Flying with Norwegian; Premium Review
As you guys know, I grew up from humble beginnings, single-parent, on welfare, so when I started making quite a lot of money from blogging, my lifestyle didn’t really change much. I’ve still never owned a car, still never bought a watch more than £100, the only expensive thing I own is my MacBook and I only pay so much for that because it pays me back with the money I make online!
A lot of my readers are surprised that I still fly economy 99.9% of the time. I flew Business Class once to give my mum a new experience from Bangkok to Hong Kong last year, and once I was upgraded from South Africa to Namibia, other than that it’s always economy. More than that, I always fly with whatever airline is cheapest, even with horrible connections, transits in airports, whatever. After reading “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” (brilliant book, check it out), after years of slumming it on dodgy airlines, this book kinda vindicated my choice.
VISITING MY LAST COUNTRY ON NORWEGIAN PREMIUM
Anyway, about 18 months or so ago I heard a big buzz about Norwegian, long haul flights to USA from Europe for $100 or so, something crazy like that, then $200 or so to Thailand from Europe, and I had been thinking about it ever since. I actually thought it was a new kid on the airline block, coming out of nowhere to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue, but turns out it’s been around for 20 years or so which was reassuring, but they had just launched their long haul flights and were pushing low-budget long haul fares. That suits my style perfectly! I’ve been waiting to finally use them so when it came to visiting my 197th and FINAL country in the world, I’d be flying my girlfriend and me both long-haul return from Bangkok to Europe (then on north into the Arctic Circle), and back to Thailand again.
Now it’s not every day you finish a 10 year journey, so I wanted to experience something a little better than my standard economy class, but business class for 2 people would cost the best part of $10k so that was out of the question too. I know that Norwegian doesn’t have a traditional ‘business class’ but they do have a ‘premium cabin’ class, so I figured I’d look into that. Also, I know that they use the gorgeous Dreamliners so there top class on the plane would be super comfortable for sure. The only downside is that Norwegian airlines only flies from certain US cities. If you live near New York you’re ok, but not so good if you live in Philadelphia and want to fly out of PHL airport, for example.
PREMIUM CABIN? IS THIS BUSINESS CLASS?
Economy flights with these guys are super cheap, from Bangkok to Oslo can be around £400, but I wanted a little more. I wanted some sparkling wine, I wanted lounge access, I wanted to get some quality sleep so I’d be fresh for Norway and all the celebrations we had planned, so I delved a little deeper into Norwegian’s premium cabin.
To be honest, initially when I thought about flying in premium cabin I expected it to be the same as premium economy I wasn’t that excited, sure there’d be a little more leg room. I’m 6’1 (185cm), so economy can be a struggle long haul, and that alone meant premium economy would be better, but I had kind of expected a little extra leg room and not much else. I was wrong!
Norwegian, as a low-budget carrier, doesn’t have business class per se, which works out amazingly if you fly premium. It essentially means you get the business class treatment without paying for biz class, pretty amazing. Checking in was GREAT. No queueing in the check-in queue, premium economy has it’s own check in, so we weere straight in and out with our boarding card and lounge passes. So once we checked in in Bangkok, we made our way straight to the lounge, which premium class gives you access to. It was 8am but we were in celebration mode so we poured a couple of glasses of champagne and lapped it up.
Soon we were boarding the fight, Norwegian flies long haul with the 787 Dreamliner airplanes, and I was so happily surprised! I had checked photos of premium class online and was ready for something half a notch up from economy, but when I lay in my seat, reclined all the way, popped up the TV screen and ordered some sparkling wine I was in dreamland. This was pretty much business class to be honest. The seats are configured as a 2-3-2 (as opposed to 3-3-3 in economy!), so if you’re in a couple, it’s nice to request a ‘2’, I didn’t know about this but wasn’t much of an issue.
The seat/bed doesn’t recline 100% flat but it’s pretty close, and each seat isn’t in a separate compartment the way business class can feel like, but again, it’s pretty close. As part of the premium class, you get your headphones, blankets etc all provided, whereas in economy you’d have to pay for those services. Even better is the USB charger and a full on plug socket, great for any bloggers out there!
FOOD, DRINKS & SERVICE:
When the food came, I was shocked by the quality. They share their food service with Thai Airways, so it was absolute quality. My girlfriend had the padthai, and I had the European option (we’re such cliches!) and both were legitimately delicious. The service was excellent too, and I had mentioned that we were celebrating so the sparkling wine never stopped!
Having lived in economy for years, where you have to fight for every can of coke and packet of peanuts, the service with Norwegian was first class. They couldn’t help us enough. “More sparking wine sir?” “Extra bread sir?”. Yes, and Yes thanks! Can’t wait to fly back with these guys next week!
SHORTHAUL VRS LONGHAUL ON NORWEGIAN
So I flew from Bangkok, Thailand to Oslo, Norway premium, and as you can see from above, it was awesome. I also flew with Norwegian on some short haul flights to the Arctic Circle (Kirkeness to be precise), and it was pretty good again. No premium, no lounge, but then you’re paying super cheap, amazing prices. A return, 2 hour each way, flight from Oslo to the Arctic circle was less than £200 when booked last minute, that’s insane! Also, when you get there you can see the Northern Lights, ride with huskys, and skirt across frozen lakes on snowmobiles – very much worth the effort, I’ll blog about that more in the next post!
WHY FLY PREMIUM CLASS WITH NORWEGIAN?
- Business lounge access at both sides, so in Bangkok I had access to the Air France/KLM lounge, and in Oslo at the lounge there too. Amazing
- Turn left. I know it’s a terrible thing to say, but after 400 economy flights on my journey to every country in the world, getting to be at the front of the plane, where everyone sits spaciously and in comfort, rather than going back to squeeze into economy seats was amazing. Most airlines premium economy is thrown in beside.
- Service. As there is no business class, you’re the priority on the flight, so you get the same level of service as business class. On first, off first, bags off early. Amazing.
- Food and drink. The catering was great, as were the drinks options. The space you have to eat your meals is huge and the food is restaurant class, also the wines and beers were always available which was great.
- The price! You can fly Europe to Asia return on premium economy for about £1000, which is insane. If you fly with emirates, Thai Air, British airways etc, you can pay 800/900 for economy, whereas with Norwegian, this is as close to Business Class as you can get without being business class for almost the same price, that is amazing.
- No fast-pass immigration, so you have to queue to get stamped in/out of Thailand. Pretty normal for me though.
- If you want additional meals to the 2 you receive, you have to pay (drinks however are always available)
So here I am in Europe, my girlfriend has already taken her return with Norwegian premium and I am honestly excited to do the same next week when I head back to Bangkok, Thailand too. The only problem is how will I go back to economy after this?! Then again, if it’s only a tiny bit more expensive for premium class, then perhaps that’s the way to go from now on!
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