I try Norwegian Premium – better than BA World Traveller Plus? (Part 1)

This is our review of Norwegian’s Premium cabin seat and service between London Gatwick and New York JFK.

Whilst Rob got to enjoy First Class service on his recent Lufthansa flight to New York (review to follow), I tried the low cost version a week later.

Norwegian asked us to review their Premium class product and I was keen to find out how it compares to BA’s World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy).  The products are aimed at a similar market and are roughly similar in pricing, targeting the premium leisure market or companies unwilling to pay for a ‘full’ flat-bed business class product.

Norwegian provided my ticket free of charge.  As usual, HFP covered all of its other expenses.  They were flexible on destination and it was my choice to go to New York.

Here is my review of Norwegian Premium.  Click on any of the pictures to enlarge.

787 Dreamliner at LGW small Norwegian - premium review

Check in

All of Norwegian‘s long-haul services from London depart from the South Terminal at Gatwick.   It is the same terminal as British Airways uses.

This was an instant improvement on my previous low-cost trip to New York on La Compagnie (reviewed here, but service now discontinued) which departed from Luton.

The Norwegian check-in area at Gatwick South had self check in machines, a Premium line and an Economy line.  It did take surprisingly long to get my ticket due to what felt like a million questions I had to answer regarding my trip (where do I live, where am I staying, what’s my nationality and so on).  To be fair, this could have been because Norwegian arranged my ticket for me – had I booked direct I could presumably have input all of this data from home at my convenience.

Flying Norwegian Premium I could have checked in two suitcases of up to 20kg each but as it was only a four day trip I already felt silly checking in one suitcase. In comparison, the allowance in BA’s World Traveller Plus is two bags of up to 23kg each.

If you have a carry-on suitcase it needs to be weighed, as your cabin bag can only weigh up to 15kg (10kg in Economy). You’re allowed an additional purse or laptop bag.

norwegian premium review - gatwick new york check in

I got a paper invitation for the No 1 Lounge as well as a Premium sticker on my boarding pass so I could use Fast Track.

This is a clear benefit to choosing Norwegian Premium over BA’s World Traveller Plus or Virgin’s Premium Economy.  Neither of those services include lounge access.  Virgin Atlantic does give you Fast Track security although British Airways does not.

I’ve reviewed the No 1 Lounge before.  Rob also used the Gatwick South No 1 Lounge for the first time recently and his review, published over the weekend, is here.

Click here for the list of airports where Norwegian offers lounge access.

norwegian premium review - gatwick no 1 lounge food

The flight was at 17:05 and the gate was shown at 15:45 which is when I left the lounge, over-enthusiastically as it turned out.  It was a 12 minute walk from the lounge to Gate 35, but as boarding didn’t start until 16:30 I could have spent an extra 30 minutes drinking prosecco.

You receive Priority Boarding as a Norwegian Premium customer.  This is not a BA World Traveller Plus benefit.  Virgin lets Premium Economy passengers board after Upper Class passengers.

norwegian premium review - gatwick new york dreamliner

To get a better idea of how Norwegian Premium compares to BA, I’ve copied the seatmaps from SeatGuru. The one on the left is the Norwegian 787 Dreamliner (almost all of their long-haul aircraft are new 787s), the one on the right the BA Dreamliner.   Whilst these are not fully to scale, as you can see Norwegian’s Premium product has a lot more legroom than BA’s World Traveller Plus.

(The last time I flew World Traveller Plus was on a 12 hour flight to Cape Town, with a 2-year old child – not mine – sat next to me.  That was fun.)

Seatguru BA premium economy vs Norwegian

There was a blanket and earphones on the seat. Norwegian does not provide an amenity kit so you need to bring your own toothbrush.

I also recommend bringing your own earphones as the ones provided didn’t have the best sound quality.

Let’s get to the Premium seat which, at the end of the day, is what you are really paying for:

norwegian premium review - gatwick new york premium seats

The legroom was more than impressive as the pictures above and below show.

Norwegian’s Premium seats are 48cm wide with a pitch of 1.16m. In comparison BA’s World Traveller Plus seats are 47cm wide with a pitch of 96cm.

norwegian premium review - gatwick new york premium class legroom

Drinks were served out of big bottles in plastic cups.  This was probably the first noticeable service gap compared to World Traveller Plus as British Airways gives you real glasses.

