Sweden Introduces New Aviation Tax

On April 1st, Sweden introduced a new aviation tax to all passenger flights departing the country, with hopes that it will help to limit the effect that air travel has on the environment.

Anyone travelling with Swedish based carriers such as SAS Scandinavian will be affected.

All flights departing on an aircraft that carries 10 passengers or more, will now have an added charge of between 60 to 400 Swedish Krona on it. The exact charge will vary depending on the destination of the flight. There are exemptions to this tax; with Flight Crew, children under the age of 2 and any passengers that have not yet reached their final destination.

When speaking to journalists from the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, Climate Minister Isabella Lovin stated, “The objective of the tax is to minimize the carbon footprint of flights following the sharp rise in air travel”. The same newspaper held a poll amongst it’s readers, to which 53% of Swedes said they support the governments ruling to introduce the tax.

Should we be more focused on Bio-Fuels instead of taxing carbon emissions? The Centre Party certainly think so…

The move has not been without criticism, with political organisation Centre Party strongly opposing the ruling. Instead they have called for airlines to be committed to using a set percentage of Bio-Fuels in their day to day operations. Surprisingly, the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency has also spoken out against the Tax. Mats Björsell, a spokesperson for the Agency has said that the tax isn’t expected to have a major impact on the amount of emissions produced. Speaking to a local radio station he said, “There’s no direct effect on the emissions, it’s there, but that’s not important, but you have to start somewhere to pay for the climate impact from our flights“.

What do you think of the Tax, Is it a good Idea? Let us know on Twitter with the hashtag #londonspotter on your posts!

 

Want more like this? Why not check out our March 2018 Route Review!

 

Norwegian: Transatlantic Game Changers?

Gone are the days where your only options to fly from the United Kingdom to the United States and Canada were dominated by the likes of British Airways and American Airlines.  Despite the fantastic service and benefits that these airlines offer throughout your flight, not everyone wants to or can afford to pay the price this comes at. The good news is they no longer have to. Why? The low cost carriers are coming…

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve given our opinion on Primera Air and WOW Air’s chances of cracking the transatlantic air travel market. This week we look at the already established Norwegian and their hopes of making themselves known as the go to airline for flying across the pond. If you haven’t already checked out the articles on WOW Air and Primera Air, be sure to do so before reading the conclusion!

Norwegian Dreamliner LN-LNB seen here taxiing after maintenance in Birmingham

NORWEGIAN.

uk and ireland departures from: london (lgw), edinburgh (edi), belfast (bfs), dublin (dub), shannon (snn) & cork (ork).
CONNECTING VIA: NONE, ALL FLIGHTS DIRECT!
FLYING TO: AUSTIN (AUS), BOSTON (BOS/PVD), CHICAGO (ORD), DENVER (DEN), FORT LAUDERDALE (FLL), ORLANDO (MCO), LAS VEGAS (LAS), LOS ANGELES (LAX), NEW YORK (JFK/SWF), OAKLAND (OAK), SEATTLE (SEA) & CONNECTICUT (BDL).

 

Norwegian really have set the standard for budget transatlantic air travel. Operating the brand new Boeing 737 Max 8 from Irish and Scottish regional airports; whilst also operating the Boeing 787 Dreamliner from Gatwick to a combined total of 14 US airports, I guess you could say they have claimed this sector of the market for their own. Operating the state of the art Dreamliner, an aircraft that is quite frankly something out of your wildest dreams (Get the pun? Too cringey? Okay, I’ll stop, I promise…), this already puts them ahead of their would be competitors WOW and Primera.

The Lowfare option is Norwegian’s basic fare that can be booked. It includes 10kgs of cabin baggage and includes a standard economy seat with 31″ of legroom on both Boeing 737 and 787 aircraft. Optional extras such as seat selection or In flight meals are charged at a premium.

Premium seating on board one of Norwegian’s Dreamliners

Lowfare+ is the next available ticket option to purchase with Norwegian. This fare will see travelers able to check in one 20kg piece of baggage free of charge and the on board meal service from the Nice&Tasty Menu is also free of charge. Seat selection is offered complimentary, this will see passengers allowed to pick any seat on the aircraft, including exit row seats!

