Oslo to Paris on a 767?! A rare treat with EuroAtlantic & Norwegian
Welcome to my latest trip report! Last summer, I was working in Oslo and needed to make a last-minute weekend trip to Paris, a few weeks after having arrived from the U.S.
Norwegian was by far the cheapest option on such short notice, and I was thrilled to find that the outbound flight would operated by a EuroAtlantic Boeing 767-300ER, which DY had wet leased for the busy summer season, with the 737 MAX grounding likely being a contributing factor as well. For those unfamiliar with EuroAtlantic, they're a Portuguese airline who operate a whopping one (1) scheduled route between Lisbon and Bissau. Meanwhile, their small fleet of Boeing widebodies is mainly dedicated to wet lease ops for major European carriers like TAP, TUI, LOT, and Norwegian. When I took this flight in late May of last year, DY were wet-leasing a 767 for short, popular routes to CDG, BCN, AGP, NCE, and FCO, all ex-OSL.
Curiously, EuroAtlantic seems to have different configurations on their 763's, with varying degrees of comfort and IFE. I had very little idea of what to expect! May 24th 2019
I went to the airport straight from work on a Friday afternoon, walking the short distance to Oslo's central station and catching the fantastic airport express train to Gardermoen, where I arrived at around 16:15, well in time for my 17:35 flight. I was only bringing a carry-on and had a mobile boarding pass, so I went straight through security and grabbed a delicious hot dog on the way to gate D10, located at the far end of OSL's new pier. I had seen on flightradar24 that the inbound aircraft, CS-TSU, was running half an hour late on her way in from Nice, and was due in around 17:00. Still, no delay was forecast for our 17:35 departure. Alright Norwegian, it's on! Let's see if you can turn a 767 around in 35 minutes.
These annoying window shades obscured my view of my aircraft taxiing in
CS-TSU is a 16-year old Boeing 767-300ER, first delivered to Hainan Airlines in December 2002. She's a fairly new addition to EuroAtlantic's fleet, having only entered service in August 2018, and is equipped with 267 seats in an all-economy 2-3-2 configuration.
Boarding was eventually called at 17:30, 26 minutes after the inbound arrived at the gate. Considering there was a crew change, I'd say this a pretty good turnaround time for a 767! Boarding was very disorganized; it was essentially a free for all. Naturally, there was a long line in the jetway, and it took about ten minutes before we were let onboard.
Having flown this route dozens of time on a mix of B737 NG's, A320's, and E190's, it was surreal to be doing so on a widebody, let alone on an obscure Portuguese airline! I was very excited.
I chuckled when I saw Member of IATA
proudly written on the fuselage near the boarding door... I didn't know it was a matter of such prestige! Norwegian DY1498 / NAX8YE
Scheduled Departure (Actual) : Oslo - 17:35 (18:13)
Scheduled Arrival (Actual) : Paris CDG - 20:00 (20:17)
Seat : 4K (Economy)
Flight Time : 1h48min
Cruising Altitude : 38,000 feet
Aircraft : Boeing 767-34P(ER)
Registration : CS-TSU - 16.6 years
Once onboard, I made my way to my window seat in row 4. Even though I knew CS-TSU was supposedly in an all-economy configuration, I was secretly hoping to find a "mock business class" cabin in the forward cabin, or at least slightly more spacious seats. Well, 'twas not to be.
Oh... my. This is tight. Like, the tightest I've ever experienced. The worst legroom I'd experienced previously was on an Aer Lingus A319 (which I think still had the old Iberia seats). This is... infinitely worse. Just to give you an idea: going through my notes from the flight, I notice the first thing I wrote after sitting down was "Oh, dear god." Now, I'm exceptionally tall, but I've been comfortable in BA's new shorthaul cabin with 29 inch pitch, not to mention Sprit's A319! On this plane, though, I literally couldn't keep my legs in front of me if I tried. The pitch was hilariously bad. I should also mention that TAP have regularly used this very aircraft for 8+ hour flights to Caracas.... WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?
Apart from the legroom, the seat was decently comfortable, though. I have a soft spot for old leather seats; the padding tends to be good, and this was no exception. Every seat was equipped with a PTV, which was kept off (permanently, I suspect). Clearly, these are old seats (perhaps from a former EuroAtlantic jet?) that were fitted into CS-TSU when she was delivered from Hainan in 2018. If only they'd kept Hainan's spacious C34Y199 config.. I'd be a MUCH happier camper. "Remember," I wrote in my notes. "You're doing this for the novelty."
