One week after arriving in Stockholm on the inaugural Norwegian flight from Oakland, California (OAK) to Stockholm, Sweden (ARN), I was ready for my trip home. I took a whirlwind trip from Stockholm to Bergen (on the west coast of Norway) and back. My trip included a stay in the cockpit suite at the Jumbo Stay Hostel at Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport. For the aviation enthusiast, it was well worth the $300 a night privilege of sleeping in a 747 cockpit. In addition (unbeknownst to me), guests staying in the cockpit suite also has the entire upper level lounge at their disposal. I could have held a party up there if I had known this!
Photo © Ben Wang
Photo © Ben Wang
I was flying home in Norwegian’s Premium class - purchased as an upgrade for $364 on the airline’s website prior to leaving home. Even though the advertised fare included the Premium meal, advanced seat assignment, and one checked bag, it was broken out as a separate $42 charge - perhaps for accounting purposes? The upgrade was priced approximately double of my original $392 fare paid on the ARN-OAK segment of my ticket (which included the $89 “Plus” package for food, advanced seat assignment, and one checked bag). I thought the extra fare was in line with what I would expect to pay for premium economy.
I checked-in for my flight at Arlanda’s terminal 5. The queue at the Norwegian counter was quite long. I inquired about a possible express check-in counter for Premium passengers, but there was no such thing. After about 20 to 30 minutes in line, I finally checked-in and dropped off my bag.
Arriving at gate F66, through the double windows, I was surprised to see a different tail from what I was expecting.
Norwegian just had their fifth Dreamliner (registered EI-LNE) delivered 11 days prior and I didn’t think it was in service yet. In fact, I had spotted -LNE earlier in the day parked on the remote ramp without any activities around it.
Now, super excited to fly on a brand new aircraft , I waited in the gate queue salivating in anticipation. At the gate entrance, everyone’s boarding pass and passport were scanned and random security checks were being performed.
Inside the gate area, I was greeted by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen adorning aircraft -LNE’s tail. There was quite a bit of interest in the Dreamliner as well. Many had their photos taken in front of the 787.
Strangely, queuing was non existent at the boarding door. Absent was the massive crowd typically found in this kind of situation. When boarding was called, not seeing a queue, I hesitated a bit before boarding. Nevertheless, I was still the first person to board. With my boarding pass already scanned, I was waved right on through.
Flight: DY 7067, Stockholm Arlanda (ARN) - Oakland (OAK)
Aircraft: Boeing 787-8
Aircraft Delivered: April 30, 2014 (age 11 days - third revenue flight; first long haul flight)
Scheduled Departure - Arrival: 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
Actual Departure - Arrival: 4:57 pm - 6:08 pm
Takeoff ARN Runway 08: 5:08 pm
Landing OAK Runway 30: 5:59 pm
Flight Duration: 9 hours 49 minutes
I made my way to seat 4A, the fourth row in the five-row 2-3-2 layout Premium cabin. Each Timco leather recliner was equipped with a legrest and a personal in-flight entertainment (IFE) screen on a fold-away arm. A blanket and headphones were placed at each seat (both were available for purchase in the economy cabin). No one was seated next to me, which made for a very comfortable flight.
I excitedly took photos of my seat and the cabin. I commented to a flight attendant that we were on a new aircraft. He said our flight was this aircraft’s first long haul flight; it had flown to London and back the previous evening.
Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen was the first person to reach Antarctica in 1911:
Legrest and seat recline controls:
Redundant “hard buttons” for the IFE:
Legroom with 46-inches of pitch:
Passenger service units:
Captain Hughes introduced our flight. Flying time was expected to be 9 hours 46 minutes. Temperature in Oakland was 25°C, 77°F, with light west winds and clear skies. We expect arrival at 6 pm, local time.
Even though we were all boarded and ready, we were still waiting to load last minute baggage bins. Flight attendants served water while we waited.
Finally at 4:57 pm, the 2L door closed and we were ready for departure, 27 minutes late.
The 787 introduction video came on the overhead screens. As I have experienced on 787 flights on all airlines, it was great seeing airlines showing off their Dreamliners, proudly touting their features.
Another video explaining the on board service followed. For those that pre-ordered meals, they are served shortly after takeoff. A cold meal is served before landing. For those that wish to purchase food, the snack bar opens after the first meal service is complete.
At 4:58 pm, we pushed back from the gate.