Norwegian’s Premium cabin has won some raving reviews including that of LondonSpotter’s very own Raj Stevenson! (You can read his in depth review of this cabin here!). Premium passengers have a whole range of extras made available to them for free when purchasing their tickets. This includes Fast Track Security and Lounge access in the departure airport. When on board a fantastic 55″ of legroom will greet travelers, as will the complimentary food and drink offered by the airlines friendly cabin crew.  Two bags both weighing 20kgs can be checked in on this ticket type.

The airline understands that sometimes travel plans have to change last minute. This is why they offer their Flex and PremiumFlex fares at the time of booking. Both of these come with the benefits of their respective travel classes, but allow the ticket holder to change their booking or request a refund for the cost of the ticket free of charge. All other passengers must pay amendment fees if wanting to change their itinerary and refunds are not available to them.

FLYING DIRECT?

The fantastic versatility of the Boeing 737 Max 8 and 787 Dreamliner allow Norwegian to fly direct to all of their Transatlantic destinations. This already puts them ahead of market competitor WOW Air as passengers flying with WOW have to transit in Keflavik before reaching the USA and Canada. Flying direct on the Max 8 will offer passengers an experience that most likely they will have not had before. Equipped with engines specially designed to reduce fuel consumption making the aircraft more efficient to fly, they also feature chevrons that reduce the noise emitted from the engine. Single aisle aircraft making the flight across the Atlantic is becoming more and more common and it opens up the USA to smaller regional airports that simply do not have the capacity to handle a wide body aircraft.

Norwegian offer direct Transatlantic flights on the Boeing 737 Max 8

WHY FLY NORWEGIAN?

Much like Primera, flying direct is a key selling point. Flying direct and all year round from smaller regional airports such as Shannon and Cork has opened up the USA to people who before were having to travel to Dublin or wait for airlines to start their seasonal schedules. The airline does also fly from UK bases that have existing Transatlantic routes, so what makes them stand out against the crowd? The flexibility to pick and choose what you want included in the price you pay is a key selling point. Not everyone wants to travel with checked baggage or lounge access or quite simply, not everyone wants to pay the sometimes extremely high ticket prices that carriers charge.

In terms of the on board experience, it is surprisingly luxurious for a low cost airline. Norwegian are beginning to role out WiFi on their 737MAX fleet to join the -800 fleet. On the Dreamliner, seat back entertainment systems are offered, this allows passengers to access the latest in film, TV shows and even allows passengers to order drinks to be delivered to them from the comfort of their own seat (something which I am a massive fan of personally!). Mobile devices and other similar gadgets can be charged through the USB port offered in the seat back IFE screen.

An example of the economy meal service on board

The on board meal choices a full meal service is offered if your ticket includes it in the price. The airline caters for all taste buds including the fussiest of eaters – kids! A cold starter is offered along with a meat or fish main option served with a range of accompaniments. To finish a sweet treat is offered along with a hot drink. For children a special meal that guarantees to satisfy the pickiest of eaters if offered and if they finish it all, a chocolate cake may be waiting for them! Between meal services a snack bar is open, these options must be paid for by card as the airline is cashless.

The benefits of flying Norwegian seem appealing, but the most important factor of them all that impacts anyone’s decision of who to fly with is the price. The airline offers some fantastic fares such as Shannon to Providence (for Boston) starts from just £97.40 one way. For any Scottish readers planning on taking a trip to the Big Apple, Edinburgh to Stewart (for New York) can be reached from just £136.60 one way. To see how these fares compare against a competitor such as British Airways, we will compare how both airlines shape up when tasked with flying to Las Vegas. The British Airways flight from London Heathrow to Las Vegas will set travelers back £685.61 when travelling in the World Traveler cabin. This gives passengers 23kgs of checked baggage and free seat selection 24 hours prior to departure. Norwegian from London Gatwick to Las Vegas will cost £420.30, a total saving of £265.31! This is travelling economy on the Lowfare+ ticket, giving passengers 20kgs of checked  baggage and free seat selection at the time of booking. Unless you’re a British Airways super fan, I think it will be Norwegian flying you to the Sin City!

