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Review: Norwegian 737 (LGW-ARN)

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Review Overview

I can't fault Norwegian's inflight experience, from the decent legroom, to the hot and tasty buy-on-board food options, to the very competitive WiFi


As the first of the six airlines I flew from London to Phuket, I flew from London Gatwick to Stockholm on Norwegian. I’m trying to find the best leisure travel option intra-Europe, and have been flying a few economy class products on British Airways and Lufthansa, as well as low-cost carriers such as easyJet, Ryanair, and Wizz Air. Given that Norwegian generally gets a really good rep for some of their onboard-enhancements, despite being a low-cost carrier, I knew I had to try them sooner or later.

In order to meet my family for vacation in Thailand, I initially booked an itinerary that involved having to position to Stockholm, so I could sample Finnair’s A330 business class on the fifth-freedom route to Doha. My plans eventually changed, though I’d already booked this flight – it did end up working to my advantage, since KLM was charging much cheaper fares out of Stockholm than they were out of London.

Anyway, that’s how an opportunity came about to try Norwegian on an intra-Europe flight, as they were offering the cheapest fares (along with Ryanair) between London and Stockholm. Here’s my review.

Booking My Flight on Norwegian

I booked a one-way flight on Norwegian’s website from London Gatwick to Stockholm Arlanda. Norwegian offers three bundles:

  • LowFare gives you an underseat bag with a weight limit of 10 kg
  • LowFare+ gives you an underseat bag, a cabin bag if space is available (if not you can gate check it for free – the underseat and cabin bag have a combined weight limit of 10 kg), and a separate 23 kg checked bag. You also get a free seat reservation for “standard” seats
  • Flex gives you an underseat bag, a cabin bag (these have a combined weight limit of 15 kg), two 23 kg checked bags, a seat reservation for any seat on the plane, Fast Track security, priority boarding, and the ability to refund

Remember that you can also “buy up” individual elements that you value, as opposed to having to purchase the entire fare bundle. I wasn’t sure initially if I’d be able to make my flight in time as I was coming in from Bristol for work, and also wanted to check a bag for vacation (and didn’t mind the priority boarding and Fast Track security either). So I purchased a Flex fare, which cost £90.70 (HK$907) including taxes – I found to be reasonable for a flexible fare on a two-hour flight.

Norwegian’s Ground Experience at Gatwick

I got to Gatwick’s South Terminal, and found Norwegian’s check-in area by the F pier. I’d erroneously believed that my bags had to have a combined weight of under 10 kg (they had to add up to 15, which I was well under), so I checked in a bag I could’ve taken as a carry-on. This required first printing a bag tag at a kiosk, then heading to a bag drop kiosk to send the bag off (signage for the latter step was bad, as it indicated us to join a line for groups with young children, whereas the actual bag kiosks were left unused).

a group of people standing in a line
Norwegian check-in at Gatwick Airport

While security was messy this Friday evening, my Flex fare came with Premium Security, which at least sped things up a bit.

I hung around Gatwick’s South Terminal for a while. Our gate was announced at 7:25 PM – it was by the terminal’s Pier 3 (gates 31-38), which I had never been to before. This first involved walking past gates 90-92, which were the terminal’s three bus gates.

a large room with benches and seats
Gatwick Airport South Terminal Bus Gates

Then after a 5-10 minute walk I found myself in a more deserted area, which featured a WHSmith, a Costa, and a duty-free shop. I’d almost select to kill time here in the future as it’s an otherwise deserted area – in this case a British Airways 777 next to us was leaving to Cape Town at a similar time, though that was it.

a large airport terminal with chairs and a counter
Gatwick Airport South Terminal Pier 3

Our inbound aircraft had just about arrived when our gate was announced, so I saw it pull into gate 37, where our flight would be departing. I couldn’t get a great view of our Norwegian 737 from the gate (since there was an arrivals walkway between the departures terminal and the plane), so only managed to catch the below picture during boarding.

a plane parked at an airport
Norwegian 737 at Gatwick Airport

My mobile boarding pass suggested that we’d be boarding at 7:20 PM, a full 50 minutes before departure. I knew that wasn’t going to happen, especially since our gate wasn’t even assigned by then. As people filed into the gate area, we saw as the the inbound flight pulled in and passengers deplaned. Our passes were checked from 7:50 PM, and there was a short further wait on the jetbridge.

