Travel: Norwegian Air Shuttle is Making Waves

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Norwegian Air Shuttle

This year, the Oscars look set to be even more unhinged than last year — there’s something jarringly un-Californian about the entire political drift of Hollywood and, unless you’re some kind of policy wonk, it all makes you want to get as far away from the fissures as possible. So, thank goodness for Norwegian Air Shuttle, also known more simply as Norwegian. If you haven’t heard of them then you must have missed the bus, but that’s just as well because this feisty airline favors the state-of-the-art Boeing 787 Dreamliner for its modern fleet — more than 120 planes right now and 260 on order. 

Norwegian is currently the sixth-largest, low-cost carrier in the world and it boasts nearly 450 routes to more than 150 destinations in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, Thailand, the Caribbean and the U.S. It carried more than 2.1 million passengers in January, an increase of 20 percent compared to the same month in 2016. The growth is primarily driven by international expansion; the routes between the U.K. and the U.S., as well as the domestic routes in Spain are contributing strongly to the growth. And, if you think you need to fly out of New York to hit those vacation hotspots overseas, think again: Norwegian offers numerous flights to hub airports in Oslo, Stockholm and (our favorite) Copenhagen nonstop from LAX. 

Norwegian’s planes are redheads: The front sections of the planes are drenched in rich burgundy while the tailfins sport oversized sketches of notable Scandinavian personalities like Thor Heyerdahl and Hollywood’s favorite Swede, Greta Garbo. The interiors feature an understated gray color scheme and smooth Recaro seats, but the thing that struck me immediately upon entering the main cabin on a recent flight on the Dreamliner was the cleanliness. Even during the flight, the air felt cleaner than it usually does on board, the credit for that going to Norwegian’s “fresh air” system. And don’t look for that little ceiling nozzle over your head: it’s been eliminated. Because the plane features carbon fiber composite instead of metal, more humidity can come in from the outside, resulting in less headache and less jetlag, too. Also refreshing are the capacious overhead bins and large oval windows that dispense with pull-down shades in favor of photo-sensitive dimming.

Now, if you really want to go Garbo style, treat yourself to Norwegian’s Premium cabin, where you get a bigger seat and more legroom, upgraded dining options, use of an entertainment system and lounge access from your airport of departure. You’re sure to appreciate the free baggage allowance for up to two suitcases. Neat Scandinavian style and utility prevails: I’ve flown a lot and can say that at 35,000 feet you really don’t need plated meals with silverware and associated accoutrements better suited to a restaurant. It’s superfluous and you pay for it — but Premium tickets on Norwegian don’t seem to cost that much more than regular economy transatlantic tickets on the legacy carriers and, truly, you get all you need and more. 

More from the Norwegian catalog of cool: Complimentary WiFi aboard the 737-800 fleet, an in-flight magazine worth keeping and cordial cabin staff who sport spiffy uniforms by Moods of Norway. The food, service and cleanliness made the whole experience of flying on Norwegian nice and refreshing. Norwegian is giving travelers plenty of ways to cultivate their own relationship with the airline. One of the best things about a transatlantic low-cost airline is that you can now piece together an itinerary on the fly (literally), and that takes flexibility in trip planning to a new level. Get going at norwegian.com.