Or maybe you just want to learn how we went to Europe for under $2,000 per person for 17 nights (including airfare!) and traveled to 4 different countries. I’m guessing the latter sounds more accurate.

Europe Under 2k

The 4 countries we hit are some of, if not the most, expensive on the planet: Norway, Sweden, UK and Ireland. 

Click here to take a look for yourself. Norway #2, UK and Ireland #10 and #11, respectively. Somehow Sweden is absent, but judging from other sites  we can safely assume that they probably would have been #16 on that list. So when we say 4 countries, we really mean 4 very expensive countries!

But just because some countries have a Ferrari price tag, doesn’t mean you can’t travel them for a Ford discount. We certainly didn’t have a lot of extra income to work with, which meant we researched, budgeted and planned for every step of the way. If we were able to do it, you can too!

In the following blog posts, we hope to share the juicy details of HOW we made this happen. Our goal is to dedicate each post to sharing every aspect of planning that took place before and during our trip in order to help us maximize our experience and minimize our expense. (We’ll also chime in with our personal travel tips/insight and other fun things we learned along the way.) Because let’s face it, no one wants to go on vacation only to know that they’ll be coming home to an empty bank account and a Top Ramen meal plan.

Obviously there are many variables to cheap traveling such as exchange rates, emergencies, high and low seasons, etc., but if you listen to some of our stories and pragmatic financial decisions then we’re confident you’ll be on your way to your very own Europe Under $2k trip!

Check out our next post about booking your flight!

Steph and Geoff

Europe Under 2k