Norwegian’s MASSIVE Issues With The Hi Fly A380

Filed Under: Norwegian

Hi Fly is the first charter airline to have an A380, and it’s something many of us are quite excited about. The plane has Singapore Airlines interiors, so flying this plane on another airline sure is a treat.

As I wrote about a few days ago, Hi Fly’s current A380 customer is Norwegian. Hi Fly is operating A380s between New York and London Gatwick on behalf of Norwegian, as the route was supposed to be operated by the 787-9, but there are some issues with the Rolls Royce engines on some 787s. You’d think this would be a huge treat for Norwegian customers, given that premium economy passengers are all getting flat beds.

Hi Fly’s A380 is having MASSIVE delays

As noted by @AirlineFlyer, Hi Fly is having massive issues with this route. Every single Hi Fly A380 flight operated on behalf of Norwegian has been delayed by at least three hours.

Here’s what the schedule for this flight is supposed to be:

DI7015 London Gatwick to New York JFK departing 5:05PM arriving 8:05PM
DI7016 New York JFK to London Gatwick departing 11:00PM arriving 11:00AM (+1 day)

According to Flightradar24, here are the times that this flight has actually been operated from London to New York:

  • On August 3 the flight left at 9:57PM and landed at 12:01AM (3hr56 min late)
  • On August 4 the flight left at 9:30PM and landed at 11:40PM (3hr35min late)
  • On August 5 the flight left at 9:22PM and landed at 11:27PM (3hr22 min late)
  • On August 6 the flight left at 9:30PM and is scheduled to land at 11:51PM (3hr46min late)

And here are the times this flight has actually been operated from New York to London:

  • On August 4 the flight left at 4:39AM and landed at 3:47PM (4hr47 min late)
  • On August 5 the flight left at 3:13AM and landed at 2:33PM (3hr33min late)
  • On August 6 the flight left at 3:07AM and landed at 2:19PM (3hr19 min late)

At least for tonight’s flight they’ve proactively announced the delay, which is apparently more than they’ve otherwise done in the past few days. Passengers have shown up in time for an 11PM flight, only to find out that the flight wasn’t actually departing anytime around then.

What’s causing the Hi Fly A380 delays?

Terminal 1 at JFK is already overcrowded. Apparently there simply isn’t any room for an A380 during the time that Norwegian’s flight is scheduled to operate. Understandably they’re prioritized behind all other A380 operators, since this was a last minute aircraft change.

As a result, they’ve had to adjust the schedule so that the flight arrives and departs at a time where an A380 gate is available.

What’s not entirely clear to me, however, is why the plane still spends so much time on the ground in New York. I get why it lands so late, but why is it taking them 3-4 hours to turn the plane around? Maybe it comes down to the general learning curve of learning to operate the A380, since it’s still new to Hi Fly.

I don’t even get how this issue is possible. I’m not sure whether the blame falls on Norwegian or Hi Fly for not knowing that it wasn’t possible to operate an A380 to JFK at that time, but regardless, it’s a total mess. I can’t even imagine how much money they’re losing because of this.

The silver lining

These delays might sound like horrible news, though there’s potentially a silver lining. Europe is strict when it comes to compensation required for delays, and per EU261, any longhaul flight delayed by more than four hours entitles one to 600EUR in compensation.

So if your flight is delayed enough, you’d essentially be getting paid to take this flight, given how cheap Norwegian fares are. Of course this assumes they actually request the cash compensation, which most people likely wouldn’t do.

What will Norwegian do next?

AirlineFlyer reports that Norwegian issued the following statement:

“We are fully aware of the situation and working on improving it as soon as possible.”

So, what could the possible solutions be? Norwegian could just adjust the schedule of this flight so that it’s scheduled to depart and arrive at a time where A380 gates are available.

Alternatively, and much more logically, they’d simply operate the flight to a destination that can actually accommodate the A380.

What. A. Mess.

While the delays of course suck for those people who really need to get somewhere, I imagine some people will gladly take a four hour delay in exchange for 600EUR in cash. The problem is all the 3-4 hour delays, which don’t entitle passengers to cash compensation.

  1. The 787 is not having “massive issues.” Some Rolls Royce engines are having troubles. A good number of airlines are not affected.

  2. @ Davis @ Colin — I did edit the post now to update the Rolls Royce issue. For the record, I didn’t say the 787 was having “massive” issues, but rather said that there were issues with the 787. I guess I could have been more specific and said that parts of the 787 were having issues, but it’s all the same, for the purposes of this post I didn’t think the distinction was necessary.