Boarding started at 7:55 PM. I was in Group A (which came with my Flex fare), so got to be one of the first to board, after two unaccompanied minors.

Norwegian Air Sweden Flight D84460
Friday, February 9, 2024
Origin: London Gatwick (LGW) T: S Gate: 37 Dep: 20:10 (20:25)
Destination: Stockholm Arlanda (ARN) T: 5 Gate: 14C Arr: 23:30 (23:40)
Duration: 2 h 20 min (2 h 15 min)
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800 Reg: SE-RRJ
Seat: 5D (Standard Class)

Norwegian 737 Cabin and Seat

Norwegian’s 737s feature 189 seats in a single-class configuration. This was one of Norwegian’s non-MAX 737s, though it did feature the Boeing Sky Interior, meaning that we had quite a bit of fancy mood lighting.

a row of seats in an airplane a row of seats in an airplane
Norwegian 737 Cabin

I’d initially assigned myself seat 6F, thinking that it was one of the furthest-back seats that required additional payment for being upfront, so I’d be most likely to end up with an empty seat next to me. The flight went out full, however, so that wasn’t the case.

Seat pitch was 30″, and legroom felt adequate, due to the slimline seats and contouring. I believe that these are the same seats that the Lufthansa group uses on their shorthaul A320s, so they felt familiar. They also featured recline, unlike what many low-cost airlines offer.

a row of seats in an airplaneseats in an airplane with seats and windows a person's legs in a seat
Norwegian 737 Legroom

Each seat also features a standard tray table (large by low-cost airline standards, since they aren’t the train-style trays that easyJet offers).

a person's legs in a seat with a grey rectangular object
Norwegian 737 Tray Table

As is standard for shorthaul aircraft, all seats featured air nozzles.

a panel on an airplane
Norwegian 737 Air Nozzles

The cabin had a couple of scratches and scruffs on it – it wasn’t the most beautifully maintained, though that’s fair enough for a six-year old aircraft that gets used to the extent that Norwegian uses their planes. The aircraft we’d flown had just struck a fence during pushback in Oslo the week prior, so it was good to see it back in the air.

This is a perfectly serviceable cabin for a low-cost carrier – there are seat pockets, the seats aren’t clunky and don’t eat into legroom, and seat pitch is on the generous end. The only realistic addition to the seat would’ve been to add headrests, though that isn’t industry standard for low-cost carriers.

Taking Off from Gatwick Airport

There was a group of three seated in the row in front of me, so I offered to switch, despite this meaning that I was switching to an aisle seat. I ended up being seated next to a group of two, one of which kept watching videos on his phone at full volume.

The captain came onto the PA to announce our flight time of 2h 5m, saying that we’d get nice weather enroute. The cabin lights were dimmed to a dark blue hue before takeoff.

inside an airplane with blue lights
Mood lighting when taking off at Gatwick

We took off from runway 26L at 8:40 PM, and U-turned to head northeast towards Stockholm. The seatbelt sign was turned off just under 10 minutes later, and I took the opportunity to take a cabin picture from the back, with Norwegian’s signature reddish-blue mood lighting.

a group of people sitting in an airplane
Mood lighting throughout cabin

Norwegian’s 737 WiFi

One of the biggest value-adds with Norwegian compared to other European low-cost carriers is their investment in onboard WiFi. Norwegian advertises WiFi on their shorthaul routes as gate-to-gate. In reality WiFi on this flight was available from straight after takeoff to a few minutes before landing, which while not gate-to-gate, was still perfectly fine with me.

Norwegian’s WiFi is priced as follows:

  • Inflight messaging is free
  • Streaming WiFi cost 10.27 EUR (HK$87/£8.79) on my flight

WiFi on my flight was fairly fast, and measured an impressive 7.42 Mbps down, but just 0.60 Mbps up.

Do note that – and this is a massive caveat – Norwegian’s 737 MAX 8s don’t yet feature WiFi. You’d figure the airline’s newest planes would most reliably have internet, though this isn’t the case. That’s something to be aware of when booking your next flight.

