Keen readers of Simple Flying will know all about Norwegian’s recent foray into running an A380 on their London to New York route (and question if they are even making any money at all) but its recently been revealed that Norwegian is now for the first time ever, offering a ‘first class option’.
Now, we say ‘first class’ in quotes because it is not an experience like you would expect from Etihad or another luxury airline, but in fact a surprise perk due to the sudden availability of first-class suites on their wet-leased HiFly A380.
A quick background for those not in in the loop (And those that are well informed can skip to the next paragraph), Norwegian Air Shuttle has been having trouble with their Boeing 787 Dreamliner planes (particular with the Rolls-Royce Trent engines), and as such, have looked too wet leasing from airline HiFly, renting their new A380 for three weeks to cover the summer demand for North Atlantic flights. Wet leasing means that HiFly not only supplies the plane but also the crew and manages the flight’s operation.
This HiFly A380 is extra special because it is an ex-Singaporean Airlines A380, meaning it has an economy section, a business class section and the first class suites that Singapore airlines is so famously known for. Norwegian on the other hand only offers economy and premium economy sections and has sold these first-class suites as normal premium economy seats.
With 12 of the 72 ‘premium economy’ seats onboard being these actual first class suites, it has so far been the luck of the draw if you will be upgraded from business to first class just by buying a normal Norwegian premium economy ticket.
No More Norwegian Lottery
As it turns out, Norwegian is now offering, at check-in, the ability to upgrade into the suites (so no more premium economy lottery).
This’ll be on a first come first serve basis and will cost up to US$400 to upgrade on the spot (US$400 if the plane is departing from New York and only US$320 if the plane is departing from London).
But this move has made many question if there’s any point to upgrading at all. At the beginning the article we may have made you excited by comparing this offering to first class on Emirates or Singapore airlines, but this is not the case.
These first-class suites did not come with the same service offering and will come with normal meals provided in premium economy, the normal luggage offering and all the normal service from flight attendants. Passengers will already have lie-flat seats in premium economy and do not get any extra bedding apart from the standard Norwegian air blanket.
So will anyone be even tempted to upgrade?
Normally people looking to fly Norwegian are looking to save money by flying to America as cheaply as possible, and whilst this is technically the cheapest first class seat in the air at the moment, it may not be worth it.
Speaking of worth it, this current situation as made many ask if Norwegian could operate an A380 long term. Check out our part two here.