scorecardresearch Skip to main content

Boston has a new low-cost airline. We put its bargain London flight to the test.

Norse Atlantic Airways is promising low fares and comfortable flights to England. How did they do?

Seats in the economy section of a Norse Atlantic Airways 787. The airline began a new route between Boston and London this month.Ulf Heikman

When I saw the line at check-in, I quickly became fearful of what the rest of the flight might hold. From a distance, I could see a long, serpentine queue of passengers waiting to check into their flight to London on Norse Atlantic Airways. The airline, based outside of Oslo, doesn’t offer online check-in or self-service kiosks at Logan.

Norse, founded in 2021, introduced the Boston-to-London direct route last week and was clearly still ironing out some technological wrinkles. I arrived early to check in, but not early enough. The staff seemed overwhelmed and struggling with the computer system. I waited 30-plus minutes to get my boarding pass, cursing the lack of automated check-in.


Passengers wait in a long line to check into their flight on Norse Atlantic Airways at Logan Airport.Christopher Muther/Globe Staff

Norse Airways bills itself as a low-cost airline that is still comfortable and consumer-friendly. For me, the lack of automated check-in was strike one (and also a foul ball) against the airline, but I’m happy to say it was one of the rare hiccups I encountered on my flight earlier this week.

Despite the lengthy check-in, a disorganized boarding process that looked like feeding time at the zoo, and a delayed departure, the rest of the experience was wonderfully smooth. The first impression was turbulent, and then the ride quickly smoothed out. Before we get to the details, here’s the breakdown.

Norse Airways, Boston to London Gatwick direct, five flights a week. What you need to know.

  • A fleet of spacious, new-ish 787 Dreamliners with ample legroom both in premium and economy.
  • Currently, the least expensive direct flight between Boston and London.
  • Seat-back entertainment, USB ports, and electrical outlets.
  • No online check-in and no self-service kiosks at the airport means long lines and a frustrating check-in process.
  • Base fares are low, but the smallest extras, down to seat selection and carry-ons, quickly bring up the price.
  • No code share or frequent flier program.

We’ll get to the nitty gritty of my flight momentarily, but first, some history. While it’s easy to confuse Norse Atlantic with Norwegian Air, the two are separate entities. Norwegian Air, which expanded service rapidly between the United States and Europe from 2017 to 2019, ceased operations in 2021 and has since returned to being a regional shuttle service. Norse Atlantic was born in 2021 when shipping magnate Bjørn Tore Larsen saw an opportunity during the pandemic to lease 15 Boeing 787 Dreamliners — some from Norwegian Air — at what he said were “unprecedented” low rates. The airline began operations last year with flights between New York and Oslo.


A Norse Atlantic Airways 787 Dreamliner. The upstart airline began service between Boston and London this month. Handout

The Boston-to-Gatwick flight is part of Larsen’s plan to avoid the hub-and-spoke model that many Northern European airlines use (think layovers in Reykjavik for Play or Iceland Air). Instead, Norse flies direct routes. London is popular for Bostonians, and with prices that undercut JetBlue’s new London service, Norse could be a viable option.


Norse uses the phrase “customize” frequently in its marketing, which is airline speak for “nickel and dime.” But I found Norse’s three-tier pricing model not all that different from other airlines, and its bundling packages appeal to multiple demographics. There are two classes: economy and premium. Within each of those categories, there are three bundling options: light, economy classic, and flextra.

The eye-catching sale fares that Norse offers (they’re currently offering $99 flights from Boston to London until Sept. 13), are the most basic of the bunch and fall under the “light” category. You’ll pay for anything more than a personal item. The second pricing tier, Norse’s economy classic bundle, is not far off from JetBlue’s Blue Plus class. And economy flextra is akin to the competitor’s Blue Extra. When Norse is running deep sales, the flight is a steal.

A screenshot of booking options in economy class for Norse Atlantic Airways.Norse Atlantic Airwa

I purchased a seat in the economy classic category, plus paid to select a seat. My total was $270 before taxes and fees (sadly Norse was not running a sale when I bought my ticket). After taxes and fees it was more than $300 one way. It was about half the price of a JetBlue flight.