Norwegian’s 737 Lavatory

I visited Norwegian’s lavatory located at the front of the aircraft. Although this wasn’t a 737 MAX, the lavatories sure felt like one of the tiny 737 MAX lavatories, complete with a tiny sink.

a toilet in a bathroom
Norwegian 737 Lavatory

The lavatory featured Horsleys branded hand soap, which is similar to what Cathay Pacific offers in economy class.

a bottle of soap in a sink
Norwegian 737 Lavatory Toiletries

Norwegian 737 Meal Service and Pre-Ordered Meal

Around 15 minutes after takeoff, the crew came onto the PA to announce that they soon would be commencing a buy-on-board service, as well as serve meals to everyone who had pre-ordered. The announcement stressed that they’d be offering “tapas-style” fresh food items, and that they had a focus on reducing food waste, so would be offering food at a discount on this later-evening flight.

I’d pre-ordered a meal on Norwegian’s 737, which was served 25 minutes after takeoff, which cost 12 EUR (HK$102/£10.26). The meal was served to me in a paper container, though the container itself was plastic.

a tray of food and a drink on a table
Norwegian 737 Pre-Order Meal Presentation

This was labelled as a “coq au vin” (I didn’t get a choice of meal, and was just offered a “Classic dish” for an extra charge during the pre-order process). Fortunately, it was sublime – while the portion was small, this was the tastiest dish I’ve had on any low-cost airline. The chicken was tender and herbaceous, the potatoes were flavourful, and the vegetables were good as well – the dish was just all-round very enjoyable.

a black container with food in it
Norwegian 737 Pre-Order Meal

I also got a Himkok Oslo Mule off the inflight menu, which had caught my eye. This cost SEK 89 (£6.80/HK$67), though was very delicious, and tasted so refreshing.

a can and a cup on a table
Norwegian 737 Himkok Cocktail

For those interested, the rest of the menu can be found here.

a person holding a book
Norwegian 737 Menu

Norwegian’s meal service is a lot more upmarket than the likes you’d get on easyJet and Ryanair, and that’s true both in terms of the selection available, as well as quality. I was very surprised by how tasty the meal was, and find it better value than eating on easyJet and Ryanair, despite the fact that it is substantially more expensive.

I’ve not had breakfast on Norwegian, so would hope it keeps up a similar quality with a more limited scope to work with.

Norwegian Airlines’ Onboard Service

It was a late night and the flight attendants on this aircraft were doing a direct turn, though they were friendly and helpful.

Landing into Stockholm Arlanda Airport

45 minutes before landing, the captain came back onto the PA to announce an imminent descent, and that Stockholm was cloudy with spots. The seatbelt sign came on quite a while after that, around 15 minutes before landing.

We touched down on runway 01L at 11:35 PM, and from there it was a very short taxi to gate 14, where we’d be deplaning.

a plane on the ground a plane on the runway at night
Norewgian 737 at Stockholm Arlanda

Gate 14 was super close to immigration, though unfortunately my bag did take a further 20 minutes to arrive. By midnight, I was on my way to the Blique by Nobis hotel, where I’d be staying the night.

Conclusion: My Flight on Norwegian

Norwegian offers a premium experience for a low-cost intra-Europe flight. All passengers will have access to a fairly premium buy-on-board selection, as well as inflight WiFi on the airline’s 737-800s. These are value-adds that I probably would purchase, and put it above the competition. All aircraft feature comfortable seats with seat pockets, tray tables, and recline, though it’s disappointing that the airline’s 737 MAX aircraft don’t have onboard WiFi.

However, the limitations are similar to other low-cost airlines – no advance seat selection, no carry-on allowance unless you purchase it, and definitely no checked bag unless you purchase a bundle that includes it. My Flex fare involved a fairly generous allowance including a full refund, a 20kg check-in bag, and a combined 15kg carry-on allowance, though this bundle definitely was a (small) leg up on price compared to the competition.

I found my flight on Norwegian superior to some of the “weaker” full-service airlines flying intra-Europe (although I’ll still appreciate some airlines such as KLM, which offer free light meals to all economy passengers). I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to fly them again.

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