Robbed Of Our Favorite Choice to Fly to Germany, We Were On A Mission to Find A Replacement.
AirBerlin used to be our go-to airline for years whenever Germany was calling . Even though the leg space between seats seemed to have shrunk a bit each time we booked another flight, we appreciated that it was an airline that would only have one stop-over (depending on the destination), and that one was already in Germany.
Besides, AirBerlin always surprised with a special touch like giving out chocolate hearts upon boarding or sometimes upon arrival, or delighting kids with little toys like stuffed toy airplanes and such. Best of all was that it was an airline that proofed reliable, at least to us, and was not breaking our bank; an important factor if you travel as a family with kids in tow.
Unfortunately, Air Berlin filed for bankruptcy last year, in 2017. “Now what?”, was my first desperate thought. Knowing we would fly to Germany in the summer of 2018 I was determined to find an airline option that would offer me a similar service at a price that would still let me enjoy my vacation.
Then, last Christmas our eldest son came flying in from Europe on Norwegian Air, his favorite airline to commute back and forth between the USA and Germany. He had been using Norwegian for his last few trips and was raving abut the cool new planes they’d use on transatlantic flights: The Dreamliner. He felt he had enough leg room and was especially fascinated by all the technical knick-knacks; like the multifunctional entertainment screens, the wealth of movies, and the cool effect of the windows that would darken upon pressing a button eliminating the use of the good old window shades.
At first a bit skeptical but slowly and surely running out of time and options I felt I needed to give Norwegian Air a closer look. After all we slowly approached February 2018.
My first online impression however added to my confusion. On online chat rooms or TripAdvisor, people were either raving about the new Dreamliner or were disappointed by having been rebooked last minute onto another machine. A risk that one apparently would have to take by booking with Norwegian Air, an airline that offers flights at still reasonable prices but unfortunately also overbooks according to some reviews. As I learned, this was due to the fact that the airline company still hadn’t yet received all the Dreamliner machines they had ordered.
What other options are out there –
Obviously there are other options out there to fly to Europe or, as in my case, to Germany. Especially if you avoid the high travel season in the summer, you might have a bunch of options to choose from while equally benefitting from great prices and even non-stop flights. But in my case with kids in tow, summer is always the only travel time possible!
Therefore, our options were Aeroflot or Wow! airlines, which were out of the question for us. Then, of course, there were the familiar names of British Airways, Air France, and the like; all of which were more expensive or had more stop-overs. All American airlines didn’t impress me with their pricing either. And then, there was of course LUFTHANSA!! I have to admit I LOVE Lufthansa, but it’s just way too expensive. I’d rather have the extra dollars to spend on delicious foods and outings while on my trips.
So, at last, I wearily decided on Norwegian Airlines and booked our flight from New York to Paris and our return flight from Munich to LAX via Oslo and just hoped for the best. For both flights I made sure my family would be on the acclaimed Dreamliner. After all, I wanted to experience this fabulous airplane myself!
Some little initial hiccup, but we were in for a pleasant surprise –
One month before our departure I was notified that my ‘Dreamliner flight’ was rebooked onto another machine. I was devastated. No, please! I didn’t want to be one of the people I’d read about.
Upset I picked up the phone. A very polite Norwegian Air travel agent on the other end answered and was so pleasant while changing my flight to another option (one, that would offer a Dreamliner on the transatlantic flight), that I totally forgot that I initially had called to complain… But there was no need for it at all. My flight was quickly moved from flying out of La Guardia to JFK, and I was rebooked onto ‘my’ Dreamliner!
From then on all went smoothly. The Norwegian Air mobile phone app proofed very convenient as well, reminding me off departure times and check-in times and I had all my ticket information in one place, too.
We had a pleasant overnight flight in our Dreamliner to Paris and happily awoke a few hours later in the City of Love. Our return flight from Munich to LAX via Oslo was perfect as well and we thoroughly enjoyed our first time Dreamliner experience with Norwegian Air.
Booking a flight with Norwegian Air feels like ordering coffee at Starbucks –
There is quite a variety of options that you can either opt-out or add-on when booking your flight. Something that was new to me, the loyal AirBerlin flyer.
You can either opt in for the most economic option with no food served, (If you do so, you should stock up on food and water before you board your flight! ); or you can go for a flight with meals served but no luggage check-in (In this case, do make sure your carry-on bag is not over the weight limit, otherwise big fees await); or, perhaps, you’d like to book a flex flight, which is a more expensive option but lets you change the dates, and so on…
Since we decided on traveling light going to Europe, we each just had our carry-on bag. For our return trip however, we chose the flight version with a meal and check-in luggage. A wise decision, as it turned out that our luggage, filled with German goodies to the brim, just barely made it under the 20 kg maximum.
Our experience in short –
Overall my family had a very enjoyable first time experience with Norwegian Air . All staff we came across (phone, check-in counters, flight assistants) were friendly, attentive and professional. We will certainly consider Norwegian Air for our next flight to Germany again.
The flight itself was affordable, a great plus for families, and the food on the long haul flight was surprisingly good. (Make sure you make your preferred food choice when booking your flight). A large variety of drinks as well as wine (at no extra cost) was offered with the meals. Great options to buy extra food, snacks and drinks were offered throughout the long haul flight via the snack bar. A quick interaction with your touchscreen entertainment center, putting in your order and swiping your credit card, and, voilà, the desired items were brought to your seat a few minutes later.
Needless to say, we much enjoyed the very interactive entertainment touchscreens that you could use not only to order extra food with your credit card, but that would help you overcome boredom with an extensive offering on movies, shows, games and so forth. And…,the modern windows in the new Dreamliner were a cool, fancy add-on to our overall experience.
True, there were no extra frills, like handing out welcome chocolates or other gifts for example, but we had everything we needed and more.
Let us know in the comments, what airline you prefer to take on your trip to Germany and why!