Norwegian Boeing 737MAX Flight Review

On June 29th, Norwegian became the first European airline to receive the new, state of the art, Boeing 737MAX. The new 737 variant boasts a reduced fuel consumption of 14% from the B737NG. While Norwegian made the headlines by becoming the first European airline to receive the aircraft, they also made the noteworthy decision to operate it on transatlantic flights during the high season. I flew onboard EI-FYA, the first of the MAX aircraft to be received, on flight D81600 on August 25th from Edinburgh to New York Stewart Airport to see what all the fuss was about.

The view from the jetbridge

The Aircraft

The aircraft is set up with 189 standard economy seats in 32 rows of a 3-3 configuration. The seat chosen by Norwegian is the ultra-thin Recaro Leather seat, the same as that on their -800 models. This is a seat Jet2 also use. The effect of using this slim, leather seat is more legroom and a lighter aircraft.

Exit row 16

LED mood lighting is also in use on this aircraft which is used to improve passenger ‘comfort and ambience’. The aircraft offers three extra seats on the front port side compared to some of the 737-800 models. Each seat offers 29-31” of pitch and 17.2” of width. These measurements are nothing major to brag about for Norwegian as they are up to 2 inches smaller than the measurements on the 787. The exit row seats have a much more generous 38” of pitch and are located in rows 15 and 16. I was sat in seat 16A.

Exit row 15

The aircraft is fitted with 2 CFM International LEAP-1B engines. These engines are designed to increase efficiency and reduce fuel consumption. They are fitted with chevrons, similar to those on the 787, to reduce engine noise.

CFM International LEAP-1B engine

The MAX has two galleys, one at the front and one at the rear and includes three lavatories.

One of the most modern elements of the B737MAX is the cockpit. The flight deck boasts huge screens with higher levels of automation than any other 737 before it.

The flightdeck of EI-FYA

The Flight

After arrival in Edinburgh I was taken on a ramp tour by Norwegian’s ground staff, Swissport. The tour was an amazing way of viewing the new MAX up close and I was really impressed with the way Norwegian have kept the aircraft looking so brand new. The tour took me inside the aircraft, too. I was able to get cabin shots and cockpit shots before heading back to the gate and boarding as a normal passenger.

Still looks brand new

Boarding began once the aircraft had been turned around from its short hop to Oslo during the day. My seat for the flight was 16A, an exit row seat, and I was really impressed with the comfort and legroom offered. Doors shut 15 minutes later and we pushed back, on time, at 17.15. We took off on runway 24R from Edinburgh and I was amazed at the small amount of noise the aircraft produced on the takeoff run. After takeoff from EDI we banked right and began our initial cruise at 33,000ft over the north of Scotland to the Southern tip of Greenland before ascending to 38,000ft for approach into the US and Canada.

Departure from Edinburgh’s 24R

Only after landing could I look at our flightpath for the day. I would have liked to see Norwegian introduce a flight map on the overhead screens.

We were looked after fantastically by the four cabin crew members who went above and beyond to meet our needs throughout the flight. I am really happy I had the opportunity to meet them. A special thank you to Eilidh and Kevin who went above and beyond to make sure we were happy during the flight.

My ticket included a ‘Nice and Tasty Meal’ which was served at 18.30 and consisted of a choice between chicken or beef. I chose the chicken. The meal consisted of a piece of chicken on rice with a peas and sweetcorn side, a small pot of pasta and for dessert, a Belgian chocolate square. I was really impressed with the food I was served and would definitely recommend it. The meal comes with one drink of your choice, too. It will cost you £25 to add this meal to your ticket. Other buy on board meals include sandwiches at $7 and salads at $9.

We landed at Stewart International at 19.40 local time to conclude a flight of 7 hours and 10 minutes.

