Several months ago, low-cost carrier Norwegian Air Shuttle announce nonstop service during the winter from Boston, Baltimore, and New York to the French Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique.
I was already familiar with Norwegian from the $400 nonstop roundtrip flight I booked with them from Oakland to Stockholm, but didn’t really understand why a Scandinavian airline was starting service between the East Coast and the French Caribbean. I also wasn’t about to complain.
I had been constantly checking their calendar for a good fare on dates that worked for me, and when I saw this weekend, I jumped on it and booked it, for $209 round trip, though I got most of that reimbursed thanks to the benefits on my Citi Prestige card (which I’ll get into later).
Unlike my previous experience on Norwegian, the check-in area was practically empty (unfortunately, they do not allow online boarding passes):
After getting past security, I went straight to the gate, only to discover we were delayed 20 minutes. Luckily, thanks to my Priority Pass card (from my Citi Prestige card), I and my friend had access to the Air France lounge immediately downstairs, where we had an unspectacular yet filling (and more importantly, free) lunch:
The plane looked like any other 737, other than the bright red draped over each seat. Leg room was sufficient, but due to the plane being fairly empty, I got to have my own version of “first class”, an entire row to myself:
As Norwegian is a budget carrier, they partially follow the Spirit Airlines model of charging for everything imaginable: food, drinks, checked bags, seat assignment, etc. Of course, on a 4-hour flight, no food or drink is manageable, but you might want to make alternate arrangements for a longer flight on Norwegian. They did come around offering food and drinks several times, with soda starting at $2.50. I didn’t ask about the cost of food.
Importantly, the one service that I did not have to pay for was the Wi-Fi, which, although not super fast, was free and more than enough for a short flight.
The “barf bags” did have a rather amusing message:
As we began our descent with the sun setting, they dimmed the cabin for some more ambient lighting.
Four hours after takeoff, we were in Guadeloupe, and for less than the cost of a night out on the town.
Given how many people I’ve talked to who haven’t heard about these flights, as well as the lack of advertising, it doesn’t seem like they are doing a very good job marketing these flights, as the flight was only a little more than half full.
I hope that enough people can start taking these flights, as I’d hate for see for them to drop this service. And there are still plenty of low fares available, if you can leave in late March, you can fly for $49:
I’ll be writing more detailed posts later on Norwegian Air Shuttle as well as my trip to Guadeloupe, but if you have any questions in the meantime, feel free to email me or ask a question in the comments below.