Sonic Bloom? In Airline Audio Branding, Norwegian Leads the Way

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In travel, sometimes it’s the most irritating experiences that turn out to be the most inspiring. Over about a 12-month stretch I found myself aboard more Norwegian Air Shuttle flights than I had planned on; but the routing and timing and reasonable fares added up to lots of Norwegian air time. I remember boarding one of the airline’s spanking new 787 Dreamliners at JFK. Okay I should specify JFK Terminal 1, which is  perhaps the worst terminal at JFK, principally because it isn’t Terminal 5 but I digress. The issue was that the terminal was crowded, wait times to check in were long, waiting at TSA was long, then the wait beyond security was long, and I felt like maybe this entire dehumanizing experience wasn’t really worth it. Did I mention the loud family from Australia with the loud Dad wearing a Hooters T-shirt, and his two teenage sons wearing Hooters T-shirts too, right behind me in the long check-in line, one of them spilling his Red Bull energy drink on my Mandarina Duck suitcase and oh, laughing about it while I thought well, thank God, at least they’re flying back to Australia, or someplace that wasn’t where I was going, and someplace with a (God love ’em!) Hooters.

Anyway. I primed my ears for onboard succor in the form of music, thinking maybe I could at least hear something humanizing, if not actually see or feel or smell it, on the way to my seat but no, nothing but canned music. The same canned music I had heard boarding in Barcelona. And in Copenhagen. And back at JFK. And that’s why when I heard that even some folks at Norwegian had had enough of melodies basic on their otherwise gleaming planes, I thought you know, this is something I can get behind. And the world should know more about these trailblazing efforts. So there you have it: overdue cool boarding music, be heard!

 

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Pretty, right?

airlines, europe, jennifer aniston, luggage, scandal, telaviv, Uncategorized

But travel isn’t always pretty.

In the travel and hospitality industries there are certain observations that are chiefly expressed over drinks among colleagues or in other closed quarters: things like “the French are lousy tippers,” “Israelis are pushy” or “Americans are loud.” And while such findings may contain some elements of truth, does it mean brand-appropriate reaction to them can veer into actual discrimination?

Six High Points of My Recent Flight on Norwegian Air

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SOMEWHERE OVER GREENLAND — Let me get right to it: Norwegian rocks.

A Norwegian Air Shuttle Dreamliner

A new Norwegian Air Shuttle 787 Dreamliner

1. Norwegian Air Shuttle is a low-cost long haul carrier and the first  to fly non-stop between the U.S. and Scandinavia, having launched that service in 2013. And they put a lot of consideration into it.

This likeable airline is in growth mode, with a fleet of the most efficient and modern long-haul aircraft on the market. With the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, they’re getting you up and away with panache. The Dreamliners are generating high marks while the airline itself holds fast to lower than expected fares. I won’t cite specific fares as they are naturally subject to change, but if you price out a few trips on Norwegian’s Low Fare Calendar who knows, you might even be in for a $69-esque jolt or two…

2. We can agree – can’t we? – that a new airline with global reach that gets stuff right is cause to rejoice. So on to the second thing to get you up where the air is clear with Norwegian…that quirky mood of Norway this particular product offering puts you in. Is that Greta Garbo painted on the tailfin? Might be. Cool. And, is that a Moods of Norway jacket draping elegantly from the shoulders of a friendly cosmopolitan flight attendant? Sure is. I want one, too!

Sometimes good things are on the inside, too. Jacket by Moods of Norway.

Some good things are on the inside, too. Jacket by Moods of Norway.

3. Only connect.  Supposing a Scandinavian holiday isn’t in your deck of travel cards. No problem. Norwegian’s already flying some 439 routes to 132 destinations, meaning you no longer have to tangle with a Franken-airport like Frankfurt (yes! I hate it! and you know you do, too!) to get yourself to the European gateway or other destination of your choice. And not only Oslo: Stockholm and Copenhagen are also turning into major connection points for Norwegian. Plus, now that you can buy a one-way ticket to Europe without paying through the nose as is still the case with many American carriers, your travel options just multiply. Again, check out the Low Fare Calendar and see for yourself.

Arrive in Oslo, connect to the world.

Arrive in Oslo, connect to the world.

4. Did somebody say Premium?  Yes, I just did…and I flew in Norwegian’s Premium cabin from Oslo to New York’s JFK last month. Wider seat, more recline. There was a great in-flight entertainment system which I gleefully did not use, so entranced was I by the larger-than-normal 787 Dreamliner photo-sensitive windows that dispense with shades, and so happy was I to sit back in a very comfortable seat and chat with my one seatmate, we’ll call him Thor because he was certainly no Steven, about trends in global maritime shipping.  Riding high on my free baggage allowance for up to two suitcases, I was even happier to tuck into my Premium class meal of Norwegian grilled salmon and trimmings, neatly boxed with complimentary beverages to boot. All served solicitously.

Deftly designed fare in Premium. Also delicious.

Deftly designed fare in Premium. Also delicious.

They served another meal, lighter, closer to landing. This consisted of a Scandinavian meat salad, quite tasty, as well as some other treats. And another beverage service.

5. Here’s a sample view from one of them fancy new 787 windows (with thanks to Thor for letting me lean in)

Hello, Greenland. Looking cool today.

My, Greenland, aren’t we looking cool today?

If you look hard enough you might see Bjork or one of her reindeers on the horizon..

6. Hubba hubba…New York is a major North American hub for Norwegian, but long-hauls to Oslo and Stockholm depart from LAX, too. More non-stops, from Las Vegas to Oslo, CPH and Stockholm, are kicking off Oct. 31, and from Dec. 3, direct service from JFK to the French Caribbean (specifically, the islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique) will put more winter vacation destinations within reach. Clearly, Norwegian is going places.

Do you like pink? You do like pink.

No need 2 think pink: mood lighting does it for u

6b. Also, regarding Oslo and Premium…your slightly higher fare ticket grants you access to the Norwegian airport lounge, but not having time to check it out (tight connection from BCN) I had to content myself with stocking up on bizarre-cool Scandi treats like these raspberry Rox taffies that are almost guaranteed to pull your teeth out and that I also highly recommend.

Guaranteed to make your dentist see green.

Guaranteed to make your dentist see green.

6c. So in conclusion…

Backside of blanked from Premium cabin.

Reverse side of blanket from Premium cabin, designed by Moods of Norway. Comfy!

 – Anthony Grant