  3. I see that alot of flights for next week on Norweigans A380 for less than $600 (the lowest one way I see is $330). Maybe some people can go on a cash run (basically a mileage run, but instead you get money) 😉

  4. Last minute aircraft changes are difficult to accommodate into airport operations, especially when the replacement aircraft is the A380 or a jumbo. Crew schedules, refueling schedules, waste extraction and staff work under a very structured schedule. Addition of minutes here and there to each operation can result in a long cumulative delay. Swapping to a larger aircraft such as the A380 is not trivial with respect to ground staff operations as well as traffic control. This is similar to the Qatar A380 situation at ATL, where ATL could not accommodate a jet-bridge for the inaugural QR flight – albeit there are other potential reasons too.

  5. JFK is my main airport and from what I recall, only Air France and Korean Air operate A380s in terminal 1 and I know each of them have 2 A380 flights daily (2 flights to CDG departing 1855 and 2155 and 2 flights to ICN departing 1400 and 0050.) I can almost swear there are 2 gates in terminal 1 that can accommodate an A380 so I can’t see why norwegian is having issues (ok ok perhaps after the AF flight leaves at 2155 there’s at least one A380 gate available for Norwegian to use.)
    The other terminal that can handle A380s is terminal 4 but those 2 gates are practically being used all day by EK, EY, and SQ.

  6. Working at a retailer I always wondered why we had so many rebates- in general, only 10% of rebates were ever cashed. In fact even if we handed the second receipt, cut the UPC from the box and supplied a pre completed rebate form, the rate moved to 20%. People won’t do paperwork by and large. If getting a drivers license required buying a stamp and mailing an envelope the streets would be empty.

  7. The picture shows Singapore bedding, wonder how long it will be maintained that way.
    Give it a few months and use a UV light to see how clean it really is.

  8. why cant they go into T4, like EY and EK does with their planes and worse comes to worse use a stand instead of parking at a Gate. T1 doesnt have the room to park like T4 does

  9. Your rights
    If the cause of your delay gives you grounds for compensation, you can claim a lump sum depending on the length of the delay.

    For delays of under three hours, you cannot claim compensation
    For delays of three to four hours, you can claim €300
    For delays of more than four hours, you can claim €600
    The delay length is calculated using the time the flight arrives at its destination (this is based on the time at which at least one door of the aircraft is opened) — not the departure time.

  10. Careful with the ec 2001/264 delay claim. As the delay is caused by JFK capacity, Norwegian can easily argue that that is completely beyond their control. I would be really surprised if they start handing out comp without any pushback!

  11. @ emercycrite — You don’t consider scheduling a flight in such a way that it can’t possibly operate to be a massive issue?

  12. @ scibuff — I wouldn’t be surprised if the airline tries to argue that, but they really have no grounds to argue that. They set the schedule and this was clearly negligence on their part, and not something out of their control.

  13. On the EU 261 front, I can say that Norwegian is going to be difficult. I requested compensation for a flight last June from JFK-OSL when Hifly’s A340 was operating on behalf of them for a couple days.

    Very similar situation. Boarding didn’t even start within 2 hours of scheduled departure. Eventually arrived ~3hr20mins late but they’ve not agreed to pay.

    Not seeing much progress with them directly I sent it to one of the 3rd party firms to address. Haven’t seen much progress, though after another EU261 payout (from DL) after essentially no effort I’m not complaining.

  14. Hey Lucky,
    Have you heard from anyone how the first class/business class seat assignments have been processed so far?

    Is Norwegian allowing buy-ups at the gate for economy passengers? Thanks.

  15. I’m geting fed up of Lucky’s clickbait and, frankly, his out of touch editorials. Maybe it’s time for him to give up. He’s very whinny

  16. Maybe I’m in the minority, but I’d call an airline known for rick bottom fares leasing an A380 to operate flights normally with a 787 with every flight experiencing delays that would make each passenger eligible for 600EUR, a massive issue.

  17. Why is any of this unforeseen? Norwegian is unfamiliar with the aircraft and knowing the gate situation at Teminal 1 also known prior to putting the A380 on this route. So I would like to hear from someone who has flown the route. What it worth all this?

  18. @Ryan – then read another blog! JFC – not understanding the bad vibes around these comment sections lately. Nobody is forcing you to be here my dude.

    Lucky – keep doing what you’re doing. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the amount of high quality content you push out on this blog with the size of staff you have is nothing short of miraculous. You’re able to get out nearly as much content as TPG, with probably 1/10th of the staff and resources. And 9 times out of 10, your content is better.

    Those of us who have run companies know how hard it is to maintain high energy and quality of work day after day, while also handling the administrative side of things – payroll, taxes, HR, compliance, etc. You’re a force, and the vast majority of us appreciate it every day.

  19. @Joey
    There’s also a B747-8 at JFK at the same time. That’s also a very wide plane using the same gates as the A380. A few years ago there was drama with EK & LH with both landing at around the same time in Mumbai (or was it Delhi?). Lufthansa ended up downgrading to a ‘smaler’ plane the B744 with EK getting to use an A380.

