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Why the $69 Flights to Europe are Too Good to Be True

AuthorThe AirHelper

About those $69 flights from the U.S. to Europe … where they at? It’s been more than a year since Norwegian Air CEO Bjørn Kjos announced plans to sell one-way tickets between the U.S. and Europe for the lowball price of $69. Immediately, skepticism ran rampant about whether or not the prices were too good to be true.

The ticket price is deceiving – no surprise there

Most airlines wouldn’t launch a new initiative that isn’t also fiscally responsible — and Norwegian Air is no different. The advertised $69 fee is for a one-way ticket only, according to Kjos and reported by NBC News. However, that’s less than half the story since round-trip tickets under the new pricing scheme would amount to $300. Round-trip fares for the same route currently average around $500 with the airline.

While Norwegian Air ranks favorably in the AirHelp Score, a ranking of airlines worldwide, it’s still a low-budget airline whose policies pass on heavy fees to passengers. Fees include $50 for checked luggage and there are additional surcharges for refreshments, window seats and more.

A few bumps in the Norwegian Air

Likewise, low-cost, transatlantic tickets are only feasible to the airline when the destination airports have low fees and little to no current international service. Norwegian Air has one of the newest fleets in the world, allowing it to manage low-ball ticket prices, and the U.S. Department of Transportation has extended the deadline for the airline to submit applications for flight permits. The lesser-known airports aren’t as easily accessible to major metropolitan areas, again adding more costs to the passenger in the form of ground transportation.

For instance, Norwegian Air is vetting New York’s Westchester County Airport, Connecticut’s Bradley International Airport and Boston Logan International Airport for flights to Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Spain and the UK. However, ground transportation costs to the New York-based airports could total $70 one-way — more than double the initial cost of the airfare ticket.

See how the airlines rank against each other in the AirHelp Score

By comparison, Norwegian Air’s competitors have run deals in the past that are comparable to their proposed structure. Air Canada offered EU-U.S. flights for as low as $211 and Iceland’s low-cost airline, WOW air has sold tickets for around $150, according to Mashable.

Don’t hold your breath for Norwegian’s new Boeing 737 MAX 8

Nevertheless, the move is part of a larger play to cut out a piece of the transatlantic pie currently dominated by traditional airline carriers.

However, all grand plans are contingent on the fulfillment of new aircraft — the new Boeing 737 MAX 8 — because they are smaller than most transatlantic planes and are better suited for smaller airports.

Thomas Ramdahl, Norwegian Air’s chief commercial officer, said he expects the fleet of 100 planes to be delivered in Q3 2017, but representatives from Boeing said the planes could be finished as early as March 2017, according to Business Insider.

Problem is … the planes are still nowhere in sight and no definitive date of arrival has been announced.

Too many variables are still floating around before Norwegian Air’s plan can come to fruition anytime soon. The good news is the more carriers offering low-price tickets across the Atlantic, the better for the traveler at the end of the day.

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