The IFE showed our flight duration as 9 hours and 52 minutes. At 5:08 pm, we took off from ARN’s Runway 08.
I ordered an amenity kit using my IFE. The flight attendant was very responsive, it was delivered to me within two minutes. Impressive!
Really all I wanted was the case. It was branded by Moods of Norway, with Norwegian aircraft and travel themed cartoon liner on the inside, the same design as the Moods jacket liners on the crew uniforms.
Shortly after takeoff, the IFE at my seat froze and it had to be reset.
I noticed the lavatory did not have the automatic lowering toilet seat, which was one of the supposed features of the Dreamliner. This change must have been recent, since aircraft -LNC I flew to ARN had it.
About an hour after takeoff, dinner service began with a choice of beverage. I went with Diet Coke. For my entree, I chose chicken over the fish. The mini lobster (maybe they were shrimp) with mango cilantro appetizer was especially delicious. There was a choice of white or brown bread. During the meal, drink and bread refills were offered.
Note cable interference between the headphone and USB ports and whatever you are doing on the tray table (food, laptop, whatever). Bad ergonomics!
After dinner drink choices consisted of coffee, tea, baileys, or cognac. I went with tea. Overall, pacing was quick; service was completed in 40 minutes.
The cabin lights dimmed after dinner. Shortly thereafter, about two hours into our flight, an announcement was made that the snack bar was open and available for order via the IFE.
Overcast since departing Stockholm, cloud deck below finally cleared over Greenland. The sky was amazingly clear and I was treated to some extraordinary views of glaciers and mountains 40,000 feet below. Even though the cabin and windows were darkened, I was still able to return my window to full brightness to take my photos.
Full bright window:
Feeling thirsty, I bought a $4 bottled water, "Isklar". It was quickly delivered. Though I was not sure if a simple cup of "tap" water was available - didn't think to ask. Well, at least it was Norwegian glacial water.
About two and a half hours to go in the flight, an announcement was made that the snack bar was closing.
The overhead map seemed to have gotten stuck.
The same thing happened on my outbound flight on a different aircraft. It must be a common problem on this particular system.
Less than two hours to go, the pre-arrival cold meal (lunch?) was served while we were over the Canadian Rockies.
The sole entree selection was shrimp dill in a pastry shell along with salad with sun dried tomatoes. Once again, there was a choice of bread, water, juice, coffee or tea.
Coffee and tea refills were offered when the meal trays were picked up.
While over the Washington-Oregon border, the sunrise lighting filled the cabin signifying our imminent arrival.
At about one hour to go, the duty free shop opened. I thought it was rather strange to have it open so late into the flight. No matter, because the selection was rather paltry. There were exactly seven items. I can list for you the entire catalog right now: two liquors items, three tobacco items, a chocolate bar, and a travel adaptor. Once again, ordering was done via the IFE.
The captain announced that we had one hour of flying time left and expect an on-time 6 pm arrival. He briefed the weather: west winds, temperature of 21°C or 72°F.
North of Santa Rosa, we hit moderate turbulence. The seat belt light came on with 23 minutes to go. It was a beautiful evening in the San Francisco Bay Area. Not being a frequent flier into Oakland, my eyes were glued to the window taking in sights of the East Bay.
Golden Gate Fields (used for horse racing) and Albany Bulb (former landfill turned into a park):
Berkeley (with University of California Berkeley towards the hills):
Highway 24 at the Caldecott Tunnel:
At 5:59 pm, we touched downed at OAK’s Runway 30. Total flying time was 9 hours 49 minutes. We taxied around the cargo ramp and made our way to Terminal 1 (extenuated by the now-classically styled former control tower) and came to a stop at gate 3 at 6:08 pm, arriving 8 minutes late.
Photo © Ben Wang
As a result of my cockpit visit after the flight, I was one of the last passengers off the plane. At passport control, the line was long and slow moving. There were only two or three agents working and there was not a dedicated line for U.S. citizens. It took me one hour to get through. And I knew it was a long wait because they were calling for boarding on the return flight back to Stockholm.
At least I didn't have to wait for my bag…
Overall, I thought Norwegian’s Premium was a great value. The crew was attentive and the service was excellent. Although the food was not extraordinary, one just had to get past the fact that it was not business class with the usual trappings of crisp linen with silverware and fine china service. As for those non- lie-flat seats? Well, keep in mind that the recliner style seat was the standard for international business class 10 to 15 years ago. As a premium economy product, I think Norwegian has a winner here!