Norwegian doubles frequencies of budget UK-US services

Regular readers will know that I have given some coverage to budget airline Norwegian and its attempts to launch low-cost economy services from London Gatwick to the USA.  My last article is here, comparing the prices being charged and questioning whether Norwegian was really low cost at all.

(That article did not touch of Norwegian’s service issues.  Flying the incident-prone Boeing 787 and running only a handful of flights per week always seemed like a recipe for disaster.)

Starting in May 2015, according to airlineroute.net and reported by Business Traveller:

London Gatwick to New York JFK goes from 3 to 6 flights per week

London Gatwick to Los Angeles goes from 2 to 4 flights per week

However, the Gatwick to Fort Lauderdale service drops to just one flight per week.  Good luck if that gets cancelled due to another Boeing 787 issue being found ….

Norwegian 787

What is pricing like?

Looking at March 2015 – the airline is not taking bookings beyond March 28th – the cheapest one-way seats I can find to New York are £179 outbound.

Coming back, the cheapest fare is £150 for a total return cost of £329.  The cheapest British Airways fare according to the BA low fare finder is £399 in March.

Remember, though, that Norwegian gives you NO free food and no free baggage.  The flight times to New York are also more inconvenient with the outbound not landing until 9.20pm.

Factor in:

  • a few pounds for a meal and non-water drinks on-board,
  • the cost of a checking in a suitcase,
  • the late arrival time into NYC (which probably means an expensive taxi into the city unless you want to take a late-night subway train),
  • the loss of half a day of sightseeing compared to taking a morning BA departure, and
  • the loss of 6,000 Avios points

and that £70 saving for flying Norwegian doesn’t seem worth it.  And that is BEFORE you factor in the risk of taking an airline which (in March) is only flying to New York three times per week using an aircraft with known reliability issues.

I just used 34,000 Avios for Disneyland Paris tickets!
My targets for the IHG "Into The Nights" promotion
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Comments

  1. “Norwegian”, “budget” & “saving” are not words i associate with each other!

    From a country that charges nearly a fiver for a can of cola and a chocolate bar, I would not expect a bargain!

    • sandgrounder says:

      A return from Oslo to JFK can be had for £192. £80 extra for a bag, seat selection and meal. Which is not bad really for the land of the £10 Big Mac meal. UK taxes are such a rip off!

      • Lady London says:

        + 1. I’m still recovering from the £9.coffee and cake I had in a cafe is Oslo that was like a much smaller Starbucks. And that was by no means the most expensive of most of the cafes!

  2. Entirely agree with this analysis.

    Like the short-haul budget airlines, Norwegian do a good job in displaying impressive headline fares, but factor in all the extras/inconveniences and they can get decidedly less appealing.

    I’d take BA every time in the above scenario…

  3. andystock says:

    Add the avios points earned and BA is a clear winner. Long Haul low cost simply dose not work from Europe as there are no first or buainess cabins to subsidise the cheap economy seats.

  4. As much as i hesitate to share deals from HDUK, it is relevant: If anyone wants a cheap deal to New York, according to HDUK there is a ‘glitch’ with the booking websites (e.g. Expedia) where if you book NYC as a multi city trip you can get an economy flight for £260 isn return, book LON – NYC – LON – Oslo (or Geneva, or a few other european cities). Make the Oslo flight the day after arriving in LON.

    • Head for Points says:

      I don’t think that is a ‘glitch’ per se – BA is selling very cheap tickets out of Oslo at the moment and Expedia is simply adding together 50% of a LHR-NYC and NYC-Oslo. That is how it is meant to work.

      Note that BA will want to check your bags through even if the Oslo flight is next day, although they can be talked out of it.

      • Booked lhr-jfk-lhr-oslo
        The lhr-jfk return flights are on vs
        Lhr-oslo is on ba the next day.
        Intend to skip Oslo flight.

