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Review: flying to Oslo from Gatwick in Norse Atlantic Premium – from £149 return on a 787

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This is our review of Norse Atlantic’s Premium cabin and service, when flying short haul from London Gatwick to Oslo.

Last Monday, we published Rhys’s review of Norse Atlantic’s inaugural flight from London Gatwick to New York JFK.

Using Norwegian’s old fleet of (new) Boeing 787 aircraft, with the Norwegian seating, Norse is hoping to succeed on low cost long-haul where Norwegian failed.

There is a coda to this story though. Until it gets full UK registration, Norse is actually flying Oslo – Gatwick – New York JFK using ‘fifth freedom’ rights to sell tickets from London to New York.

Review: flying to Oslo from Gatwick in Norse Atlantic Premium

Whilst it isn’t being heavily advertised, you can also buy tickets between Gatwick and Oslo. It is exceptional value in Premium. Ticket start from £88 one-way and £149 return from London if you don’t take checked luggage, and you’re getting well over 40 inches of legroom in a 2 x 3 x 2 cabin for that.

It is a l-o-n-g time since I was in Oslo and it has started to get interesting, especially with the new Munch and National Museums opening and the major leisure developments around the harbour. How could I resist?

Booking Norse Atlantic could be easier

As Rhys was on an organised press trip, he didn’t have to book his own ticket. I did. It’s messy. Let me count the ways:

  • the default currency of the flynorse.com website is US$, so you have to manually switch to Sterling (for clarity, your credit card is charged in GBP if you set the website to GBP – you don’t pay any FX fees)
  • at no point are you told you are flying from Gatwick’s South Terminal – even your ticket and boarding pass don’t specify the terminal
  • the benefits shown whilst booking Premium between Gatwick and Oslo are totally wrong – you don’t get two free meals, unsurprisingly
  • you need to enter your passport start and end dates in US date format, which is not made clear
  • there is no Norse Atlantic app
  • you can’t check-in via your mobile and you can’t save a boarding pass to Apple Wallet. You need to visit the desktop site via your phone browser, get the boarding pass to display and then take a screenshot which includes the bar code.

I couldn’t compain though. Because I wasn’t flexible on dates I ended up paying £236 return rather than the cheapest possible £149 return, but even that is an astonishingly low price for Premium.

I should add, since I posted the screenshot below on social media last week, that after I refused to pay £13 to select a seat in Premium, Norse allocated me this one:

Norse Atlantic Premium seat map

On the return, it gave me this seat:

Norse Atlantic Premium seat map

If that’s not extracting the urine then I don’t know what it.

To be clear, these screenshots show the full loading for my flights. Only four out of 56 seats were sold for the outbound and only seven out of 56 for the return – and one of those didn’t show up.

Departure times

One thing to note is the flight times.

The flight TO Oslo is OK for a short break. You leave Gatwick at noon and land in Oslo at 3.20pm.

The return flight to London, however, departs at 9.20am. It lands in Gatwick at 10.40am. I’d be tempted to take the late afternoon British Airways flight instead and have another eight hours to sightsee, even if it does mean British Airways legroom …..

The flight

Because Rhys has just done a huge review of Norse Atlantic’s Premium cabin I don’t plan to repeat it.

However, I have to show you the legroom I had. Everyone gets this much legroom, irrespective of which row you’re in. Remember that I am 6’2′:

Review: flying to Oslo from Gatwick in Norse Atlantic Premium

On the outbound there were just four of us in the 56 seat Premium cabin with no-one in rows 4-8 at all …..

Review: flying to Oslo from Gatwick in Norse Atlantic Premium

You don’t get a meal although you are welcome to pay for a sandwich or hot item from the menu. You do get a free soft drink before take-off and a free alcoholic drink (from a limited selection) after take-off. I had a mini-bottle of white wine:

Review: flying to Oslo from Gatwick in Norse Atlantic Premium

The crew are still in training mode. One tried to charge me for the wine before another crew member told her to stop. On the return flight, one of the other passengers tried to order a sandwich but apparently no fresh food had been loaded.