Could carriers such as British Airways be forced to change their pricing strategies due to airlines such as Norwegian?

SUMMARY

Having been around for sometime now, Norwegian have made a name for themselves as the airline that offers cheap air fares but cuts no corners on what they offer. The ability to select individually what you want to pay for when booking is fantastic in my opinion, as people can often end up paying for things that they just don’t want or need. Operating the Boeing 787 Dreamliner is a key selling point for the airline, especially when compared to the Airbus aircraft that Primera and WOW are flying. One failure that I have picked out is the fact that they do not offer any routes to Canada. I believe that this would be very popular, especially from airports served by the Max 8 such as Cork and Belfast.

The modern flight deck of the Boeing 737 Max 8

CONCLUSION.

Over the past three weeks WOW Air, Primera Air and Norwegian have been reviewed on the way that they are looking to or changing the way we look at flying Transatlantic. For me writing this, It has been difficult to decide who I think will crack the market and establish themselves as the go to budget carrier. I was torn between two airlines but ultimately, I have come to the conclusion that Norwegian are the Transatlantic game changers! Already being established as a long haul carrier has shown that what they do, they do well. Opening up the United States to Cork and Belfast has saved travelers both time and money when it comes to flying across the pond. As I mentioned earlier, the absence of Canadian destinations disappointed me but hopefully the decision makers at Norwegian reading this will add a Toronto or Vancouver to the schedule soon!

Primera Air were a close second, flying direct from Birmingham and Stansted appealed to me as they are airports that currently lack a direct service to the USA. Much like Norwegian the ability to be flexible with what you choose to include on your ticket is a great help to anyone looking for a cheap getaway to New York or Boston. However, with the airline not yet flying from the UK, it’s very hard to predict if they can deliver the high expectations that I have for them. WOW Air come third as unfortunately the services on offer from the two direct carriers just don’t justify adding the extra time onto your journey when travelling via Keflavik. The sometimes lengthy connection times between services could be a hindrance to travelers.

Be sure to visit Norwegian’s website to take advantage of some amazing low fares.

 

Want more like this? Be sure to check out our Most Read Moments of 2017!

September 2017: Route Review

As we glide into Autumn, airlines are well and truly giving us some great excitement with route planning for next summer. Here’s my monthly pick at the most important news.

Route Launches: 

Norwegian – Yet again, Norwegian dominates the route review – with new services from London Gatwick to Denver and Seattle both launching this month. Both services are to be operated by Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft, and compete fiercely with BA’s current London Heathrow-Denver service and the plethora of carriers serving London Heathrow-Seattle. With Thomas Cook starting Manchester-Seattle services next May, one may ask, is the UK-Seattle market becoming oversaturated? The proof will be in the figures.

In addition, on 28th September 2017, Norwegian launched their new Gatwick-Singapore connection – the first long haul flight to be operated under the Norwegian UK subsidiary. This flight will also operate with Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner equipment, and marks the entry of Norwegian into the Singaporean market.

Norwegian operates their Boeing 787-9, equipped with Premium Economy on both new routes. Image: @londonspotter

Loganair – Loganair broke free from it’s Flybe alliance – starting it’s own services on September 1st. With the new services, comes the increase of Manchester-Glasgow flights to 6 a day, and a beautiful Tartan livery. What’s more, they’ve done all that without IndyRef 2

Route Announcements: 

United – After pulling back on the UK market, United has reinstated faith with the announcement of new services from:

  • Washington D.C. to Edinburgh (marketed cleverly by Edinburgh Airport as ‘Capitol to Capital’)
  • New York Newark to Reykjavik  & Porto
  • San Francisco to Zurich

All services will be operated by Boeing 757-200 aircraft, with the exception of Boeing 787-8 operated SFO-ZRH. The new European connections will begin next summer.

