Norwegian Will Now Charge For Hand Luggage

As of today (23rd January 2020), Norwegian has changed its hand luggage policy. As a result, passengers on certain ticket types will lose some of their luggage allowance or will face extra charges.

Norwegian aircraft loading
Norwegian is revamping its hand luggage policy. But why? Photo: chas B via Flickr

Cutbacks on luggage

Norwegian has made cutbacks to its previously generous luggage allowance, downgrading passengers with the LowFare ticket type. The flag carrier of Norway is introducing the new pricing model for tickets purchased after 23rd January 2020.

The cutbacks mean that passengers who have purchased the lowest fare type with the airline will now only be allowed to take one item of hand luggage with them. That’s in contrast to the previous allowance of two. The one hand luggage item must weigh no more than 10kg and fit under the passenger’s seat. If this is not possible, passengers will incur an extra charge.

LowFare passengers will now need to pay between NOK 50 and NOK 90 (approx. $5.55-$10) to place a bag in the overhead compartment, depending on the duration of travel.

Norwegian luggage allowances
Norwegian’s new luggage allowance allows some passengers less in the cabin. Photo: Norwegian

LowFare+, the second cheapest ticket option, will benefit from one under seat item and one overhead cabin item. The maximum combined weight of these items should be no more than 10kg.

With mid-range tickets, Flex and Premium will have a 5kg increased allowance. These two ticket types will be allowed 15kg across two hand luggage items. PremiumFlex ticket types will also have a combined two-item allowance of 15kg, although this was always the case.

What does this mean for passengers?

Essentially, Norwegian’s new policy means that passengers will need to check their updated allowance before traveling and also get better at packing. Whilst it may seem as though LowFare gets the raw end of the deal, this ticket type still gets the same weight allowance as before. It just needs to be kept in one bag.

Norwegian cautions customers to pack correctly. On its updated hand luggage page, it says:

“Avoid charges at the gate! Limited cabin storage means your hand baggage may be weighed and measured at the gate. If it exceeds our limits, we’ll transfer it to the aircraft hold at a charge per leg.”

However, there is cause for celebration for Flex and Premium passengers who will get extra luggage allowances. With that in mind, the new regulation seems a little over-fastidious of Norwegian. Where is the logic for taking luggage away from some passengers and giving it to others?

Norwegian says that it does have a reason. It’s made an entire promo video about it.

The reason behind the new allowance

We contacted Norwegian for clarification over these new regulations but it was unable to comment at the time of publication.

According to Norwegian’s twitter, it says that the new baggage allowance will help aircraft to leave on time. If passengers adopt this new regulation, the airline suggests that the operation onboard the aircraft will be more streamlined. Norwegian says that it’s all for the customer.

Punctuality could very well be a concern for Norwegian. In 2020, it dropped off OAG’s Punctuality League for LCCs. Last year it was ranked within the top 20 most punctual low-cost carriers in the world.

That said, could the hand luggage change be due to something else entirely?

Making the LCC model profitable

Some Norwegian customers have their suspicions that the new allowance has more to do with profitability than timeliness. As a low-cost carrier, Norwegian has the opportunity to make up additional profit by charging passengers for add-ons. It’s something a lot of carriers like Ryanair do.

Norwegian Boeing 737 take off
Could Norwegian be using the new allowance to bolster profits? Photo: Flybg via Wikimedia Commons

There can be no doubt that the previous allowance was very generous in comparison to the new for some customers. However, with the new regulation, it’s clear that there are merits to paying for a higher-priced ticket. And therein lies the value in this change for the Norwegian flag carrier. The move incentivizes, or attempts to at least, get passengers to buy a higher-priced fare for the lack of hand luggage restrictions.

Of course, putting a price tag on something that was previously free seldom gets a good reception.

Will the new allowance make Norwegian more profit or will it actually speed up its boarding process? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!