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Norwegian Air is one of the most affordable carriers when it comes to booking flights between the US and Europe, often coming in hundreds of dollars cheaper than other airlines. The cheap tickets, however, do come with some restrictions that it’s important to be aware of before booking to make sure that you don’t end up with additional charges once your trip rolls around.
We flew with Norwegian Air at Christmas last year and I’ve had a few questions about the experience so I thought I’d write a Norwegian Air Economy review of our trip (just covering the London to Orlando portion since we slept through the Orlando to London trip!) so I could explain the ins and outs of flying with this particular carrier and everything you should know before booking a ticket.
Note: this route is currently unavailable with no return date yet announced
Buying tickets with Norwegian Air
When booking Economy class tickets with Norwegian Air, you have a couple of different options: LowFare, LowFare+ and Flex. Unless you really need the flexibility with the dates, I wouldn’t suggest booking a Flex ticket; the prices are much higher than the other options, which really defeats the purpose of choosing a more affordable airline.
As with most airlines these days, when you look at ticket prices initially, the LowFare ones (Norwegian’s version of basic economy) are the ones that will pop up, so unless you’re willing to go that route, know that those initial prices are probably not going to be actually what you end up paying.
Let’s look at what’s included: with LowFare, you get a free carry on bag…and that’s it!
With a LowFare+ ticket, you get a carry on bag, a checked bag, seat selection, and a meal for every ticket holder. On this particular flight from London to Orlando, there was a $100 price difference (per ticket) between LowFare and LowFare+ and for us it was worth the extra cost to pay the difference.
While we’re working on packing light in order to travel with carry on bags only in the future, travel with two young kids means I need to be able to select our seats in advance to make sure we can all sit together.
If you don’t need any of the added amenities that come with LowFare+ then LowFare might work for you, but I would guess that for most families, this option won’t work.
Norwegian Air check in at Gatwick Airport
We arrived for our flight to Orlando three hours before the departure time, and found no lines at Norwegian’s check in desk at Gawtick Airport.
Although we had attempted to check in online ahead of time, this had only worked for the boys and not for myself, so we left plenty of time to make sure there were no issues (the cause for this was never fully explained, but it’s usually something to do with traveling to the US on a British passport with no ESTA, which I don’t need since I have a Permanent Resident Card – this always seems to raise red flags!)
We had been warned ahead of time that Norwegian Air were sticklers for weight and size when it came to carry on bags, and this turned out to be true; all of our carry on bags were weighed and measured, then they were tagged to show that they passed.
If your carry on bag is even slightly over their size restriction, I would consider looking into something smaller since the last thing you want is to have to check a bag unexpectedly because it doesn’t meet their requirements (these are my recommendations for the best carry on for kids for plane travel).
The Norwegian Air Dreamliner
Although the boarding process was slightly delayed (as was the take off), it all went smoothly and we found our pre-selected seats with no problems.
One of our favorite things about flying with Norwegian Air on this particular route was flying on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. We absolutely love this plane! My favorite thing is that the windows are bigger and have an electronic dimming effect instead of the regular open and close window shade; this means that you can adjust the brightness of the light coming in when things get a little bright instead of closing the shade and missing all of the views – it also meant my toddler couldn’t spend the whole flight trying to open and close the window shade!
I love sitting by the window and always have the window shade open, but I often feel bad when the sun is super bright outside; this meant I could still see out the window without blinding my fellow passengers.
The Dreamliner also has some fantastic ambient lighting, and the improved air circulation means that you really do feel less drained and dehydrated when you get off the plane. In the past I’ve had problems with getting dehydrated when flying and even having had a glass of wine, I felt fine when we got off this nine hour flight.
The seating is a 3-3-3 configuration and the two aisles made the economy cabin seem a little more spacious. Overall we were comfortable during the long trip, and I’m really looking forward to flying on this plane again in the future.
What is included with Norwegian Air in economy (and what isn’t!)
Since we purchased LowFare+ tickets, we had a hot meal included during the flight, and the flight attendants came around with cups of water a few times during the flight.
Guys, that was about it.
If we wanted other drinks or snacks, we had to pay for those. I’d done my research and knew this ahead of time, but I heard a couple of other passengers complaining that they had to pay for things like soda or a cookie.
You can bring as much food on board as you want, and I came loaded up with snacks for the kids so since they had a meal included, they didn’t need any additional snacks purchased, and we all drank water. I did purchase a glass of wine, which I always consider my reward for traveling alone with kids!
The purchasing process was not only simple, but super convenient. Everything can be purchased from the seat back screen, and at the start of the flight, I swiped my credit card so it was already on file when I needed to purchase anything.
I only used it for a glass of wine and some earphones (the downside of wireless headphones being that you can’t use them on a plane to watch a movie!) but it was a very convenient process. Once I’d purchased something, a flight attendant brought it over within a few minutes.
Not only did this mean that there was very little wait for what we needed, but it meant the flight attendants weren’t constantly having to walk up and down the aisles with drinks and food services, they just came around when needed.
The meals that came included were typical plane food. When I booked the tickets, I ordered a vegetarian meal for myself and kids meals for the boys. The boys meals were actually really tasty; pasta with meat sauce and chocolate cookies. My meal was a roasted vegetable pasta dish that was enjoyable.
A couple of hours before landing we were offered cold sandwiches and chips, which we ended up declining because it was getting late and we weren’t that hungry.
Since the flight was later on in the day (departing Gatwick around 3pm), it started to get dark about halfway through the flight, which meant my kids (miraculously) fell asleep for the last few hours. I really liked the timing of this flight, but if you’re coming to Orlando on vacation and need to pick up a rental car and get to your hotel, it will be pretty late before you get there – we live 30 minutes from the airport and didn’t get home until 10pm.
Inflight entertainment was also included, and the choices of TV shows and movies was pretty typical for a transatlantic crossing, keeping us all entertained for at least a portion of the flight.
As mentioned, I had to buy earphones so if you don’t want to have to pay for them onboard, be sure to bring them with you (and make sure they’re not wireless!) There was also an inflight map so you can see all of the details of the flight.
Final thoughts about Norwegian Air Economy
We loved pretty much everything about Norwegian, and I’d definitely fly with them again. As long as you’re aware of what’s included and what’s not, you can plan accordingly to make sure you pay for what you need and bring on board other things that you might want to bring with you.
My recommendations for traveling on Norwegian Air in Economy:
– check and double check the ticket you’re booking to make sure everything you need to be included is covered.
– measure your bags to make sure that they fit the size and weight requirements – and then measure them again!
– plan to bring on board anything that isn’t covered by your ticket. If you’re traveling with kids (or if you just like to snack during a flight) and don’t want to spend a small fortune on food on board, bring a wide variety of snacks with you. It’s also a good idea to bring headphones for kids so you don’t need to buy them if they want to watch the movie on board (take a look at some recommendations for some of the best headphones for kids), and a bunch of activities for kids to keep them busy.
Overall, I’d definitely recommend Norwegian Air Economy for an affordable way to get to Europe from the US, and I’m sure we’ll fly with them again in the future.