Air Canada – A transatlantic revolution is taking place, and for that we can thank the Boeing 737 MAX. The MAX opens up long thin markets for airlines to operate profitably; it’s why we are seeing routes such as Belfast to Providence, and Edinburgh to Stewart. Air Canada clearly didn’t want to miss out, and has announced services between Toronto & Shannon and Montréal & Dublin. This marks a massive vote of confidence in the Irish market for the Canadian flag carrier – as they will now serve three destinations from Dublin (Vancouver, Toronto, Montréal) and are the only foreign airline to offer a transatlantic destination other than New York, from Ireland’s second airport – Shannon.

Air Canada’s 737MAX render. Image: Air Canada

Delta – For Delta this month, it’s a very mixed story.

Firstly, let’s get the bad news out of the way. Next summer, Delta will cut two destinations all together – Moscow (SVO) and Stockholm (ARN). In addition, it will end service from Philadelphia to Heathrow (already announced) and Paris, suspending service from Newark to Amsterdam.

Now, on to the exciting route development news. Among the aviation community, it is widely seen that Delta is employing a rather different strategy than the other US airlines. Instead of expanding out of hubs, they are adding flights from smaller US markets to their main hubs of Paris and Amsterdam in Europe. Whilst in August, Delta announced a new Orlando-Amsterdam service, this month they went further. Delta will start a new 767-300ER service between Indianapolis and Paris in summer 2018, which will go on sale on the 23rd September. This will be the first transatlantic connection for Indianapolis – so, unsurprisingly, the route has been supported by subsides of $5 million, Indiana Business reports. They will also launch two new routes between Los Angeles and Paris/Amsterdam with Boeing 777-200LR equipment, adding to their joint venture partner’s (Air France and KLM respectively) frequencies. Finally, and perhaps the most surprising, is between New York JFK and Ponta Delgada (Azores). This makes Delta the only US airline to serve the Azores, and gives Delta two destinations in Portugal.

Of course, there is other less significant news and frequency changes but their is not enough room to report everything here.

Virgin Atlantic –  Virgin Atlantic will be increasing it’s operation at Manchester next year. They will be adding 40,000 seats to the market, with an additional 747 base. The new 747-400 will operate four-weekly services to New York JFK and three-weekly services to Atlanta. However, both routes are served daily, with the remainder being operated by the current A330-300 aircraft.

Next year, in peak summer, Virgin will offer 35 weekly transatlantic departures from Manchester, every week.

Icelandair – Iceland’s airlines just can’t stop growing. In fact, I may have to dedicate a whole blog post to them every month! This month, they announced services from their hub to Dallas/Fort Worth. Icelandair’s first venture into Texas will come in the form of a four-weekly, Boeing 757-200 service.

There is debate as to whether such rapid growth of tourism generated by the aviation industry in Iceland is sustainable.

In other news, they also filed the schedule for their 737 MAX services, which will operate to only Birmingham in the UK.

WOW Air – Yes, you guessed it. WOW Air also announced flights to Dallas/Fort Worth. This connection will operate thrice-weekly, but with a widebody aircraft – the Airbus A330-300. Both airlines are clearly trying to upstage eachother, but I fear it could end badly for both airlines involved. On a lighter note, more competition can only be good for the passengers!

British Airways – British Airways announced in mid-September that it’s London Heathrow to Austin route would be upgraded to a Boeing 747-400, from a Boeing 787-9. That’s a massive capacity jump – particularly for the high-yielding cabins – and shows how the 787 really can open up new markets, that can then be grown into a great success.

In arguably more exciting news, British Airways is launching service to the Seychelles in March 2018. The service will operate with Boeing 787-9 aircraft, on a two weekly basis. The interesting development here is that BA will operate this flight from Heathrow, rather from primarily Leisure-based Gatwick. This is clearly to optimise connection opportunities, around Europe and Transatlantic.

British Airways is another airline dominating the route development discussion at the moment. Image: @londonspotter

Cathay Pacific – After starting the route in 2015, Cathay Pacific has now confirmed it is axing it’s Hong Kong to Dusseldorf route from March 2018.

On the contrary, it will increase its services on the Barcelona and Tel Aviv  to Hong Kong connections – both of which operate with Airbus A350 equipment.

