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Boeing Sky interior in B737-800 plane
Norwegian operates short-haul routes mainly with B737-800 planes. The cabin looks fresh and bright above the clouds.

Review: Norwegian Air Shuttle

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Norwegian Air: One of Our Favourite Airlines

Norwegian Air Shuttle was one of the fastest-growing low-cost airlines in Europe. It used to have many European leisure routes and a few long-distance destinations around the globe. However, the airline almost faced bankruptcy and now the airline is much smaller. Luckily, Norwegian is back in the air and flying again also from Finland.

People boarding Norwegian B737-800 at Helsinki Airport
The sky is dark at Helsinki Airport where people are boarding Norwegian's B737-800 going to Dubai. Helsinki - Dubai route is long for B737-800 and sometimes refuelling is needed on the way.

Airline from Norway

Founded 24 years ago, Norwegian's and its subsidiaries' fleet has about 30 aircraft including Boeing 737-800s and Boeing 737-800 MAXes. The airline has only short-haul flights to more than 100 destinations in the world from hubs throughout Europe. The company used to have long-distance routes too but now the airline concentrates only on shorter routes.

Because we are living in Helsinki, we are mainly using Norwegian's Helsinki hub. In addition to Helsinki, Norwegian has many other hubs. Norwegian is a truly European airline flying to many destinations in Europe. However, in Eastern Europe their competitor Wizzair has a better route network.

Norwegian Boeing 737-800 plane at Helsinki Airport
Many of our holidays have been flown by a Norwegian Boeing 737-800 plane from Helsinki Airport.

Low-cost Business Model

Norwegian boosts themselves for operating with some of the newest and greenest fleets in the world. Having that said, their aircraft has high fuel efficiency which is environmentally friendly because of reduced emissions, likewise, it is good for passenger's wallets.

Norwegian has not just copied the low-cost model but they have improved it a lot. A good example is their loyalty program Norwegian Reward. Rarely do low-cost airlines have loyalty programs and Norwegian is one of the shortlists. Norwegian's loyalty program is not a typical miles program rather it is based on a payback model with some extra rewards.

Financial Issues

Perhaps no one has missed the news about Norwegian Air's turbulent financial status during the last years. There have even been rumours about approaching bankruptcy but luckily, it didn't realize. The company has been expanding its route network again after the pandemic.

When an airline has financial issues, people tend easily to avoid buying new tickets from the concerned airline. This will consequently increase the risk of bankruptcy. Norwegian is an important player in Europe's low-cost market and it would have been sad to see it disappearing. Consumers would be the ones to suffer. That is why it is not wise to stop using services even though the risk level has increased. But to be safe, whenever you book a flight, you should pay for it with a credit card. By transacting with a credit card, you will most likely get your money back in case of the worst situation.

Onboard Norwegian Air

Norwegian is a low-cost airline and that is why the ticket includes only the flight. You have to pay extra for assigned seats, luggage and onboard food. However, Norwegian has many benefits compared to other low-cost airlines. For example, choosing the seat is free when you check-in thru the check-in machine at the airport. Some of the planes are equipped with WiFi which is totally free to use.

We would say Norwegian is a mixing of a traditional and low-cost airline. The prices are moderately low but the ticket classes are similar to traditional airlines' economy tickets. Norwegian offers three ticket categories: Lowfare, Lowfare+ and Flexible Ticket. Lowfare+ includes a free seat selection and luggage. Flexible ticket is, as the word says, flexible with the changes.

There is no business class on Norwegian planes. On economy routes, all seats are similar except some seats have a little more legroom which means comfort for every single passenger.

Fleet

Norwegian's short-haul fleet consists mainly of Boeing 737-800 planes. Norwegian has acquired a few B737 MAX planes. A regular passenger may not notice any difference between these plane types but MAX is just a little bigger and it has a longer range. That means MAX can do trans-Atlantic flights without a need for refuelling on the way.

