Norwegian (UK) 20% Discount On “Premium Class” Flights – But Is There Any Point?

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I’ve mentioned Norwegian a few times on Traveling For Miles, mainly because they’re one of the few low-cost airlines to fly across the Atlantic, but also because they like a good discount now and again.

I noticed Norwegian’s latest promotion via their press release page and it appears to offer UK based members of their loyalty program “an exclusive discount to save at least £130 on Premium class flights between 1st November 2015 and 13th March 2016” (on flights between the UK and the US booked by 26 October 2015).

So I thought I’d take a look into this a little more.

I started by exploring what exactly Norwegian’s Premium Class offered.

According to Norwegian, Premium Class includes all of the following:

  • Lounge access at Gatwick, Los Angeles, JFK, Bangkok, Oslo, Stockholm & Copenhagen
  • Fast Track at select airports (none of which are in the UK or US) – full list here.
  • “Ultra comfortable seats” with extra legroom (Hmmm
  • 2 baggage allowances (2 x 20kg)
  • Complimentary pre-departure drinks
  • Pre-dinner drinks
  • 3-course dinner including drinks
  • Breakfast
  • Seat reservation
  • USB docking and power outlet
  • Touchscreen snack bar ordering
  • State of the art entertainment system.

Norwegian fly the 787 Dreamliner between the UK and the US and, while their Economy class cabin is in a 3-3-3 configuration…..

norwegian-787-dreamliner - 2Norwegian Economy Class Cabin 787 Dreamliner – Image courtesy of Norwegian

…their Premium Class cabin offers a bit more space with a 2-3-2 configuration:

norwegian-787-dreamliner - 3Norwegian Premium Cabin 787 Dreamliner – Image courtesy of Norwegian

The seats are recliners and do not lie flat like most full service airlines now offer:

Norwegian-Premium-Class-SeatsNorwegian Premium Cabin Seat 787 Dreamliner – Image courtesy of Norwegian

The seats don’t look particularly well padded and remind me a lot of the Premium Economy seats that Singapore Airlines are introducing across their fleet…

Singapore Airlines A350Singapore Airlines premium Economy Seat – Image courtesy of Singapore Airlines

….but it’s worth remembering that this is a low-cost airline I’m discussing so we shouldn’t expect too much!


Now that I’d taken a look at what was on offer I thought I’d check out the prices that Norwegian are charging during the promotional period.

At first I opted not to log in to my “Norwegian Rewards” account so that I could see what the regular asking prices were – the press release says that the offer is for UK members of their Norwegian Rewards program.

I picked a random long weekend to New York (in January) I confess that I was surprised by the results:

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 18.08.35

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 18.09.05

£1,211 ($1,815) doesn’t seem very low-cost to me! And the prices were there or thereabouts for all the other dates I tried.

The price was really only my first issue.

I decided to see what would happen when I priced up the same flight while I was logged in to my Norwegian Rewards account….and I got exactly the same fare. The press release doesn’t mention any promotion code that needs to be used so I decided to contact Norwegian via their Twitter team:

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 18.17.23

To their credit it wasn’t long before I got a reply…but it wasn’t exactly a very useful one:

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 18.17.32

That’s a number in Norway and I wasn’t about to start calling Norway to find out how to get 20% off a flight I probably won’t book.

I sent back a Tweet asking why there wasn’t any more info on their website (or elsewhere) but so far I haven’t heard anything  back.

Nevertheless, if we assume that at some point Norwegian does offer 20% off these fares that would bring them down to around £970 ($1,450)…so how does that compare?

I think it’s fair to assume that the Norwegian Premium Class cabin is more akin to a Premium Economy cabin on a full-service airline so I decided to see what the competition had on offer.

I loaded up the ITA Matrix search engine to see what other airlines had on offer and found that, for the same dates, you could fly on British Airways or Virgin Atlantic in Premium Economy for less! In fact, you could fly to New York on a 3-night stay for less on quite a few dates….

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 18.28.53Prices for Premium Economy flights for a 3-night stay in NYC

The pattern in the matrix above was replicated for all the months of the Norwegian promotion (November through March) so this isn’t an isolated example.

The time when it’s more economical to fly Norwegian is when you’re not flying over a weekend (i.e. when the full-service airlines assume you’re a business person who has to fly and then jack up the prices accordingly).

Let’s not forget, however, that British Airways and Virgin Atlantic appear to be cheaper for weekend travel even when Norwegian is offering a 20% discount. Compared to Norwegian’s un-discounted price (£1,211) BA and Virgin are a bargain!

I was going to check prices to Los Angeles and Boston as well but, to be honest, after I saw the price differences on the New York flights I really lost interest in the whole promotion.

Clearly there’s a time and a place to fly Norwegian (they have some great economy fares) but they should stick to being what they’re meant to be…a low-cost airline.

Most people who choose to fly low-cost airlines across the Atlantic aren’t business people so they’re going to pick the dates that give them the lowest price in the cabin of their choice…so why would they ever pick Norwegian? They would be much better off making sure they fly over a weekend and go with British Airways or Virgin…and you don’t often get me recommending that someone choose British Airways!