OSLO & ORLANDO – On July 5th Norse Atlantic Airways commenced flights between Oslo and Orlando as flight N0 81.
When Norse began its first flight between Oslo and New York on June 14th many passengers were connecting onto this flight from all over Europe in addition to the passengers originating in Oslo.
“Many of the passengers are Americans and Spanish with not many Norwegians aboard the JFK flight typically,” said the Wideroe ground staff at Check-In the night before the first flight to Orlando as I wanted to learn more about Norse’s strategy and if it continued to have a large flow of connecting passengers since Norwegian start the Low-cost transatlantic race.
This led me on a mission to interview 100 passengers on the inaugural flight (100 people is the basis of a representative survey).
In the end, 103 passengers were interviewed, ⅓ of the flight as there were 305 passengers on the flight out of the 338 seats available for purchase (most empty seats were in Premium Economy)!
The questions asked were:
- Are you traveling for ______?
- Visiting Family and Relatives (VFR)
- Political (Refugees)
Key insights I saw from asking this question:
- Pleasure → Mostly families with 2-3 kids with some couples.
- VFR → Norwegians who have a third house in the Orlando area.
- Political → 5 Ukrainian refugees
- Business → Freelancers. 2 in ECO, 1 in Premium.
2. What nationality are you?
- Norwegians → Mostly Leisure and VFR to Florida, with 1-2 cases of people going to other states.
- Americans → Pleasure travel to Scandinavia with 1 also pleasure travel to Hungary.
- OSL → Only Norwegians.
- SVG → 5 of the 8 connecting passengers took a morning flight to connect to the MCO flight. All other passengers interviewed from the survey had an overnight layover at Oslo either sleeping in the airport or at a hotel.
- Passengers mostly found their tickets through Kiwi and then booked separate connecting flights directly on Norwegian, Flyr, and LOT
3. What is your final destination?
DEN → Canceled from SAS. Rebooked onto Norse.
MEM → Stated that their ticket was $1000 cheaper than flying with a legacy carrier.
EWR → 2 Missed connection onto JFK (originating in ARN) flight on the previous day with Norse, bought a new ticket on Norse through MCO, connecting onto Spirit to EWR.
DAY → TOS-OSL-MCO-ORD-DAY, to save $2000 dollars on a last-minute trip.
What to make of this?
“Within the second half of July we’ll be going live with the feed,” said Bjorn Tore Larsen to Richard Quest on CNN on June 29th.
Even though 69% of the XXX-OSL-MCO sector had the origin of Oslo and 89% of the OSL-MCO-XXX had the destination of MCO, this is a display of Norse’s capability to become a true player in the transatlantic market as passengers go out of their way to fly with Norse, even as they have no interline programs in play and have been flying for less than a month.
This is as it becomes a competitor not only to legacy carriers such SAS (which a couple of passengers rebooked themselves onto Norse amidst the strike), British Airways, and Lufthansa but a strategic player as it opens new markets and connection opportunities due to its cost base and operating model.
Examples of this are markets where legacy carriers hold a monopoly such as London for British Airways or take up a big amount of connecting traffic with a limited amount of long-haul flights such as Lufthansa in Berlin.
The inaugural flight was departing from F32, the new pier which opened on June 14th, the same day as Norse’s very first flight to JFK.
There wasn’t much celebration at the gate other than a table with some free drinks and sweets (such as Norse branded cupcakes).
When booking Premium Economy you have the possibility to also check in two checked bags.
In Premium Economy seats are 19 inches wide while having a seat pitch of 46 inches. In addition, you have the choice of 30-50 movies on the IFE.
Even though the IFE had a great selection of films my favorite form of entertainment on a flight is being able to speak with the crew on each flight such as with Leif Andre Moland, who is not only a pilot and flight attendant but also part of the executive management of the company working directly with Bjorn Tore Larsen.
“I told Bjorn that he could hire me if I’m able to work for every inaugural flight out of Oslo and that’s what I have been able to with N0 1 to New York and our first Fort Lauderdale flight. I can’t wait to fly on our first service to Los Angeles and Berlin”.
Such dedication and leadership by Leif and the dedication of Norse to its employees are very visible as the crew were serving and helping passengers throughout the flight with big smiles on their faces.
On this flight, 2 hot meals were served. Both hot meals included fish with the first being softer and the second fish meal being more tender.
This meal service offered on Norse is far more superior than the offering seen on other airlines in a premium economy where only one hot meal is served (amidst their being metal cutlery on the likes of Lufthansa and British Airways).
For an airline like Norse to charge less money for a more abundant offering is what Bjorn Tore Larsen meant when he said “Our job is to make sure that we can create more affordable fares, more opportunities for people to travel across the continent” last week at the inaugural Orlando-Oslo flight.
Upon arrival at Orlando International Airport, we were greeted by a water cannon salute and had the opportunity to take a photo of the crew.
Norse offers a very hard and soft product.
From the meal, and comfort of the seat to the attention given to the customer by Lief and his cabin crew, Norse is on its way to becoming a serious competitor as it values its customer.
Currently, the average Norse flight in Premium on Oslo to Orlando ranges from $516 one way in September to $616 one way in October (the last flight is on October 29th currently) giving you a truly flexible choice of prices to choose from while its competitors range from $816 to $1,400 in an inferior premium economy product with 1-2 stops
For such good fares and an incredible product Bjorn is true to his words, not only making travel possible for people on a budget but making it possible for those on a budget to have a superior flight experience than before.