We started our summer trip to Europe with a traveling gamble. The gamble of a new-to-us airline. We booked tickets on Norwegian Air for our travel to/from Los Angeles to Stockholm. The big draw was the route. Norwegian Air is currently the only carrier offering a direct flight. We were excited to fly on their new 787 Dreamliner and we were booked in Premium Economy ( the highest class available), so it seemed like it would be an enjoyable journey.
Prior to our travels, we read some recent internet reviews that made us nervous. Many passengers experienced long delays with little or no compensation and they were often bumped off the Dreamliner and put on very old ( no in-seat entertainment/ashtrays in the armrests) chartered planes, again, with no compensation for the change. There was an abundance of disgruntled passengers. There was a group of Swedish passengers that have brought a lawsuit against the airlines, seeking compensation for delays over twenty-four hours. On the return trip home, our Swedish cab driver told us of his own troubles flying Norwegian and as he dropped us off, he wished us luck! Yikes!!!
We arrived at LAX with a five hour delay. No biggie. Check-in was a breeze. Norwegian has a stricter than average weight limit of 20 kg, which made it tricky for us, as we were going to be gone for over a month. We were not even charged for our overweight luggage and we were given a forty-dollar food voucher as compensation for the delay. A pleasant surprise, as we were expecting nothing. Sitting in Premium Economy gave us the ability to go through the Business Class security line and priority boarding. Not bad.
This was our first experience with the new LAX International Terminal. Wow. Dazzling.
Tons of shops, including a Kitson, which a great place to browse and kill time. We found ourselves in the upper level dining/lounge area and as we were trying to figure out where to eat, the bartender at Luckyfish called us over like a carnival barker. His enthusiasm and spiel sold us. We ate amazing sushi and got liquored-up on a house specialty drink called a Roku Fusion.
We were so enjoying our meal at Luckyfish, that we forgot to use our meal vouchers. No problem, there is always room for wine and cheese. We headed to the Vino Volo wine bar and shared a plate for our second dessert. First dessert was chocolate ice cream that we had just finished at Luckyfish. We relished pigging out, not taking any chances with the food that we were soon to be served on Norwegian Air.
The new terminal is spacious, filled with things to do and best of all, the seats all have outlets! no more fighting for a spot at a charging station. The new terminal makes traveling civilized!
Although we killed time in the new terminal, when it was time to board, we had to walk to a part that had not yet been upgraded. In fact, I don't think that it is in the plans to be upgraded. It felt like an area for cargo, not passengers.
One would think that priority boarding would be a perk, but although we were boarded first, it was on a standing room only/packed like sardines shuttle bus that took us out to the plane sitting on the tarmac. Norwegian Air is a low-cost carrier, maybe a little like Southwest and they cut costs by not loading in the main terminal. All of the passengers piled out of the bus and rushed into the plane.
Luckily, we were on the Dreamliner. We had the Dreamliner both coming and going.
The Dreamliner is nice. However, the only way to fly on the Dreamliner is to book premium economy. I think that the leg room in regular economy would be unbearable. In premium, we had plenty of space and the chairs recline quite a bit. The chairs include a handy foot rest and all of the entertainment consoles are individual in the armrests, rather than in the seat backs. My only complaint about the seats, is they always seemed to stay a little bit reclined, which hurt my back on the long flight. Here I am at the end of our flight, showing off our spacious seats!
The cabin boasts mood lighting to softly simulate the time of day. It was nicer than I expected, definitely an upgrade from simply closing the window shades and dimming lights.
Speaking of the window shades...there are none. There is a button in which you can darken and lighten the window tint. How futuristic!
The food was a mix. On the way to Sweden, I ate chicken in a tomato sauce and Dan had a prawn dish. Meh. We were given yogurt and a scone for breakfast.
On the way home, we ate a yummy steak for dinner and a horrible cold cheese breakfast quiche. Even though the food was iffy, it was nice to have it included in our Premium Economy fare. If we had been in regular economy, we would have had to have ordered it in advance or we would have been stuck with a small selection of snack options, that can be paid for via credit card on the entertainment screen. In premium, we were also given headphones, blankets and pillows, all pay-per-use items in economy.
One feature that I really liked was the extra overhead storage bins. In theory, every seat has a slot above their seats, even the middle rows and those spots are for those individuals. No more fighting for overhead space! On the way to Sweden, this worked great. On the way home, something happened where the cabin crew all stored their items in premium economy. This could have been okay, if someone had been around to help sort things out as we boarded. Unaware of the situation, we got in a minor argument with the woman across the aisle, who used our bin and was put off by having our luggage in with her expensive handbag. We won, but there was a iciness during the journey.
The onboard entertainment was adequate, but about 1/4 of what British Airways offers. A lot of older movies and not much of a selection with music. I was spoiled from BA.
Here is my first look at Sweden!
I'd fly Norwegian Air again under a few conditions. It would always have to be the Dreamliner, the seats would have to be Premium Economy and it would have to still be the only carrier offering the direct flight to Sweden. The direct flight was the biggest reason that we gave Norwegian Air a chance, as ultimately, having more time at our destination and ease of travel trumps a fancy flight experience. Luckily, we only had pleasant Norwegian Air employees and we didn't experience any issues that would make us join the other disgruntled passengers!