Update: In 2020, Norwegian completely cut lounge access, even for PremiumFlex customers.
Norwegian long haul flights on their Boeing 787 aircraft have a standard economy cabin, as well as a premium cabin, which Ben recently reviewed here.
This product is really a ‘premium economy’ product rather than a ‘business class’ product (don’t expect a flat bed or dine on demand), but is comparable to premium economy on full service airlines, and it’s often cheaper.
One big advantage Norwegian Premium has over some of their biggest competitors across the Atlantic, like British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, is that it includes lounge access at some airports.
Premium economy passengers don’t usually receive lounge access unless they hold status (I believe SAS, JAL and ANA are the ‘full service’ exceptions).
London Gatwick, Norwegian’s biggest long haul base, is one of these airports, and Ben recently reviewed the No 1 Lounge at Gatwick, which he had access to as part of his Premium ticket.
Norwegian is switching the lounge they use at Gatwick from the No 1 Lounge, to the new ‘My Lounge’ in the same terminal, which does look pretty nice.
Norwegian has two types of Premium fare classes – normal ‘Premium’ and a ‘PremiumFlex,’ which comes with more flexibility but is almost twice the price.
Lounge access (at certain airports) was available to all Premium fares passengers in the past (Premium and PremiumFlex), but Norwegian has recently updated the fare conditions to allow lounge access for PremiumFlex passengers only.
What is even worse is that it appears that Norwegian will not allow lounge access to those passengers who booked normal Premium tickets back when lounge access was an advertised benefit of the fare at the time they booked.
There will be a nasty surprise for some passengers who arrive at airports like Gatwick with a normal Premium fare purchased, expecting lounge access (as it was an advertised benefit when booking), to be turned away from the lounge because they did not purchase a fare that is almost double the price.
According to a passenger on FlyerTalk, any Premium passengers in this situation can apply for a refund of their Premium fare (noting the conditions above say normal Premium fares wouldn’t normally be refundable) if passengers realise in advance they no longer receive lounge access.
That is only if they read it somewhere like here though!
It was always generous for Norwegian to allow lounge access for all Premium passengers, given most full service airlines don’t allow this for their premium economy passengers who don’t have status.
Another low cost airline, Jetstar, fiddles with the name of their premium/business/Starclass product (it’s a similar premium economy product) but also restricts lounge access to passengers on the most expensive flexible premium fare.
It is a very low act for Norwegian not to honour the benefit for those passengers who are already booked. I am surprised they would go to this length given the obvious frustration it will provide passengers stuck in this unfortunate situation.
If you are flying out of Gatwick on Norwegian and have a Priority Pass membership I would recommend considering skipping the lounge completely (unless you are there at 5am like Ben was) and heading to the excellent Grain Store instead.
Have you flown Norwegian Premium?
Head for Points reported this but said the following:
Norwegian is saying that anyone who booked a Premium ticket before 21st December will still get lounge access, but you will need to visit a check-in counter to pick up a paper invitation. Hand-baggage only customers cannot simply turn up at the lounge and gain access.
When you say "will not allow" lounge access, does that mean you cannot access the lounge via Priority Pass or other means if you are flying on Norwegian?
@ Sean M - no changes to PP entry entitlements. I would note Norwegian lounge access is guaranteed (for PremiumFlex) while PP access is subject to capacity.
I believe you can buy a day pass for No. 1 lounge for like $40-$50, much cheaper than a Flex ticket. Is it worth the extra $ is a matter of opinion. I personally wasn't so impressed with the lounge offerings. I'd rather spend that money on a decent meal at one of the restaurants in the terminal. It would also give you many more culinary options than the menu at No. 1. That is...
I believe you can buy a day pass for No. 1 lounge for like $40-$50, much cheaper than a Flex ticket. Is it worth the extra $ is a matter of opinion. I personally wasn't so impressed with the lounge offerings. I'd rather spend that money on a decent meal at one of the restaurants in the terminal. It would also give you many more culinary options than the menu at No. 1. That is unless you plan on a few drinks, in which case the bar saving may make the lounge worth it.
Having flown with Norwegian and been to No. 1 Lounge South Terminal at Gatwick, i am not surprised at this move at all. During my visits the lounge has been quite overcrowd, and it's really not a large lounge to start off with. With so many Transatlantic flights leaving from Gatwick on Norwegian now and the new 787-9s having added another 20 premium seats, it completely makes sense that lounge access would be soon lost.
On my last visit I flew for the first time a connecting Norwegian flight, from Boston, to Gatwick to Stockholm. I was a bit surprised to find that my Premium flight from the US did not allow me access to the lounge since my departing Gatwick flight was domestic without a "Premium" option. I would have thought that being connecting flights, this would have been included or maybe at least offered as a discounted upgrade (discounted from the normal entry fee).
While financially it's probably unrealistic right now, i am somewhat surprised that Norwegian doesn't simply build a lounge for themselves at Gatwick, it having become a major HUB for them. Not only would the be able to offer access to premium customers but also offer a reasonable upgrade cost for economy.
While Norwegian's Premium product is not comparable to modern day business class, i do feel it is a step above (and often much cheaper) than larger carrier's Premium economy usually offering wider seats, with more pitch and power.
It was taking long for the airlines to start messing with "premium" experience.
Does this change apply to ex-Gatwick flights only, or all Norwegian flights with Premium cabin?
I've used their available/assigned lounges at both OAK and CDG. OAK's is quite good, despite being crowded; better catering than many US-based legacy carrier lounges. CDG, not so much...
@ pushslice - all Norwegian Premium flights.
If I'm reading the Norwegian website correctly, they use the Menzies Lounge in ARN T5.
Well James your Dec 31 article did mention that they were planing to $230 million, make you wonder where the rest of their extensive cost cutting initiative will hit.
@ No Name - that's a very good point. Maybe this is the first casualty!
Does anyone know if Norwegian provides lounge access to Premium Flex Passengers flying ARN-JFK? If so, what is the lounge?
SAS actually provides lounge access for SAS Plus customers on both short- and longhaul. See https://www.flysas.com/us-en/fly-with-us/travel-extras/lounge-access/
That was a great Bottom Line
SAS also provides lounge access for all SAS+ passengers. Was able to access it in EWR before my TATL. Not to mention, they make it very easy to bid ahead of time or pay for gate upgrades. $300 to move from deep discount SAS+ to lie-flat from EWR to CPH. No brainer for a really underrated biz product.
SAS offers lounge access to their premium economy (SAS Plus) passengers on long haul flights.
These passengers will have access to SAS lounges - which are available in Stockholm, Oslo, Copenhagen, New York and Chicago.
If the passenger have a connection to those hubs, he or her will obviously have access there as well if there is a SAS Lounge (like Paris or smaller Scandinavian airports).
I've only flown Norwegian premium a few times and the lounge they give access to is almost always a priority pass one. Not a huge loss. But still a big negative for those expecting it. I guess they are trying to generate a little extra money by cutting promised benefits.
There are some clear regulatory issues on this one. Leave to me to investigate. After all, I AM THE REGULATOR