    This being abit temporary i don’t expect many changes om the flight schedule to be made.

  20. @ scibuff

    “Careful with the ec 2001/264 delay claim. As the delay is caused by JFK capacity, Norwegian can easily argue that that is completely beyond their control.”

    Some airlines have used aggressive legal tactics to weasel out of their obligations: English courts have not given them a single inch.

    Ryanair pushed very hard, but all they really succeeded in doing was getting a judgment that pretty much everything was in the airline’s control unless it was a situation that was obviously out of the ordinary (such as a hurricane in a part of the world that doesn’t normally experience them).

    I’d guess that an airline choosing to book your flight into an airport with inadequate facilities to handle it is going to be found to be clearly within the airline’s control.

    Though it’s also fascinating that JFK has such poor availability of facilities.

  21. The Points Guy already has a review of this product, for anyone interested…and it’s basically what you’d expect.

  22. @isaac

    JFK terminals are operated as seperate ‘corporations’ each operated independently and funded by different companies so switching terminals would not be an option, it would be a complex negotiation. This uniquely terrible set-up is also why all NY-area airports, but especially JFK, are prone to spectacular meltdowns under weather delays/irrops. The airport authority largely lacks the ability to force the terminal operators to work together to accomodate special situations.

  23. They have officially pushed back the schedule for all future flights now. I’m booked on DI7015 next week (14Aug) LGW-JFK and it’s now a 21:05pm departure. I was hoping for a few hour delay to get some compensation but looks like they’ve finally made permanent adjustment.

  24. @Dan If they don’t give 14 days notice for a schedule change, you have the same compensation rights as if they didn’t let you know the schedule change. You can claim based on the original time (but must be at least 4 hours delay). However, if you book now based on the new schedule to travel next week, that’s obviously a different story…

    @All If they don’t pay out, just file a court claim against them after one warning and you’ll see your cash very quickly.

  25. @Andrew – I know that that is the case when it’s under 14 days from cancellation, are you sure it’s also the case for a schedule change? I booked just a few days ago with departure time 17:05, now it’s 21:05 so I would fall into that category. Doesn’t work for 3-4 hour delay, only 4+? I’m assuming that with the new schedule they will be well under 3 hours on delays anyway. But Norwegian has said that they will try to assign me a seat, which could mean a guarantee of being in Suites…

  26. @Lucky: You might consider writing a post on how to file EU261 complaints. I would certainly bookmark it.

  27. We are booked on DI17015 from LGW to JFK departing 17:05hrs 19th August – we were advised yesterday (14 days out funnily enough…) that it will depart at 21:00hrs now, meaning an overnight flight arriving at 00:05hrs on 20th August, so we will arrive at some god awful hour into Manhattan…
    We have had seats allocated – 18F 18K and 23K (we were in premium on original booking) no idea what food or entertainment will be available if anyone has any info would be grateful!
    Only alternative flight is 19th August at 06:00hrs….Dreamliner…

  28. Lucky, I don’t read other travel blogs because I don’t I have the time, if quality is a priority over quantum, as it is for me, OMAAT is the best option. Thank you and your team!

  29. I don’t understand all of the drama about an A380. My company operates A380s. More than once they have been deplaned, and boarded, using only one set of main deck airstairs. It takes a little longer to board, but not much.
    Park it on a hard stand, get some airstairs, high lift catering trucks, and use fuel tankers, if the hard stand doesn’t have underground fuelling, and load up the buses from the terminal. I’ve had to do it many times, without any major delays.

  30. JFK was snowed in 4th January 2018 resulting in SG Singapore Airlines diverted “Tiny” Stewart International atthe last minute. If Stewart International can handle an unscheduled A380… why don’t they use Stewart. The time they get the Stewart transfer bus to the city they would be just getting out of the gates at JFK.

  31. @ David — I could be mistaken, but I believe this comes down to JFK not allowing remote stands in this way. There are some areas with regional jets where they use stands, but I think the airport otherwise isn’t set up to actually have the stands and bus people for an A380.

  32. Ben, you might be correct about JFK, and remote parking. I’m pretty certain that JFK has the remote capabilities to handle a diverted wide body i.e. A380/B747/B777. The reason I say this, is because I have handled more than one, diverted from JFK, A380, while I was working at BOS. The “foot print” of the A380, is not much larger than a B744. Hi-Fly needs a parking area for a B744, 2 ground power units, 1 set of airstairs, and a couple of busses. It seems Hi-Fly is still a bit nervous about the A380.

  33. I’m also wondering what these A380 flights are like.    I know they are supposedly assigning them randomly, but i’m curious if anyone has had experience checking in and if its possible to obtain one by asking.  I’m currently booked in PE for departure on the 9th and returning the 13th of this month.  

