Nor­we­gian Premium new B787-9 lay­out, Lon­don to New York

LON­DON-NEW YORK

Business Traveller - - CONTENTS - Tom Ot­ley

BACK­GROUND Nor­we­gian is now the sec­ond largest long­haul air­line at Gatwick, with 13 di­rect long-haul desti­na­tions, in­clud­ing Sin­ga­pore. It serves 11 routes to the US and will add a third daily fre­quency on this New York JFK route from Oc­to­ber 29, 2018.

CHECK-IN I ar­rived at Lon­don Gatwick at 1405 for my 1705 de­par­ture on DI7015 to New York JFK Ter­mi­nal 1, a flight of nearly eight hours. Nor­we­gian air­craft de­part from the South Ter­mi­nal. Check-in was very slow, as the agent en­coun­tered a prob­lem with two pas­sen­gers in front of me, and so left the desks to try to sort this out, caus­ing a 15-minute de­lay.

Even­tu­ally, the check-in agent reap­peared and I then used the fast-track se­cu­rity; I had only hand lug­gage, but Premium pas­sen­gers can book in two 20kg cases each. Once through the large duty-free shop, I went up the es­ca­la­tor and into the No 1 Lounge, which was in­cluded in the price of the Premium ticket.

BOARD­ING The flight boarded at 1630 from Gate 13. The flight at­ten­dants were dressed dis­tinc­tively, the men wear­ing checked jack­ets and women wear­ing smart navy blue uni­forms with red and white de­tails.

As you’d ex­pect with a Dream­liner B787-9, the win­dows were lovely and large. There was also lots of head­room and good-sized over­head lock­ers.

TH­ESE AT The seats look the same as the ones on the B787-8 air­craft and the pre­vi­ously de­liv­ered B787-9 air­craft, but there are more of them in the Premium cabin and they have less legroom. The num­ber of Premium seats has been in­creased from 35 to 56 (and Econ­omy seats re­duced to 282), giv­ing a to­tal of 338 seats. This new con­fig­u­ra­tion re­duces seat pitch (legroom) from 46 inches to 43 inches.

The Premium seats are larger than other air­lines’ premium econ­omy seats, but aren’t busi­ness class seats. The leg rests rise and the seat re­clines old style, so that it moves into the space of the pas­sen­ger be­hind (and the seat in front re­clines into your space).

The seats are com­fort­able to both sit and sleep in. The IFE screens come out of the arm of the seat – which means you can’t watch it for take-off and land­ing, as you can in the Econ­omy seats. The IFE uses a touch­screen, but there’s also a small con­troller in the side of the seat. This con­troller isn’t in a very good po­si­tion, and is fixed; so if you have the ta­ble down, it will be ob­scured.

There’s in-seat AC power for de­vices, and also a USB port in the IFE screen. Long-haul wifi is planned for the Dream­liner fleet, per­haps as early as the end of this year.

BEST SEATS The mid­dle seats are the ones to avoid, since they can be very dif­fi­cult to get into and out of when all the seats are re­clined. That said, they also have the most room un­der the seat in front – use­ful if you want to put your be­long­ings there. The aisle seats, such as those at 1D and 1F, 2D and 2F and so on, don’t have much room, but you can just stand up to ac­cess the over­head lock­ers. So the best ones are prob­a­bly the aisle seats, around the mid­dle of the cabin.

THE FLIGHT We were of­fered ap­ple juice, or­ange juice or wa­ter. Wait­ing at each seat is a good-qual­ity blan­ket.

There was then a de­lay with the cap­tain keep­ing us in­formed of the rea­son (three pas­sen­gers with checked lug­gage hadn’t turned up at the gate). Af­ter 20 min­utes we got away from the gate and the cap­tain said we would make up that time; and he was right, we did.

No amenity bags are of­fered (be­cause there aren’t any), but ear­phones were given out af­ter take-off. I have noise­can­celling head­phones, and I’d rec­om­mend you take some for the flight to get the most from the IFE or your own phone or tablet. There was a small choice of fairly up-to-date Hol­ly­wood films.

The tray ta­ble comes out of the other arm of the seat to the IFE, and was good and firm.

I had no trou­ble us­ing it for work­ing on my lap­top or eat­ing.

Ser­vice is de­liv­ered from the rear of the cabin, but starts from the front, by trol­ley. Around 1805 the drinks ser­vice came round. The choices were: prosecco; one beer – Heineken; one white wine – a sauvi­gnon blanc from Bor­deaux; or one red – a Min­er­vois caber­net-syrah blend.

Shortly af­ter­wards, the meal ser­vice came round with a choice of three main cour­ses: chicken with potato gratin, hake in a beurre blanc, or lamb rump in a rose­mary jus with roast pota­toes, grilled as­para­gus and a mint pea purée.

The flight at­ten­dant de­scribed the meal choices, and like all her on-board col­leagues, she was pro­fes­sional and in­for­ma­tive – es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing she was read­ing from hand­writ­ten notes jot­ted down onto a Post-its.

The food was tasty and hot. The flight at­ten­dants then of­fered other drinks, in­clud­ing a se­lec­tion of minia­ture Bai­leys, cognac or whisky with plas­tic cups, which were ei­ther empty or filled with ice; a nice, yet eco­nom­i­cal, touch. Tea and cof­fee came round as well.

Af­ter lunch I wanted to sleep for a lit­tle while, and al­though the lights had been dimmed, there was still a lot of light in the cabin so I asked for an eye mask and earplugs. The staff apol­o­gised, but there weren’t any. I think this is some­thing Nor­we­gian should re­con­sider, but mean­while bring your own to avoid the glare from IFE screens overnight.

As an ex­am­ple of how good the ser­vice was, a flight at­ten­dant said I could use his own eye­mask (that he had brought on-board from another air­line). I was very grate­ful, and got an hour’s sleep that I needed af­ter an early start that day. This was typ­i­cal of the ser­vice. The flight at­ten­dants never stopped work­ing, walk­ing up and down the aisle de­liv­er­ing the drinks, which had been or­dered through the IFE sys­tem, and also trays of wa­ter.

About 90 min­utes be­fore land­ing, a sec­ond, no-choice meal ser­vice took place. This in­cluded quiche with salad and some slices of salami, cheese, a choco­late bar and more drinks.

AR­RIVAL We landed slightly ahead of sched­ule at 1950 lo­cal time but waited 30 min­utes for a stand to be­come free. Once off the air­craft there was a short walk to im­mi­gra­tion, and a queue of about 15 min­utes.

VER­DICT This was an ex­cel­lent flight, af­ter the ini­tial pain of the check-in. If two things im­pressed me (and sur­prised me) it was how good the on-board ser­vice was, and just how in­ex­pen­sive the tick­ets, even the Premium Flex, are when com­pared to the com­pe­ti­tion. There is room to work com­fort­ably, and the pos­si­bil­ity of get­ting some sleep. It is well worth the ex­tra money over Econ­omy.

Long-haul wifi is planned for the Dream­liner fleet, per­haps as early as the end of this year

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