Right to the Point: Norwegian Premium is all about the better seat, and not much more. However, it’s one of the best ways to cross the Atlantic on a budget.
After a lovely five days in Amsterdam and a one-night stay at Jumbo Stay, the Boeing 747 hostel on the grounds of Stockholm-Arlanda Airport, it was finally time for me to head back home to Phoenix.
I already wrote about how I was able to bid for Norwegian’s premium economy seat (“Premium”). For this particular flight, I got lucky and was on the old configuration of Norwegian Premium. This meant 55″ of seat pitch instead of 46″, which will be the new normal on Premium flights. And now to the Norwegian Premium review onboard their Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Norwegian Premium Review: Booking The Flight
I booked DY7087, a 3x weekly flight from Stockholm-Arlanda to Los Angeles for the low cost of 1759 SEK, or approximately $182 USD. Then, after my bid to Premium was accepted, my all-in cost was $435, a stellar deal for 11 hours in premium economy.
Helpful tip: always check other currencies when you’re booking Norwegian; it’s incredibly rare that USD is the cheapest, and that includes both for tickets and add-ons like seats and baggage.
Related: How To Upgrade To Norwegian Premium
Airport And Ground Experience
Jumbo Stay’s checkout time was 10:00 AM, which meant I was at the airport by 10:20 AM, well in advance of check-in opening three hours prior to my 2:00 PM flight. Even when I arrived, a queue was already forming, with Norwegian managers and airport volunteers trying to herd them all.
By 10:45AM, check-in had opened –- 15 minutes early at that! Oddly, they had blocked off the entrance to the Premium lane. I told the manager that I was premium, and he allowed me through.
What ensued was likely my least favorite check-in experience I have ever had. The woman running premium check-in was downright rude. She rolled her eyes and scoffed at me when I requested a different seat (more on that later) and truly went out of her way to not help me.
I graciously made it through the very much un-premium experience and hightailed it to the Pontus in the Air restaurant, where American Express Platinum and Centurion cardholders are entitled a free meal from a rotating menu. It’s delicious.
Norwegian Premium tickets used to offer lounge access at some airports, but you now have to be on a Premium Flex ticket, which can only be booked outright at a ridiculous cash rate.
At The Gate
Around the time of boarding, I went to gate 17, the one USA gate in Norwegian’s terminal. The line just to get into the gate area was dozens of people deep. For this flight, the agents checked passports and boarding passes to enter the gate area, and then called each boarding group which could then board freely with no queue.
I was, unfortunately, SSSS’d for the second trip in a row, so my boarding pass received an unfriendly beep. The agent took my passport and directed me to the curtained off area where I was thoroughly swabbed. They were friendly enough, and it only added an extra two minutes to my experience.
I made perfect time and stood idle for less than a minute before they called premium passengers to board. Simultaneously, I received a text saying my flight was delayed 30 minutes, despite boarding happening nearly on-time. Oh well, no big deal. I walked onto the beautiful Boeing 787-9 and turned left to pass three rows of economy and then found my seat, 5A. Let’s get to the Norwegian Premium review onboard.
Norwegian Premium Review: Flight DY7087
19 October 2019
STD: 2:00 PM / ATD: 3:30PM
STA: 4:00 PM / ATA: 5:50PM
Onboard & Seat Impressions
The seat itself was incredibly comfortable. It’s commonly said that Norwegian Premium is either the best premium economy or worst business class in the sky, and based on the seat alone, I would agree with that.
There is a ridiculous amount of space to stretch out, the seats recline significantly, and the padding is a lovely departure from the ache-inducing seats just a few rows behind. Accordingly, the tray table and entertainment system are in the armrest, which means neither can be used for taxi, takeoff, and landing.
If you’re on the old configuration, all the seats are roughly equal, save for the middle seats and seats 5A and 5K. These two window seats have a misaligned window, so there’s one slightly behind the seat which, admittedly, you can see out of, plus one forward, above your legs, which is much easier for the passenger in the aisle to see out of.
