No-Frills Flying

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[photo credit: Visit Norway]

Since we reviewed our first class flight with Etihad, I thought it would be fitting to go to the other end of the spectrum and share details of my flight in coach on Norwegian Air.  There are many carriers in Europe offering super cheap no-frills tickets, and it seems that many of the North American carriers are beginning to follow suit. But fear not! Below is a summary of my in-flight experience and a few tips that will hopefully make your bare-bones flying experience better.I paid $400 for a one-way ticket from Prague to New York.  It was actually not the best deal I’ve ever booked, but it was the cheapest of all the flight options available when I needed to fly.  It was my first time flying with Norwegian Airlines, so I didn’t know what to expect.  What I quickly learned was that you had to pay extra for EVERYTHING, and I mean everything.  From checked luggage, to blankets, to snacks, even water!  In North America, we are used to paying extra for checked luggage,  but the concept of having to pay for soft drinks or water on a long six hour flight is still foreign to us.

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[gif credit: tumblr]

If you want to pay for meals, you can pre-order, but it must be done 72 hours before departure. Meals cost about $35-$40 dollars, or there is a deal where you can pay $55 for the combo package that includes a checked bag, seat selection, and 2 meals.  For people who ordered food beforehand, meals were served promptly after the plane reached altitude. On board, you can select snacks and beverages (alcoholic and non alcoholic) to be purchased with your credit card from the seat-back entertainment screen. It is great for the people who didn’t plan ahead and order food.  It’s IMPORTANT to note that the purchase screen is deactivated until AFTER all the pre-ordered food was served and cleared away.  The whole process took about an hour or two, but it seems so much longer when you are sitting there hungry and thirsty and looking at other people eat.

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[gif credit: tumblr]

Since I didn’t pre-order my food, I was one of the sad, hungry people. My original plan was to buy a sandwich and water at the airport to bring on the flight, but since it’s Europe and there was no non-carbonated water to be found anywhere, I figured I would just pay through the nose for it onboard.   What I didn’t plan on was that I couldn’t even get water until 2 hours after takeoff. Once the screen was activated, I was able to get my water and finally eat my sandwich. Here is a list of prices for a few items that you might find: water – $4, blanket – $5, headphone – $3, on top of the usual alcoholic and snack products.

There are both positives and negatives that come with flying with these low-cost airlines.  The positives, of course, are the cheap air fare.  A round trip direct flight from NYC to London for $347 is totally worth it.  The negatives can be the unknown extra costs incurred and inconveniences experienced on the trip.  But once you know what to expect, it’s easy to prepare for the flight by bringing everything you’d need on board.  Next time you book with Norwegian Airlines or any of the other low cost airlines, remember to bring a blanket, some water, and a few snacks. Just be prepared, then sit back and enjoy your cheap transatlantic flight.

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