But Norse Atlantic truly shines with its premium economy cabin. Norse is leasing 787 Dreamliners, and instead of a business cabin with lie-flat seats, the airline is using the front of the plane exclusively for 56 large, premium economy seats with a ridiculous amount of legroom and deep, reclining seats with footrests. Like economy, there are three classes to choose from in premium.

A screenshot of seat and cabin options for Norse Atlantic Airways.Norse Atlantic Airways

Even in premium, it’s important to watch out for fees, such as paying to select a seat. However, according to Flight Guru, the premium economy seats on Norse are the largest of any airline. To pay $200 to $300 one way for a pitch of 46 inches and a 12-inch recline is unheard of, especially for a seven-hour flight. The premium seats reminded me of first-class seats on short-haul domestic flights within the US.

Seats in the premium economy cabin on Norse Atlantic Airways in full recline. The Norway-based carrier began service to Boston this month.Ulf Heikman

Norse has done very little to change the planes from when they were part of Norwegian’s livery, so those familiar with Norwegian will know what to expect. Despite the space, the premium economy seats are awkward at a full incline. They don’t lie flat, and they’re not as comfortable as a contoured reclining chair. I felt I needed to wear my seat belt to keep from sliding off. Still, there’s no such thing as too much space on a plane. Seats in regular economy offer a similar amount of space as most full-price carriers with a 30-inch pitch. Thankfully, a Boeing 787 will never feel like a Spirit Airlines flight.


The experience:

A few days before my flight, I started receiving emails from Norse that I could bid for an upgrade from economy to premium economy. I ignored the first few emails. I wanted to experience economy. But when a third bid-to-upgrade email arrived the night before my flight, I threw caution (and money) to the wind and bid $145 to upgrade to the premium cabin. It was the lowest possible amount I could bid. A few hours later I received an email that my offer was accepted.

My spacious windfall created a dilemma.

I was now seated in a designated premium cabin, but still needed to sneak back to see what it was like to sit in economy. I carefully timed my escape to economy between drinks and meal service. It wasn’t a matter of just strolling back. There was a closed curtain between the two sections, so I needed to be as subtle as possible. As I did this, I thought about how I was likely the first person on a plane to deliberately move to a lower seat category. I sauntered back to economy and found an empty row (thankfully the flight wasn’t full), and sat for about 45 minutes checking out the entertainment options and reading. Economy was comfortable. I’m 5-foot-9 and didn’t feel squeezed, although the barebones vinyl (leather?) seats had me craving my 46-inch pitch and 12-inch recline.


Seats in the economy section of a Norse Atlantic Airways Dreamliner are in a 3-3-3 configuration.Handout

Because of my upgrade to premium, there was full beverage service and both dinner and breakfast were served. Snacks cost extra. I chose the beef stew with mashed sweet potatoes and carrots. It was tasty, but I quickly realized it was the least photogenic of the dinner options. Breakfast was a turkey and cheese croissant and a pre-packed muffin.

The planes:

I’ve been a fan of the Boeing 787 since they were first introduced. They have a higher humidity level than other aircraft because they are constructed with less aluminum, meaning they don’t rust as easily. That means your face won’t resemble a prune by the end of the flight. They are also designed to reduce cabin noise and they have some of the largest windows in the sky that are controlled with with an electronic dimmer rather than a shade. I’m also a fan of the lighting in the Dreamliners. Accent lights along the ceiling dramatically change the mood in the cabin. Because Norse is using newer planes, I had no problems with touch screens on the entertainment system.

The service:

The staff on my flight was primarily British and exceedingly polite and attentive. I had fun talking with the flight attendant working in my section, pestering her for fun stories about misbehaving passengers. She told me, “We don’t get too many of that sort up in this part of the plane.” Although she shared a few others — on the condition that I not tell my friends about them. Everyone I encountered, even the flight attendant who eyed me suspiciously as I snuck into economy, was pleasant.

The verdict:

Based on price alone, I think Norse Atlantic is a fine option for getting to London. If you decide to fly with the carrier, go to the airport early with the assumption that you will encounter a line, and pack just as much patience as you do underwear in case you encounter the same sort of plodding queue that I did. Once I was in the air, it was smooth flying, and I can seldom say that about an airline offering such low fares.

The author found that there was no shortage of legroom in Norse Atlantic Airways premium economy cabin.Christopher Muther/Globe Staff

Christopher Muther can be reached at Follow him @Chris_Muther and Instagram @chris_muther.