Norwegian Airlines Review: Flying Long Haul on LowFare

Every expat’s dream right, when a low cost airline introduces a cheap route home!? At the end of March, Norwegian Airlines started flying between Chicago O’Hare and London Gatwick.  I flew over Easter weekend for $500/£350 RETURN, if I wasn’t flying over a peak weekend, it could have potentially been even cheaper.  I had booked the Norwegian LowFare, my first time flying long haul with a budget airline and believe it or not, it wasn’t horrendous!

Norwegian Airlines Review

Norwegian Chicago to London Review

The long haul routes use the Norwegian 787 Dreamliners, which are some of the nicest planes that I’ve flown on.  The economy cabin has a 3 – 3 – 3 configuration with each seat having its own seat back entertainment system (I’ve paid a lot more for flights that haven’t had this!).

The entertainment system is free, even for LowFare travellers, and has a mix of new and old movies (for example I watched ‘Wonder’ (2017) and ’50 First Dates’ (2004)) and a few TV shows (the latest season of the ‘Big Bang Theory’).  There are a few games and the flight map is awesome, giving you the option to see a digital view of what you are flying over…view from the left window, view from the right, interactive destination guides etc.

Each seat also has its own USB charging port too which is AMAZING.  I knew this before my flight so I didn’t need to worry about scrapping over one of only a handful of outlets at the gate before boarding!

Now I’m going to fast forward for a second and then loop back to another feature of the entertainment system!

Travelling on LowFare

LowFare literally only includes the seat…well the seat if you count being assigned one at check in!  I saved myself over $90 PER FLIGHT (total saving of $180).  This wasn’t too bad as I was travelling solo so didn’t really mind where I sat.  I was given 40J, back row window seat, on the flight to London and 24J on the return leg to Chicago.  The next ticket up includes pre booked seat assignments.

Norwegian Airlines Economy Cabin

At the time of writing, you can take 1 large cabin baggage on board (55x40x23cm) for free PLUS a small personal item (25x33x20cm) that goes under the seat in front…unless you are the greedy pigs that sat next to me that had suitcases AND THEN backpacks, that were the same size as my main cabin bag, in the overhead bin too…I even slid my bag over so they could put theirs together…before I realised that they had already completely filled one bin (RANT OVER)!  Depending on the ticket type, depends on the weight you are allowed.  On LowFare you get 10kg. My bag was weighed in Chicago but not London.  Checked baggage isn’t included on LowFare.

I guess the thing I was worried about the most before flying was that the LowFare DOESN’T include food or drinks, on an 8 hour flight I was worried about obviously getting dehydrated etc.  They gave out cups of water if you asked for it, but it wasn’t given as part of a service.  The flight times actually worked out well for me to be able to save a bit of money by eating in the terminal.

*My Tips*

Flying from USA – If you take an empty water bottle through security, there are plenty of water fountains in the USA airport terminals to fill it up FOR FREE.  Otherwise it’s around $4 for a bottle of water.

Flying from the UK – One of my FAVOURITE things about flying from UK airports are the WHSmiths or Boots £3.99 Meal Deals…they are such great value!  You can pick a sandwich or a wrap, a bottle of drink (including large 850ml bottles of water) and then a snack…I’ve noticed that the snack choices have narrowed recently but still include a few options of chocolate bars, packets of crisps/chips, granola bars or packets of dried fruit and nuts.

You have the option of buying food and drink on the flight.  It’s kinda cool, they don’t have an inflight service like what you may find on a short haul flight, but instead you can order food and drink from the seat back entertainment screen and the crew will deliver it right to your seat.  You do have to pay on card only though and you do this all on your screen!  If you buy a water and a sandwich in-flight, it’ll set you back $10, buying the meal deal mentioned above will get you a water twice the size AND a snack with a saving of £3/$4.  (LowFare+ includes 2 meals with drinks.  The dinner options on my flight were chicken and rice or beef and mash).

Another thing NOT included on Norwegian long haul flights are free earphones and blankets…although to be honest, as much as I utilise blankets, I do find them a little gross when I’m given ‘clean’ sealed blankets that when opened have hairs still stuck on them.  One of my blankets on a flight to Australia even smelt like sick once!  Blankets can be purchased for $5 and earphones for $3.  I’m guessing that if you buy a blanket, you then keep the blanket, which means no rewashed puke blankets yay!