At least there's an awesome engine view, though! EI-FHM (since re-baptized SE-RPT) next door was bound for CPH.
The cabin crew on this flight were, in a word: wonderful. Judging from their uniforms, they were a mix of EuroAtlantic and Norwegian staff, all of them quite young and in excellent spirits. A few minutes after I sat down, an FA noticed how cramped I was and offered to try and find me a more spacious seat, despite the near 100% load factor. I also overheard the crew proactively reseat a pregnant woman to make sure she was comfortable. I ended up not taking the FA up on her kind offer, as the aisle seat next to me miraculously remained free and I could sit semi-comfortably by keeping my legs sideways. I didn't see a single other empty seat in my area, so I was VERY lucky indeed. Boarding finished quickly, and the Portuguese captain gave a brief P/A message welcoming us onboard and predicting a flight time of 1h50min.
Safety card in great shape... as one would expect for an aircraft that entered into service less than a year prior!
We eventually left the gate 38 minutes late at 18:13, then began a fast taxi to runway 01L.
Spot the LH A320 (I think) blasting off 01R!
There were some pretty, but rather ominous cloud formations near the airport
This VN 787 had brought the Vietnamese Prime Minister to Oslo the previous day!
It was quickly our turn, and at 18:23 we lined up on 01L for a powerful rolling takeoff! I've linked the video here.
Once airborne, we started a leisurely left turn to the south and set course towards Paris. Given our light fuel load, we climbed especially quickly, leveling at FL380 only 15 minutes after lifting off.
The buy-on-board service started upon reaching cruise, and I bought a warm and tasty ham-and-cheese sandwich with some chips and a drink. It was clear that the EuroAtlantic crew weren't quite used to how Norwegian's special snack deals worked, but the service was generally efficient and exceedingly friendly.
Well that's a button you don't often see in Economy! It didn't work, though.
I used the seat & tray table next to me for storage... only later did I realize this picture really shows how cramped the seats are. Take a look at the poor guy across the aisle!
The flight went by quickly; I spent most of it listening to music and looking out the window.
Before long, we made landfall over the Netherlands.
Amsterdam Schiphol airport from FL380
After just under an hour of cruise, we started our descent toward Charles de Gaulle at 19:35.
Laon-Athies Air Base, a long abandoned USAF base with a fascinating history!
It was an absolutely gorgeous evening in Paris. I've flown the approach into CDG countless times during my 10+ years living in France, and I don't think I've ever been happier to be back, even if only for a few days.
Following a spectacular twilight approach, we slammed onto Runway 27R at 20:11, after a quick 1h48min in the air. The landing was hard enough to elicit cries from a few passengers--I've linked the video of the approach and landing here!
I was mildly amused by the FA announcement: "Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to France, where the local time is..."
Eurowings' D-AEWN was off to HAM
We docked at Terminal 1's Satellite 7 at 20:17, only 17 minutes behind schedule! I was among the first to deplane. Thanks for the ride, CS-TSU!
I breezed through T1 and past baggage claim, then made a beeline for the CDGVAL automated train, which I boarded at 20:35. A few minutes later, I was at Roissypôle, CDG's seedy excuse for an "airport hub", where the line for train tickets was absurdly long. By 21:10, I was comfortably onboard an RER B commuter train crawling towards the city.
I arrived at the apartment where I was staying at in southern Paris just before 22:00, and dropped my bag off. Minutes later, one of my best friends came by with his car, and we headed out for the night.
A view of the Parisian rooftops the following afternoon.May 28th 2019
After a tremendously fun long weekend spent seeing old friends and taking care of some family paperwork, it was time to return to Oslo on Tuesday evening. I boarded a northbound commuter train at 18:50, and after a seamless transfer at Roissypôle, arrived at CDG's Terminal 1 at 19:35. Security was a breeze, as is often the case at T1 due its unique and iconic satellite arrangement with multiple security areas. I was airside well before 20:00, just in time to see my 737 arriving from OSL. The weather was glorious, as it had mostly been throughout my stay.
LN-DYT first flew in early June 2011, and entered into service with Norwegian later that month.
