Cobblestone Flight Review: CPH-ORY and back on low-cost carrier Norwegian

Gate, as announced by the airport, 15 minutes before scheduled departure…

To start with the conclusion: Norwegian shouldn’t be proud of this one…

Outgoing trip: an hour of delay and a scarcity of information from Norwegian. Thank Bob for my TripIt that kept me informed – CPH Airport came second in terms of availability and timeliness of information and Norwegian… Well, they didn’t tell us much at any time.

In fact, the most interaction I saw from norwegian staff was a gate agent that went around in the departure line (at gate A12 where we eventualy departed from) and rather brusquely checked carry-on wheelers and told people to measure them in the provided stand, slamming out 400 DKK checked baggage fees for anything he found not to fit.

Yes, Norwegian’s rules apply – but you can enforce them in so very different ways. You can choose to annouce by PA that the flight is very full so baggage space is under pressure and kindly ask people to verify that their baggage complies – even offer to check them for free to expedite the process as I have experienced Norwegian do on their CTA-CPH route. Or you can walk around and (excuse me) piss passengers off by barking at them to check their bags in order to find out whether they’ll have to pay 400 DKK or not.

As to the delay, the Norwegian app on my phone was extremely silent throughout the whole procedure – no messages, no gate redirections, nothing. The status screen for the flight in question did not give any information, either – the only option to check came from the flight status per airport screen. And 45 minutes before departure – well after I’d had info from TripIt about the delay (meaning that the delay is registered in the systems, otherwise TripIt wouldn’t know) – the Norwegian list from CPH as shown to the right still had the flight as on time.

Well, we got onboard and to Paris eventually.

The return trip had a departure delay as well – announced to be about 20-25 minutes. In ORY, at least, the info came up on the gate monitor (still well after I’d been alerted).

When it came to boarding, basically I have to say that the Norwegian staff in the airport and on the particular plane had cattle herding down to an art. Friendly customer service not as much.

In the terminal, they started boarding as soon as the (late) incomming plane had been hooked up to the bridge. But what about the incoming passengers? Well, boarding mainly meant that we were being collected into the next pen – between the gate counter and the door to the bridge. So we stood there for the 15 minutes or so it took to empty the plane.

Once we started getting on to the plane, the crew several times urged us by PA to hurry storing our stuff and ourselves so as not to delay them. Again, there’s a choice of approch here. It could have been “we’re sorry for the imcoming delay, but if you could please help us to achieve a speedy boarding, we’d appreciate it – if we make the current slot time for departure we may actually be able to catch up with the delay and get you to Copenhagen on time.” Y’know, I’ve seen that work once – so well, in fact, that we ended up in that particular case pushing back early.

But here? Just a flat, unapologetic, “hurry up or you’ll delay us!” Bleh!

We actually did catch up and got to Copenhagen on time. Something that a 100 km/h tail wind had more credit for than motivating passengers to help out with a speedy boarding, I’d say.

Two depature delays, a not very friendly customer tone, the usual low-cost carrier policy that everything on board is to pay for only, no options whatsoever to pick seats when checking in… (and two F/window seats in a 3:3 plane configuration as the result).

And, a pet peeve of mine with regards to Norwegian: Of all the airlines I fly, they’re the only one to have departure time on their boarding passes instead of boarding time. Dear Norwegian: The practical detail your passengers probably look most for is when to be at the gate. Why do you require people to look up information and do math in order to work that out? Why not simply, like everyone else, provide that information straight up?

Verdict? Not a single cobblestone – it’s just not a pleasant experience to be cattle rather than service- and friendliness-deserving passengers.

PS: Why did I fly them, then? Tickets booked for me, no influence on carrier chosen.

Photo by me
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