…& Back To The Plane!

Continuing with my Norwegian Airlines review, I’ll return to some of the cool features of their Dreamliners!  The Dreamliners have a fresh air filtration system and a cabin pressure which is set in a way to reduce jet lag.  I rarely suffer from jet lag but didn’t get it so I guess it works!

Norwegian Airlines Dreamliner Cabin

Clever mood lighting throughout the flight is also meant to reduce jet lag…and when you land the plane turns into a rainbow!

But the child inside of me was OBSESSED with the windows.  They are AMAZING.  I felt sorry for the poor person next to me that had to suffer with my child like wonder playing with them!  Not only are the windows 65% bigger…but they have NO BLINDS.  Say WHAT?!  They work on a tint system controlled by buttons and automatically as part of the cabin mood lighting.  When it’s rest time, the windows are automatically dimmed to reduce light, but it’s cool because you can still see through them!  When it’s time to ‘wake up’, they are steadily brightened so you don’t suffer from the blinding light when you first open the shutter!  The 2 pictures below were taken a few seconds apart…

Norwegian Airlines Review Dreamliner

I’m quite short but I found the legroom to be similar to what you get from a budget airline.  I will say that having a window seat, legroom is drastically decreased due to the leg fixture being quite chunky, if you have a bag underneath too there’s then even less.  Also when I had a water bottle in the pocket, my knee would be touching the bottle.  Although I did like the way that the chairs had a completely solid back.  On some airlines you can feel the person behind routing around in the pocket but there was none of this on the Norwegian Dreamliner.  The pocket contains an inflight magazine, a barf bag and a safety card.

Currently there is no online check in for flights outside of Europe.  At Chicago, the check in desk opened just over 3 hours before the flight, although from Gatwick the ‘USA flight’ desks are always open due to the amount of US destinations they offer.  The Chicago – Gatwick route only has 1 flight every other day, the Chicago – London route is a red eye overnight flight and the London – Chicago flight leaves in the afternoon, landing in the evening in America. Economy class is boarded by row number, starting at the back of the plane!

You can find out more on the Norwegian Airlines website!

Have you flown long haul on a budget airline?  Another option for a budget transatlanic flight would be WOW Air (who have just been bought by IcelandAir), which has a connection in Iceland.  This was my Norwegian Chicago to London review.  My parents used the route when they came to visit during the summer and I’m using it for my visit over Christmas and again in March!

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Norwegian Airlines Review. What it's like to fly long haul on the Norwegian LowFare. Transatlanic budget airline

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38 thoughts on “Norwegian Airlines Review: Flying Long Haul on LowFare

  1. Thanks for posting your review! I’m taking this same flight with my husband and two sons in May. We were thrilled when the new route was announced! We booked tickets about 8 months ago! Just under $400 each return! My husband is from England, so fares like this will allow my boys to see Nana and Grandad more often!

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  2. I’m always wary of traveling on low fare / budget airlines for anything longer then a couple hours, but this doesn’t seem bad at all! And I pack a carryon so it’s nice that you get the carryon plus the personal item.

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    1. Yes! I agree, I tend to fill the carryon with all my clothes and then all the important stuff in my personal item! Food and drink has always been my biggest concern but it was fine!

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  3. Really loved your review! I am flying Los Angeles – Gatwick next week. We couldn’t resist getting the tickets since they were about $420 each. Now, I didn’t know a small personal item is allowed. I was getting ready for just a small carry on bag. I will check that. I am excited about the entertainment system. Last year we used WOW and they do not have an entertainment system and you have to pay for your carry on. That flight was fine. I believe the Norweigan one is going to be even better.

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    1. I was thinking I wouldn’t be able to get home this year but when the fares were that cheap I had to take advantage! They had the bag measuring things that said one carryon and a personal item but it did say they had to be a combined weight of 10kg if travelling on LowFare…but they never weighed my personal item but it was quite a small shoulder bag so maybe they knew it wouldn’t weigh the 4kg I had spare!

