Several months before the delivery of its first brand new Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, Norwegian announced its plans to operate the 787 on a series of Intra-European flights to Spain and the UK amongst others (aptly titled the 'Dreamtour'). I didn't for a second think that I would get the opportunity to fly a 787 so soon, and with this in mind I immediately looked at booking!
The schedule into London Gatwick saw the Dreamliner utilised on Thursdays and Sundays - I have Sundays off, so I started looking at my options closely! The 787 was being operated on flights DY1310/1311 on that day, so I would have to get to Oslo to catch DY1310 back to London Gatwick in the evening.
My options to Oslo were limited by cost - I wanted this trip to be under £100. In step Ryanair, with their low low fares! A Stansted to Rygge flight early on Sunday morning was £22.99, and with the 787 flight at £45, I quickly booked! The Dreamtour was go! At a total flight cost of just over £75 I was very pleased with the opportunity to fly such a superb aircraft.
The flight from Stansted Airport was very early in the morning, with a 06:45 departure time, so I booked into the Hilton London Stansted which was conveniently right next to the Long Stay Car Park where I left my car and used the shuttle bus to the airport. Anyway, on with the trip!
London Stansted Airport (STN
Moss Airport Rygge (RYG
06:45 (07:05 actual)
09:45 (09:50 actual)
I won't go into too much detail of my Ryanair flight to Oslo Rygge, because it was your bog standard Ryanair flight - on time, cheap and easy. The crew were relatively friendly and overall the flight was moderately full. Despite Rygge being further from Oslo than Gardermoen, it seemed Ryanair were still doing a good trade.
I arrived at Stansted 2 hours before departure, and although it is in transition from being BAA owned to being MAG (Manchester Airports Group) owned, not a great deal has changed. 75% of the signage is now the same as at other MAG Airports, with the remaining 25% and the FIDS being BAA. The airport is still a huge shopping mall full of cramped corridors running everywhere. This is why I rarely travel from STN
After a very nice Full English from Wetherspoons, it was off to Gate 54 where the flight to Rygge was to board. Gates 53-60 are in a shed at the end of the pier, and it was very cramped with several FR
flights boarding at the same time. Lines snaked everywhere and it was very disorganised! I eventually found the Priority Queue for Gate 54, as I'd reserved seat 17A for £10 which was an Emergency Exit Row.
Boarding started on time, and we were out onto the tarmac to board by the front stairs. Boarding took a while, with a number of issues with luggage and passengers slowing everything up. We eventually closed up and left 20 minutes late, and with a 1 hour 55 minute flight time meant we would be very close to our scheduled arrival time in Rygge!
We headed out toward Runway 22 for departure, and after a few company aircraft it was our turn.
Stansted Departure Video
We performed a large turn to the left after departure and routed out across East Anglia to the North Sea.
We cruised at 37,000 feet and no information was forthcoming from the flight deck during the flight.
Just off the coast of Norway we started descending toward Rygge. The many islands dotted around the coast were very beautiful, and the approach to Rygge was one of the more beautiful I have taken! The airport became visible off to our left before we lined up for our approach.
I guess that's where we're heading!
Several minutes later and we touched down on runway 30 at Moss Airport Rygge with a large dose of braking.
Rygge Arrival Video
The taxi to the small terminal at Rygge was quick, and we were soon off into the small passport control hall. This was quick, despite only having 2 booths, and I was out and onto the free Shuttle Bus to Rygge Railway Station to catch my train into Oslo! At 151 NOK it's not the cheapest fare, but it was the cheapest way into the city and did only take 50 minutes!
Off we go!
For the record, Norwegian Trains > British Trains.
Oslo is a beautiful city, and I thoroughly enjoyed my brief 3 hour walking tour! I'd love to go back. It's very expensive though... I thought I'd share some quick snapshots of the city that I took;
Oslo Airport Gardermoen (OSL
Gatwick Airport (LGW
18:10 (18:20 actual)
19:30 (19:15 actual)
Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner
With my brief tour of Oslo done, it was off to Oslo Airport Gardermoen to finally catch the Dreamliner! The fare to OSL
is 90 NOK which is more reasonable, but so it should be... the journey is only 25 minutes by NSB Regional train. No expensive Airport Express for me!
The Airport station is right below the departure level of the terminal, very well planned in fact. Up the escalators and into the terminal where I immediately found a free SSK to check myself in, since Norwegian do not offer 'Direct to Gate' for UK flights.
The bright and airy check in area at OSL
Once done, I decided to head straight through to the gate - I'd eaten in Oslo so had no need to stop for the many shops and restaurants in the terminal. Besides, who wants to sit and eat or drink when you could be looking at a 787?!?!