The IFE system is operable but Norse wasn’t giving out the free headphones you get on a long-haul flight. I forgot to bring my own unfortunately.

The lack of wi-fi on these aircraft is frustrating. With so much space in Premium, along with a 90 minute cruise and no meal service, there is plenty of opportunity to get some work or personal admin done.

Arriving in Oslo

Oslo’s airport is a thing of beauty, it has to be said. It was also very quiet, with literally no-one at passport control.

I was first off the aircraft, to be faced with my fourth grilling since Brexit about what the heck I was doing in [insert country name here] given my short 24 hour stay and the fact I was travelling alone with a laptop bag. With no EU work visa, any impression that I might be doing the ‘wrong sort’ of work (basically anything except meetings or trade shows, but rules vary by country) means I risk being sent home.

Having finally talked my way into the country, the £18 one-way price tag for the airport train got me into the mood for Norwegian pricing and I was on my way. Cheaper local trains are available as per the comments below.

I had found an exceptionally good way of slashing my hotel bill to – by Norwegian standards – virtually nothing. More on that soon ….

Conclusion

The Norse Atlantic Premium service between Gatwick and Oslo is, £ for £, the most luxurious way to fly intra-Europe at present.

Yes, you can get a fully flat bed between London and Madrid or London and Helsinki if you want, but those flights tend to be pricey. You also don’t need a flat bed. Getting Norwegian Premium to Oslo and back for £149 return is an exceptional deal.

That said, remember that the return flight time is not necessarily ideal. You may be tempted to fly back on another airline and trade off the extra 8 inches of leg room vs British Airways Club Europe for another 10 hours in Oslo.

Comments (97)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • ChrisBCN says:

    I didn’t realise that about the visa; if you told them you were going to write some articles for your business website whilst you were there, could they legitimately refuse you entry?

    • John says:

      They can refuse entry for any reason

    • riku says:

      >>With no EU work visa, any impression that I might be doing the ‘wrong sort’ of work
      Are EU work visas valid for Norway? The country is not in the EU. I thought individual countries issued visas anyway, not the EU itself. You can get a visa to work in Sweden but that will not be valid to work in Denmark. Different countries even though both of those are in the EU (unlike Norway).

      • Matarredondaaa says:

        Whilst not in the EU Norway is in Schengen and other institutions.

        • riku says:

          >>Whilst not in the EU Norway is in Schengen and other institutions.
          Norway might be in the schengen zone but individual countries grant permissions to work in their country (eg work permit) but it’s not valid across the schengen zone regardless that you can cross the border without any checks. You will get permission to work in one country.

          • Londonsteve says:

            The EU country where you live and work will issue your work visa. Once you have a work visa issued by an EU country, you are permitted to carry out paid work in other EU countries that is peripheral to your job, e.g. travelling from Germany to Sweden to visit a company subsidiary and write a report about it while you’re there. These things are much harder when you’re a third country national, e.g. a citizen of the UK. There are far more restrictions on what you’re allowed to do. The airport grillings are designed to catch-out business travellers that are too honest about their intentions or about what their employer is asking them to undertake. I believe that possessing a business visa for the destination country (and by extension valid in other countries in the EU/EEA you might need to visit on the same business trip) provides considerably more flexibility about what you’re allowed to do. EU/EEA countries don’t want business travellers exploiting the visa-free regime for third country nationals which allow stays of up to 90 in 180 days and are primarily intended for the purposes of tourism or visiting relatives. The UK decided it wanted ‘third country’ status, with this comes the obligation to acquire a business visa if a work trip goes beyond meetings and trade fair participation and the onus is on UK PLC to cough up the cost and comply.

    • lumma says:

      You can enter Norway (and the EU) for business meetings, so I can’t see why writing an article would stop you entering

      • Rob says:

        Depends on country. Some do not allow you to work in your hotel but there is no clear list I’ve ever been able to find.

