Norwegian Airlines B787-9 Premium Class
London Gatwick – Singapore
Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA, trading as Norwegian, is a Norwegian low-cost airline. It is the third largest low-cost carrier in Europe, the largest airline in Scandinavia, and the ninth-largest airline in Europe in terms of passenger numbers. The airline is known for its distinctive livery of white with a red nose, with portraits of distinguished Scandinavians on the tail fins of its aircraft.
Norwegian launched its long-haul operation in May 2013 and started flying London (Gatwick) to Singapore 4 times a week at the beginning of October 2017 using brand new widebody Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners.
THE AIRPORT EXPERIENCE
CHECK-IN – Our flight was scheduled to depart at 2355 so check-in we presumed, would be painless and a relatively quiet experience in a hopefully quiet Gatwick South Terminal; It was all of those things. There was a separate Premium Desk, attended by a very pleasant young lady who promptly took our bags and checked them to Singapore (Premium customers of Norwegian are given a very generous checked baggage allowance of 2 bags at 20kg each). She presented boarding passes however advised us that she had no lounge invitations but that our boarding passes would be sufficient.
LOUNGE – Norwegian Premium tickets include lounge access at Gatwick South Terminal and uses No1 Club Rooms. Whilst the lounge is easy to find, it’s probably prudent of Norwegian and its staff to advise its customers that in fact the lounge is not open for this flight unless you arrive at 2100, 3 hours before departure. The lounge closes at 2200 with last admission at 2115. There are absolutely no restaurants or shops open at Gatwick at this time of night with the exception of JD Wetherspoons, so the wait for boarding can be quite boring. Whilst these could be seen as a down on the Norwegian experience, they are in fact, issues that essentially are out of their control.
BOARDING – Gate 23 at Gatwick is a considerable walk from the main departure area and again out of the control of Norwegian. With that in mind it is worth checking the departure board so that you arrive at the gate in time as our gate was some 15 minutes’ walk. Gatwick is undergoing some major refurbishment and the gate areas of South Terminal are in desperate need of a major overhaul. That said, boarding started promptly with Premium customers called forward to board before other passengers. Gate staff were courteous and efficient.
THE ON-BOARD EXPERIENCE
THE CABIN AND SEAT – Pleasantly welcomed on board at the door and directed to our seats, Norwegian has a separate cabin for Premium customers at the front of the 787-9 Dreamliner. The initial impression is one of a new fresh spacious cabin. The grey leather seats are a close cousin of the previous ‘cradle seats’ in older, previous business class cabins used by other carriers, but with a major modern upgrade. Arranged in a 2-3-2 setup, the first thing that will surprise you when you arrive at your seat is the immense amount of legroom, 140cm (55 inches) to be precise, probably the largest amount of legroom of any premium economy product. Blankets were available on each seat, however, strangely no pillow. This maybe because of the inbuilt headrest which served the same purpose and offered great support. The seat recline was excellent and offered a good night’s sleep and every seat offered both a USB and mains plug socket as well as an arm loaded table.
The front row seats are right next to the toilets (which can be quite noisy), whilst the rear seats seemed to have less of a recline than the rest of the cabin. Personally, I would avoid the front and rear rows.
ENTERTAINMENT – You certainly won’t be bored on Norwegian, in Premium the screen is seat loaded and offers a great array of movies and TV shows with many new releases. There is also a selection of games and a rather addictive 3D map that you simply have to keep watching.
THE CABIN SERVICE – Once boarded we were offered pre departure drinks, a range of juices by extremely polite and welcoming cabin staff and push back from the gate was in fact 10 minutes early so very welcome. After take-off we were promptly served with a hot towel and a choice of drinks from the bar, it’s worth noting that Premium seating offers complimentary drinks from the bar throughout the flight.
Dinner with Norwegian was a surprisingly pleasant experience and one that other carriers could learn from. Each customer was asked individually their choice of meal by cabin staff, a choice of three main courses were offered all perfectly described by Sophia. I ordered the Chicken main course which was delicious, again I was offered something to drink with my meal. At no point did a cart come into the cabin with the entire service delivered by hand, this may have been due to there not being a full cabin on this flight. That said I would fail to see that the two staff dedicated to Premium, Ping Ping – The Senior and Sophia would offer anything but a superbly courteous, efficient and personal experience. They really were a credit to Norwegian.
After a great night’s sleep, breakfast was served about an hour and a half before arrival into Singapore and again a choice of three main courses were offered along with a warm croissant.
PASSPORT CONTROL – Singapore is a great airport to arrive at any time, however the queue was long and the staff less than courteous, again something out of the control of Norwegian. That said, after negotiating the arrival process, baggage was already waiting on the carousel on our arrival into the baggage hall.
THE ARRIVERELAX.com VERDICT
Norwegian is clearly very proud of the B787-9 Dreamliner and showcases it and their product at every opportunity, rightly so, the Premium product is a great product and a welcome addition to the Singapore route. The inflight product is delivered efficiently by very welcoming crew. With this high level of service, it’s very easy to forget that this is supposed to be low cost. Enjoy!
Arrive Relax was not a guest of Norwegian on this flight and neither Arrive Relax or the author received any compensation for this review.