Norwegian has already helped change the way we look at transatlantic travel by offering a low-cost option between Europe and the US, it has announced it's intention to take on British Airways (again) with non-stop flights between London and Buenos Aires and yesterday it inaugurated the longest low-cost route in the world: London - Singapore.
One of the big differences between low-cost carriers and their full-service counterparts has always been that the full-service airlines are able to offer smooth (in theory!) transfers to other full-service airlines when passengers wish to connect to an onward flight. The traditional low-cost European airlines don't belong to alliances or have any strong affiliations with other airlines so they can't offer the same service....at least up until now.
Norwegian is the little low-cost airline that's taking the fight right to the transatlantic legacy carriers....except that the airline isn't really little any more. Norwegian is now a serious force to be reckoned with and its transatlantic ambitions show no signs of going away.
Norwegian Air Shuttle (to give the airline is full name) already has a loyalty program called "Norwegian Reward" but, for most of us, this isn't a particularly interesting scheme as it doesn't allow for any outsized rewards (you're not going to be flying in a luxury First Class cabin anytime soon thanks to your earnings from Norwegian). Now, however, the airline is saying that it will be offering some flyers a free roundtrip flight in 2018 and some a free upgrade to the airline's premium cabin.
In time for the third anniversary of its low-cost routes between Gatwick and the US Norwegian has announced its intention to add four new routes to its transatlantic network. Two of its new US routes will be launched from London Gatwick while the other two routes will operate out of the airline's Paris base. As if that wasn't enough, the airline has also added more frequencies on two of its existing routes between Paris and the US.
Norwegian appears the to be a low cost carrier that enjoys taking the battle to the legacy airlines....and doing very well out of it. Now the airline has announced that it will be looking to break the British Airways monopoly on the London - Buenos Aires route starting in early 2018. Norwegian already operate routes to nine different US cities from Gatwick and has recently added flights to Singapore too....but now it's going further still.
On Friday (2 December) the DoT quietly released a statement confirming that it has awarded Norwegian a permit to fly to/from the US from a base in Ireland despite very vocal opposition from a number of US carriers. This was excellent news for the airline and for travelers hoping to see transatlantic fares stay low and, what's even better, is that the good news hasn't ended there.
As British Airways continues its path towards low-cost airline status it would appear that the low-cost carrier it's most concerned about is rising to meet it part-way. When you think about the traits of a low-cost carrier you probably think about things like checked-bag fees, buy-on-board food and cramped seating but you almost certainly don't think of lounge access. Norwegian is trying to change that.
Low-Cost carrier Norwegian has loaded its UK-USA fares for summer 2017 and, if you can plan this far in advance and if you're not beholden to school holidays, there can be some pretty good deals to be had for travel across the pond.
A roundup of some of the airline news I've noticed in the past few days including: Ethiopian Airlines planing to serve London with an A350, Qatar Airways postponing a route that's been taking reservations for months and Norwegian scheduling flights to both the US and Asia with its brand new 787-9 Dreamliners.