The queue for security was moderate, but I was through in around 5 minutes which was good for a major airport. Unfortunately I had to witness a VERY rude American lady behind me scolding the security staff for something trivial. I almost felt like apologising for her! Some people lose their head when they go flying...
The gate was already showing as number 59, so off I headed to the 'International' pier. Further down was passport control, and once that was cleared I was in and off to find the Dreamliner!
There she is! What a beauty.
I was bowled over by how beautiful the aircraft is in person, and how big it looked! The wings are something else, with that raised profile and wing tip. I seemed to be the only passenger revelling in its beauty though... nobody else was at the window or even paying much attention. A shame really! They didn't know just how lucky they were!
Fortunately, lots of staff WERE interested in the 787! Numerous OSL
Airport staff came and went down the air bridge to have a look at Norwegian's new toy, as did plenty of Norwegian staff including a pilot with a DSLR (... maybe an A.netter?).
The crew arrived about 1.5 hours before departure, and there were a large number of Thai crew members - no doubt due to the airlines launch of flights to Bangkok with the Dreamliner! They also headed down the air bridge to have a look at their new toy, and prep it for our flight.
Around 30 minutes before our scheduled departure time, we were allowed to board. I couldn't wait so I got up and headed straight to the gate!
It's nearly time!
A beautiful profile.
The best of British, the Rolls Royce Trent 1000.
There was a slight pause to board, but eventually I was in and welcomed warmly by the crew! A good start.
I honestly didn't know what to look at first! The imposing architecture of the forward Galley was quite impressive, and felt very modern.
Moving down the plane, and we were in the 'Premium' section of the Cabin. These seats were available to all to preselect for the same price as all the other seats at the time of booking - unfortunately, they were all taken by the time I booked.
Looks comfortable enough.
Moving through the second galley area, we entered the mid cabin Economy section, which was where I was to be seated in 20J.
Forward Economy cabin.
The interior is fresh and neutral in terms of colour, with the red headrests making a nice contrast with the grey seats and white cabin walls. Of course, as with most airlines, the seating was 9 abreast.
The huge overhead bins during boarding.
Lets find my seat... 20J?
Ah, there it is! Wow, look at that legroom...
I reached 20J and took my seat as boarding continued. Now, I am a relatively tall individual at 6 ft 3 inches, and of modest weight, but by no means 'huge.' What I immediately found is that I would find it very hard for me to justify a long flight in a 9 abreast 787... the seat width was VERY narrow ( to the point of the armrest digging into my leg). To boot, the seat pitch was tight. I would not want to be taking this aircraft to New York or Bangkok!
For the 1 hour 40 minute flight to Gatwick? Acceptable, and no worse than the Ryanair flight over here. But lets not let that spoil what we're really here for - the 787!
Where do I look next?! There was so much to explore! One of the most striking features of the 787 is its huge windows - and I mean huge. And what was outside? Yep, those beautiful wings.
Whilst I was admiring this wonderful aircraft, boarding was continuing. The flight wasn't full, but plenty of people had clearly taken advantage of the cheap fares on offer!
In front of me was a seatback PTV, which features one of (if not) the world's first Android based IFE system.
More exploring and the overhead panels! A different taken on the 777 style panels, but retaining some similarities. Lighting controls, as with most long haul airliners with IFE, were in the seatback TV
Cabin overview featuring the blue mood lighting.
Shortly before departure, the IFE system loaded up and I was able to select the moving map feature. It's good, and more on it later.
Yep, we're in Norway.
Once boarding was complete, the Captain came on to welcome us onboard this brand new Boeing 787 which is to operate Norwegian's new long haul schedule. He explained we would be pushing back around 10 minutes late (no reason given), and then departing Oslo before turning 180 degrees to the South West to follow the North Sea back to the UK. Flight time was given as 1 hour and 40 minutes (can't I have longer please?!).
Nearly 10 minutes later, and we began our pushback. What started playing on the IFE was quite hilarious - it was a Norwegian made video about the new features of the 787 and how good an aircraft it was, performed in the broadest American accent, and accompanied by a "have a SUPER NICE FLIGHT with us" at the end. Nobody in the cabin took it at all seriously... you can hear some of it in the following video.
The engines slowly rumbled into life, as we completed our pushback, and the cabin was pretty quiet. Well, that is if you ignore the high pitched electric whining noise that comes after the engines have started. Thankfully this goes away a while after departure!
The cabin crew completed a manual safety demonstration (the audio of which can also be heard in the video above), which I found odd given they have IFE at their disposal! Soon after, we were off to runway 01R at Oslo Airport Gardermoen!
