How to Survive Norwegian Airlines, & Other Budget Airlines.
The time has come to take our long-anticipated Europe trip to Cyprus and Dubrovnik via Norwegian Airlines. Most budget airlines, like Norwegian, offer incredibly low fares while trying to up-sell you on literally everything. This is why we think you could use our guide on how to survive Norwegian Airlines & other budget airlines.
To give you a brief rundown, we practically robbed Norwegian Airlines by booking flights from NYC to Larnaca, Cyprus for $275. Just to drive home why this is such a big deal, this trip is typically over double that for the same time in May.
We also booked flights from Dubrovnik, Croatia back to NYC for $260. Again, these flights are closer to triple that price. I’m starting to wonder if Norwegian will survive us, much less the other way around.
Budget Airlines to Survive
“Budget airline” means that they typically charge for anything they can, including checking a bag, food, seat reservations, name changes, boarding passes, text message reminders, etc. Occasionally, some even charge for the in-flight entertainment, and that’s if you’re lucky enough to have entertainment on board.
Some American budget airlines:
- Allegiant Air
- Frontier Airlines
- Spirit Airlines
Some European budget airlines:
- Wizz Air
Since we’ve flown with Frontier airlines in the states, we knew going into it what to expect from a budget airline. But, we were pleasantly surprised.
Norwegian Airlines Planes
The good news is that according to Emily, our resident airplane and flight expert, any flights over 6 hours with Norwegian are on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Consequently, that means for the long haul section from NYC to Oslo we were on the Dreamliner.
“Dreamliner”. It’s hard to live up to that name. Hell, it sounds like it should be a cruise ship with skating rinks, rock walls, surfing, skiing, and zip-lines. Maybe that’s just the twelve-year-old in me.
Safe to say it wasn’t the cruise ship of my fantasies.
What gives them the balls to call it the ‘Dreamliner’ then?
Well, according to the marketing material, the windows were 65% larger than comparable windows. Also, don’t plan on manually pulling down the window cover like a poor person. These fuckers are fitted with a dimmer and a button to control it…fancy.
The ‘Dreamliner’ even had mood lighting, which is supposed to help you feel more refreshed and prevent jet lag.
Sounds like a load of shit to me. It was just some blue lights that faded in and didn’t prevent anything. These lights definitely didn’t make me feel refreshed. But I’m sure some Norwegian or Boeing focus group said otherwise.
Survive Norwegian Airlines Money Making Schemes
The Climate Control
Our first big tip to survive Norwegian Airlines is to come layered up.
Norway is known for its cold climate, and I suppose Norwegian Airlines wants to share that with the world. I say that because these Eskimos are notorious for keeping the plane colder than my ex-girlfriend’s heart. It was so cold, I even saw a lawyer with his hands in his own pockets, for once.
Conveniently, they offer blankets for $5 a pop, so wear some layers and keep that cool cash in your wallet.
Also, come prepared with wired headphones. That’s tip #2 to survive Norwegian Airlines.
Luckily, I brought my Bluetooth headphones that accommodate an AUX cord. The person next to me paid $3 for some shitty little headphones. What a sucker. You’ll need those headphones to enjoy the in-flight entertainment, which is surprisingly free. The video entertainment consists of some newly released movies along with classics and even some TV shows and sitcoms.
The Seat Selections
Tip #3 to survive Norwegian Airlines? Get on the flight expecting to be in the very last seat, and if you aren’t, consider it a blessing.
If you’ve bought the cheapest ticket, which you should, don’t expect to pick your seats beforehand. Unless you want to pay $12-$31 to do so. On the other hand, if you are traveling as a group, book your flights on the same reservation and check-in all at the same time. This will greatly increase your chances of sitting together.
Bring a meal, or eat a big one before you get on the plane is tip #4 to survive Norwegian Airlines.
If you are planning to have the airline provide you a decent meal, it’s $45 per person & you’ll have to order it 72 hours in advance.
Norwegian does offer snacks on board if you have any spare organs to sell. A tomato and cheese sandwich? $6. A “chicken burger”? nearly $14. Hell, a microwaved cup of ramen? $4. Alcoholic & non-alcoholic drinks are $4-15. This’ll be a good time to try fasting if you ask me.
Alternatively, the safe bet is to pack food and a water bottle or two. Or, get a travel credit card that gives you lounge access for free food & drinks in the airport, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Tip #5 to survive Norwegian Airlines is to only pack a carry-on.
Again, unless you’ve splurged for a premium ticket, the checked bags are an additional fee. There’s a complicated graph that you can look at before-hand to try to determine the cost, which ranges from $40-$90. In any case, we purposefully only travel with carry-on luggage. Because airlines have lost our bags before, we take multiple airlines in one trip, and we like saving time not checking bags before the flight or waiting on them after we land, having your bag with you at all times is a much safer bet.
With that being said, here are the criteria for low-fare carry-on luggage:
- Under 10 kg or 22 lbs.
- 55 x 40 x 23 cm
However, our bags were a little over the size restrictions but well under the weight restriction.
We were hopeful because our bags aren’t rigid and are malleable enough that we could squeeze them into one of those racks that they use to check if it’s appropriate.
We have heard that unlike the DMV when it comes to your license, Norwegian won’t just take your word for it and will weigh and even measure bags, especially in Oslo and other Norwegian airports, but we didn’t encounter this level of detail. Just know that it’s apparently happened before.
Now that you are armed with the tips to survive Norwegian Airlines & other budget airlines, you should be prepared for your trip. This will give you the confidence to book the cheapest flights without being overly concerned about the hidden ways they squeeze money out of you. Seeing the world has never been cheaper or more accessible, so don’t cop out to some bullshit excuse. Get out there and experience new places & different cultures.
- Only pack a carry-on.
- Pack light anyway.
- Dress in layers to keep from getting hypothermia.
- Eat a meal, preferably at the free lounge, but definitely before you get on the flight.
- Bring snacks and drinks.
- Go in prepared. Just remember that for all this shit you’ve saved $200-300 per ticket. Consider it well worth it.
Don’t forget to check out our 5 Cheap and Healthy Airport Tips before you travel. They’ll help you save even more money and be happier & healthier when you get to your destination.
Tread Lightly, Retire Early
Ballsy packing a bag that didn’t technically fit the size requirements 😉
Haha! I like to live life on the edge. If it had been a rigid bag, we would’ve found something else to use. But, we also weren’t going to buy bags an inch shorter just for this trip. Saving money is the name of the game.
Yellow Brick Freedom
We flew Norwegian from NYC to London last summer and actually had a great experience. Flights were significantly less expensive than other airlines, seats were comfortable, and staff was friendly. I agree with you that you shouldn’t buy anything but the cheapest seats, but I thought they were a great value for a transatlantic flight. MUCH better than comparable budget airlines.
I don’t want my attempts at humor to make it seem like the flight wasn’t enjoyable. Like you said, seats are comfortable, and staff is friendly. I’ve actually had much worse experiences flying trans-atlantic with large airlines like American and United, and spent a lot more on those tickets.
“And you’ll need those to enjoy the in-flight entertainment, which is surprisingly free”
Well they need some way to placate the passengers so they don’t revolt 😉
Did you also carry on a small personal item like a backpack or purse etc?
James @ Rethink the Rat Race
Great question, Gdion! Emily took a small personal item (her purse), while I just made everything work in my carryon.