Up relatively early the following morning to head out to JFK. For once, I really wasn’t complaining about being up early, because the alternative to Europe is always to take a redeye flight, so if I can get up a bit early and take a daytime flight I definitely always come out ahead with more hours of quality sleep!
Bit of coffee, and then because it was only estimated to take 15-30 minutes more than an Uber (and because this trip was kind of all about being a transit geek) I opted to take the subway to JFK. Figuring out how the cards worked was easy, no trouble buying with credit card, and then it was on the A train out towards JFK!
Unfortunately, not only was there some drama with the E train with it not running out towards JFK, but when I got 5o Howard Beach the signs alerted me that there was a full shutdown of the AirTrain to JFK and I would have to wait for a shuttle bus. Ahhhhh, at least I’m getting the full New York transit experience!
On the positive side, the bus was timely, and being packed with New Yorkers cranky about this unexpected detour I got the full experience. So, hey, could have been much, much worse.
Made my way to the terminal and Norwegian Check-in, where drama awaited me. There was no way there were going to let me carry my rollerboard and laptop bag on, claiming they were BOTH above the carryon weight limit for premier…not to mention that combined they were double the weight limit. Seriously? Plus the flight was sold out, so I did not have the option to even pay to check the rollerboard.
Full-world-traveler mode enabled, after seeing the check-in person was going nowhere, I asked for the manager, and when they were unyielding I asked for the airport operations manager for Norwegian.
The person eventually showed up, I explained the situation, pointed out the lack of clarity on their website, pointed out the absurdity that 20kg of bags couldn’t be brought on by someone in premier…and may have embellished a bit with some experienced learnt from dealing with international bureaucrats…and eventually with a nod and wink I was sent on my way. Experience pays! 😉 Yes, it was a bit of a DYKWIA moment, but seriously, if as an experienced traveler I had this much drama….I can’t believe how the “normal” traveler deals with these airlines!
I was expecting this to be followed by drama with TSA given my last experience with TSA at Terminal 1, but this time had a perfectly lovely and efficient experience. It really is about the individual at the end of the day!
Plus…once through security I was in Pride Country!
Thanks to being on Norwegian I had no lounge access, but thanks to Priority Pass I had the option of the Korean Air Lounge (miserable) or trying the Air France Lounge. Air France lounges are usually pleasant and have respectable beverages, so off I went.
After chilling and catching up on a bit of work, it was off to the gate to see what surprises Norwegian would hold for me. Boarding was a complete mess, with gate agents who acted like they’d never seen an airplane before, but eventually we were all allowed to board and spared from further misery from the airport known as JFK.
Norwegian flight 7014, Operated by Evelop!
New York, JFK (JFK) to London, Gatwick (LGW)
Depart 12:45, Arrive: 00:45 next day, flight time: 7:00
Airbus A330-300, Registration EC-NBP, Manufactured 2013, Seat 15D
Miles Flown Year-to-Date: 47,809
Lifetime Miles Flown: 2,740,937
First impressions on boarding were positive. Based on the few online reviews I could find, I expected the Evelop! crew operating this flight for Norwegian to speak very little English and be cold, but this crew was quite chatty and friendly, and spoke excellent English. They were very welcoming, and the seats on this old Singapore Air bird were still quite nice…not to mention that the one empty seat on the entire plane was next to me! Clearly living a charmed life!
The safety demo was odd to say the least, with strange animated characters whose expressions were just plain weird. Idk if this is a “here, let me angrily look at your lap” from the child or a creepy guy being “ooh!” Just…awkward and uncomfortable!
Shortly after takeoff we were offered “headphones” (term used loosely, they were like 99 cent bargain bin special – the case was probably worth more) and beverages. I went with the red wine, which was totally undrinkable. I asked to see the bottle, and the flight attendant awkwardly said she “could not” show me. Uh, ok?
Meal was served, option of vegetarian or meat, but it was reasonably tasty!
After eating it was nap time, and other than not being perfectly lay-flat, the seat was nice and comfortable for a snooze. Hey, it definitely beats the 2-3-2 configuration Norwegian has on their own 787s! In this case, the plane swap was a definite win!
About 90 minutes before landing at Gatwick, we were offered a second boxed meal. Again, nothing super fancy, but the charcuterie plate with fruit was more than enough on such a short flight, and overall I had a really positive impression from Norwegian. No, it’s not a luxury experience, but it’s perfectly comfortable and for the price paid I was very happy with my decision!
Immigration at Gatwick was a breeze thanks to the e-Gates for US passports, and I was outside and waiting on my Uber in no time. At this hour, I’d already factored the price of transit into London into the cost of the ticket, so wasn’t too shocked when I saw it was going to be $100+ to get to my hotel. It’s all about managing expectations!
More on the hotel in the next post, as well as overnight in London before heading to Paris via EuroStar!