The sparkling wine was Anna de Codorniu Blanc de Blancs which you can find online for £10.

norwegian premium review - gatwick new york premium drinks

The 11″ Panasonic entertainment screen was stored inside the armrest in between the seats. At the bottom was a USB plug to charge your phone. World Traveller Plus has their entertainment system (10.4″) embeded in the back of the seat in front which gives you no flexibility to select a viewing angle which suits you.

There was a good film selection consisting of new releases and classics. I chose to watch Arrival.  You can find the list of TV and movie options on this website.  Overall it felt smaller than the British Airways selection.

norwegian premium review - gatwick new york premium tv screen

The food, though presented in one big box with all three courses inside smaller boxes, was pretty good. There was a choice of salmon or beef as a main of which I chose the former.

Presentation wise, British Airways will offer you a longer menu (IIRC) and the food is plated.  The main courses in World Traveller Plus are taken from the Club World menu although the starter and desert are not.

Overall I was perfectly happy with it.  For clarity, Norwegian does not charge for food in Premium, unlike in Economy.

norwegian premium review - gatwick new york food premium cabin

After dinner the cabin crew came around offering Baileys – how could you say no to that?

norwegian premium review - gatwick new york baileys

I wasn’t able to take a photo of my reclined seat, so here is an official press picture. The seat was surprisingly comfortable and I managed to sleep a couple of hours – which is really good for me as I’m usually pretty bad at sleeping on planes even when fully flat.

The only annoying part was that once the seat in front of you is reclined it’s difficult to move out of the seat especially if you don’t have aisle access.

Norwegian premium review - reclined seat pr picture

The lights were dimmed for about 3 hours in between dinner and what looked like breakfast. I always get a bit confused with meals on long-haul flights with a time difference. Looking at London time this could have been a super early breakfast, looking at New York time it would have been a late evening snack. Either way I liked the salad with salmon and pumpkin seeds.

norwegian premium review - gatwick new york breakfast

And that was it.  Before I knew it I was descending into New York JFK.  All in all I was more than happy with my experience in Norwegian’s Premium cabin.  I will summarise the pros and cons in Part Two.

Unfortunately the return flight wasn’t as smooth as Part Two of my Norwegian Premium review (click here) shows ……

The Norwegian website is here if you want to learn more about the product and route network.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

Comparing UK lounge networks of Priority Pass, Lounge Club and LoungeKey
I try Norwegian Premium - better than BA World Traveller Plus? (Part 2)
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Comments

  1. Just one observation; this is the first time I’ve seen seat width/pitch stated in cm’s, rather than what seems to be the industry standard inches. This will be the next thing to make us think we’re getting more for our £’s!

  2. Deenesh says:

    Interesting read. But what counts as ‘long haul’? You say ‘all of Norwegian’s long haul aircraft are 787’s’ but they fly from EDI to East Coast USA using 737’s.

  3. That plane looks like an excited dog…

  4. This article does read as if it’s predisposed to back Norwegian…everyone knows Seat Guru is nowhere near accurate so to use the fact they’ve used a different style of seat on the image as proof that there is a lot more legroom does show a degree of bias…

    Onto Norwegian – seems a good option in any event, worth noting their PE seating is the same that Thomson (soon to be TUI) has on their 787-8s and -9s which I’ve found perfectly comfortable for 10 hour flights to the Caribbean.

    • zsalya says:

      Seatguru diagrams are indeed not reliable enough to assess.
      But Seatguru tables of seats is more reliable.
      Norwegian has pitch of 46″ rather than 38″ on WTP, and I can vouch that it does make a huge difference.

      Seatguru says that Thomson 787s have pitch of 36″ which is poor for Premium (but 33″ for Economy which is better than WT). Are those numbers accurate?

    • Thomson seats are not the same as Norwegian although they look similar. Norwegian pitch is much bigger and Thompson now has seat back TVs in all but the bulk-head seats. Thompson seats do not recline anywhere near as far. Thompson PE does have access to (third party) lounges.

