Monday, 4 June 2012

Flying With Norwegian Air Shuttle (Part 1: LGW-ARN)

Welcome To My Trip Report on Norwegian Air Shuttle!  



*Aircraft photos are credited to the respective photographers from Airliners.net 

For my part 2, click here.

History of Norwegian Air Shuttle 

Norwegian Air Shuttle (NAS) is currently the 3rd largest Low Cost Carrier in Europe based in Norway and was originally set up in 1993 to take over the regional airline services produced by Busy bee, a subsidiary of Braathens. This airline originally operated the Fokker 50s on domestic routes and by 1999, it was operating 6 Fokker 50s. Braathens and NAS had a partnership going for a short while but ended when SAS bought over Braathens and cancelled the contracts that Norwegian had with the Braathens, letting SAS commuter take over the routes. Despite the setback, the airline didn't give up. It decided to start domestic scheduled service as a low cost carrier in 2002 and the name was re-branded to Norwegian. The airline started operating Boeing 737s at that time and slowly expanded with the airline making its ambition known by buying over FlyNordic from Finnair. In return, Finnair would have a 5% stake in this airline. In 2008, the airline started flights outside of Europe, Dubai was the first destination. With Sterling Airlines declaring bankrupt, Norwegian decided to open a hub in Copenhagen. New order of Boeing 737-800s and made, since then the airline continue to grow to give SAS and Finnair a good run of their money! In 2010, this airline decided to enter the wide-body market by ordering Boeing 787 Dreamliner, initially with order for just the -8 series, and later on -9 series aircraft were added after the airline were quite satisfied with the performance of the aircraft. Initially the airline dealt with issues with the new aircraft, but gradually the problems were ironed out with Boeing and the airline currently is doing well, operating both aircraft on medium-long haul routes. 2 years later, the airline placed its first order with Airbus for 100 Airbus A320 NEO (New Engine Option) and 50 more on options and 22 Boeing 737-800 plus 100 Boeing 737-8 MAX with 100 more on options. Future of the airline certainly looks bright! 


Current fleet of Norwegian Air Shuttle

Boeing 737-800


Boeing 787-8 (Norwegian Long Haul)


Boeing 787-9 (Norwegian Long Haul)


Introduction

This booking came only weeks before the actual flight. It wouldn't have happened if it was not because of SAS and Blue1's low price from Helsinki to London via Oslo. I was quite reluctant to fly from London Gatwick as its not cheap to get there. However, I saw that it only cost 16 pounds for one way to Gatwick from Victoria station, I decided to go ahead. Besides, its good to go back and see how much the airport had changed since the last time I was there. With that sorted out, I booked my flight. 

The day has arrived, I woke up at 9am and left the apartment at 10am. I was still feeling tired as I flew in the night before and arrived at the apartment at 11.30pm. I made my way to the underground at Tower Hill station and took the train to Victoria station. After that, I topped up my card before getting taking the Gatwick express train to London Gatwick.

The journey took longer as usual as there were some works along the tracks, but we reached Gatwick at around 1145pm. That was great as I had some time to spare, I was a bit worried of missing my flight but that had gone away.


Here are some photos

Gatwick Express is the fastest way to London Gatwick but it is expensive.






Within minutes of walking from the train, I was at the airport.

Check-in counters



Checking in didn't take long, I wasn't questioned about my one-way ticket and I got my boarding pass within minutes. No check-in luggage so the process was quicker than usual. 




Exploring Gatwick airport

Estonian Air is no longer in operation. I would love to fly with Cubana to Havana! At that time the airline was operating IL-96 (Russian jetliner) to this airport. 







Checking my flight - it was delayed 







Lots of shops to check out at the air side 



Pretty packed and since there wasn't any place to sit, I decided to head to the boarding gate. At that time, WiFi was not available. 



Once I reached the boarding gate, I noticed a sign on the monitor screen flashing delay. Later on, the pilots on my flight explained to us that there was an issue with the air-con unit and it took a while to get it fixed at the departure airport.


It was my first time heading to Stockholm, I was pretty excited about it and flying on a new airline for my flight logbook.




The view from the holding room, a good way to pass time. 





 Route: LGW-ARN

Miles: 919


Boarding 



Boarding announcement was made but we were told that our aero-bridge was not working so we had to walk down the stairs to board the aircraft via the staircase. 

In the aircraft, the Captain came on the speaker to personally apologize to us for the delay and promised to fly fast to make up for the loss time. As I had a lengthy transit at ARN airport, it doesn't matter to me. 


My ride: LN-DYA


The hump you see means there is WiFi connection on this aircraft



Most Norwegian's aircraft has a photo of a celebrity on the tail of the aircraft. 



