It was just last week that Norwegian Air announced it was wading into the USA-Caribbean market, launching cheap flights to 2 spots in the Caribbean from New York, Boston and Baltimore. Service kicks off in December. Since the tickets were so cheap, I decided this would be a good time to give Norwegian a try and add a few new lines to my map at the same time. So, how can you book these cheap tickets?
I couldn’t find these fares on Orbitz or Expedia, but they can easily be booked directly at norwegian.com. I actually prefer to book directly as opposed to through an online travel agency, so this was no problem for me. But, it’s an important reminder that you may not always find the cheapest fares at one of the OTAs, as I pointed out yesterday on Fox News.
The interface was easy to use and, while there aren’t a ton of dates left with the very low $79 and $99 one-way fares, I still found quite a few dates where you could score a ticket that cheaply (and, it’s not like $109 isn’t a pretty awesome deal as well).
In addition to searching by calendar, you can also look through a list of all destinations based on your dates to see where they’re flying cheaply.
They have 3 classes of fares, LowFare, LowFare+ and Flex.
Unless you definitely want to check a bag, you’re better off just buying the LowFare option. The Flex option adds those options, Fast Track boarding as well as free changes and cancellation, but at a big price premium ($300 on the one-way ticket I booked). The spread between LowFare and LowFare+ was generally $20 to $30, where a checked bag fee on this route appeared to be $34. Checked bag fees was one of the only truly complicated parts of their structure. Here’s a look at the chart:
Clear as mud, right? There’s a list of city pairs here that tell you which zone you’re traveling in to determine your checked bag fee.
The only other noticeable difference I saw from a regular booking process is they charge roughly $2 if you want to pay with a credit card (unless, of course, you have the Bank Norwegian credit card).
This charge was not assessed when I bought my one-way flight returning from the islands, so it might just be a fee when you purchase a ticket that departs from the US. Per DOT regs, they also offer a 24-hour cancellation policy.
All in all, a decent booking engine for cheap flights to the Caribbean. I found it as easy or easier to book these tickets as the Delta flight I booked recently (I’m not a fan of their website) so I wouldn’t expect it to trip anybody up.
And, of course, I’m now a proud member of the Norwegian Reward program. Apparently, you can earn points for flights, rental cars and hotels. It looks mostly like a revenue-based program. I doubt I’ll be flying enough to redeem, but you never know.
And, if you find yourself wanting to fly Norwegian a lot over the next 6 months, they have an old-fashioned Southwest earning style through the end of the year where you can earn a free trip after you pay for 12.
I think Norwegian represents a fantastic value for folks who aren’t loyal to one airline or hotel chain. They fly very cheaply to the Caribbean and while there aren’t major hotel chains on the islands they fly to, there are plenty of nice looking hotels. And, Norwegian has some wickedly cheap tickets to Europe as well.
Keep them in mind when you’re making plans for future travel.