Norwegian Cuts Lounge Access For Premium Passengers

Filed Under: Norwegian

Earlier I wrote about how Norwegian will start charging for carry-ons for those booking their cheapest fares. It’s not surprising to see Norwegian head in this direction, given that the airline is trying to shift their focus from growth to profitability.

As it turns out, that’s not the only significant change that Norwegian is making.

Norwegian already restricted lounge access

A bit over a year ago Norwegian cut lounge access for many of their premium economy passengers. They have two types of premium economy fares — Premium and PremiumFlex — and with this change only PremiumFlex passengers received lounge access anymore.

This has historically been a significant differentiator for Norwegian’s premium economy, given that most airlines don’t offer premium economy passengers lounge access. Well, they’ve now made further changes…

No1 Lounge Gatwick, which Norwegian used for premium passengers

Norwegian cuts premium economy lounge access altogether

Norwegian has quietly updated their website to indicate that premium economy passengers no longer receive lounge access. Specifically, in this case it means that PremiumFlex passengers are losing this perk.

This page is now gone from Norwegian’s website

Given that Norwegian is on a cost cutting spree, it’s not surprising to see the airline make cuts like this, and eliminate some of the things that differentiated the airline from the competition.

I’d actually argue that Norwegian’s logic is at least pretty consistent in this case:

  • The airline clearly decided that the lounge access perk didn’t warrant the cost associated with it for those booked on the cheapest premium economy fares
  • If that’s the case, then I can understand why they’d cut it for PremiumFlex fares as well; these fares are significantly higher, and it’s not like anyone would be choosing to book the higher fare just for lounge access

Bottom line

It’s unfortunate to see Norwegian continue to make cuts, but then again I can’t really blame them, given that they’ve basically been on the verge of liquidation.

It’s questionable whether the business model works in general, but unfortunately I think that they’re finding that following the competition, rather than trying to differentiate the product, is working better for them… and that’s kind of sad.

(Tip of the hat to Head for Points)

  1. Brother & family were looking to book 4 seats on Iberia/Level or Norwegian to Barcelona.

    The Norwegian decision on charging for carry-ons made their decision to go with Iberia/Level so much easier.

    Death by 1000 cuts, how many times have we seen that in the airline industry

  2. This might not be that big of a deal but the timing is bad. Since many airline clubs have tightened down access to passengers flying with them the same day (credit card access) it leaves fewer options when flying a carrier like Norweigen.

  3. Smart on Norweigens part imo. They are a LCC and should only give away the perks to those who anti up for them by buying the more expensive fares

    As for its going bye bye well everyone says tahts whats gonna happen with Spirit and yet they keep making record profits

    Now to be fair the 2 Carriers arent the same and Norweigen badly messed up with a major push with various aircrafts and TATL flights and the grounding of the Max

    But I see the changes as making sense and no different then when the Majors pulled limos, heli rides over night Hotel stays or tours from those who arent buying Full Fare Biz/1st tkts, it was pure stupidity to have offered those to those on Award tkts (especially when from a partner) or on Discounted tkts

  4. @Isaac, I think it’s unfair to say that Norwegian badly messed up with the 737MAX and the 787. They could not have predicted the grounding of the former and the terrible reliability of the latter.

    Their competition is really EZ and FR. FR is already very restrictive when it comes to hand luggage and I should imagine that, sooner of later, EZ will become so. Faster turn around times will pay off immediately so I figure that they will regard the slight revenue loss on already cheap tickets, if it materialises at all, as being a price worth paying for the immediate gains in turnaround times and lower fuel burn.

  5. Yes, we found that out when we flew back from BCN to EWR in October; no lounge access. I want to make a comment about Norwegian’s (actually El Al’s) lounge in EWR though. It is outside of security. The one time we were there, we fortuitously decided to leave the lounge to head for the gate one hour ahead of flight time. We barely made the flight.

  6. @isaac The fare they’ve pulled it from IS their most expensive fare..

    “Smart on Norweigens part imo. They are a LCC and should only give away the perks to those who anti up for them by buying the more expensive fares”

  7. @NB

    I wasnt blaming them for the Max problem, I tried to say that they were relying on the Max as their golden path. And with the Max shut down they need to cut expenses. Sure that will cause some to go elsewhere, but their main concern has to be what to do in order to hopefully ride it out till either the Max is back or the can fill that gap with something else

    To an extent thats Jet Blues upcoming problem, having Mint to London and assuming other TATL destinations but they dont have any Lounges. B6 can either decide to go the lounge way or not and hope that by charging less that that will be enough to get the #s they need.

