Friday 21 July 2017

€69 flights to the US: Six things to know about Norwegian's game-changer fares

What's the catch?

Photo: Facebook.com/FlyNorwegianNow
Photo: Facebook.com/FlyNorwegianNow
New York City sunset. Photo: Deposit
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

Are Norwegian's transatlantic fares as good as they sound? Possibly. Maybe. Here's your need to know.

Low-cost transatlantic travel just got real.

Norwegian Airlines International (NAI) today announced a wave of flights from Irish to US airports from just €69 each-way. You can read the full details here, but as regards the fares, here are six things you need to watch.

1. The €69 fare is a gamechanger

Aer Lingus announced a sale on transatlantic flights today. The lead in price for one-way fares to the USA? €199.

Suddenly, that sounds rather old-school. With WOW air already offering one-stop connections to North America from €159.99, legacy carriers are no longer able to brush off the challenge of disruptor upstarts.

A revolution in transatlantic travel could be about to begin.

2. Of course there's a catch...

€69 fares from Dublin, Shannon and Cork to airports in New York and Boston are headline-grabbers, but they do exist. The "extremely limited offer", as its website (see screengrab below) has it, is available until February 24 at 22.59 GMT.

In total, however, just 1,950 seats are available at the sale fare, according to norwegian.com/ie, which posted details of the offer today.

Norwegian's €69 transatlantic sale. Screengrab: Norwegian.com, dated 3.30pm Thursday, February 23, 2017.
Norwegian's €69 transatlantic sale. Screengrab: Norwegian.com, dated 3.30pm Thursday, February 23, 2017.

3. There are extra charges...

Taxes and charges are included, as is one 10kg cabin bag and a small personal item, but you will have to pay extra for services that airlines like Aer Lingus, United, Delta and American include within their basic transatlantic fares.

20kg checked bags, for instance, cost from €35 each way on Norwegian's basic, LowFare economy tickets (Flexi and Premium tickets are also available).

Reserving a seat on basic, LowFare tickets costs €30 each way on international long-haul flights. Pre-order meals cost €30 each-way, though you can also buy snacks (from €4-€8), fresh food (€10-11) and drinks (from €4) on board.

4. There is no seatback entertainment

Get downloading your Netflix faves, because Norwegian's long-haul entertainment options are exactly the same as its short-haul offerings.

Which is to say, the 737 MAX will have number of drop-down ceiling screens. Headphones cost an extra €3, so bring your phone or tablet.

On the plus side, the flights only last six or seven hours.

5. Forget about sale fares in summer...

Norwegian's fares from Dublin to New York's Stewart international. Screengrab: Norwegian.com, dated 3.30pm Thursday, February 23, 2017.
Norwegian's fares from Dublin to New York's Stewart international. Screengrab: Norwegian.com, dated 3.30pm Thursday, February 23, 2017.

As we publish, there are no €69 fares available from Ireland to New York or Boston in July or August. €69 flights are available outbound from Dublin from September, while Cork and Shannon have €69 fares available from November.

Typically, the fares jump to at least €200.60 each way, with the most expensive I can see coming in today at around €270.60 each way.

Interestingly, some flights are already showing as "full".

6. The airports are unusual...

Boston Providence (pvdairport.com) and New York's Stewart International (panynj.gov/airports/stewart) are around 90 minutes from the cities.

Flying into these non-hub airports allows Norwegian to lower its fares as it saves on landing fees. Bus and train links are available from both.

It's worth pointing out, of course, that the airports don't necessarily have to be used as entry points to NYC or Boston. Stewart International is less than half-an-hour's drive from outlet village Woodbury Common, for instance, while Providence could be seen as a springboard to New England trips.

Fall foliage, anyone?

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