01. Air Tahiti Nui A340-300 economy class Los Angeles to Paris (CDG)
02. Qatar Airways A380-800 business class Paris (CDG) to Doha
03. 5 Instagram-worthy things to do in Doha
04. Qatar Airways 777-300/ER economy class Doha to Amsterdam
05. easyJet A320 main cabin Amsterdam to London (LGW)
06. Norwegian 787-9 main cabin London (LGW) to Los Angeles
How come nobody told me how great of an airline this is? Had I been properly informed, this post would be yet another to add to my extensive library of fun and entertaining Norwegian Air reviews. Instead, here we are deep into 2019 already and I’m just now writing my very first one.
I think part of the thing that scared me about Norwegian Air (and writing reviews about them) is that my eyes twitch and I start blacking out whenever I think about low cost carriers and long transatlantic flights. Heck – maybe people have been telling me how great this airline is for years now and I haven’t been listening?
That wouldn’t surprise me. I’m very selective in my hearing sometimes, especially when it potentially involves things like numb legs and paying extra for the privilege to eat on a 11.5 hour flight.
London, England (LGW) – Los Angeles, CA (LAX)
Friday, March 15, 2019
Duration: 11 hours 11 minutes
Seat: 15D (main cabin)
The video for this flight focuses on the premise that I think that Norwegian Air flight attendants are some of the hardest working in the industry. I’ve never seen this mentioned in any other Norwegian Air reviews, which is surprising to me considering how they structure thier in flight service.
The other interesting thing about this video is that it captures some of the chaos of Gatwick Airport in a way I wasn’t able express here in pictures on the blog in this written review. Sometimes it takes a good time lapse or two of a crowded terminal to express how frustrating crowded airports can be. The music, as always, comes from here.
This review of Norwegian Air starts the proper way (silently muttering obscenities at the massive crowds at Gatwick)
My arrival into Gatwick on easyJet flight number 8868 arrived at the South terminal. This was my very first experience with Gatwick Airport, and all in all I’ve got to say that it was a good one. It seemed large, clean, and most importantly: not very busy. There was no waiting in line for anything, and I certainly wasn’t muttering obscenities to myself trying to slice my way through massive crowds. Not all Norwegian Air reviews start this smoothly (from what I’ve read), so I was feeling especially thankful as I tried to figure out where I needed to be.
It turns out where I needed to be was the North terminal. And for those of you who are not familiar with this airport, it’s pretty much the opposite of the South (as the name likely implies, duh). The best way to get over there was via a shuttle bus. And in order to do that, I needed to go through passport control and technically enter England. I’ve got nothing against England of course, but I certainly wasn’t expecting to do it on this trip.
Once off the bus and standing smack dab in the heart of the mega-crowded North terminal ticketing hall, I immediately started to understand why many other Norwegian Air reviews start off with a slightly negative tone (or so it seems).
The Gatwick Airport North terminal ticketing hall feels more like a busy bus station than anything else. It’s massive, with throngs of people everywhere (most of whom were directly in my way), and if I’m being honest – it’s not very attractive. It’s got a very industrial feel to it – not like any other airport I’ve visited recently.
I was feeling pretty good once I had my boarding pass in hand and I was free of the crowds. I was also really thankful that I didn’t have any bags to check, because that would have easily increased the stress level up a notch (or three).
RIP to anyone checking bags onto their Norwegian Air flight out of Gatwick during the mid morning rush though. From the things I’ve seen, it’s something I would try to avoid at all costs.
Does it sound too negative if I say that I really don’t like Gatwick Airport?
Once inside the main terminal, I had roughly two and a half hours to kill before boarding was scheduled to begin. It had already been a stressful experience out there in the main ticketing hall, and now I was faced with a conundrum of gigantic proportions: how to spend those two and a half hours in here without going absolutely insane.
The crowds were relentless, there was nowhere to sit, and…the way things were going, I was sure that I would never strive to write any more Norwegian Air reviews after this. I tried to keep an open mind though, as the cause of my frustration this morning was squarely on the airport – and not Norwegian Air themselves.
This airline still had plenty of time to redeem itself, but the airport was another story. Other than finding a secret “make people disappear” button under a floor tile somewhere, there was no hope of this airport redeeming itself in my mind.
I ended up killing some time by ducking into a restaurant and spending $20 on a small breakfast bagel. That only ticked me off more, which actually ended up being a good thing. It gave me the energy to put my explorer hat on and set off to find the quietest spot there is in this place. And you know what? I found it. Kind of.
There’s an entire downstairs section that is largely unused in the mid morning hours, and I was able to hide out there in peaceful solitude until they started boarding the flight.
