You might recall that last year I posted about booking free flights to Europe, and then cancelling them. Well, the time had finally come to take this long anticipated trip to Cyprus and Dubrovnik. To give you a brief rundown of that first article, we robbed some poor airline for flights from NYC to Larnaca, Cyprus for $275 which are typically $800+. We also booked flights from Dubrovnik, Croatia back to NYC for $260, and they are practically the same price as the Larnaca leg.
As the title of this article suggests, we flew Norwegian Airlines, which is known as a European budget airline. “Budget airline” means that they typically charge for anything they can, including: checking a bag, food, seat reservations, name changes, etc. Some even charge for the in-flight entertainment. Some American budget airlines include Allegiant Air, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue, Spirit Airlines, and even SouthWest. Some others you may have heard of are: EasyJet, Ryan Air, WOW! Airlines, and Norwegian 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.
The good news is that, according to Mrs. RRR (our resident airplane and flight expert), any flights over 6 hours are on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. So, that meant for the long flights from NYC to Oslo and back, we got to ride on the Dreamliner. It’s hard to live up to that name, though. According to the marketing material, the windows were 65% larger than comparable windows. They don’t have the typical blinds that you have to manually pull down to cover the window. These are fitted with a dimmer and a button to control it…fancy. It even had mood lighting, which is supposed to help you feel more refreshed and prevent jet lag. Sounded like a load of shit to me, it was just some blue lights and it didn’t prevent anything, and it definitely didn’t make me feel refreshed. But I’m sure some Norwegian focus group said otherwise.
Norway is known for its cold climate, and I suppose Norwegian Airlines wants to share that with the world because they 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. Conveniently, they offer blankets for $5 a pop so come layered up. Another thing that you should come prepared with are wired headphones. I brought my blue-tooth headphones with me that also accommodate a plug for an AUX cord. The person next to me paid $3 for some headphones. What a sucker. And you’ll need those 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.
Oh, and 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. Just get on the flight expecting to be in the very last seat, and if you aren’t consider it a blessing. If you are, well…sucks to be you. 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, your chances of sitting together improve greatly.
As I mentioned before, food and drink is not included on these flights, and if you are planning to have the airline provide you a decent meal, you’ll have to order it in advance (at least 72 hours before your flight), and it’ll cost you an arm and a leg. I think the cost was $45 per person, one-way. And at the end of the day, the meals are still airline food. It’s a sad day when buying food in the airport can be cheaper than getting a meal on a flight. If you are dumb enough to want food on the flight, and weren’t smart enough to have the foresight to purchase a meal, you can still survive off snacks that they have available for purchase. Just know, you’re burning money quicker than the plane is using fuel. A tomato and cheese sandwich? $6. A “chicken burger”? nearly $14. Hell, a microwaved cup of ramen? $4. For the sake of comparison, you can get a 12 pack of ramen for $1.94. Non-alcoholic drinks are $4-5, and alcoholic drinks are $7-15.
So, the safe bet is to pack food and a water bottle or two. Our first flight was overnight so we had a decent supper before going to the airport in NYC, and had a few snacks packed for the trip anyway. Trail mix, protein bars, granola nut bars, a bag of somersaults (which are these weird little granola, sunflower seed, bite sized things that Mrs. RRR got from her parents after a reckless Costco trip), a couple of banana’s, and three water bottles for Mrs. RRR and myself to split. Stuff like that. We actually barely ate anything on the flight there because it was overnight, which just meant we were more prepared for the second flight there, and the two flights back.
Again, unless you’ve splurged for a premium seat, 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. I think a checked bag for our trip would’ve cost $70 per bag if purchased beforehand and $100 if paid for at the airport. And in any case, we purposefully only travel with carry-on luggage. We’ve lost our bags before, have had to change flights at the last minute, take multiple airlines, and fly in and out of different airports in the same city, so having your bag with you at all times is a much safer bet. Also, one of Walker Lamond’s “rules for his unborn son” is this:
“Never pack more than you can carry yourself, and a man’s luggage doesn’t roll.”
With that being said, here is the criteria for low-fare carry-on luggage:
- Under 10 kg or 22 lbs.
- 55 x 40 x 23 cm
Ours were a little over the size restrictions, but a little 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 its 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.
- Only pack a carry on.
- Pack light anyway.
- Dress in layers to keep from getting hypothermia.
- Eat a meal, preferably before you get to an overpriced airport, 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 $500+ per ticket. I consider it well worth it.