        Hope luggage won’t go to Oslo.
        Do I inform ba or just no show

        • Moonman85 says:

          I did the exact same thing for valentines weekend and hopefully will meet my in to the nights bonus and so use my free nights in NYC

          Also whilst looking I think I found business class return on Aer Lingus from DUB-NYC for less than £600, a bit more money a bit more hassle as you have to get out there but a very good deal

          • Check the fare. I think it’s one-way. If you need to come back, it’s more expensive. 🙂

          • Moonman85 says:

            Yeah not sure what I was doing with the Aer Lingus flights, the multicity ending at oslo works thoigh

        • No show. If you tell them your fare will be repriced

      • I couldn’t find BA availability (which I’d prefer), it was all with VS. The onward flight to Oslo from LHR was then with BA, so given the mixed airlines i’d assume baggage wouldn’t be checked all the way through?

        But given the Oslo flight is next day, requiring an overnight in London, it shouldn’t be too hard to make sure the check in staff don’t check the bags all the way through.

        • if it has been booked as a “multi city” with seperate legs from nyc-london and then london-oslo then you’ll have absolutely no problem with checked baggage.

  5. As a longtime aerospace professional, I wouldn’t touch the 787 with a bargepole. The solution to a battery that goes on fire ISN’T to put it in a bigger box! The FAA should be ashamed. Boeing design & build quality has gone downhill. Could be all the Kansas car assembly workers they now reportedly use?

  6. Don’t BA also fly the 787 to EWR?
    Have to say I think your post is very biased, Raffles.

    Norwegian are trying. Let’s give them a chance. Their economy and premium offerings are better than that offered on a 22 year old 747 (BA)
    Gatwick also suits some if us.

    Ryanair are watching carefully, too. They have a proposed. Long haul model that would use 30-50 A350s or 787s.

    • sorry but as someone who has flown both i disagree.
      ba use the dreamliner on newark flights aswell remember! not all flights are on 22 year old 747s and even if they were , the service, free drinks, food, avios (doubled if silver or gold), smoothness of t5, heathrows connections to central london, cheaper car parking, all add up to make ba a better deal. especially when they are throwing out prices sub £400 return.

      • Agreed with you until you mentioned the smoothness of T5 😉 Fine for connecting out UK -> International, but hate it on the return, immigration and security always so slow!

        • as a uk passport holder i am allways out in minutes if i dont have a bag to collect. the self service booths are quick. i have no experience of the ‘other passports’ line.
          and compared to gatwick, its a doddlle

          • Hi Richie

            No, this is for connecting passengers I’m meaning – ie those of us flying to the regions rather than leaving at London. There used to be a priority queue for those with BA status but it has been stopped – last time I went through there was one desk and it was a 30 min wait due to some complexity of the person at the front. In retrospect I would have been quicker exiting and going landside, but that just sums up how bad the connecting experience can be at T5! (going the other way from domestic to international is absolutely fine as after a simple boarding pass check you’re dropped straight into the middle of the T5 shops!)

          • fair plan then, i have never done that as lhr is always my start and end dest.
            sounds like you would be much better going through the self service, going landside, getting the lift to level 5 and going back through security.
            especially with status as yu can use the fast track.

          • Yeah, it used to be not too bad until they got rid of fast track on connections – I’ve done that once, out via ePassport gates and back in via normal security (although compared to EDI I find Fast Track at LHR pretty poor) – overall I still find Schiphol better for connecting, shame it’s a SkyTeam stronghold! 🙂

  7. The BA 787 is awful in economy, with a tiny seat and reduced leg room.
    I have been on Norweigian in premium and the seat, 47″ pitch? service and catering knocks the socks off BA wt+

    As regards Avios, I have hundreds of thousands that I mostly can’t use, but I did buy som via the Tesco pre order games at the rate of 1600 Avios for £5
    T5 is a zoo unless you are a GCH. Galleries club can hardly be called restful.