Things weren’t getting any better right up until the time it was to board the plane
The one last bit of frustration I had to endure was right after they opened the gate area. After a mandatory passport check, each passenger was herded into a sealed-off waiting area where (you guessed it) there was more waiting involved. I suppose I should have payed better attention to other Norwegian Air reviews out of Gatwick, because this was something I was unprepared for. I just wanted to get on that plane!
After a 30 minute wait in the
holding cell boarding area, they finally initiated the process of getting everyone onboard. I had to continue to wait however, as I was in one of the last boarding groups to be called. And judging by how long I had to wait, I had more than a sneaky suspicion that this was going to be a really full flight.
As a matter of fact, I was entirely convinced that every seat was going to be occupied and there would be no peace and quiet for the next 12 hours. Norwegian Air sure knows how to fill airplanes – that’s for sure.
Like many other Norwegian Air reviews, things turned positive once I stepped onboard
Thinking back on it, I guess I’m sort of glad that I was feeling somewhat frustrated and stressed in the hours leading up to this flight. It helped immensely to lower my expectations for the flight itself, and I was feeling ready and prepared to see (and feel) horrific things once I stepped onboard this 787-9.
My first impressions of the Norwegian Air 787-9 main cabin were unexpectedly positive. To the best of my recollection, words like “rad” and “dope” were swirling around my brain as I navigated my way towards seat 15D (an aisle seat located in the forward section of the main cabin).
Not only were these good-looking seats with a nice gray “material” (seriously, I have no idea what they used to cover those seats), but 15E was still unoccupied even though I was one of the last to board. And if you’re keeping score on this quick trip to Doha and back, I’ve been lucky enough to have an empty seat next to me on every flight so far.
Except for the Qatar A380 business class flight, which was a single seat at the window. But still. I’m normally quite unlucky with these sorts of things so all I could do was cross my fingers and toes tightly while I waited for the boarding process to finish.
Remember what I said earlier about whether or not I was sure that I’d ever want to fly this airline again? Well, we hadn’t even pushed off the gate yet and I was already thinking that this was definitely one of the first of many Norwegian Air reviews coming to sanspotter.com over the coming years. I was more than impressed!
Is it still considered a proper review without pics of the takeoff sequence?
It used to be that I’d be really upset with myself if I couldn’t get an aisle seat for any flight that I review here on the blog or my YouTube channel. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and more boring (true story), but I’ve come to realize that a proper airline review doesn’t necessarily need that kind of stuff. Sure, it’s nice to have, but I’ve learned how to deal with it in a way that prevents being bombarded with too much hate mail.
One of the benefits of not having a view to the outside world is the fact that it forces me to be more aware of what’s happening inside the cabin.
To be honest there wasn’t much to see out the window on this flight anyway. The weather was downright gloomy here in London today (as usual), and the flight attendants tinted the windows shortly after takeoff anyway. And you’ve certainly already seen enough LAX arrival pics from me over the years. Check out my Austrian Airlines VIE-LAX review (or American Airlines HKG-LAX) if you desperately want to see juicy arrival pics into LA…
Food. Glorious, delicious food.
Well, that’s a section title I never would have expected to write when it comes to Norwegian Air reviews. For some reason or another I was expecting nothing but light snacks, but I’m happy to report that there are indeed full meals served in Norwegian Air long haul economy class. It’s not free of course – you will have to pay extra, but there is indeed real food.
I obviously wasn’t paying enough attention when I booked this reservation online six weeks prior, but there is an option to pre pay for meals on the Norwegian Air website. Apparently I paid for my meals, because they were happy to serve me when that trolley came down the aisle.
FYI, prior to the commencement of the first meal service, the cabin crew made an announcement that only those who had prepaid for a meal would be served at that time. Everyone else (at least those who wanted to eat) would have to order something via the food-on-demand system (which is integrated into the video entertainment system).
It’s by far one of the best food-on-demand systems I’ve ever seen on any airline. It was so good as a matter of fact, that it kept the flight attendants extremely busy throughout the entire flight. More about that later…
Anyway, the meal that they served for lunch (or was it dinner?) was surprisingly good. It was surprisingly substantial as well, which is the thing that I wasn’t expecting at all. Who would’ve thought that the food would be the most important part of this Norwegian Air review?
The meal service concluded with an assortment of macaroons packaged neatly in a little section of the Bento box. Based on what I could tell from looking around at other people’s meals, everyone got a different assortment of flavors. They weren’t all the same, which I found to be really interesting. If anything, I guess it could be somewhat of an incentive to fly Norwegian Air again sometime in the future, because hey – every experience is going to be different. Kind of.