    DY has changed the timing on these flights.  .  Looking at their web site right now, the flights don’t show up for my travel dates, but the following is available for purchase.   $1775 for a lie flat bed and possible suite is pretty enticing.  

    New York-JFK – London-Gatwick
    Friday 17. Aug 2018 03:00
    Terminal: 1
    Flight DI7016 – PremiumFlex
    Operated by Hi Fly

    1 Adult $844.90
     Trip includes
    1 x Priority Boarding 
    1 x 2 items checked baggage 
    1 x Premium Menu 
    1 x Seat reservation

    London-Gatwick – New York-JFK
    Monday 20. Aug 2018 21:05
    Terminal: S
    Flight DI7015 – PremiumFlex
    Operated by Hi Fly
    1 Adult $929.90
     Trip includes
    1 x 2 items checked baggage 
    1 x Priority Boarding 
    1 x Premium Menu 
    1 x Seat reservation

  34. Handling this pig is a massive problem. It is designated as an ICAO design group F ( which it shares with ONLY the 747-8); the 744 is a Code E so the code Fs need separate (larger) gates. They also need special ground support equipment. Airbus optimistically claims a 90 minute time for a full turn using 2 bridges. As a reference point the 78J is claimed to be turnable in under 60 minutes and when did you last see that? Some gates maybe Code F but can reduce capacity on adjacent gates (one of YYZ’s Code F gates reduces an adjacent gate from a Code E to a code C). Consequently at peak times a chartered 388 is likely to be the lowest priority for gating. This is also a new operator who likely need third party ground handling, who in turn have may never have handled one. The most egregious offender here is DK who should have seen this coming.

  35. @Joey: As a Lufthansa frequent flier, I can confirm that LH flies the A380 between JFK Terminal 1 and FRA daily.

    @Lucky: In the late 1990s, I provided pivotal assistance to British Airways to start a new route from LGW to another destination in SE Europe. When their late 20s New Route manager got on site a week or so in advance, he was completely unprepared for the machinations of that part of the world. I stepped up on a Wednesday evening and he said everything had to be in place by Friday night or he would pull the route scheduled for Monday morning. I had five major tasks to accomplish — but — to your musing above — the challenge was to find an open arrival and departure time that was mutually convenient for both airports.

    LGW was (and probably still is) slot-controlled (meaning (for your other readers) that there is little flexibility). But because of British Airways’s hubris, they never considered that this airport to which they wanted to fly was also logistically slot-controlled (even if that terminology was unfamiliar to local authorities).

    The route was started in September of that year — and you will recall that the summer/winter schedules/timetables change around mid-October. So for the first month or so of service (until the winter schedule went into effect), the British Airways plane loaded everyone on board on time and pulled away from the gate as scheduled. Then, a few minutes later, by unannounced plan, the pilot would announce an ATC delay at LGW for an hour (because the plane could not land at LGW an hour early) — and then an hour later the plane would actually take off for LGW. It was the only way to bridge the gap at both airports until the schedules changed.

    I still remember the local airport manager chucking (literally) a 5 inch stack of a wide fanfold computer printout across the large circular table at me in frustration and he said: “If you can find an available slot, it’s yours.” But I know that computers are only as smart as the people who program them — a maxim that has served me well in life.

  36. @Andrew – are you saying that if when I booked my flight it was scheduled to land at 8:05pm, but due to a schedule change that I was notified of between 7 and 14 days, the flight lands more than 4 hours after 8:05pm (even though the schedule change was to exactly 4 hours later, at 12:05am), I am due compensation?

  37. 310am still waiting for flight that was scheduled for 1100pm on ghe 7th…so how can i ask for compensation?? What should i do??

  38. Lucky, Thanks. I wish I had read this yesterday instead of today. I am in London and flying out to JFK tonight. I booked this flight on July 31 for August 8 — departure was set for 1705 and 2005 arrival. Yesterday, I look up the flight details …. and I couldn’t believe I had chosen to land at midnight at JFK …. I then realized the schedule had been changed … with NO notice.

    I called Norwegian and they swore they had texted me on August 3 … I had received nothing. When I asked the customer service rep why they had made the change, they just said “schedule change” with no explanation. I told them how lame that answer was but the rep was silent …

    I really appreciate all of the color on this. I bought a Premium Flex ticket so we’ll see what the seats turn out to be like (4F). I’ll let you know.

  39. Just a quick one for those concerned about comp: there is a number of European companies who will check your flight data and then buy your claim (if existent) for a chunk of about 30 %. Quick and easy

  40. And the shysters at Norwegian are trying to avoid paying the compensation, citing extraordinary circumstances – those circumstances being that there are insufficient gates to cope with A380s!

    Everyone knows the natural replacement for a broken 787 is an A380. What option did Norwegian have?!!!

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