This seat was assigned to me by the Messenger agents, and, unsurprisingly, the check-in agent was entirely unwilling to change it. The cabin ended up completely full, with every seat taken.
The majority of the Premium cabin appeared to be mostly older Swedish people. The gentleman next to me didn’t quite fit this: he was just a couple years older than me, worked for an oil company, and booked Premium outright to visit his parents in Palm Springs.
I heard a friendly “Boarding Complete” announcement at 1:55PM, plenty before our 2:00PM scheduled departure. So why the 30-minute delay? Well, our captain quickly welcomed us and said that they were unable to refuel our aircraft, so we would need to taxi to a remote stand to be refueled before departing. He said this would only amount to a 15-20 minute delay.
Frankly, this made no sense, as the inbound aircraft was on-time and had a lengthy layover prior to flying to LAX. Was it a logistical issue at that specific gate? Perhaps it was, considering this flight leaves late almost every day it operates.
Before departure, flight attendants came through and served apple juice, orange juice, and water. No alcohol was available before departure.
Already at the seat was a small but very comfortable blanket. Before long, we pushed back, started our engines, and taxied to the remote stand, where we turned off the engines and waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, an hour and a half goes by and the captain says we’re finally ready to go.
After takeoff, the flight attendants immediately came through to serve meals and drinks. In Premium, two meals are served, one just after departure, and one just before landing. White, red, sparkling wines and beer are all complimentary, with other alcohol available for purchase. This change, like the loss of lounge access, is new, as just earlier in 2019 all alcohol was free in Premium.
By the time the purser reached my row, he only had a cod and ham dish left, which frankly sounded awful. Lucky for me, he offered to find an economy entrée for me, so I had a roast beef and potato dish. What surprised me is that the economy entrée looked bigger than the Premium one, which my neighbor had. The meals are served in a long, rectangular box with all plastic flatware. It may be premium economy, but the presentation pales in comparison to most legacy carriers’ economy products.
The roast beef itself was quite tender and flavorful, as was the accompanying salad. The food was definitely better tasting than economy, but there just wasn’t enough of it. The portions were all quite small. During the food service, three drink services were completed as well, which is reasonable.
Between services, soft drinks, wine, and beer continue to be complimentary, while all other alcohol and snacks is available for order on the inflight entertainment screen. With the click of just a few buttons and a 3-5-minute wait, you’ll have your order in front of you.
I only slept for around an hour, but that was not any fault of the seat; it was, more so, my sleep schedule. One word of caution is that the recline on the seats is such that it’s hard for those in the window/middle to get out without bothering the aisle passenger. I got out of my seat while the gentleman in the aisle was asleep and woke him up as I inadvertently straddled him.
I continued to watch shows and sip my sparkling wine until the next service took place. For this one, there was, regrettably, no entrée choice available for any passengers.
The entrée was honestly really weird.
It was served cold and had a beet base, some prosciutto, salmon, mysterious sauces, breadcrumbs, and greens. It wasn’t good, but it wasn’t bad either. I still don’t know what I ate. This was served with some cheese, grapes, and a chocolate. But once again, the food was far too light. By this point, it had been nine hours since our last meal, and this shouldn’t just be a light snack.
We landed in Los Angeles just short of two hours late. Global Entry, as usual, was a breeze, and I was curbside in ten minutes.
As I’ve said in this Norwegian Premium review, the hard product is fantastic especially for the price point that it’s at. It’s the roomiest premium economy product out there, but with all of the other cuts it faced, like lounge access and spirits, that’s really all it is.
The food is barely acceptable by economy standards, let alone premium economy. My overall recommendation is to book Premium only if you urgently need to sleep on your flight or room to stretch out because the other “perks” simply aren’t worth it.
In essence, book the Premium seat, not the premium service.
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