Norwegian air flight attendants are indeed the hardest working in the sky
By far the most fascinating part of this flight was the on-demand food system I mentioned earlier. I’ve seen this before on other airlines, but I’ve never seen so many other passengers take advantage of it during a single flight. Especially on a flight where they served two full meals.
Even though it appeared that nearly everybody else had pre-paid for a meal and took part in the main meal service earlier, the amount of food that people ordered throughout the entire flight was simply astounding.
I’ve never seen this mentioned in any other Norwegian air reviews, so I’m not sure if it was just something about this flight that was different, or if it’s actually the norm. Those poor flight attendants were up in the aisles delivering food the entire 11 hours. They were delivering food before that first meal service, and immediately after and all through the entire flight. Right up until the point where they had to start with the second meal service when there was just two hours of flying time remaining.
I’m not joking when I say that everybody ordered something at least twice. I ordered drinks twice during the flight, which is something that I have never done on any other flight in my life. But with that really easy to use food ordering system right there in front of my face, it was all too easy to swipe my credit card and have whatever I wanted delivered to me within minutes.
I can’t say for certain, but they sold at least $15,000 worth of food on this flight. That was shocking enough, but to see the flight attendants up in the aisles delivering snacks for the entire 11 hours without a break was something else.
Maybe if other travel bloggers mentioned how overworked these flight attendants are in their Norwegian Air reviews, the airline will do something about it and pay these flight attendants what they’re worth? All I can say is that being a Norwegian Air flight attendant is not a cushy job. At all.
OMG more food
The entertainment for the middle part of this flight consisted of a series of movies and watching those hard-working flight attendants hustling snacks up and down the aisles. It was also interesting to watch them deal with the guy in seat 12F who had a bit too much alcohol and was starting to become difficult.
Every now and then I think of how fun it would to be part of an airline crew for a large international airline, but watching this particular crew work so hard today made me feel otherwise. As a matter of fact, I was actually feeling quite thankful that I’m just a lowly travel blogger doing my own thing. I would most certainly lose my mind if I had to deal with my own “12F’s” on a daily basis.
I’m feeling rather bummed that I haven’t written any other Norwegian air reviews up to this point. Why? Well, the food kept coming and I was getting a bit over excited about it. Seriously – I had no idea that there was going to be this much food served on this airline.
The reason for this, I’m sure, is the fact that there was very little food served on my recent Iceland Air flight between San Francisco and Reykjavík. I had to pay extra for the privilege to eat on those flights, and the amount was hardly worth the cost. I was hungry the entire time. But anyway, back to the second meal on this flight to LAX:
So what’s the verdict on the second meal service?
If I’m being honest, I have to say that it wasn’t as substantial and delicious as the first. All we got was a little sandwich and a small brownie to go with it. This wasn’t enough for me since I hadn’t been snacking that heavily for the duration of the flight.
However, with the amount of food that other people consumed during the past 9 1/2 to 10 hours, I guess that a small snack was just about right. Again, I just have to reiterate how amazing it was to see the amount of food bought and paid for during this journey. Norwegian Air certainly has a good thing going with their food for purchase program and they’ve got to be making a ton of money from it.
There’s one final point about that food for purchase thing that I want to make before moving on (sorry, I know that I’ve beat this to death). I could easily understand them selling so much food if they didn’t serve hot meals. But the fact that there were two complete meal services that nearly everyone took advantage of makes it all the more astounding that they were able to sell so many other things during the duration of the flight. It was nothing short of astounding.
Will this be the first of many Norwegian Air reviews from me going forward?
If it’s not completely obvious by now, this was an airline experience that left me feeling impressed. I was prepared for uncomfortable seats and the agony of feeling hungry for 12 hours, but as we made the descent into Los Angeles I was feeling anything but. As matter fact, it occurred to me that it was one of my most pleasant flight experiences of the past two years. Which is saying a lot, because I fly a ton.
This basic Norwegian Air economy product is so good as a matter of fact, that I’m especially anxious now to try their premium offering. From what I can tell, it’s not exactly like business class. Think of it more like premium economy – which has the potential to be great considering how amazing this basic economy service wise.
So to answer the question of whether or not this will be the first of many Norwegian air reviews for me going forward, all I can say is: heck yes! That’s assuming they can manage to stay in business. If you haven’t been paying attention to the news, rumors are circulating that Norwegian Air is struggling to stay alive and it’s uncertain if they can continue as is. It would be a real shame to see this airline disappear, because they offer one heck of a good product for one heck of a good price.