All photos in this article by the author unless otherwise noted.
As I was looking for a ticket to head to Europe, there weren’t many options that were cheap. The only two options that stood out were from carriers Norwegian and Thomas Cook, with the former departing from Stewart International Airport and heading to Edinburgh, and the latter departing from John F. Kennedy International Airport, and heading to Manchester. As the price difference even between these carriers was great, the one option that wouldn’t break the wallet was clear — Norwegian.
The one thing about booking Norwegian that concerned me was getting to Stewart International Airport; there’s not many ways to get from New York City to Stewart International Airport. Options include driving and parking at the airport, hiring a private car or taxi, or taking a Metro-North train to nearby the airport, then taking a taxi from the station to the airport.
As of June 15th, there’s also a new option: direct bus service between Stewart International Airport and the Port Authority Bus Terminal in downtown New York City. There’s three to four buses a day; the journey takes approximately 80 minutes and costs $20 for adults ($10 for children). But, for this journey, we weren’t able to take advantage of this.
After arriving from New York City via taxi, I walked from the curbside area to Norwegian’s check-in area. At the end of the line before the check-in desks, the supervisor was greeting every passenger, which I found quite nice. I was able to have a little conversation with him while in line, and he told me that all the flights out of Stewart were full, but all the flights coming in were half full.
The process was quite easy, and all the staff at Stewart were quite kind. However, the area before security at Stewart was pretty small, in contrast to the large halls at airports that Norwegian serves with its 787 Dreamliner aircraft.
Getting through security was a breeze, with just a short line before the scanners. The staff were quite kind — much kinder than JFK’s staff. However, after going through security, the age of the airport really showed.
Due to the small size of the airport, there were not many stores or restaurants. With the recent start of international flights, Stewart opened a small duty free shop, which was the only commercial space airside besides Hudson News. The items sold in the duty free store were high quality, including chocolate from Germany, and whiskey from Scotland.
As boarding time got close, people began moving towards Gate 1, where the plane was due to depart. But, there wasn’t much to see, besides people waiting to board the flight.
Boarding started around 9:15pm, and strangely, it took a long time, due to long waits on the jet bridge. Customs officers were doing random checks on people in the jetbridge during the boarding process, which I’ve never seen on a flight departing the United States for another country.
As I entered the aircraft, the Boeing Sky Interior lights were on and the crew was definitely doing their best to show off the beauty of the cabin.
The aircraft being used for this flight was a Boeing 737-800, subbing in for Norwegian’s Boeing 737MAX8, which wasn’t delivered in time for the inagural flight to the States, or in time for this flight. Even though this aircraft is regularly used for short-haul flights within Europe, the amount of legroom was decent, as well as the recline of the seat.
In the seatback pocket, there was a sick bag, a safety card, Norwegian’s inflight magazine, and a menu of products available to buy onboard.
Around ten minutes after I boarded, everyone was seated, and the safety film was played in English on overhead screens around the cabin.
After this, we pushed back, and it was a short taxi to Runway 27. We took off, then flew north towards Nova Scotia. Thankfully, the flight was not full due to weight restrictions on the Boeing 737-800 (don’t expect this to happen on the 737MAX8 though!) so I had one seat next to me free for my use.
Around the top of our climb, the screens came down once again and a short clip about their wifi came on. However, when I tried to access their wifi, the wifi did not connect, unfortunately.
In the meantime, I looked at the inflight menu in the seat back pocket. The choices weren’t great, with basic options for food, snacks and drinks. Norwegian charges for all of the above — you’re really getting what you pay for. I bought a hot meal in advance, when booking my flight online. This may be a better option for most, as it prevents the possibility of them running out of a meal option for you.
The only source of entertainment during the flight was old and new cartoons that would play on the overhead screens. However, to my disappointment, the screens never showed a flight map, so a mix of tracking the time and looking out my window led me to approximate our position whenever I felt the need to.
After about three hours into the flight, the meal was served. This was disappointing, as this was around midnight New York time, and about halfway into the flight, when most people would be sleeping. A majority of the plane had ordered a meal online, and apparently it wasn’t possible to heat up all the meals within a decent amount of time. However, I hope that they’ll correct this in the next few months as the flight crew and Norwegian gets more accustomed to these transatlantic flights.
I ordered the chicken and rice meal. Surprisingly, it looked a lot better than it tasted. However, this was the only meal service on the flight. As I finished my meal, I looked out the window, and it was already sunrise.
I slept, exhausted, as it was around 1am New York time. After I woke up, I decided to talk to the crew a bit. I spoke to one of the crew members, Andres, who was Brazilian but based with Norwegian in Edinburgh. He was very kind, and told me about the base in Edinburgh and Norwegian’s operations. He told me that the Stewart and Providence bases would not open until September, and that all transatlantic narrow-body operations would be operated by Norwegian’s Edinburgh-based crew until then. By the end of our conversation, we’d started our descent, and I returned to my seat.
The gloomy weather upon arrival told us that we truly had arrived in Scotland. We taxied along to the gate, and the debarking process was quick. Immigration took around thirty minutes to go through, however, every passenger’s luggage was already waiting by the time we got to the baggage carousel.
For the price that I paid, the flight met expectations, and was enjoyable at that. If Norwegian manages to keep the prices as low as they are now, I would definitely go out of my way to fly out of Stewart with Norwegian. Even though there had been no in-seat entertainment, or power plugs, the professional crew and modern cabin design made the flight a very good experience. There is no doubt in my mind that if Norwegian can keep up the level of service that they’re providing, and improve on their few weak points, their services out of Stewart will thrive.