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  4. Woww this is very interesting. I have been hesitant to book a budget long haul flight, but after reading your review I am seriously considering it. I particularly loved the feature of the windows being larger and self-dimming! One question do the seats recline or not?

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    1. Yep, my seat reclined! Not by much, but it did 🙂 it honestly felt like just travelling with one of the regular carriers but you had no food or free drinks, no checked bags and you got assigned a seat at check in when if you hadn’t paid for it! Other than that the plane was a decent long haul plane 🙂

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      1. I am happy to buy food beforehand or on the flight if that can save me a couple of $100 hehe 🙂 Great to hear that!

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  5. I’m flying with Norwegian in six days, so this was great to read! I didn’t know about the blankets, so that’s a good pointer. Do they provide pillows or should I take one of my own? Great to hear that there are USB chargers as well. My flight is 12 hours 45 (London to Singapore) so I’m definitely going to have to take advantage of 2 or 3 boots meal deals… so worth it for the cheap flight though. I’m flying the whole way to Hanoi for 180 pound!

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    1. Amazing! No, no pillows…and there isn’t an option to buy them either, just the blankets and ear buds so I took my own! Haha yes, you may definitely need more than one meal deal! My longest flight was 8hrs!

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  6. At last a cheap airline to the States. Makes visiting the US seem much more affordable now and the flight doesn’t seem too bad for a budget airline either.

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    1. Yes I was impressed with the cabin! I guess if you are travelling with ‘all the extras’, the price is fairly similar to other airlines, so I guess the plane does have to fairly decent, otherwise it’s a bit of a rip off!

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  7. Im pretty sure they have opened up some Europe routes from the east coast (and caribbean too-random, right) so was wondering about this airline. the price seems worth the hassle of brining your own blanket and food. Def keeping this in mind – $500 for europe over easter? that is pretty amazing!

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    1. I found that there was enough room to be able to do the ankle and leg exercises, I’m too much of a wimp to bother the person next to me so I have to make do with the exercises!

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  8. Thanks for your review! I always wonder if those cheap flights are worth it. While not exactly long haul, I did fly 6 hours on a cheap Mexican airline called VivaAerobus. I was not impressed! The seats looked similar to your picture above. I wouldn’t do it again due to disorganization and delays prior to departure and the extremely hard seat. The savings were not as dramatic as yours since it’s easy to find other budget Airlines to get to Mexico/Latin America. I have a review of 4 of the brands on my blog.

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  9. Norwegian is one of my favourite airlines ever – got to know it 9 years ago in Norway and I remember it since it had very few routes. I remmeber being overly excited when it opened routes to Italy (I was living in Italy and loved travelling to Scandinavia) and then I eventually moved to Scandinavia myself so now I have the chance to take it pretty often 😀
    Although I haven’t flown Norwegian long haul yet, I had no doubt they provide a good service. Plus the Dreamliners are really awesome planes. I had the same feeling about the windows when I flew with a Dreamliner – and found it pretty cool that the FAs did not announce to keep the blinds open for takeoff and landing, as they would control that themselves. So cool!!!

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    1. Yes! I thought exactly that! It saves on the cabin crew having to tell people to open/shut the blinds! I had a friend from college that started working for them a long time ago and it seemed a decent short haul option but I’d happily use them as my long haul go to if the flights stay that cheap!

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  10. I’ve been wanting to fly on Norwegian air and have wondered about the lack of food. Boots meal deals are great, but you’re allowed to take food through security provided it isn’t a liquid anyway! Really useful post!

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  11. this is great to hear! i’m flying Norwegian for the first time and am always a little nervous with budget, long haul flights but have not had any issues yet! (fingers crossed)

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  12. I’ve flown Norwegian from UK to Europe before and it was ace so when I found flights to LAX in January for under 400 quid I booked them. Like you I was impressed with the flights (thought we did get really bad jet lag flying out there so the air thing didn’t work for us) and the windows are so cool. We did pay for the option of a check in bag and had no issues with legroom (my gf is 5ft9 and usually struggles on budget airlines). I loved the idea of ordering snacks to my seat, the vegan meal was actually decent and when my girlfriend had an epileptic seizure on the flight back they dealt with it brilliantly.

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