Could Norwegian Disrupt The Transatlantic Market By Offering Cheap Flat Beds?

Norwegian Airlines does not currently offer lie-flat beds. Their premium cabin is just that, a premium economy. While it is unlikely that Norwegian would ever look to offer a business class cabin with lie-flat beds, would such a move disrupt the Transatlantic market?

Norwegian is one of the key airlines that has already disrupted the Transatlantic aviation market. While not particularly touching business and first passengers, their low fares have poached economy passengers from full-service airlines.

Norwegian Flat Beds
Norwegian revolutionised long haul travel with their low fares. Photo: Norwegian

Long-Haul Low-Cost

Norwegian redefined the Transatlantic Aviation market with their low fares. Essentially, they took the model that worked so well for Ryanair and applied it to long haul flights.

That is to say that Norwegian will only see you a ticket for the flight. Unless you pay for a premium ticket, almost everything is extra. That includes baggage, food, and even reserve a seat. By doing this they can keep fares low, while also keeping costs low.

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Why Not Lie Flat?

As of now, Norwegian has steered clear of or installing lie-flat beds on its aircraft. The main reason is that lie flat beds cost an awful lot for the airlines utilising them. The reason? Lie flat beds on aircraft take up a lot is space compared to regular seats.

Norwegian Flat Bed
Norwegian’s premium seats are demonstrated by CEO, Bjørn Kjos. Photo: Norwegian

As such, they cost a lot more for passengers to book, as the passenger is essentially paying for the space occupied by 2 or 3 regular seats, if not more. These seats are also a gamble. By selling them, the airline could make a tidy profit. However, if the seats remain unfilled, they could cost the carrier dearly. On the contrast, if one or two economy seats aren’t filled, it isn’t the end of the world.

Revolutionise Business Travel?

It’s unlikely that we will see Norwegian offering business class seats any time soon, giving the high cost of the floor space onboard.

Given the precarious financial position that Norwegian is in, now wouldn’t necessarily be the best time to trial business class seating for the airline.

Norwegian Flat Bed
Norwegian is unlikely to offer business class any time soon. Photo: Norwegian

What If?

If Norwegian were to introduce business class seating, it could be a real boon for the airline if executed correctly. At the same time, it could redefine the transatlantic travel industry. Currently, full-service carriers such as United are not worried about high business class fares, as there is no competing product.

A Norwegian business class would change all this. Norwegian could keep costs down by offering a cut-price business class. Options to keep costs down could be swapping bedding with blankets, and keeping food costs down.

We’ve previously seen Norwegian offer lie-flat beds when they hired HiFly’s A380. While this was a financial disaster in itself, Norwegian could theoretically hire a smaller HiFly aircraft to trial offering business class. Unfortunately, however, this is unlikely to happen. For the time being, the business class transatlantic sector is likely to remain unchanged.

Would you like to see Norwegian offer business class? What would it look like? Let us know in the comments down below!

6 comments
  1. @ cahpek

    In journalism it’s not completely uncommon heading an article in a questioning way.
    Embedding an issue in a question is much more attractive than positing it as a plain statement:
    “Norwegian never will be able to disrupt The Transatlantic Market by offering cheap flat beds”.
    If I should have read that posit, I should have thought: Yes I’ll believe so.

    Compared to a couple of other aviation news sites the editing team at Simple Flying does a very good job not just reflecting items from the telex, but they really do their utmost to explore backgrounds behind the news.

    So referring to your more intrinsic allegations to this articles editor, I’m pleased to disagree with your conclusion:
    “Simple Flying fill its pages with . . . practically useless articles . . . “

  2. My wife and I are flying Norwegian to Rome in September. The Premium Option was a great economical solution to the high priced business class options from other carriers (we are both over 6′).

    If Norwegian offered a “Pod” style business class (doesn’t have to be a full-flat bed) that might be enough to disrupt the market. Business Pod (semi-flatbed), Premium Economy (current configuration) and then Economy Class (current configuration) would be great.

    Don’t be frugal with food on long haul flights. It just makes people mad.

    1. “Don’t be frugal with food on long haul flights. It just makes people mad.” But Low Budget airlines never provide or include meals or beverages on their flights do they. You just pay them to be transported that ‘s all. You can buy any drink or food they offer on board though but i wonder what kind of food they offer (hot meals or snacks )

  3. My wife and I are flying from San Francisco to London soon and purchased two economy premmium seats months ago. We are retired and so we are price sensitive. We also travel enough so we no longer wanted to fly in economy with tight seats and all sorts of add-ons. In fact we go out of our way to avoid such airlines. After we return from our trip we will be ale to comment whether the economy premium meets our needs or if a futher upgrade would be desirable.

  4. Norwegian is aware that people choose Norwegian airlines for its low fare however unlike RyanAir which only flies passengers for a 1, 2 or 3 hours haul ,we are speaking of 7 or 8 hours flights so i think premium economy should be a little bit more comfortable with them than flying on economy with AA across the US& Europe.

  5. I don’t think the Norwegian’s strategy, nor its current finances, allow for a “lie flat” model. One thing they could to is widen the existing Premium seating by not having thick armrests to house the IFE and tray; could not someone design them to be thinner or attached to the seat back?

    No, their Premium would appeal to a) well-to-do passengers who can’t stand today’s Eco but can’t afford $5000+ for a flight at $500 per hour, b) business travelers who would otherwise have to fly on Eco on trans-Atlantic flights.

    The NYC-ORY La Compagnie flights are a niche but it’s only a 6h30 eastbound and 7h45 westbound flight; hardly enough time to really sleep (i.e. 4h30 and 5h45 without the first and last hour of the flight).

    The Norwegian Premium is superior to any other Premium Eco I’ve seen; it is more akin to a better than average US domestic First. Leg room is 46″. Recline, while not 180, is similar to that of a “zero gravity” chair i.e. one can sleep in it. My only fear is that Norwegian’s Boeing models have been unreliable or grounded, causing it to lease less efficient A330s and to substitute 737Max flights with less efficient 737 800, as well as cancelling routes and flights. They are on near bankruptcy due to their fateful strategy of an all Boeing fleet of a new generation design (in the case of the 737 Max, all but the fuselage).

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