Pass or Fail? Norwegian’s Premium Class Review, Seattle-London
Recently we were given the opportunity to fly on Norwegian’s Premium Cabin service from Seattle to Gatwick. Considering the options for that route, it’s nice to see a low cost carrier enter the market. The question remains if the Premium Class is truly that Premium. Does it pass or fail the premium test?
If Norwegian can compete with British and Virgin Atlantic for premium seats on this route, then perhaps prices will come down. One can only hope.
With that, it’s time for a Pass/Fail test. There are many aspects of a successful flight that extend far beyond the take-off and landing. Let’s take a look at each segment of the flight, and give it a passing or failing grade to see if Norwegian can compete with the big boys.
Premium Check In Experience
If you want to check yourself in and do a bag drop, there are plenty of kiosks around the airport to make that a reality.
It should be noted that online check in is not available from Seattle, so you will be forced to check in at the airport. Make sure to arrive at a reasonable hour to get all of your documents in order.
Alternatively, if you want to speak to an agent, the line for the Premium Cabin was quite short. Our wait was only 2 minutes and we were attended quickly and efficiently!
Instead of having their own lounge, Norwegian uses The Club at SEA. Also a Priority Pass lounge, they have a wide variety of snacks and drinks on offer. The service isn’t friendly, but it is efficient.
With free food, free drinks, wifi and plenty of seating, this lounge checks off all the requisite boxes. It’s nothing to write home about, but it is an escape from the disaster that is the gate area.
Yikes. Never have I felt more like cattle (but then again, I haven’t flown Southwest before). Relegated to the armpit of the A concourse, gate A20, there isn’t much room to maneuver.
People don’t know where to line up, there’s no real clear signage, and it gets crowded, fast.
I elbowed my way to the front of the line and asked where the Premium line was. She pointed and said “here’s fine.”
Once you actually boarded, the jet bridge led to … wait for it … a BUS!
Why bother boarding premium passengers if you’re gonna shove me on a bus?
On Time Performance
While I’m OK with a delay of 10 minutes, ever 20 minutes, I’m not OK with a delay of over an hour. Every day during the two weeks prior to our flight, delays were an average of 1 hour and 15 minutes.
So, what was the reason for the delay on our flight? A flight plan error.
Seriously? You fly the same damn route every other day. The route is Seattle to London. This cannot be that complicated. We aren’t asking for a diversion to Anchorage here.
Welcome to Norwegian Premium! Let’s start out with the good. The width of the seat is perfect, and the leg room is to die for. At 6-3 I could fully extend my feet flat out under the seat in front of me with no issue. My knees thanked me!
In seat power and a large movie screen made entertainment for the flight a plus. The movie selection was a bit sparse, but since we travel as much as we do, we’re always caught up on the new movies. It’s hard to find new things for us to watch.
Ending up on the “so-so” or “undecided” column was the food. You’re handed this box about 1 and a half times the length of a shoe box and given a hot option. Our two options for this trip were Saffron Cod or Beef Filet. Let me tell you, nothing says presentation like a metal tray lid and food sticking to the top of it.
While it wasn’t disgusting it also wasn’t tasty. I ended up picking at the protein and veggies to try and get some nutrients in my body, but left half of the food untouched. Meh.
Now, the bad. And there’s lots of it.
First off the seat is ridiculously uncomfortable. Like, really bad. There is no lumbar support, the recline is awkward, and the neck rest moves a total of 2 inches. The metal bar under the neck rest jabs into the base of your skull as if to say “Oh, you thought you were going to be comfortable?! Ha!”
There is a totally useless footrest for anyone over 5 feet 4 inches tall, as it ends up feeling like you’re using a squatty potty instead of relaxing. Ben’s not the tallest in the world, and also it was very uncomfortable for him as well. So, it’s not a height issue, it’s a seat issue.
Considering this was a new plane (787-9) I would have expected a higher class product.
The blanket is nice, but there’s no pillow. Seriously? A blanket but no pillow? You’ve got to be kidding me. It’s a 10 hour flight for God’s sake. Epic miss here on this one.
Ben took a sleeping pill (as did I) and while I managed to get about 3 and a half or 4 hours of rest, Ben only got about an hour. The constant tossing and turning in the wicked hard seat was the worst.
The bathroom was no bigger than any coach class bathroom, and thank the Lord I didn’t need to use it, because I know I wouldn’t fit. It’s not so much about the width as it is the length. It’s just not easy to do your business when you can’t stretch out your knees or have any room to… well… work.
Drinks were free but if you wanted a snack you still had to pay. Even in Premium! That’s really cheap, even for a low cost carrier.
Just for fun…
Have a look at the leg room in coach. GOOD luck if someone tries to recline if you’re over 6’ tall. You’re screwed. Big time.
NOT EVEN WORTH GRADING
The crew was friendly and efficient. It’s not their fault there aren’t any pillows or that the company decided somewhere that you have to pay for snacks. I can only imagine what the economy class experience was like. With that said, I never once felt anything but good positive vibes from everyone.
What’s important to remember before we give our final grade is that this is a review of the PREMIUM class of service, not the airline as a whole.
Check-in, Lounge, and Service
Boarding Process, On-Time performance, Everything in the airplane.
So what’s the overall grade for Premium services? Unfortunately, it’s a fail. Flying in an upgraded, premium class of service means just that. It should be a memorable (in a good way) experience that makes you say “I feel like I was treated as a valued customer and got a good value for the money.”
Without a doubt, after safety, the most important part of any flight is the seat and your comfort onboard. The seat was uncomfortable, the amenities lacked, and the food was standard. You were boarded like cattle and had to pay for snacks.
The soft touches are nice and essential to a good flight (lounge, crew friendliness, check-in, etc) but if you can’t deliver with onboard service, then it’s just not gonna cut it.
If you’re looking for a coach experience, to save money, and get to your destination for a great price and with lots of neck, back, shoulder, and leg pain, then Norwegian is your deal. If you want to get there in style and relaxed upon arrival, look towards British or Virgin for your adventure.