Bad News: Norwegian’s New Transatlantic Seats Look Terrible!

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On the whole I’m pretty positive about Norwegian but sometimes the airline does things for which it deserves to be called out. This is one of those times.

Norwegian has taken delivery of its first 737 MAX aircraft with a new interior and will take delivery of a further 12 of these aircraft as we progress through 2018. In total the airline has over 100 more 737 MAX aircraft on order (so they’ll be hard to avoid) and the existing MAX aircraft will be refitted with the new interior.

The airline plans to fly these aircraft on its shorter transatlantic routes (New York and Providence for example) as well as on its European short-haul routes where it will replace the airline’s older 737-800 aircraft.

As a reminder, the 737 MAX aircraft is the aircraft that American Airlines has configured in such a way that one of its own pilots referred to it as “the most miserable experience in the world” and that’s why I pulled together a list of routes on which American flys the aircraft – readers will know what flights to avoid.

Now it looks like I’m going to have to start compiling a similar list for Norwegian.

Norwegian tells us that it has “enhanced” the passenger experience on the 737 MAX (yes, the airline actually used the word “enhanced”) by introducing a new RECARO seat.

rows of seats in an airplane
Image Norwegian

The airline says that the seats are slimmer than before and will offer passengers 30″ of seat pitch (legroom) and 17.2″ of seat width.

These may possibly be the tightest and least comfortable seats flying across the Atlantic – they even appear to be tighter than the abomination offered by Air Canada Rouge.

Norwegian only offered up the single image of the seats you see above but a RECARO spokesperson confirmed that the new seat is the company’s BL3710 seat which looks like this:

a black seat with metal legs

Have you ever seen a thinner, less comfortable looking seat on aircraft?

Norwegian claims that these seats are designed “to add space at knee-level giving customers additional comfort” but that’s just PR cover for a less customer-friendly reality.

The truth is that Norwegian has installed these seats because they’re light (the airline admits this) and the reduced weight means that the aircraft will burn less fuel which, in turn, will reduce Norwegian’s operating profits allowing the carrier “to continue delivering affordable fares“.

Comfort isn’t a factor here – this is all about cost-cutting.

Why This Is Bad

To put these seats in context, they may be no worse than what you’ll find in a lot of other airlines’ short-haul cabins but, in Norwegian’s case, they’re not only going to be offered on short-haul – they’re going to be offered across the Atlantic too.

Flying time between London – New York (one of the routes that will apparently get the 737 MAX with the new interior) is scheduled at over 8 hours so, even assuming that’s a padded estimate, when you add in the time on the ground (after boarding and when taxiing to the gate) passengers can expect to be in their seats for around 8 hours on this route.

That’s 8 hours crammed into a seat that has minimal padding, is only a little over 17″ wide and only offers 30″ of seat pitch.

Imagine the tightest mainline short-haul Economy Class seats you’ve probably flown and that’s what Norwegian will be offering on some of its transatlantic routes.

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Bottom Line

You would have to pay me a LOT of money to sit in one of these seats on a transatlantic flight. Irrespective of what Norwegian may try to claim these are not going to be comfortable seats and a lot of passengers are going to find them very uncomfortable.

Going forward travelers are going to have to be extra careful which flights they book if flying with Norwegian. The Economy Class seats in the airline’s Dreamliners may be tight but they’re no worse than what a lot of the legacy carriers offer….but the seats in the 737 MAX are a whole other story. I’d avoid them at all costs.