Trip Reports & Reviews

Norwegian Premium Economy Review: DISAPPOINTING!

Noel

Noel Philips

Here’s my Norwegian Premium Economy review, onboard a Boeing 787 Dreamliner from Seattle to London.

I was looking forward to trying Norwegian Premium Economy after hearing some positive things about it. Sadly my experience was not as positive, and an uncomfortable seat and surly crew led to a pretty disappointing flight.

Norwegian operate a route of low cost flights from their hubs across Europe.  I’ve previously had the pleasure of flying their Boeing 737-MAX 8 across the Atlantic to Windsor Locks, as well as their 737-800s from Providence to Edinburgh and on a variety of short haul routes in Europe.  One aircraft I’ve never flown, however, is their Boeing 787.  They operate a fleet of these on long haul routes to the USA, Asia and South America.

One crucial difference from the 737 fleet is the addition of a Premium Economy cabin which, compared to their economy product, offers wider seats, more legroom, and a Premium Menu onboard.

Arriving at Seattle

I flew Norwegian on their Seattle to London Gatwick route, which recently resumed for the summer season.  I arrived at Seattle’s Tacoma airport from an inbound flight from Los Angeles.  I hadn’t been able to check in online so checked in at the airport.

TSA/Security

As a Premium Economy passenger I was entitled to use the priority TSA line, which was handy as the standard line was very long.

Lounge: The Club at SEA

Norwegian recently changed their lounge policy.  Previously, Premium Economy passengers had been allowed lounge access, but they took this perk away.  My booking, however, had been made before the change, so I decided to try my luck at the Club at SEA lounge.

I explained my situation to the receptionist who was most understanding and allowed me access.

The lounge is pretty basic and a little shoddy, but offers a fully stocked bar and a few snacks.

Boarding

Boarding was called approximately an hour before scheduled departure. and I made my way down to the gate.  The gate area was absolutely packed, and it soon became clear that they were boarding two flights from the same gate.  There was a Delta flight to San Francisco also going – with passengers of both flights combining into organised chaos.

After the Delta flight left they announced boarding for our flight. Once again this descended into chaos as ever passenger just surged forward when pre boarding was called.

Finally, Premium Economy boarding was announced, and we made our way outside to a bus to take us to the aircraft.

On arriving at the aircraft it became clear we’d be boarding not via steps, but via a strange ramp that I’ve not seen before.

This was a slightly unconventional way of boarding but it did get us very close to the huge engine on the Boeing 787-9.

Welcome onboard (or were we?)

We were greeted onboard by a rather forced smile and I headed to my seat.

The Premium Economy cabin is in a 2-3-2 layout.  The seats have large TV screens in the armrests, and pretty decent legroom however the seats aren’t particularly comfortable, as I’ll cover later.

The ramp was finally pulled away and we joined the queue for takeoff.

After takeoff we were soon above the clouds, and started making our way across Canada.

We got some great views of the Canadian Rockies.

Dinner

Dinner today was a rather uninspiring chicken dish.  The presentation wasn’t great (after it had been practically thrown onto my tray by the flight attendant, served from a cardboard box).

The views from the window proved slightly more inspiring.

Free Onboard WiFi

I tried the free inflight WiFi which got me a reasonable 3.68Mbps download, and rather predictably 0Mbps upload.

Inflight Entertainment

The inflight map on the 787 is pretty decent and gives some useful information about the flight.

Sleep (or lack of)

A few hours after takeoff I dimmed the windows to try and get some sleep.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get any sleep.  The legroom in Premium Economy is pretty decent but the seat doesn’t recline very far – and the width combined with the fixed armrest precludes curling up on the seat, or indeed any position other than slightly reclined.

I ordered a couple of items from the inflight screen, but nothing turned up.  I also used the call bell to request a drink of water – again nothing turned up, and there were no crew anywhere to be found in the galley. I didn’t see any crew from shortly after the first meal service until breakfast the following morning.

Breakfast

Breakfast was served up as the sun rose – it was a cheese and meat type dish and wasn’t particularly appetising.

Descent and Landing

We commenced our descent over Northern England down towards Gatwick.

We touched down on a grey, murky morning in Southern England.

I was hoping for at least a smile from the flight attendant as I disembarked, but once again got nothing.

Overall Verdict

Overall, I was pretty disappointed with Norwegian’s service in Premium Economy.  Their previous service in economy has been fantastic, albeit on routes out of Scotland or Ireland. The Gatwick based crew on this flight however were not great, and the seat was very uncomfortable.  For the price paid (£550) you can get a cheaper economy class ticket with British Airways and pay for an exit row – and more than likely have better service and comfort.