KLM – KLM will launch new service from Amsterdam to Fortaleza in Summer 2018, on a twice-weekly basis, with Airbus A330-200 aircraft. This will mark KLM’s third gateway into Brazil, and secures KLM’s position in the Latin American market.

Emirates – Emirates announced plans this month to launch a fourth-daily Dubai-Sydney service, operating with Airbus A380-800 aircraft. It will add more and convenient connections for customers, and an additional 6.846 seats per week in capacity. This, and expansion to the Brisbane service, means the UAE national carrier will serve Australia 91 times every week.

Emirates A380 leaving London Gatwick. Photo by @londonspotter

Qatar Airways – Qatar Airways stunned everyone back in May, when they announced the intention to launch Doha to Cardiff flights. This month, they opened bookings for the new route. It will be operated on a daily basis, with Boeing 787-8 equipment. Great news for Wales & Cardiff!

Garuda Indonesia – Garuda Indonesia transferred from London Gatwick to London Heathrow some time ago. Previously, due to the strength of the runway at Jakarta, they had to make a refuelling stop in Singapore. Now, it appears that has been resolved, as Garuda Indonesia will offer non-stop Jakarta to London services from October 31st. Frequency will remain the same, but with an amended schedule, as Garuda wants   “to boost connections from the UK to Australia (Melbourne, Sydney and Perth), the Far East (Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul) and China (Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou and Shanghai)”.

Royal Air Maroc – Before March 2017, Casablanca had never been served from Manchester before, but Royal Air Maroc came bursting onto the scene, offering a wealth of connections to Africa through their Moroccan hub. Now, they are increasing flights to 4-weekly from next summer; from a standing start, this route can widely be acknowledged as a great success.

Air France – Air France will be launching new service to Seattle and Taipei, after a hiatus from both markets. It will join KLM in the Taiwanese market and joint venture partner Delta in the Seattle market. Both services will operate with Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft, and from Paris Charles de Gaulle.

Norwegian B787-9 Premium Economy Review

If you’ve been reading my delivery reports recently, you’ll know that Norwegian are receiving B787s at a rapid rate. They currently have 32 on order but that will most likely be rising in the future. I flew one of their 787s on DY7016 – New York JFK to London Gatwick – in Norwegian’s ‘Premium’ cabin to see what they were offering.

Norwegian have both B787-8 and B787-9 Dreamliners in their fleet. The -8 variant has 32 premium seats and the -9 has 35. I flew on G-CJUI, a 787-9 model that was delivered to Norwegian in April 2017. The aircraft is setup with 42 rows – the first 5 rows are fitted with ‘Haeco model 3050’ premium seats in a 2-3-2 configuration and the following 37 with economy seats in a 3-3-3 configuration.

The comfort of the premium cabin really impressed me

The Premium seats offer a generous 46” of pitch and 19” of width. The legroom offered is actually the most you will find on any premium economy product on any airline behind Open Skies who offer an inch more. This gives you an idea of the generosity of the product. This compares to the economy seats which offer only 31” of pitch and 17” of width. My seat for the transatlantic flight was 3J.

The 787 Dreamliners boast a complete overhaul in onboard product from the old aircraft people are used to flying. Ranging from windows with automatic dimming to a state of the art cockpit, the 787 really is how the next generation of flying will look. The flight deck is similar to that of the B737MAX which I flew a few days earlier in terms of automation.

The flightdeck during ground preperation

The aircraft is powered by two Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines which generate a whopping 74,000lbs of thrust each. With that said, they are some of the quietest engines in the industry, thanks to noise reducing chevrons fitted to the rear. The aircraft has 3 galleys and nine toilets. The toilets are also fitted with mood lighting which automatically changes when the doors are locked and unlocked. The crew rest is fitted at the rear of the cabin above the rear galley.

The Trent 1000 engines that power the aircraft are one of the most silent in the industry

Premium passengers are treated to complimentary lounge access at available airports. One of those airports is New York JFK. Norwegian used to use the Korean Air lounge but have recently moved to the Alitalia Lounge at gate 3. I’d heard mixed reviews of Korean Air’s lounge but was eager to find out what the Alitalia lounge offered. The lounge offers complimentary WiFi which I found a little slow at times. There is no hot food available, just sandwiches and salads from the fridge, crisps and other light snacks and quite a wide range of soft drinks and alcoholic beverage. The lounge windows offered a view of a few gates and it was nice to watch the sun go down and some evening departures.