On final approach into Stewart

So, what exactly does a passenger do for 7 hours? Norwegian aim to provide complimentary wifi on their 737MAX aircraft within a year, but for now, it is non-existent. While the framework for internet connectivity is in place, final preparation needs to be completed. The aircraft provides no IFE apart from a few screens above the seats. On the 737-800 product, seats are fitted with headphone jacks to tune into the audio on the screens but the MAX isn’t equipped with this. This raises the question of the necessity of them. Without Wifi, passengers should download their own entertainment before flying and maybe load up a portable charger, too. The seats aren’t equipped with any AC or USB power ports so a full battery is needed to take you across the Atlantic. Passengers are, also, not given any blankets or pillows for the flight. I, however, didn’t find this a problem as temperature and comfort didn’t were not an issue.

My choice of entertainment was editing, of course.

If you’re looking for a comfortable ride across the Atlantic, then choosing the exit row seat is very important. The extra legroom under the seat in front results in quite a comfortable ride and space to stretch your legs. The legroom offered on a normal seat is, as you might expect, on the small side. With less legroom than the larger 787 models, you are likely to feel the limited space over the 7 hour flight. You can choose your own seat for a price of £25 on the cheapest ‘lowfare’ ticket and I would definitely suggest that. At no extra cost than a normal seat, you can sit in the exit row or front of the aircraft and enjoy much more comfort.

The exit row offers 38″ of pitch. A comfortable option.

We landed at SWF’s gate number 1 and were led through into the first ever airport I have witnessed where you reclaim your baggage before getting through security. Being last off the aircraft meant that we had a slight queue getting out of the airport but nonetheless, were outside 40 minutes after touchdown at 20.40. This is a huge selling point for both Norwegian and Stewart. With so few flights it is almost unlikely you’ll be held up for anymore than 30 minutes after arriving on stand. Until the arrival of Norwegian, Stewart handled only domestic traffic. For this reason, measures have had to be taken to establish a sterile area where international arrivals can be cleared. This requires the erecting of a screen to block access into the landside departures area. You can read more about this in my upcoming article on Stewart Airport.

Baggage reclaim

Norwegian have to be praised for the product they are offering. They have opened up transatlantic travel to people that, before, could never afford it.

How have they done it?

By using modern, efficient, aircraft, they are cutting the fuel costs by up to 14% from the older 737NGs. They mix this with flying into smaller airports where landing fees are a fraction of that of bigger, more popular airports (ie: JFK and EWR). The final money saver is a model that lets passengers choose the products they want to add to their ticket. By not offering complimentary food and drinks, seat selection or hold luggage, passengers have to pay for what they need.

This model means that getting to the East Coast can be as affordable as a train journey from London to Manchester and is opening up the market to people that could, previously, never afford the privilege.

The state of the art B737MAX uses up to 14% less fuel than the older 737NGs

CONCLUSION

By flying on Norwegian’s 737max to the East Coast, you aren’t going to receive a service comparable to other airlines in regards to complimentary amenities. But you also aren’t going to pay anywhere near what you’d pay other airlines. Norwegian offers a no-frills service that is cheap – very cheap, and for this reason they have to be congratulated

I had a very enjoyable flight with Norwegian on the MAX and I am really impressed with the business model they have created, that lets more people than ever before fly transatlantic, and hope to see a lot of you do it in the future.

disclaimer: this trip was provided by Norwegian Air

More Boeing 737 Reviews on LondonSpotter:

July 2017 Delivery Report

In July it was Airbus who made the front pages as they delivered their 100th Airbus A350 aircraft. China Airlines received the aircraft and held a small ceremony at the Toulouse delivery centre. At the end of June, Airbus had 628 firm orders for the aircraft and plan to churn out 10 every month until the end of 2018. They must have been to busy organising the ceremony this month to meet that target as only four other aircraft were delivered. Cathay Pacific, Thai, Singapore and Asiana all added one aircraft to their growing fleets.

China Airlines were one of four airlines who added to their fleet of A350s in July. Photo: Airbus

The A350’s main competitor, the 787, made the headlines in Korea as it was delivered to Korean Air’s base in Seoul. The B787-9, HL8081, was the first Dreamliner delivered to them since April and their 3rd in total. Other airlines to receive the B787 included Norwegian, who topped the tables for most 787 deliveries this month with three, Air India (1), LOT (1), Etihad (2), JAL (1), Saudia (1), KLM (1), Hainan (1) and ANA (1).