      • Londonsteve says:

        Because it could constitute ‘work’ per the definition of some countries. The proper status to possess when travelling for most work purposes is an EU business visa as the visa-free regime for certain third country nationals is intended for tourism and visiting friends and family. It might be possible to acquire a multiple entry visa from country A in the EU/EEA that can be later used to visit country B, even if there is no direct connection between the business undertaken in country A but I don’t know this. For third country employees that need to spend large chunks (or even most) of their time in the EU, the proper solution is for the employer to have an EU subsidiary and employ people in the EU with a local employment contract, with which it’s possible to acquire an EU work and residency visa, granting freedom of movement within the EU/EEA.

    • Can says:

      What defines work is actually who pays you. If you are there for a Norsk company, then it is work.

      • wolf says:

        Source?

        • Rob says:

          I saw an EU document which said words to this effect. Trickier for the self employed though – if I say I am there to write about Norse it is a messy discussion to say that I am not working FOR Norse. Indeed, if Norse had paid for a review, then actually I would be.

          • icg2201 says:

            Sounds like a minefield Rob! Does it really feel like an interrogation at the border control, or is it more of a standard question about the purpose of your visit?

          • Rob says:

            It’s not casual banter, put it that way.

    • numpty says:

      It’s journalism, and reporting. However it looks like every EU country has a different rule on what is or isnt needed – doesn’t look like anything was oven ready.

      • Nick says:

        It’s not just grilling on entry now either. With a growing selection of pointless stamps, it now takes me about 5 mins to leave a country, as they sit there counting the days I’ve been in Schengen. It’s getting really boring… remind me again what the benefits were?!

        • Panda Mick says:

          I’m surprised by this comment:

          I’ve been to spain, greece, italy, finland and estonia this year and not once has someone “counted stamps”

          • ChrisBCN says:

            He didn’t say counting stamps, which may be why you are surprised

          • ChrisC says:

            At AMS and BER they are certainly doing a quick count of dates based on the number of stamps.

            Will be easier when Schengen goes fully electronic.

            Different countries implment the rules in different ways. It’s almost as though there isn’t a monolitiic european burocracy

          • Londonsteve says:

            The queues at Calais in a week are going to entertaining…. French border guards counting days spent in Schengen before giving travellers an exit stamp…. No pressure to avoid queues building up, they can take as long as they want about the process. Unlimited space in Nord Pas de Calais for 10 mile long queues. I hope it doesn’t come to this but it looks like another ‘golden opportunity’ to teach perfidious Albion a lesson. I don’t understand why the UK and France don’t cancel the Le Touquet agreement that pushed out the border to the country of departure. The pinch point is the outer border of the EU and these checks could now be undertaken in Calais after people have disembarked from the ferry, avoiding gridlock in Dover and missed departures. I guess it suits the French to keep the port of Calais free moving and leave the problem at Dover.

    • Rob says:

      Yes

    • numpty says:

      Hmm, wonder if Simon Calder has a work visa – today he we was being interviewed while in Italy.

      • Rob says:

        Simon has a contract with The Independent which is a UK business. I don’t have a contract with a UK business.

        Remember, when I went to Helsinki with Finnair for dinner (and to see the new seat in action) immigration made me show them my schedule for the day so they could see that I wasn’t going into the Finnair offices and was only having a meal.

      • Londonsteve says:

        We don’t know his personal circumstances. He might have legal residency in an EU country, he might be a dual national, the Indy might have got him a multiple entry business visa for the EU. Also, if he’s not ‘working’ while in the EU it’s ok, but writing an article or making a podcast, as he does, would constitute work in many countries. The 90 in 180 day limit is very awkward for a UK travel journalist like him so my money would be on having a status that allows him to avoid these arbitrary time limits and to work without restrictions while in the EU.

    • HAM76 says:

      The UK has similar rules. Last time I checked I wasn’t allowed to read my business email, because that already counted as working. It‘s always good to have friends in those countries that you want to visit.

  • TimM says:

    Norse appear to have adopted the Ryanair seating allocation algorithm. Just as well you weren’t travelling as a group.

    • Erico1875 says:

      Except Ryanair are flying with an average load factor of 95% in an all economy cabin.
      Norse had a load factor of around 15% in a (supposedly) premium cabin so there really isnt any excuse to allocate the worst seat

      • Michael Jennings says:

        I fly Ryanair fairly often, and I never pay for seat allocation. I get a middle seat about a third of the time. I believe them when they say they are allocating randomly.