The view from the lounge

I sat down with a light dinner and did some work. While the lounge is a nice way of relaxing before a flight, it is nothing special.

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Once the cleaners were finished I was allowed free access onto the aircraft to photograph the cabin and meet the crew.

 

 

Our scheduled departure time was 23.00 but we were delayed during boarding and finally pushed back 20 minutes late at 23.20 – nothing major and handled very well by the cabin crew. After boarding, I was offered a drink and given a set of headphones by Louise who was operating as one of the two premium crew for the day. We took off from runway 22R at 23.50 and were offered another drink shortly after.

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We began our cruise at 39,000ft before ascending to 41,000ft until we hit the western point on Wales where we began to descend for arrival into LGW. The cruise was smooth apart from some very heavy turbulence over the eastern point of Canada. Dinner was served 50 minutes after takeoff at 12.40 New York time. For dinner, I was given a choice of ‘Savory Grilled Chicken Breast’, ‘Rich and Tender Grilled Beef Filet’ and ‘Seared Shrimp Basted in Creamy Lemon Beuree Sauce’. The meals in Premium are still served in Norwegian’s standard boxes. I would love to see a plated meal introduced to Norwegian’s menu. I went for the beef, seeing as I had chicken on the MAX trip up to New York.

Dinner is served

The meal was well presented and tasted good. I was, without a doubt, full for the rest of the trip. After the meal service, the whole cabin was offered tea or coffee and a choice of either Cognac or Bailey’s. This was a really nice touch.

Premium seats are fitted with flip-out IFE screens which come out of the middle arm rest. The screens are bigger than those in economy class and have a good selection of films and TV programs available. I really enjoyed the different maps that were available to use during the crossing and had these up for most of the flight. The IFE also has a nice feature which allows you to order drinks (complimentary for premium passengers) and snacks.

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Charging points are included in the premium seat which allows to work on the go. This compares to the economy product where there are two plugs per three seats.  The 787s haven’t, yet, been fitted with wifi which is a shame. I’d love to see this coming in the future.

Around an hour before landing  we were offered breakfast. I have to say I thought the breakfast was superb. I wasn’t expecting anything major for breakfast but was greeted with a really nice mix of food. My breakfast included a bread roll, slice of parma ham, ball of cream cheese, two slices of cheddar cheese and a selection of fruit pieces accompanied by a coffee. I was really impressed with the breakfast.

Breakfast was the best meal of the flight I thought

Perks of flying premium include a complimentary blanket, headphones, unlimited complimentary drinks, dinner, breakfast, pre-boarding and access out of the aircraft before economy passengers. Thanks to a good flight time we landed at 11.09am on runway 26L at London Gatwick, thus making up for the delays at JFK. Disembarkation was handled professionally and premium passengers were speedily whisked off the aircraft.

The premium seat offered by Norwegian is a cheaper option than most premium economies. I selected a random date in summer 2018 to compare prices. A premium economy fare with British Airways from LHR-JFK on July 17th will set you back £1707. On the same date, a Premium fare with Norwegian will cost you £502. Being a lot cheaper, you would expect Norwegian’s premium service to be a lot worse than that of its competitors but I didn’t find that. I found that I had a surplus of legroom (46” – more than any of its competitors in London) and enjoyed complimentary drinks throughout the flight. A premium fare also gives you the flexibility of taking two checked bags onboard, seat reservation and fast track access at selected airports. Upgrading to Norwegian’s premium fare from a basic economy fare, on my selected day in summer 2018, will cost you £140.

The comfort and value of the Premium cabin really impressed me

Norwegian’s premium seat offers better levels of comfort at a very competitive price and that should be taken advantage of by all you keen travelers.

Disclaimer: This trip was provided by Norwegian Air.

More Boeing 787 Reviews on LondonSpotter:

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

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