Norwegian added three 787s to their fleet. Two have a UK registration and one a Norwegian. Photo by Boeing

The small Spanish long-haul airline who operate weekly flights to South America from Madrid Barajas with three A340-300 aircraft acquired off Gulf Air have taken delivery of a B777-200 aircraft. EC-MIA was originally delivered to Asiana in 2002 and then operated for Privilege Style, a Spanish Charter airline. Other B777 deliveries include single additions to the fleets of Kuwait, China Eastern, PIA and Saudia and a double addition for Air China.

Another airline to put an old aircraft back into service was Wamos Air. The arrival of EC-MQK, a Boeing 747-400, means that the aircraft will once again fly commercially after being returned from lease in April. The B747 was originally delivered to Malaysian in 1998 and has since operated for NasAir, EagleExpress and Saudia. Korean Air also added a 747 to their fleet, a 747-8i.

Wamos Air increased their 747 fleet by one. Photo by Pawel Guraj on airplanephotos.net

S7 received their first A320neo in July while Scoot acquired 23 A320s off of TigerAir after the merger was announced on July 25th. Air India received their first A320neo in a month, taking their total number of NEO aircraft to eight. Lufthansa were another airline who received a NEO aircraft; it was their first since December 2016.

SWISS took delivery of their second CS300 aircraft to add to their fleet of CS100s that are replacing the Avros on their short-haul flights. You can read our exclusive trip report on the CS100 here.

SWISS CS100 cockpit by James Oates. Read our exclusive CS100 flight review on the flight review page.

And yes, I haven’t forgotten about the A380. In July Airbus rolled out one A380 to Emirates.

Next month promises more exciting deliveries and more to talk about. Join the discussion in the comments section below or on social media. Tag your Instagram stories with #londonspottercouk to join the discussion.

Norwegian Get MAXxed and Other June Deliveries

In June, it was Norwegian who stole the show as they received delivery of their first two B737MAX aircraft, EI-FYA and EI-FYB.

EI-FYA and EI-FYB at the Boeing delivery centre. Photo from Boeing

Norwegian are the first European carrier to operate the aircraft and will be using the MAX between Europe and the USA. Norwegian have named their first 737MAX “Sir Freddie Laker.” In 1966, Laker revolutionised air travel by founding Laker Airways and beginning the movement of “no-frills” air travel, a model which has been adopted by most of the successful airline business models today.

“This aircraft allows us to open up new, unserved routes and offer both Americans and Europeans even more affordable transatlantic fares. It will also provide our passengers with a quieter onboard experience, whilst it significantly reduces both fuel use and carbon dioxide emissions.”

Bjørn Kjos, Norwegian’s Chief Executive Officer.

Have Norwegian revolutionised transatlantic travel or will the plan fall through? Get in touch to have your say.

WOW Air took delivery of their first A321neo on June 20th. The aircraft is registered TF-SKY and will operate out of Iceland to the USA and Europe.

EasyJet have taken delivery of two Airbus 320neo aircraft, G-UZHA and G-UZHB. Both aircraft were delivered to London Luton, however G-UZHA has relocated to London Gatwick where it will operate from now on.

Easyjet receiving their first A320neo and their 300th single-aisled aircraft from Airbus. Picture from Airbus

SAS Scandinavian received two more A320neo aircraft, taking there total number to nine. SE-ROC and SE-ROB were the new arrivals.

Finnair took delivery of two new Airbus A350s, while Cathay Pacific received three. Singapore, Thai and Ethiopian added just the one to their fleets.

Finnair continued to add to their fleet of A350s in June. Photo from Finnair.

American had the most 787s delivered in June with three, followed by Air Canada on two and LOT, Etihad, ANA, Saudi, Air Europa and Ethiopian who upped their total number by one.