Carrier: Norwegian
Flight number: 815
Date: 30th May 2012
Routing: LGW-ARN
Seat number: 21A
Aircraft type: Boeing 737-800 with winglets
Engine type: 2x CFMI CFM56-7B26
Configuration: Y186
1st time on LN-DYA
Line number: 2994
Plane delivered: 21st August 2009
Registration: LN-DYA (Erik Bye)
Flight duration: 2 hrs
Schedule departure time: 1330
Actual departure time: 1400 (late)
Schedule arrival time: 1625
Actual arrival time: 1700
Load factor for Y class: 90%
Departure gate: 18
Departure runway: 26L


Boarding started according to rows and in about 15 minutes, everyone was seated. I was lucky to have the seat beside mine vacant seeing how full the flight was. This set of crew was friendly and approachable, that's a good start to the flight, I was looking forward to the 2 hours flight. Checking out the seats, they were comfortable and legroom space was of a typical Low Cost Carrier so nothing to complain. 

Pushed back began and soon we made our way to the runway which was only about 10 minutes taxi from our gate. Not much traffic and we were airborne not long after. The take off of the Boeing 737-800 was powerful and we reached to the assigned flight level very quickly.

In-flight product

The black leather seats were comfortable with decent legroom space, certainly better than SAS's 737-700 seats. The position of the window was the normal level which was good for my neck. Not only that, free WiFI was available on my flight. Not all aircraft have WiFI installed at this point of time. When you do your booking on Norwegian, there are certain flights with the Free Wifi badge. I was wondering, if the airline has to do a last minute equipment change of aircraft using the non-equipped WIFI aircraft. Won't the passengers be unhappy?

Since this is a Low Cost Carrier, food and beverages are not free. 


Photos of the Cabin

Economy Class seats





Old style cabin 



Drop down screen 



The small TVs were not working, so safety instructions were done manually. Free WiFi was available so just use it and enjoy! Speed was not bad as I was able to surf the webpage. At this time, the likes of Whatsapp and other social chat applications were not available so surfing the internet was the only thing I could do with the Wifi. 


Cabin interior 




             I was tired even though I was only half way through my journey.






My comfortable seat - leather seat is commonly used among Low Cost Carriers.


                       
In-flight service

Just like Finnair, I am quite surprised with the level of service and I have been treated well even though this is just a low-cost carrier. I was asked a few times by the crews whether everything's ok and was I enjoying the flight and how was the wifi connection? Even though we departed and landed late, the crew apologized to us a few times and that's sincerity. We couldn't blame them at all. If its a technical problem with the aircraft, we can't do much but to wait for the plane to be fixed. Safety comes first!

The service recovery was great though as we were kept well-informed.

Wifi service

To be the first operator in Europe to have this service is certainly an advantage over others. 





              You can use either your cellphones or tablets to access the WiFi.




This was where I was when my phone got connected to the WiFi



My opinion: The WiFi signal may not be that fantastic like our home, due to the possibility of many others using it at the same time, but its good enough for normal surfing, checking emails and using social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter. Now (2016), there are many airlines offering this WiFi service for a fee. 


Window-shot photos

Getting ready to push back. Czech's Airbus A320 (Old livery) was being prepared for departure.



Push back and I spotted British Airways Boeing 737-400 (Retired) taking off. Most of them spent their remaining years over here before retiring. 





Rolling! 



Take off was smooth and powerful





I always like airlines to paint the inwards winglets with the airline logo 





Flying at assigned Flight level in smooth air 





The 2 hours flights was almost coming to an end. We started our descend into Stockholm. 







I haven't visited the city yet, but I will one day. 







Touched down was a smooth affair 






My rating: 

Airline's website: 6/10
London Gatwick Airport experience: 6/10
Check-in staff: 7/10
In-flight service: 7/10
Seat comfort: 7/10 
Cabin interior: 9/10
Cleanliness: 10/10 
In-flight WIFI: 8/10 (Good connection and it's free) 
Aircraft condition: 7/10 
Punctuality: 6/10 (late on arrival)
Overall rating: 73/100

Conclusion

Despite the delay, I felt the airline has done well in keeping the passengers updated. Whatever happened was just down to bad luck and not a single soul on board was unhappy, everything was normal. No one likes to be delayed but its inevitable especially when it comes to public transport. This flight took placed a few years ago and do note that things could have changed but still its good to share what happened back then and perhaps compare the changes that took place between now and then. Before I flew with this airline, I received warning from others not to expect much from the European Low Cost Carriers, but I was surprised how things went well apart from the delay. The Free Wifi occupied most of my time on this flight and the 2 h felt like half an hour or so. 

With the huge expansion this airline has grown, it is certainly going places especially with the long haul flights giving SAS a headache. 

Thanks for reading this trip report! 

For my part 2, click here.

Cheers,
Charles 

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for your excellent detailed experience of Norwegian Air. I will be flying with them in September for the first time going from Gatwick to Tenerife, and i've prebooked seat 3A for £8.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Greg, Hope you have a great flight experience with the airline!

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