Norwegian B737-800 plane at Prague Airport
It was a great surprise to see Jean Sibelius painted to the tail of this Boeing 737 at Prague Airport. But do you know who he is?

Norwegian's Boeing 737-800 planes have new Boeing Sky Interior cabin. The cabin looks spacious with colour changing lights. Seats are thin and comfortable enough for short-haul travelling. Since the planes are new, they are also really neat looking. But remember that Norwegian is a low-cost airline and you should not expect much space around the seat. Even though there is not much legroom, we have never felt seats would have been too small.

Norwegian Sky Interior cabin
Norwegian operates short-haul routes mainly with B737-800 planes. The planes are equipped with a nice looking Boeing Sky Interior.

WiFi - Many Challenges

Norwegian has widely advertised about their free WiFi onboard which has been often criticized by the public in social platforms due to its frequent unavailability during flights. From several flights we had with Norwegian whereas the aircraft was expected to have WiFi onboard, we have the same sentiment for not being able to use it. Oftentimes, the crew has explained WiFi is not working due to technical issues.

We understand that when the service is free, you can not complain a lot. However, when the airline actively advertises free WiFi, it must ensure that such service is available for the customers. Otherwise, it will just be a source of disappointment.

Norwegian has introduced also a paid WiFi service in addition to the free one. By making the service chargeable, there are fewer concurrent users and the quality stays better. As always, quality has its price.

Rating Based on Our Experiences

Our Norwegian Airlines review is based on multiple flights we have flown by Norwegian. For example, we have travelled from Helsinki to Rovaniemi, many cities in Spain and Dubai. We have also flown Norwegian's domestic flights in Spain.

The reason for multiple Norwegian's flights is they used to have a good route network from Helsinki and cheaper prices. Norwegian Air Shuttle is one of the most competitive airlines flying from Helsinki and their price level is often very affordable.

Cabin

The cabin of the Norwegian Boeing 737-800 is clean and comfortable. The seats are slim and modern. Boeing Sky Interior makes the cabin look fresh and modern.

Ceasar standing in the empty cabin of B737-800
Welcome to the red cabin of Norwegian Air B737-800.

Customer Service and Professional Skills

In our opinion, the Norwegian crew are not the best in their friendliness. They are doing their job well but expecting a paint of smile on their faces may sometimes be too much. We have got a feeling that they are somehow stressed and work-overloaded.

To be honest, we have nothing to complain about their work quality. They know what they are doing and we have always got what we have asked and paid for. Especially, pilots' announcements have always been made well. From our several flights with them, Norwegian pilots have always made a smooth landing.

Onboard Service

Tickets do not include any onboard service. Menus are distributed at the beginning of flights and people may buy small snacks and drinks during the flight. The selection isn't that good. Like other airlines, Norwegian sells peanuts, chips, chocolate and noodles. They have also a few warm options but the selection could be much better. So prepare to have your food with you if you fly a longer route.

On short flights, there is one serving. During longer flights. you have two chances to buy snacks and drinks. Between servings, you may, of course, visit the galley to buy more foodstuffs and/or drinks.

Price Level

Even though Norwegian is a low-cost airline, its quality is as good as many traditional airlines, like Finnair can offer. Norwegian is a truly modern airline.

In contrast to regular airlines, Norwegian ticket prices are far cheaper. Norwegian has especially great offers and the luckiest people may find cheap tickets. But do not expect as cheap tickets as Ryanair offers. That is because Norwegian concentrates more on quality compared to other low-cost airlines such as Ryanair.

Price to Quality Ratio

Norwegian tickets are sometimes surprisingly cheap. We also have emphasized that the quality is good for a low-cost airline.

These two things together make Norwegian's price-to-quality ratio high.

Overall Rating

Norwegian is surely the best low-cost airline we know. There are things to be improved like onboard shop selection and crew friendliness. But so far, we like this airline. It gives good value for your money.

Norwegian B737-800 plane at Prague Airport
Ceasar boarding but who is the lady painted at the tail of this Norwegian B737-800 plane?

