Review: Booking low cost Norwegian flights to New York
Norwegian Air seems to be everywhere at the moment. Whether it’s winning awards, or grabbing the headlines for their bargain basement long haul fares, they’re being talked about for all the right reasons. I thought it was about time I booked myself a flight to see what all the fuss is about.
The airline has been opening up new long haul routes over the last 12 months, which now include San Francisco, LA, Boston, and most recently Singapore. But I’m interested in a hop across the pond to New York on their 787 Dreamliner. During the last sale in September, fares to NYC were going for £239 return. I missed out on those prices, so was expecting to pay significantly more for the cheapest return ticket I could find. Spoiler - I was wrong!
First up, a quick note about the Norwegian website: It’s a joy to use. If you’ve ever booked a flight on Ryanair, you’ll know what a mess an airline website can be. The Norwegian site is clean, logical and simply works.
On to the booking. I’m looking to go to New York in the spring, so from the UK homepage I select London Gatwick as my departure airport and All New York airports as the destination (since I don’t mind a bit of travel the other end.) New York is very cold in the Spring, so I’m going to plump for March, when the weather might just be a little warmer. I’ve put in two arbitrary March dates into the flight finder, and checked the “Show low fare calendar” box. Now I hit “Search”.
The “Show low fare calendar” option is the best way to find the cheapest fares. Instead of using the dates you input, it’ll show you the whole month, with the price of the cheapest ticket displayed for each day. Greyed out days are highlighting that the cheapest fare that day involves a change, usually somewhere like Barcelona, and so the flight time is considerably increased.
Here’s the low fares grid that I’m presented with for my March flights. Immediately I can see an interesting mid-week to mid-week combination. The outward flight on the 7 March is just £149.90. The return on the 14 March one week later is just £109.90 - the cheapest flight on the grid. I’m flexible with dates, so these look as good as any.
Once I’ve selected the two dates and proceeded to the next screen, I can tweak my flight options. The two default options suit me, flying to and from JFK. All in, I’m looking at £259.80 for my LowFare tickets. For an additional £100 I could choose the LowFare+ ticket, which includes onboard meals and 1 item of checked luggage each way. I’d recommend upgrading if you’ll need to check a bag, however for this short one week trip I’m going to travel super light, and grab a £3.50 meal deal at Gatwick to see me through, so I’m happy to stick with the lowest fare.
Job done. In my book, £259.80 for a return tickets to JFK from London Gatwick is extraordinary value, and was just £20 more than the sale price back in September. The same flight on BA, using Avios points, would cost more in the taxes and charges you need to pay - and that’s if I could find availability.
Finally, there are a few additional tips on maximising your flights purchase with Norwegian:
Make sure you’re signed up to the Norwegian Rewards program. I’ll earn 2% CashPoints for my LowFare tickets - or £5 - which I can use to reduce the cost of my next Norwegian flight. If you’re travelling with family, make sure they’re registered too, so that you can pool all your CashPoints together.
Avios or Cashback
In addition to collecting Norwegian CashPoints, make sure you purchase your tickets using a cashback or rewards credit/charge card (if you’re able to get one.) I’ll use the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold card, which will net me 389 reward points (i.e. 1.5 points for every £1 spent.) I could convert these points into 389 Avios, or Virgin miles, or many other travel points. I value Avios at just under 1p each, so my haul for these flights will only equate to around £3.90, but as any points collector will know, it’s important to use every single opportunity to increase your stash!