  5. Anna de Codorniu is a brand of Spanish cava, not Italian prosecco. Are Norwegian misrepresenting their fizz?!

  6. JamesB says:

    Thanks Anika, very useful but in a negative sort of way. I somehow anticipated Norwegian premium would be more akin to Air Asia X so hugely disappointing to find it is more comparable to BA WTP. Might do for east coast USA but 12h or more to BKk, I’m not so sure. I had been hoping the future might see Norwegian EDI-BKK direct flights but given the likely price difference between this and KL or AY J I think I would stick witb the latter.

    • Sam Goss says:

      Yep agreed – I would be all over the Singapore flights if they had the Air Asia X bed (which is great) – but with it just being WT+ style you can get a flat bed on Vietnam airlines or Finnair or a raft of others for not much of a premium

      • JamesB says:

        Vietnam Airlines excellent and sometimes fantastic fares too but I’ve never figured out where or when toget the best deals.

  7. I think the point that’s worth repeating about Norwegian is their pricing structure – so no penalties for booking one way flights, or for booking round trips without a Saturday night stay, either.

    Am giving them serious consideration in premium for the next family long haul holiday, but as noted by JamesB, in many instances they don’t seem to come in all that much cheaper than some of the discounted J fares we see anyway.

    • Sam Goss says:

      One of my friends has booked the US flights a couple of times in Y and then consistently gets an upgrade offer which works out much cheaper. Bit of a risk, especially for multiple people though – you’d have to be happy in Y if it didn’t work out!

    • JamesB says:

      Nondiscounted semiflexible fares on KLM are a,ways with exploring. For virtually cost free flexible fares Sri Lankan are excellent value if heading anyplace on their network using their better metal.

    • Exactly. Saved £1700 x 5 pax over VS Premium Economy and looking forward to seeing what Norwegian is all about.

  8. zsalya says:

    For daytime flight where one does not need to sleep, I found Norwegian Premium perfectly adequate, at a fraction of CW price.

    One point for those making such a substitution is that (presumably to minimise the number of crew) there are strict time-windows for “Ordering food”, “Serving food”, “Distributing duty-free” etc, so get the drinks you want when offered – or you could be waiting a long time for a second round.

    • HiDeHi says:

      Given BA’s service downturn in recent years, I have to say this Norweigan premium looks to be better than BA Premium Economy, esp the extra 20% legroom which is pretty substantial. Food looks be more or less the same although I suspect BA has better drinks choices.

      It is probably a lot cheaper than BA too.

  9. Looks like what BA business used to be, ore flat bed, so having done all the long hauls in that back in the day, this seems fine to me..

  10. OT – I’m new to the miles and points hobby. I am currently BA Blue. What happens if I attain bronze status a few days before my account then resets for the new year? I’d assume I go back to Blue, but that would seem strange to me given that it takes some incentive out of travelling BA unless you travel 4-5 times per year in premium cabins.

  11. Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy does include Fast Track access, unless they’ve taken it away very recently. It doesn’t include a lounge though.

  12. The aircraft are clean, staff smartly dressed, polite and attentive. If you pay the extra to book exit seats then it’s a nicer product than BA. I hope they decide to give biz class a shot sometime soon.

  13. Anika, have VS stopped offering Gatwick Premium (fast-track) security to their premium economy customers? They offered it last time I flew them, as well as premium check-in (unlike BA).

  14. Martin says:

    Subjectively, Norwegian Premier feels more classy because you “turn left” to get to it and are in the best class on the plane, whereas on BA you’re in the 3rd of 4 classes.

    Service is good enough but formulaic = you get a welcome drink, one regular drink and then an after-dinner drink. And that’s it unless you are pesky and persistent.

    Also note that some airports that Norwegian fly to overseas do not have lounge access.

    I don’t see Norwegian ever doing true Business Class. It’s not their model.

  15. It’s been a while since I flew BA WTP out of LGW; do they still fly the (now very) old seat from the early 2000’s? If so the Norwegian offering above looks to be hands down a much better hard product, let alone lounge access, fast track etc. Let’s hope this will encourage BA to refurbish the bucket and spade long haul fleet sooner rather than later if they haven’t already!