How much extra does it cost to fly ‘full service’ long-haul with Norwegian?

Nov 27, 2019

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Norwegian is well known in the U.K. for offering low fares to mid- and long-haul destinations like the U.S.A. The airline is regularly the cheapest option to places like Boston (BOS), Miami (MIA) and New York (JFK) — especially for one-way fares, and we feature the airline’s great fares regularly in our TPG fare deals.

Norwegian is technically a low-cost carrier, which is one of the ways it keeps its fares so low. If you usually pick a full-service airline like British Airways or Virgin Atlantic on the routes that Norwegian operates, you may be tempted by Norwegian’s low fares. And if you’re used to all the comforts of a full-service airline, you can essentially replicate this on Norwegian by paying for extra options.

So how much do the extras cost and how does this compare to a full-service airline?

Let’s take the popular London to New York route. Sale fares on Norwegian start from as low as £245 return for their cheapest Low Fare ticket. This is a hand baggage-only fare, so no checked bags or seat selection and no food and drink are included. Prices on this route on all carriers vary enormously across the year — here are some examples of the cheapest and most expensive times to fly. Here is a cheap date in April (in economy, return):

And here’s a date on the same route in July:

Though technically a low-cost carrier, Norwegian does include some full-service elements for free for all passengers, including:

  • Inflight entertainment
  • Basic (light) Wi-Fi
  • Airport check-in
  • Its own loyalty programme, Norwegian Reward, with which you can earn points on even Low Fares.

To add the extras you might be used to on a full-service airline, you are looking at the following charges on Low Fares, each way:

  • 1 checked bag up to 20kgs — £40. A second checked bag will cost an additional £65.
  • Seat selection — £25 for standard seat, up to £70 for a front row, extra legroom seat.
  • Meal (on the New York route you will be served a full meal shortly after takeoff, then a lighter meal just before landing) — £25.
  • Low Fares are nonrefundable but you can change the name on a ticket for £90. If you wish to change the date or route of your flight, there is also a £90 per person change fee, as well as any fare difference.
(Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

If you want to add all the bells and whistles to a Low Fare, the costs can quickly add up and you may wish to consider a Low Fare+ ticket instead. This includes all the features referred to above as part of the ticket (though change fees are still payable) at a discount to purchasing these separately. For London to New York, for example, a Low Fare+ is £50 each way — or £100 total. Separately, to add one checked bag, a meal and standard seat selection to a return London to New York flight will cost you an extra £180 in total.

If you want headphones and a blanket, these aren’t included in either the Low Fare or Low Fare+ option, so you’ll be charged an extra £7 each way.

Bottom line

Full-service airlines have also been uncoupling their fares, with the introduction of basic economy to compete with low-cost airlines like Norwegian. These fares usually include food and beverages though no checked bags or seat selection. If a full-service airline is showing a similar price to Norwegian on the same route, remember to check if that airline includes things like checked baggage and seat selection if these are important to you. If the full-service option is several hundred pounds more expensive, remember that with a Low Fare+ ticket on Norwegian, you can replicate much of the full-service experience for £100 more on a route like New York.

Featured image by Benji Stawski / The Points Guy

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