After Airbus rolled out three A380s in May, June was another disappointing month for them as they delivered none. Emirates, Singapore and Qatar currently have aircraft built and still at Toulouse so look out for them in next months delivery report.

Is there a future for the Airbus A380? Get in touch via the comment section below or social media to have your say.

Other new stories:

Drastic route change for United who have surprised many from partly withdrawing from the UK market. But why?.

A new business class product onboard El Al Israel has made many turn their heads. Its a pretty impressive upheaval of what used to be a very outdated product.

For all of you reading I can reveal that there are some exciting trips coming on LondonSpotter travel blog! Make sure you hit the follow button so you can keep up to date with all the latest trips, news and much more. You can read about all my trips here.

Ryanair Takes Delivery of 450th 737-800

On March 21st, budget airline Ryanair took delivery of their 450th next generation B737-800.

“Ryanair is proud to partner with Boeing and has operated an all-Boeing fleet since 1994. Our current order of 737-800s and the 737-MAX 200 ‘Gamechanger’ will allow us to grow our fleet to 585 aircraft and our passenger numbers to 200 million per annum by 2024, maintaining our position as Europe’s largest, and greenest and cleanest airline”

Ryanair’s Chief Operations Officer, Mick Hickey.

The new B737 Max will hold up to 200 passengers which adds an extra 11 seats from the current B737-800s but most importantly, will provide huge savings on fuel efficiency. Ryanair currently has 100 unfilled orders of the aircraft. The order means that Ryanair will carry 200,000,000 passengers by 2024.

“Ryanair has consistently demonstrated the outstanding economic, reliability and safety capabilities of the Next-Generation 737-800, using this airplane as the foundation to become one of the biggest airlines in the world. To deliver the 450th 737-800 is truly a significant milestone in both companies shared history and we look forward to supporting Ryanair on the next phase of its incredible journey with the introduction of the 737 MAX 200.”

Monty Oliver, vice president, European Sales, Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

Other related news:

  • Norwegian have already unveiled their plans to use the 737 Max on transatlantic routes. The airline have 108 on order.
  • Easyjet are set to receive their first A320NEO in the next few months. They have a total of 130 on order.
  • Asiana have taken delivery of their first A350XWB. This is the first of two that they have on order.

Anything you want covered on my next post? Drop me a message on Instagram and I’ll try fit it in!

Until Next Time Aviators

Photo by Boeing Company

BA Inaugural B777 Economy Review

On March 25th 2017, British Airways began operations to Madrid with a Boeing 777.  I was on the inaugural flight. I was eager to arrive at London Heathrow early enough to spend a good amount of time in British Airways’ Galleries Lounge before departure.

BA’s South Galleries Lounge

Our flight departed from Terminal 5’s B gates so we hopped on the transfer train and arrived within minutes. Our aircraft had been changed the night before from a 777-200 to the 300ER variable which was great news for us as it offered the experience to witness the huge GE90 engines in action. They put on quite a show. The aircraft was G-STBD.

G-STBD seen at her gate before boarding for Madrid

We boarded punctually and took our seats ready for pushback. The Boeing 777-300ER is configured in a four class layout. The newly designed First Cabin takes up rows 1-4 in a 1-2-1 configuration allowing plenty of privacy and new electronic blind windows. BA have received some criticism for their First product with some comparing it to the high end business products used on other airlines. The Club, or business, cabin is unique to BA with its alternating forward and backward seating allowing for a 2-4-2 configuration while still allowing some kind of privacy and a lay flat bed. British Airways’ new Premium Economy or World Traveller cabin is featured with an enhanced seat and a larger personal television. World Traveller features a new slimmer seat, with a hard back. Rows 21-50 are configured in a 3-3-3 economy layout.

The views from the club cabin were fantastic! Our 777 was fitted with GE90 engines which delivered a fantastic sound on takeoff and some amazing pictures during the crossing. The crew onboard were friendly and apart from one crew member, were happy for us to roam through the Club and First cabins taking pictures. It was also very nice to be recognised onboard by one of the crew members themselves!

