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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Flight Review: Avianca Long-Haul Boeing 787-8 from Bogota El Dorado to London Heathrow
Having previously flown Avianca in Short-Haul on their Airbus A320 on a domestic flight to Bogota, whilst it was slightly overpriced for the product, My expectations for their long-haul product were not too low. A lack of in-flight entertainment on the previous flight, despite the fact that the aircraft had been used for flights of up to 5 and a half hours, had made me wonder whether the same would apply to the Dreamliner. In this review, I take you through the on-ground experience, seat, entertainment, and food options for Avianca’s Intercontinental Long-Haul product.
On the Ground
Like my previous flight, check-in was easy, with the main difference being that passport details had to be entered because it was an international flight. Seat selection was not free, and I was unfortunate enough not to be assigned the emergency exit row again. It seemed the luck from the previous two flights had worn off. The major difficulty I had with Avianca on the ground was their poor planning regarding aircraft Boarding. A lack of coordination between the ground crew and aircraft-crew had led to passengers stuck standing for nearly half an hour on the jet bridge, something which could have been made better by letting us stay at the gate where seats and charging points were available.
Once we had finally boarded the aircraft, it was time to take a look at the seat. Perhaps the major annoyance was the fact that the sides of the headrest didn’t fold inwards but instead folded down. I felt this was a cheeky tactic to make you want to pay more for business class or premium economy. Legroom was fairly limited, however, the seat did come with a footrest, although it seemed primarily designed for shorter people. The seats did recline, although there seemed to be no adjustment to the IFE panel or tray table for when the passenger in front of you reclined, something which was difficult for an overnight flight when most passengers wanted to recline for sleeping purposes.
Food and Entertainment
The gift of a screaming baby a few rows ahead of me had led to a lack of sleep, and so the IFE system was the best option for reducing irritation. The selection was rather limited, with no categories of films, and so movies were all in a long list. TV shows were also available. However no selection of music, something which often appears on other airlines like Virgin Atlantic or Qatar Airways. Food was rather mediocre, with a midnight meal consisting of pasta with Ham and Cheese and breakfast an omelet.
Overall, with Avianca, it’s probably worth it if you fly on their Business Class product, which seemed cheaper than most when I looked at prices. However, if Economy is your game, then I suggest paying less to go through Lufthansa’s Frankfurt hub, as they run a flight to Bogota using their recently reintroduced Airbus A340s.
Average Avianca: Avianca Airlines A320-200 review from San Andres Island to Bogota
The National Airline of Colombia, Avianca, has long been servicing the Americas since 1919, making it the second oldest airline, just a few months younger than KLM, to remain in service. Although there have been problems along the way, as well as having to help repair Colombia’s somewhat previously broken tourism industry, Avianca still manages to maintain a short-haul fleet product that can be compared to the likes of most other traditional airlines. Join me as I walk through the On Ground experience, Seat, Food, and entertainment.
On the ground
Check-in was extremely easy, as well as the fact that this was a domestic flight and so passport details weren’t required. However, the one thing that I would pick up was that seat selection was not free, costing roughly 120,000 Colombian Pesos ($29 USD) depending on the seat. However, I was lucky enough to be randomly allocated the emergency exit row, technically giving me a free upgrade to the airline’s “Plus” seat. Boarding passes were automatically sent to me, and so all I had to do was go through security and get on the flight.
Given the fact that I had been given the upgrade, the seat was really nice. However, this seat felt like what you could normally get as the basic economy seat on an airline like British Airways, and so if I’d sat in the basic seat on Avianca, I would have felt like I was paying for a traditional airline and yet was receiving something you might find on EasyJet. It came with Folding Headrests, something I wished I would have received on my Long-Haul flight to Heathrow that I flew a day later. Because this was the emergency exit row, there was plenty of legroom to stretch out in, but this also meant that nothing was allowed to be stowed on the floor, and everything had to be in the overhead lockers instead.
Food and Entertainment
Food was purchase-only, whereas I would expect at least a light snack to be provided on my flight if I am flying with a legacy carrier, especially due to the fact that some low-cost airlines like JetBlue are offering free snacks nowadays. Despite the fact that some of Avianca’s Airbus A320s are flying flights with routes up to 6 hours in length, there was no seatback entertainment on the flight. Although, it is useful in pointing out that my seat came with charging ports and a phone holder for me to watch my own downloaded entertainment. Avianca also has a feature that allows you to watch some of their films on your own phone, known as “Avianca on Air.”
Overall, I’m not entirely sure that this is a flight that stands out to me, unlike that I had experienced earlier on my trip with JetBlue. Whilst the seat was good and comfortable, I don’t particularly feel that it was worth the extra money to be paid for it, as well as the fact that If I weren’t upgraded, I would be missing lots of the features which came with it. I would recommend Avianca for its short-haul flights. However, If you are on a route within South America which could be up to 5 and a half hours on an A320, I would probably recommend going on LATAM for a chance of a larger plane.
