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Flight review: Norse Atlantic 787-9 London Gatwick – New York JFK

When Norse Atlantic comes to mind, often thought of as its predecessor, Norwegian. And, despite the airline’s outlasting attempts to set Norse apart from them, there’s no hiding from the fact that they are extremely similar. Similar business model, Similar departure hubs, Even Norse Atlantic’s fleet is made up of almost entirely ex-Norwegian Boeing 787 Dreamliners. As I sit here writing this whilst looking at the Airlines ‘Vision” being projected on my seatback screen, the text seems to scream that they are making desperate attempts to disguise the fact that they are a fairly average airline. The airline states that “The Norse experience is tailored to meet your needs – it’s all about choice.” A phrase that could be described only as being niche and not something entirely true given the insane prices of pretty much everything involved in the experience bar the actual base ticket of the flight.

On the ground

Norse Atlantic’s business model is one that charges you for essentially anything, pretty standard with a low-cost carrier. However, this might cause issues if you want to travel with anything apart from a small rucksack, as the first issue which I encountered was checking in and having to pay a jaw-dropping price of around €60 per passenger for a cabin bag weighing a maximum of 10kg. For checked bags, the price was much higher. After checking in, the Norse website wouldn’t let me print out my boarding pass and made it so that I had to go to a check-in desk to print them out there. This is standard to all passengers traveling with Norse on all routes, something which I can only assume to be to make sure that passengers had stuck to their baggage allowance and to charge them even more if they hadn’t. There was one check-in desk area for all norse flights, of which there were several departing at similar times, so the queue was extremely lengthy.

The queuing process was chaotic, with us being held in there for well over an hour. As my flight approached, I remained in the queue. Different people were saying different things, with one member of staff behind the desk calling for passengers flying to JFK to jump the queue, passengers saying to just move into a separate queue on the right, and the member of staff designated to being on queue duty telling me to stay where I was and not do anything. Eventually I made it forward, only to find that I had queued all that time for someone to give me a tag for my cabin bag and print a boarding pass and send me on my way. All of this caused me to be extremely close to missing my flight, so much so that when I made it through security, the departure board was saying that my gate had closed. After a sprint to the gate to find that it was, in fact, still open, I managed to board the flight. 

Norse Atlantic

The seat

One thing which I do think Norse has managed to do well is the economy seats on board the aircraft. Seats were in a standard 3-3-3 configuration, with a decent amount of legroom, although not great for those with a height of 6 feet or above. All seats had folding headrests, which were adjustable in height, a bonus not always given on long-haul flights.

Norse Atlantic
(Image credit: Forbes)

InFlight Entertainment (IFE) and food

IFE was fairly average but lacked a few features which could be experienced with Norse’s transatlantic competitors like British Airways, United, and Virgin Atlantic. Due to the fact that it’s a Low-Cost Carrier (LCC), headphones are not included, something which I came prepared for, but those I was traveling with weren’t, and I had to pay a hefty $6 for those of very low quality. IFE systems also lacked any music, which is often included in IFE for traditional carriers. There was also a USB input for charging phones, but this was extremely slow and unreliable, taking me almost half of the flight to get my phone to full charge. The flight also had no WiFi – something becoming a bit of a given on long-haul flights.

Food could be preordered when checking in online, but was overpriced and so I decided to simply buy food at the airport and take it on-board the plane, which would have cost less. However, due to the whole queue to print out boarding passes, I had zero time to spare and was forced to buy food on the airplane, which meant that I ended up paying more for a mistake that was ultimately the airline’s fault. Once I bought the food, it was not worth what it cost. However, it was good in quality for an LCC. 

Norse Atlantic
(Image credit: Forbes)

My advice for traveling with Norse Atlantic in the future

Perhaps my main piece of advice for traveling with Norse is to get to the airport well ahead of time. Of course, this is dependent on whether the day you are traveling on is a busy one or not. For me, I got to the airport about two hours before departure, something which would give me lots of spare time on an airline like British Airways or even a different LCC like easyJet, but for Norse, I don’t think that this is likely to be possible. This can ensure that you can do other things like pay for cheaper food at the airport as well as being able to board on time. I also advise that you have music downloaded if you want to listen to it and bring your own headphones, which have an aux input, as although Norse use the modern 787-9, they don’t have Bluetooth connectivity for their IFE systems. 

Norse Atlantic
(Image credit: US Sun)

To some things up, if things are done right and with forward planning, Norse Atlantic is a valid option for flying transatlantic at low cost. If not, you soon begin to end up paying a similar price to that you would pay on a legacy carrier but doing so for a much lower quality product. However, whether the airline stays in business is a different question, with Norwegian doing a similar thing to Norse and having to end long-haul flights in 2021. Norse is trying to operate a business model that has been tried and tested over the years, with many Long-Haul LCCs going bust or operating with zero profit. The airline seems to be holding up by the looks of things, due to the fact that my flight seemed to be a relatively full one, but whether they will keep it this way is something only the future can tell. 

Read also: Flight Review: British Airways Economy Class Boeing 777-300 (LHR-BGI)

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