 

 

The flight offered me the opportunity to experience one of British Airways’ long- haul jets for an affordable price and gave me a good insight into the service BA are offering onboard their 777s.

It is hard to fully complement BA on this product, however. The Club seats may be comfortable and tick boxes for being lie-flat but still come up short of other airlines because of the forward/backward layout. Passengers are faced with the decision to draw the centre blind in order for some privacy or lie awkwardly close to another passengers heads. This is the only drawback of a well organised B777-300 product.

The day wasn’t over yet! Our return leg was operated by one of Iberia’s A340-600s.

Until Next Time!

More Boeing 777 Reviews on LondonSpotter:

Iberia’s A340-600 Flight Review

I always love having the opportunity to fly onboard a long-haul jet on a short-haul route as it gives me a fantastic opportunity to blog about the experience on a bigger plane that I wouldn’t usually be able to afford a seat on.

My trip began in Iberia’s lounge for One World Silver members which overlooks a northern taxiway at MAD. The food was excellent and free WiFi was provided as well as a spectacular view of TAM’s Airbus A350. After eating far too much, I headed to my gate which was, too my surprise, packed!

I was very surprised by the amount of passengers on the flight. By looking at the load sheet I saw that it was almost at it’s 352 passenger capacity. Justification for using such a large aircraft on the route, I suppose.

The aircraft is split between two cabins; Business Plus and Economy. The BP cabin is used on the front 12 rows of the aircraft in a 1-2-1 configuration while the economy cabin covers rows 14-52 in a 2-4-2 configuration. Both the business and economy cabins are equipped with seat-back televisions showing a wide range of films and documentaries in different languages but as this was only a 2.5 hour flight, I was keen not to waste anytime.

My day had been extremely busy as I had been up at 3.30am that morning to catch the bus to LHR for my morning flight out to Madrid. I have to embarrassingly admit that I fell asleep in the middle of the flight for around 25 minutes. What a waste, I thought! I made a small trip to the rear of the aircraft so as to see the whole economy cabin and I was really impressed with the state of the cabin seeing as our bird, EC-JLE,was approaching her 12th birthday! The seat gave generous space and at full recline, 2 windows. What more could an avgeek want?

As with other airlines today, including Iberia’s IAG and Oneworld partner BA, Iberia has ceased to offer a free food service. In economy, you had the option to buy certain sandwiches and meal deals but I restrained myself. It is sad to see this being put in place on many national carriers at the moment and was one of the main reasons Air France stuck out to me. As the flight came to an end, I couldn’t help but wish we had circled for a little longer or even returned to Madrid! An excellent flight on one of the most beautiful aircraft out there and a really special treat for any avgeek wanting to travel on a long-haul jet that is strapped for cash.

Air France Premium Economy Review

Air France’s first 787 was delivered to them on November 26th 2016. When it was announced that the aircraft would operate on the LHR-CDG route, I booked immediately.
It is important to note that I booked the flight for February 14th but due to the aircraft going to tech in Cairo, the flight was operated by an A321. I called Air France who quickly and easily changed my booking to Saturday 25th of February. Very good customer service.

I arrived at Heathrow early enough to see my aircraft land and role into gate 11 at Heathrow’s Terminal 4. I wasn’t surprised to see fellow aviation bloggers and fans watch the arrival. There was a real sense of excitement to fly on this aircraft for the first time. I was allowed to board before Air France’s premium customers to get some photos of the aircraft’s interior.

Once onboard the Dreamliner I was allowed into the flightdeck for a few minutes and then led to my seat by Pascal, who was flying on the 787 for the first time. My seat was a premium economy seat, 10K, and had a fantastic view of the right engine.