Flight Review: SAS A320neo London Heathrow to Stockholm Arlanda
On July 19th, I flew on Scandinavian Airlines System for the first time. My expectations had been set quite low, having flown with only European budget airlines since the start of this year. As expected, my expectations were completely exceeded when I flew with SAS, a brilliant first experience to say the least.
|Route||London Heathrow Terminal 2- Stockholm Arlanda Terminal 5|
|Flight Time||2 hours 25 minutes 06:40- 10:05|
|Baggage Allowance||20KG Loaded Bag+ 7kg Cabin Bag|
|Price||£908 (return)- NB: This flight was the first part of a connecting flight to Bangkok|
Basic flight info (N.B Prices for this flight review will be in GBP and EUR)
Due to Scandinavian Airlines being part of Star Alliance, it departs from Heathrow Terminal 2 (as of August 2023). In order to save time, I checked in online via the SAS app which was simple to use and displayed helpful notifications updating the status of your checked baggage. So I made my way over to the rather long bag drop line in the departures hall of T2 and after a good half hour, dropped my bags off and headed over to security. As my travel partner holds a Thai Airways ROP Gold Card, I was able to reap the rewards and use Terminal 2’s fast-lane security. From taking a quick look at the regular security lane, there wasn’t a big difference at all in terms of waiting times. This could’ve been due to my early flight time of 6:40 AM.
Heathrow Terminal 2’s airside is spacious and well equipped with duty-free stores, restaurants and airline lounges. I didn’t get to use any of the lounges as I was slightly pushed for time, so I headed straight over to my gate, B47. The B gates are quite a long walk away from security, so spare at least 15 minutes.
I arrived at the gate right on time, as I took a seat in the waiting area, boarding was called. Starting with SAS Plus passengers, EuroBonus Gold and Diamond members and any Star Alliance Gold Card members. Then, different boarding groups were called. SAS made the boarding very efficient, with the cabin crew calling “boarding complete” just 20 minutes after it had started.
My first impressions of the cabin were that it had a nice, relaxing colour scheme. The bulkheads had been given a light birch wood pattern that went well with the grey seats. The cabin crew welcomed passengers and showed them to their seats upon boarding and were very friendly. Unfortunately, the cabin wasn’t the cleanest, some discarded tissues were found in my seat pocket.
Now, for the seat review. This was one of the best things about SAS, their seats on the A320neo were surprisingly comfortable. Even though they look as if they lack padding and have thin cushioning, this is just an illusion. The seats were very comfortable, had great legroom and knee-room, were quite wide and had good recline as well.
In the seat pocket was an inflight menu, WiFi info card and a safety card. No airsickness bag or magazine was present. Fortunately, there was in-seat power via a USB outlet and the tray table could slide in and out, both of these were very helpful. Overall, a great seat for a short 2-hour flight.
We pushed back a few minutes ahead of schedule and as the cabin crew carried out the safety demonstration the A320neo taxiied towards the runway. The cabin lights were then dimmed as we reached the runway where the airbus accelerated down the runway and lifted into the skies of London. The take-off felt extremely powerful, so powerful that a few children started screaming.
10 short minutes after taking off from London Heathrow, the cabin crew started the inflight service. At first, I wasn’t going to bother ordering anything, but I took a look at the menu which said that water, tea and coffee are always free & complimentary on SAS flights so I asked for a cup of hot tea. There isn’t much more I can say about tea is there?
Cabin Cleanliness & Loo Review
Although the cabin was brightly lit and had a great choice of design, it wasn’t the cleanest but also not the worst I’ve seen. As mentioned earlier, there were used tissues in my seat pocket and there were specks of grime on my tray table before I scrubbed it off with a wet wipe. SAS’s A320neo is equipped with 3 lavatories, 1 in the front, and 2 in the rear. The toilets were clean and well stocked, in addition to this, they had foot-level mood lighting which was an extra bonus. Apart from the charcoal black toilet, it was pretty standard for an aircraft of this type.
Tip: When flying on SAS’s A320neo, avoid sitting in the last row; row 31. Not only is this row near the toilet, but there is no window and the recline function is also absent.
Descent & Landing
With 20 minutes to go, the captain announced our descent into Stockholm, the capital of Sweden. The cabin crew went around and collected any remaining rubbish and in a few minutes, we were a few thousand feet above Stockholm. From this particular approach path, I found there to be many turns before landing which caused much excitement among younger travellers. After a rather bumpy landing at Arlanda Airport, we taxiied to Terminal 5, where the A320neo parked right next to my next ride. A Thai Airways A350-900 that would take me to Bangkok! We disembarked the aircraft and entered the terminal. Now, for a confusing transfer experience and 3 hours of waiting!
Overall, SAS provided a great flight from London Heathrow to Stockholm Arlanda. The online check-in was simple, the boarding was efficient and the cabin had a nice design. In addition to this, the comfort of the seat and the high standard of service provided by the cabin crew also made the flight more enjoyable. Although my seat pocket wasn’t clean, the rest of the cabin and lavatories were. I would definitely fly with SAS again.
|Recommended?||Yes! SAS is a great airline|
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