FRIDAY FRUMP: Another “ultra-low-cost” airline that isn’t

After getting an email from Norse Atlantic, an airline of which I had not heard, I was intrigued and started doing some digging.

I learned it is a two-year-old ultra-low-cost carrier, in the mold of U.S. carrier Spirit, with many of the same nickel-and-dime charges that can make the all-in cost far eclipse the “fare” that is initially quoted.

Norse Atlantic, which uses “Norse” as its go-to-market name, operates Boeing 787 Dreamliners exclusively, which means they’re all relatively new aircraft (the first delivered in 2011) but says nothing about how tight the seating is. Even has no information on this carrier.

Norse 787 Dreamliner
Norse offers six different types of fares: Economy and Premium, with each having “Light, Classic or Flextra” options.

While I loathe the nickel-and-dime pricing scheme many airlines are embracing, what made me angry was the vast difference between the email’s touted “Summer Fares” and what the website returned when actually booking.

For example, the email said a one-way ticket from New York JFK to Paris CDG (Charles de Gaulle) was $235. As though I was planning a trip for my birthday in July, I put in a departure date of July 2 and a return a week later. The fares returned: $541 for Economy, $1,112 for Premium. A far cry from the $235 cited. In fact, scrolling through the calendar for all of July, a few dates returned fares as low as $276 – but not many – and none was as low as the advertised “summer fare.”

Choosing Economy Light would allow me to bring only one small underseat bag, and I would be among the last to board with no seat selection possible. At $631, Classic included a small underseat bag, a standard carry-on and standard checked bag, one meal service and general boarding. Flextra, at $811, included everything Classic offered as well as seat selection and priority boarding.

Premium Light, at $1,112, included both underseat and carry-on bags, two meal services, premium boarding and priority check-in. For an addition $90, Premium Classic added a checked bag, while Premium Flextra added seat selection and the ability to change your dates for an additional $270 over Light ($1,382). Return fares were $100 - $150 more than the departure legs, for total round trip fares of about $2,900 for Premium Flextra.

While Norse’s website did not provide specifics on the Economy seats, it does say that Premium seats are “35% wider” than Economy and have a pitch of 43 inches, which is admittedly impressive.

For comparison, I checked the website for mainline carrier Delta (NYSE:DAL). It offered Comfort+ from $2,436 and Premium Select from $2,729 for travel on the same dates. Comfort+ standard seats on the Boeing 767 are 18.1 inches wide with a pitch of 34 inches. Premium Select recliner seats are 19 inches wide with 38 inches of pitch, per

My dates necessitated flying out Premium Select but returning in Comfort+ on a Boeing 777 operated by partner airline Air France. Premium Economy seats on Air France were comparable to the Premium Select seats on Delta, so there was no sacrifice of space. The $2,729 fare included a carry-on, two checked bags, and seat selection at no additional cost.

Norse is taking aim at major hubs operated by the Big Three legacy carriers and is planning a route network that includes New York, Boston, Washington D.C., Miami, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. 

If you’re inclined to give Norse a try, just do your homework first to be sure you’re getting a genuinely good deal.

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Photo provided by Norse
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