It is important to compare flight prices because they vary a lot. Find the best flight deals on Skyscanner.

Bottom Line

Finnoy Travel is happy seeing Norwegian Air back in the air. They are bringing a hub back to Helsinki and most likely, we will fly a lot of them. The airline is affordable but still offers a good service level.

After the pandemic, the prices may be going a little up and some free services be cut. Since Norwegian is a low-cost airline, you only pay for the services you are using. We always recommend travelling as light as you can to save money and the environment.

Have you flown with Norwegian? Comment below about your experiences?

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Destination: Norway

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Book hotels and flights wisely

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Relax at Airports

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DonĀ“t miss unforgettable activities and tours

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Readers' Comments (6)

  1. 11-14-2020 at 1:03am UTC by George Kalimniou :

    I flew with Norwegian from NYC TO ATHENS GREECE NONSTOP SUMMER OF 2019.Flight full, service EXCELLENT, hoping go fly this summer again (2021).
    Return flight also good. No Delays, service an A +.
    Keep up the good work!
    Only wish Norwegian flew to Greek islands from Athens.

  2. 11-11-2020 at 12:15pm UTC by Peter :

    The worst airline ever. It deserves bankruptcy. Before Covid-19 I was flying from Budapest to New York, JFK with one stop in Oslo. Budapest check-in went easy. Very pleasant experience. My checked baggage was checked in; carry on stayed with me. Everything was measured both weight and sizes. Checked baggage was 6 lbs. lighter than max. Norwegian forced me to re check in Oslo. Connected flight was tight due to the extra hassle. At this 2nd check in I was told that the carry on was 2 lbs overweight. With a big smile I mentioned that to the check that it passed Norwegian's check in a few hours earlier. Clark offered me to check in carry on as a checked baggage for 100 Euros and send it to cargo. I said look, it is only 2lbs overweight let me get rid off a few items to make it lighter. I do have important things to carry with me for a transatlantic flight. Clark only offered 2 choices: A, not to travel with Norwegian. B, immediately pay 100 Euros and and send my carry on to the cargo. I was not allowed to open my carry on. Security guards and Norwegian crew was threatening me. At one point 5 bigger guys were around and pressuring me to pay.
    The waiting room was full with disappointed, furious and coursing passengers. Many of them were asking for managers, etc. I decided to pay and travelled without my carry on. I was frustrated, threatened and I felt ripped off. Not a welcoming airline. I do not recommend it.

  3. 09-15-2020 at 4:56pm UTC by Christine Cullen :

    I can't complain about refunds from Norwegian Airlines, our flights were cancelled due to covid 19, we had our money refunded within days. Excellent customer service.

  4. 08-14-2020 at 3:02am UTC by Steven L Hardison :

    We have flown Norwegian several times from LAX to Europe and found it to be a good airline. The flights were cramped for such a long flight, but we were willing to give up some comfort in exchange for the lowfare. The service was good and the on time rating was a bit dicey.
    Having said all of that, currently I can't say we'd travel with them again. We had a flight scheduled for September to Rome. Early on Norwegian stated publicly that they were ceasing flights from the U.S., effectively canceling our flight. Yet almost 6 months later we have received no word from them regarding a refund that was applied for. The customer service number rings without being answered and email is futile. All in all this is the absolute worst customer service imaginable.
    I would warn potential travelers to stay away from Norwegian u til they can come up with a better response to their customers needs.

    1. 08-14-2020 at 12:48pm UTC by Finnoy Travel :

      Sounds awful customer service. Norwegian's flight product is good but the customer service requires improvements.

      We agree that the refund should be paid in weeks, not in months.

  5. 05-09-2020 at 10:52pm UTC by Priscilla :

    We have used Norwegian airlines for many of our trips from California to Europe using premium economy. It is the best priced, good service airline around. Due to the problem with the "max" airplane and the covid 19 situation the had to cancel our flight.
    I love this airline. I hope it will survive this situation.

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