The new and the old, in one shot!
We held briefly for an aircraft to land, and we were off. The Rolls Royce engines roared into a dull rumble and we lifted into the partly cloudy Norwegian sky with grace and ease.
Oslo Departure Video
The right turn after departure was pretty fun, and we were soon climbing through the Flight Levels to our heady Cruising Altitude of 43,000 feet... possibly the highest I have been on any airliner!
I quickly got to exploring the IFE and aircraft. The moving map feature is very good - along with the standard 'top down' view, they also have a 'Cockpit View' which includes speed and altitude.
We continued our climb whilst I tested out the IFE some more and of course, the infamous 'electrochromic windows. As soon as one person started playing with them (me, as it goes...) everyone else followed suit!
Fully dimmed... but I can still see!
I must admit, before I flew the 787 I thought they were a useless gimmick. However, having travelled with them in use, they are quite good - they blocked enough light out of the cabin to make it dark but still allow you to have a nice view outside.
We soon reached 43,000 feet.
The service started, two crew members in each aisle, starting from the front of Economy. Another crew member worked from the back forward. I didn't purchase anything, since I had already eaten. The menu looked okay, but obviously is not representative of their long haul offering since this was a European flight.
I then went for a walk. I put together a nice video summarising some of the In-Flight Impressions of the Norwegian Dreamliner, including a demonstration of the window dimming in action, the IFE explored in more detail, and a view of the cabin. You can see it here;
In-Flight Impressions Video
The IFE System is quite responsive, and a little different to some IFE systems, with some features that Android Smartphone users (such as myself) will relate to. Overall the content isn't great, with lots of relatively old movies and little known music... but it was free at this point, so you can't really complain at that.
I visited the lavatories on my travels, as you do. Not that impressive, and no window. Shame!
I did like the mood lighting in there though... I'm sure going to the toilet would be very, err, soothing.
My final stop was the rear galley to get a nice cabin overview from the rear. The crew were all busy putting the trolleys away after the service.
Overall, I found the cabin to be very spacious (the ceiling is high!) and airy, with a nice ambience about it. It's certainly a very nice airplane inside. It's also very quiet... I wouldn't say it was as quiet as the A380 that I flew, but it is very nearly there.
I headed back to my seat, snapping a shot of the mid cabin on the way.
The seats were actually quite comfortable. They look quite thin, but aren't too bad to sit in. Unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, the pitch and width is disappointing if you're anything but a small person. However, this is the way airlines are going and I guess we will all have to put up with it!
As we neared the English coast, we started a rapid descent from 43,000 feet to around 30,000 feet initially. Further to this, we moved down to 23,000 feet where we seemed to stay until we arrived over Kent.
The crew put the mood lighting into 'Disco mode' for the entire descent, so it kept cycling through all the colours possible. An example features in the Impressions video above, but here's a picture.
We continued our descent over Kent, heading towards the South coast to come back inland and approach runway 26L at Gatwick.
We descended further and the flaps and gear came out - and I was quite surprised at how loud the noise levels got when we went 'all out'... there was a very loud rumbling from that point onwards that stayed with us til we touched down. Not so quiet anymore! We floated over the 26L threshold and slammed down for what was a relatively hard landing, reminiscent of my Boeing 767 experiences!
Gatwick Arrival Video
We slowed and turned off before heading the long way to South Terminal. On the way we passed another 787, this time Thomson's G-TUIA!
Oh hello gorgeous.
And with that, we disembarked quite quickly into the South Terminal and I headed back to Stansted to pick up my car!
Well, Ryanair certainly did the job for me... very cheap flights, nice crew, and a relatively on-time arrival. Suited my needs down to the ground. Another thumbs up from me!
My first experience on Norwegian was a good one... they seem to have a good little operation, and the fact their 737s have free WiFi appeals to me. The crew were all pleasant and, despite appearing a little nervous, did a good job on a plane I am sure they are still getting to grips with after having it only a few weeks! I am looking at taking them on their new routes from Gatwick sometime soon, and maybe a trip to Scandinavia again!
The 787 Dreamliner
What can I say? I thoroughly enjoyed my 'Dreamliner' experience. It's a superb airplane, fresh, modern, spacious and quiet - it's a real shame that it has had so many 'teething problems'... but they haven't and will not put me off what is a great aircraft. The ride was smooth thanks to that little aileron between the flaps doing its thing throughout the flight. Of course, it's hard to get a real feel for the aircraft on such a short flight, flights that it isn't destined to do. I look forward to my next flights on the 787, possibly to Mexico with Thomson, when I can give it a real test!
If you got this far, congratulations and thank you for sparing a few minutes of your time!