        • jjoohhnn says:

          But maybe that is the algorithm at work.. Someone has to be allocated a non-middle seat as there are only a certain number of middle seats. If I was designing such a system then I would probably firstly put non-regular flyers into a middle seat first so as to try and persuade them to pay for a seat on the return or in the future.

          Then the more you fly, and if you never pay for seating, you are treated a little better and allocated into a second pool of seating so that you are then randomly assigned amongst whatever is left.. it makes the system look more random than it is and the airline can try and increase the revenue for paid-seating whilst still being able to describe the system as random whereas it’s more a form of pseudo-random.. If you were always stuck in a middle seat, and never paid for seating, then it might persuade you to try other airlines so there is a benefit to the airline to doing it like this..

        • lumma says:

          I’m sure Ryanair works on giving the cheapest middle seats out first, so if you do want to pay closer to check-in, the cheapest are gone. I always check in a few hours before the flight as the remaining seats are the better seats.

        • Lady London says:

          I tested it with Ryanair and it’s not random.
          Mathematically the outcome might be the same if the seats were gettig close to full, but with the seats not very booked the Ryanair result was the same as Rob got above.

        • TimM says:

          Yes, the first two times I flew Ryanair, booked 6+ months in advance for two people, they have allocated us two middle seats 10+ rows apart. Ryanair are not the worst airline in many regards, surprisingly, but you do need to pay extra to choose sensible seating. Add it in to the airfare. then compare. Their auto-allocation algorithm is deliberate and spiteful.

          Rob refused to pay to choose a seat with Norse, he was allocated the worst seats both ways, even when the cabin was almost empty. This comes straight from the Ryanair upselling rulebook.

          • ADS says:

            “deliberate and spiteful” and also dangerous

            In the event of an incident, having a family group split up results in time spent searching for your loved ones, instead of exiting the aircraft

            The CAA should demand that Ryanair stop their dangerous (and spiteful) behaviour

  • Andrew J says:

    Sounds a disorganised mess. Thanks for doing these reviews so I know to avoid.

  • Vit says:

    Haha. Nice one Rob. Getting flytoget into Oslo was a breeze but yes a bit on the expensive side I had to say. I think on average I ended up spending £200ish a day for hotel and food (obviously with lunch at the office) and not including night out with the team obviously. 😅

    • John says:

      Oslo has a Gatwick Express situation. 210kr for the express or 114 kr for the normal train that takes the same amount of time. Only difference is the normal train is usually every 20 minutes while the express is every 10 (but normal train may be more frequent in the peaks).

      For a 24 hour stay you can pay 267kr for a 24 hour ticket that includes unlimited travel to and from the airport plus unlimited transport in the city. (For undisclosed reasons, I had to spend most of my trip going to and from the airport)

      I also got grilled for my 18 hour trip recently. The Scandinavian countries seem to like it now even though I never got grilled on my Australian passport in the early 2010s

      • Vit says:

        Yes, I was told that by the colleagues there regarding the train. With company email, we get a slight discount from flytoget. Of course they are all reimbursable but still very good to know as other mentioned this could be a very good ex-UK flight option. I was also grilled by not having invitation letter for the business meeting upon arrival. 😀

      • Ken says:

        Yes, I took the normal train to the airport yesterday. It was non-stop and cost me the equivalent of £7.71. I couldn’t see the point of the Flytoget.

      • Lyn says:

        @John, may I ask if that was on an Australian or UK passport?

  • Dubious says:

    Departing internationally from Nordic airports is one place where the onboard catering is worth paying for instead of the in airport prices.

  • memesweeper says:

    For people who love an ‘ex-EU’ price, this looks like the perfect one-way to start.

    • Richie says:

      The route to Oslo for the aircraft is NYC-LGW-Oslo, don’t forget if the aircraft gets stuck in NY then you won’t be going to Oslo. Highly risky and worth avoiding.

