Known for its budget-friendly flight costs, Norwegian has made it possible for Americans to travel to Europe without paying an arm and a leg. The airline has received much praise for its achievements in aviation and has been recognized by Skytrax as Europe’s Best Low-Cost Airline for four consecutive years (2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016) and as The World’s Best Low-Cost Long-Haul Airline for 2015 and 2016. There’s no question that the company has made significant strides in a short period of time, especially considering the airline’s first long-haul flight - from Oslo to New York and Bangkok - launched in 2013.
Bjorn Kjos was one of the founding partners and the Chairman of Norwegian Air Shuttle when it debuted in 1993. His father owned a small airplane and as a child, Bjorn developed a fascination with aviation. As a young adult, he completed two years of pilot training in Mississippi and Arizona, and then became a fighter pilot of the Norwegian Royal Air Force from 1969 to 1975.
After his service in the air force, Bjorn completed law studies at the University of Oslo and practiced for more than 20 years. In 1993, he was granted the right of audience in the Supreme Court, but Bjorn’s passion for flight would set him on another path as that was the year he helped establish Norwegian.
Before its expansion, Norwegian was a domestic low-cost carrier that operated on the west coast of Norway in partnership with Braathens S.A.F.E. - formerly a Norway-based airline - using Fokker F-50s aircraft. In 2002, Braathens S.A.F.E was bought by competing airline SAS and Norwegian lost its west coast operation. As a result, the airline began domestic routes in Norway with Boeing 737-300 aircraft. This was also the year Bjorn Kjos would be appointed CEO of Norwegian and from that point on, he’s worked ceaselessly to elevate the airline to new heights.
A few early milestones for the airline include: 2005 - its first profitable year; 2007 – Bank Norwegian launches and the airline acquires FlyNordic from Finnair, bolstering its position in the Nordic and European markets; and 2008 –the company obtains Boeing 737-800 next generation aircraft. The new fleet decreased fuel emissions and consumption by more than 20 percent, spotlighting Norwegian as an environmentally-conscious airline.
Over the years, Norwegian has garnered much recognition for its pioneering efforts in aviation and was awarded the Market Leadership Award from Air Transport World in 2009, equivalent to an Oscar in the airline industry. The carrier was the first to offer in-flight Wi-Fi, and movie and TV rentals on European routes. It would also break records in 2012 when the company signed the largest agreement in European aviation history that included a purchase of 222 aircraft.
Norwegian’s fleet wasn’t the only thing to expand and when the carrier initiated long-haul flights in 2013, it was clear that the airline was becoming the fastest growing in the world. Today, Norwegian has more than 440 routes to 132 destinations in 37 countries across the U.S., Caribbean, Europe, Northern Africa, Middle East and South East Asia.
For transatlantic voyages, Boeing 787 Dreamliners are used, and Premium and Economy classes are available. Three booking classes are offered when flying Economy on long-haul routes: Lowfare, LowFare+ and Flex. LowFare includes hand luggage only and passengers can purchase additional services individually. Any changes to the booking are charged a fee. LowFare+ and Flex both include hand luggage, checked luggage weighing up to 40 pounds, reserved seating, meals and beverages. Changes can be made to LowFare+ bookings at a price, but only Flex allow passengers to make changes up to 30 minutes prior to booking and it is fully refundable.
Direct Flight (One-Way) from Los Angeles International Airport to Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport
- Hand luggage only
- Hand luggage and checked luggage (up to 20kg/44lbs.)
- Hand luggage and checked luggage (up to 20kg/44lbs.)
These long-haul aircraft are eco-friendly and are equipped with a variety of amenities to ensure passengers’ optimum comfort. All seats feature a 9-inch Android-based touchscreen, USB port and power adaptor for in-flight entertainment. Other perks include reduced jetlag (according to the airline, lower cabin altitude to match what your body is used to reduces jet lag), less turbulence, lower noise levels, LED lighting and faster speeds, which means passengers arrive at their destinations quicker.
Two dining options are available – the Nice & Tasty menu (must be ordered 72 hours in advance) and the Premium menu (for passengers flying Premium). A variety of snack and beverages are also offered. Passengers aboard flights from the United States to Denmark, England, France, Norway and Sweden can try two new premium Spanish wines introduced this past July that were created exclusively for Norwegian - Viña Pomal Tempranillo and Raimat Chardonnay from wine producer Codorníu.
This year alone has seen several new flights added to Norwegian’s itinerary. Service from the Bay Area to London began May 12, 2016. This past July, Norwegian launched its first non-stop flights from the U.S. to Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport, with departures from New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport. Departures to Paris from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport commenced August 4, 2016, and flights from Fort Lauderdale to the French Caribbean will start December 17, 2016.
What’s next on the horizon for Norwegian airlines? Time will only tell, but it’s probably safe to say more destinations are on the way.