SX-DNG had just arrived from ATH as A3 614, a flight I took almost exactly three years earlier
Boarding began promptly, and it was far more organized than it had been in OSL the previous week. Boarding groups were strictly enforced. As I went to line up, I saw an old coworker of mine who was also heading back to Oslo! We happily chatted away as the line slowly moved forward, then boarded together. She was sitting up front, while I had prebooked an exit seat in row 14. Norwegian DY1499 / NAX9FU
Scheduled Departure (Actual) : Paris CDG - 21:10 (21:12)
Scheduled Arrival (Actual) : Oslo - 23:30 (23:15)
Seat : 14F (Economy)
Flight Time : 1h47min
Cruising Altitude : 37,000 feet
Aircraft : Boeing 737-8JP(WL)
Registration : LN-DYT - 8 years
Legroom in the exit row was excellent (I could've taken a better picture... but you get the idea)
Boarding was completed by 20:53, an impressive 17 minutes before SDT. At a guess, I'd say the load was around 80%, and I was happy to see an empty middle seat next to me!
Pretty wing view!
I was hoping we might leave a bit early, but we sat for about twenty minutes with no word at all before pushing back at 21:12, 2 minutes behind schedule. I suppose we were waiting for our slot time or something along those lines.
We pushed back parallel to Lufthansa's D-AIZH, bound for MUC as LH2239.
We taxied to 27L, the main departure runway for De Gaulle's north complex.
Passing the Terminal 3 charter crowd... and Concorde in the distance!
Good looking cabin!
Taking to Runway 27L from intersection Q3, ahead of an Air France babybus and a FedEx MD-11!
At 21:24, we lined up on 27L and took off into a beautiful orange sunset
, then picked up a northeasterly heading on the NURMO standard departure route from CDG.
As we climbed towards 37,000 feet, wifi became available. I opted for the free package, which has slower speeds than the paid option, but worked just fine for me. I've consistently been impressed with Norwegian's onboard connectivity. Given their recent cost-cutting measures, I won't be surprised if they eliminate the free option soon.
I think the Wifi homepage might be mistaking our ICAO flight number/callsign (NAX9FU) for our IATA flight number (DY1499)
The captain made a brief announcement once we leveled off, anticipating an early arrival into Oslo with some rain showers in the area. Meanwhile, cabin service began. I had been hoping to get the delicious warm sandwich I had bought on the outbound leg, but they were all sold out.
A nice tailwind picked up over the North Sea, and time just flew by (I wonder how many times that joke has been made before on this site
). We began our descent as we skirted the Norwegian coast northeast of Kristiansand.
Cabin view during descent with some lovely mood lighting
True to the captain's word, there were lots of rain showers in the area, and it was quite bumpy as we descended through the cloud layers.
Past 11PM and still not too dark outside... welcome to Norway in the summer!
We made a firm landing on a wet runway 01L at 23:11, after 1h47min in the air.
We then made a quick taxi to stand 77 on the opposite site of Gardermoen's new pier, where we docked at 23:15, a solid fifteen minutes early!
Passing a Cityjet CRJ900...
and a Thomas Cook Scandinavia (pre-bankruptcy) A330.
D-AIRK, an A321-100, had arrived from MUC as LH2456.
I had planned on getting back to the Oslo suburbs by a tiresome combination of train and metro, but as my coworker's parents were meeting her at the airport and happened to live quite close to where I was staying, they generously insisted on driving me back. I arrived home just after half past midnight, then promptly fell asleep. Conclusion
I really like Norwegian's short-haul product. Their 737 cabin is smart, clean, and comfortable, and the free, fast wifi is a great bonus. I'm not sure I can speak so positively of their long-haul operation after having experienced two consecutive delays exceeding 24 hours, both of which were handled quite poorly. It's no secret that Norwegian have had a rough couple of years, and it seems like their net losses are finally starting to shrink. I do hope they stick around.
I'm not sure what to say about EuroAtlantic, since their aircraft are configured differently and have varying degrees of comfort and IFE, and it's difficult to predict which particular frame one will fly on. I want to say that I'll desperately avoid flying on their three ex-Hainan jets because of the nonexistent legroom, but honestly, the novelty of flying on such a unique 767 might just make it worthwhile... if there's an empty seat next to me. I've also noticed that CS-TSU has been grounded at TLV since late November, and CS-TST recently returned to Portugal after three months out of service. Maybe upper management have come to their senses and sent these birds in for a much-needed cabin upgrade? Dare I hope? Anyway, the crew working my flight were among the friendliest I've come across, so I suppose EuroAtlantic have won me over for now. Consider me a fan.
Thanks for reading!