In the premium cabin you get a fantastic window view and excellent sense of the huge size of the GEnx-1B engines. The configuration of the premium cabin is very impressive for the small cost at which you can sit in it. The setup is 2-3-2 which differs from the 3-3-3 cabin in economy. This means you can both sit with a friend on either side of the cabin to enjoy the flight together or sit alone in one of the seats and have a decent separation gap between you and your neighbour. The seats are supplied with headphones and reading lights in the middle for you to watch a film or read a book mid-flight. The seats are extremely comfortable and sit in a white shell which helps you not interfere in others personal space behind you. I was struck by both the comfort and the width of the seats which allow you to relax and enjoy the flight. The legroom is also very impressive. Admittedly, I was sitting in seat 10K which is at the front of the cabin but I could stretch my legs out fully and had two windows that I could look out of. Overall, a fantastic cabin on this aircraft and a great job by Air France.

As this was a morning flight, I was given a choice of coffee or tea and a croissant. They were both very tasty, but even better was the cost (free) which is becoming a rare novelty in economy cabins as airlines make cuts to increase their profit and allow reductions in price to oppose the rise of budget carriers.

The crew were one of the friendliest I have seen. Whether this was because they were all newly trained on the aircraft, I don’t know. They were happy to chat to me during the flight and were overly polite while serving customers. The feeling I got from them was one of real excitement to be flying on this new aircraft.

Conclusion

Air France have done a fantastic job with the design of this B787, especially in the premium cabin, and the crew were fantastic. I thought the flight was a really enjoyable one and I would recommend Air France to anyone. Professional, clean and very appealing. Well done Air France.

Air France A318 Flight Review CDG-LHR

My return flight from Paris was operated by F-GUGR, an A318 delivered to Air France in February 2007. This aircraft is the newest of the A318s in Air France’s fleet.

Once onboard the flight I handed the crew my business card and a small letter asking if I could be in the cockpit for ground preparation. They said yes and I stayed in the jump seat during take off. This was a great surprise and very kind of Air France for organising this.

The cabin of the A318 is the basic 3-3 layout with 26 Business seats at the front and 92 economy seats at the rear. The business seats are layed out in a 2-2 configuration with a missing seat in the middle of each row for extra space.
I was sat in seat 19K which had a good view of the wing and a basic amount of legroom. The Air France crew were not as excited and enthusiastic as the crew I had onboard the Air France 787 but definitely stood out in relation to other crews I have seen. They served us in a very polite and professional manner.

For this afternoon flight I was offered a wrap and a coffee. Nothing major as an economy flyer. All in all, nothing to complain about. A good short haul service by Air France.

 

More A320 Family Reviews on LondonSpotter:

EasyJet’s New Cabin Review

My flight on G-EZXW was my first time onboard EasyJet’s new cabin. I have to say that I am impressed.
Easyjet’s new cabin holds 6 extra passengers and boasts LED lighting throughout the aircraft. The updated look really suits the aircraft and helps EasyJet look more professional. The cabin also has a new toilet at the rear, improved tray tables that can hold tablets and new carpets throughout the aircraft.
The issue with EasyJet, like many budget airlines, is that you have to pay for your food. With that aside, it is very expensive too… For a drink and snack you pay a minimum of £3.60 and for a main meal such as a wrap, baguette or toastie, a drink and a snack you pay £6.50.
Next time, I’ll be sure to pick something a bit cheaper up at the airport!
The crew members on the aircraft were, thankfully, a lot nicer than the airport staff in Lisbon who we had several problems with after being delayed. We were treated pretty poorly and herded like sheep. But for the cheap airfare, who is complaining? (Me a little) I had a nice time with a couple of the cabin crew in the rear galley who told me about all the new cabin features. Overall I’d rate them quite highly. Something important I learnt is that by flying EasyJet, it’s not necessarily your experience in the air that will be affected but your time getting onto and off the aircraft. The customer service EasyJet offer is really poor at the airport and for that reason, if you enjoy spending your time in lounges or being treated well while flying, I would avoid them. For the rare flyer, holiday maker and non avgeek, Easyjet have done it very well. By offering cheap airfares they stay competitive.

I salute Easyjet for mixing budget fairs with half decent service but for a traveller who loves a good airline experience, Easyjet offers nothing. Budget boredom.

Spot the difference with the two Easyjet cabins. Old vs New.