  8. @Seat1C

    IMO they shouldnt have any frills and operate as a reg LCC. Whats Ryans or Easy Jets lounges like, or any Asian LCC

  9. You can all hate on me, but where is the benefit of paying money for something when everyone else using points receives the same “perks” and “access” to a privileged situation?
    Companies are not too dumb; why go above and beyond for limited input by the customer?

  10. James McGowan says:
    January 24, 2020 at 1:28 pm
    NB: You cite the “terrible reliability” of the 787. Do you care to elaborate?

    James – almost every airline that has 787s with RR engines has had to take them out of service for various problems. Norwegian is no exception, and have been hit harder than others as that’s their only LH type. It’s affected BA, Virgin and others for quite a while.

  11. James McGowan says:
    NB: You cite the “terrible reliability” of the 787. Do you care to elaborate?

    James – almost every airline that has 787s with RR engines has had to take them out of service for various problems. Norwegian is no exception, and have been hit harder than others as that’s their only LH type. It’s affected BA, Virgin and others for quite a while.

  12. @isaac

    I don’t necessarily disagree. The issue is that their business model doesn’t make sense (at least with them not part of a larger group). They are really no cheaper in economy than the big 3 European carriers, so if you want to get people to fly with you then you need to offer something different.

    What I was trying to do was simply make the point that you said they should only offer “stuff” to people who buy their most expensive fares – the fare they’ve taken the lounge access away from is their most expensive fare.

    Norwegian is an airline that really shouldn’t exist in its current form – if they hadn’t had a big ego at the top they’d have been wise to accept IAG’s offer….

  13. @Seat1C

    Norwegian will sell you transatlantic one-ways without charging extra unlike most legacy airline?

    Sure the EU3 can be cheaper when buying a return ticket, but there is still plenty of demand for one-ways in the market. Very helpful for people that is going to be away for more than one year, or if you need a one-way ticket after an award flight.

    Somebody I know in Norway told me according to the local press it was not big boss Kjos who end up turning down IAG’s offer. It was a group of outside investors that wanted more money for their shares, and ended up botching the sale when IAG called their bluff. Kjos was ready to sell by all accounts, but only controlled 20 something pro-cents of the company.

  14. I still find Norwegian Premium Eco to be the best premium option to cross the Atlantic: I haven’t found a better hard product at this price point. Lounge access was great but then if you follow this blog, you probably have a card that gives you that anyway? 🙂 There’s a new priority pass lounge in JFK for example right next to Norwegian gates

  15. We flew Norwegian Premium 4 times and lounge access was what made it feel worth it… unlikely we would return to them

  16. Do NOT pay upfront for meals with them. Just remember to buy food from the airport before you board. I fell for it once. Never again!!

  17. Scandinavian Airlines do offer lounge acces for their Premium Economy (SAS Plus) pax, and the seats i find more comfy compared to Norwegians, though legroom is quite a bit smaller on SAS

  18. Ouch. So you buy a flex premium fare and now no lounge access. Could only be costing £15 or so…. and they were using the my lounge At Gatwick…. not the No1. Lounge. Should be offered as an extra when booking perhaps. Makes me think they are scrabbling for cash / desperate to cut costs…

  19. I travelled from Mia to Gatwick in December 2019, woman said my bag was overweight, so $30 but I had weighed my luggage and knew it was correct, but not wanting agro I paid up front such is life.
    When checking my receipt, she had charged for the case and my back pack carry on, you may say right, but she never weighed it and the back pack was small. I had problems with attitude before and robbing passengers is the norm, but what the employee did to me was criminal and not bad practice, Norwegian Air is not looking after the fare paying passengers they wanted, they recently got slots at Heathrow, soon they will be bought out just for this success .

  20. Customer service is certainly not Norwegian’s forte. Especially with the contract airlines they hire to make up for the Max groundings.

    I fly Norwegian 30 times a year in Europe and this new formula they have makes them far less valuable unless flying within Norway.

  21. The premium econ fares with all those perks are just about the same price I get on any major carrier with elite status. For passengers with elite status, preferred seating (bulkhead), pillows/blankets, food/beverage service and lounge access are all included most of the time when flying big carriers across the Atlantic. I don’t see why we should waste our time and effort selecting your desired amenities from an unbundled-a-la-carte business model.

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