      • Andrew J says:

        Good point! I hadn’t factored that into my reasons to avoid.

        • Rob says:

          Oh come on. It lands in Gatwick at 6.30am and leaves at noon. That’s what I call adequate padding.

          • Richie says:

            Let’s not forget how long passengers were stuck in LA and FLL for by the predessor Norwegian. Norse won’t have adequate back up crews in NY and LGW, because it costs too much, weather and tech problems can cause crew to go out of hours, no crew means significant flight delays. It’s too risky for me.

          • Nick says:

            How long do you think the flight would be delayed if something broke on arrival at JFK? Is there a back-up plane available? Do they have dedicated engineers in New York, or are they a customer of someone else?

          • Rob says:

            BA would have left my wife stranded for 48 hours in Frankfurt recently if I hadn’t been able to do some jiggling and cut it to 24 hours, so I’m not sure this logic holds up in the current environment.

          • Callum says:

            And if the aircraft gets taken out of service while in New York? “Oh come on” indeed…

          • Rob says:

            Obviously there is some risk but you are fooling yourself if you think BA is much better at the moment in terms of giving you immediate alternatives.

      • Neil says:

        You could say that about any aircraft though unless its on its first flight of the day.

        • Richie says:

          It’s availability of standby crew that’s important when things go off schedule. easyJet saved me from a trip going way off schedule because they had a standby crew available.

          • Brian78 says:

            “Obviously there is some risk but you are fooling yourself if you think BA is much better at the moment in terms of giving you immediate alternatives.”

            You’re not wrong but BA isn’t the only alternative option

  • Graham Walsh says:

    Never get the airport train unless you’re in a rush or 5am in the morning. The standard train from Platform 4 into the city take about a few minutes longer and half the price.

  • lumma says:

    I think I’ve only been asked once my reasons for entering the Schengen area, which was Portugal and it was a pleasant “are you just here for a holiday?”

    Passport is already around half full of Schengen stamps too

    • Rhys says:

      Yes, but were you staying for just 24 hours?!

      • Bagoly says:

        Interesting point – I would have thought they were more concerned about people taking jobs, which would usually be about staying for a longer rather than a shorter time.
        Staying for 24 hours suggests only meetings.
        Or are they thinking of people like specialist engineers who do fly for a particular maintenance assignment?

        • Rob says:

          It was nearer 40 hours albeit I only got 1 day in Oslo, getting to the hotel at 5pm and leaving at 6am two nights later.

        • Londonsteve says:

          In essence the concern around short duration business travellers is also about taking jobs. Potentially cheaper third country nationals being parachuted into the EU to perform work that could and should be done by someone employed and paying taxes within the EU, under the auspices of having ‘meetings’. The financial motivation to use third country staff is less obvious if sending people from the UK but the motivation becomes clearer if, say, a colleague was travelling from Ukraine (in peacetime), who also have visa-free travel to the EU for 90 in 180 days. In the case of the UK it’s more likely that employers would send staff into the EU for work simply because they don’t have the subsidiaries and manpower in the EU. A lot of US firms treated the UK as their EU headquarters, except it’s no longer EU and they had next to no footprint on the continent. US investment banks, for example, had a staggeringly small footprint in places like Paris and Frankfurt, some major banks didn’t even have a branch or a rep office. There is particular sensitivity around having third country nationals sent into the EU to conduct regulated business when the correct approach would be for the company to establish an EU subsidiary employing people on local job contracts, their staff appropriately authorised by the local regulator to conduct regulated business.

      • lumma says:

        I did a day trip to Luxembourg recently and wasn’t asked anything.

        I’ve entered over 10 Schengen countries over the last 12 months or so and I’ve never been asked how long I’m staying, nor can they see if I’m carrying hardly any luggage as I might need to collect bags after immigration.

        It was actually Madrid, no Portugal who asked if I was on a holiday but that was all it was, “are you here for a holiday?”

        • Harry T says:

          Yeah, I’ve entered Brussels and Dublin and probably some other EU countries for a one night stopover – no one has ever cared.

          • ADS says:

            I entered Dublin recently … and there weren’t even any border staff on duty !

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