Reviews

How good is Norwegian in-flight entertainment?

Norwegian in-flight entertainment
Cutting-edge cabin? Norwegian has a modern fleet

Norwegian is the up-and-coming airline, a growing presence for flights across Europe as well as Transatlantic. Indeed, last week, we hopped on a Norwegian 787 Dreamliner to CES in Las Vegas. So how good is Norwegian in-flight entertainment for those of us in cattle class?

Things started well. Norwegian has a relatively new fleet of aircraft and it was clear from the moment we walked on the plane that this was a modern cabin, not the ashtray-filled 20-year-old fleet that Virgin uses on the Las Vegas route.

The sense of newness was immediately backed up when I started prodding the 8in touchscreen in the headrest in front of me. The display was sharp and the screen was perfectly responsive – many aircraft systems virtually require you to puncture the glass before you get any response from them.

The selection of movies/TV shows is always going to be subjective, but there was a fair range of new movies (Baby Driver, Despicable Me 3), “classics” (Moulin Rouge, Gran Torino) and TV shows. It beats me why airlines don’t strike a deal with Netflix/Amazon for use of their catalogues – even a restricted subset would be better than what most airlines offer.

Norwegian in-flight entertainment

Aside from the video, there was the usual live map of the journey (why are the planes on these maps always big enough to stretch across three US states?) and a rum selection of games. The quiz game kept me and my co-editor entertained for an hour or so, until the questions started to become so repetitive it was more a test of memory than general knowledge.

One very clever touch (literally) is the snack bar system. You peruse the menu on-screen, place your order, swipe your credit card and the stewards bring your order to your seat. You can keep a tab open so that you only need to swipe your card once, although prices are predictably punchy ($3 for a can of Coke, for instance).

Norwegian in-flight entertainment: where’s my Wi-Fi?

There were disappointments. Although the in-flight entertainment system promised free Wi-Fi, it wasn’t available on either leg of our journey. A closer read of Norwegian’s website bumpf suggests this is only available on European flights.

Norwegian in-flight entertainment

More annoying was Norwegian’s promise that you would be able to charge devices on the plane. The pre-flight info we were sent read: “Charge your phone or tablet or laptop through the USB connector on the touchscreen. Bringing your laptop? You’ve got an international power outlet by your seat as well.”

Well, there was no sign of an international power socket on either leg of our journey, and the USB connector on the touchscreen wasn’t even powerful enough to charge my iPad Air. That meant I had to nurse 25% of battery life across a ten-hour flight. Yes, that does qualify as a first-world problem, since you ask.

All told, the Norwegian in-flight entertainment was adequate, but the things that would make it exceptional and a definite re-book for next year – namely in-flight Wi-Fi and proper charging points – simply didn’t materialise.

Now click here: read all our coverage from CES 2018

 

Norwegian in-flight entertainment
  • Touchscreen quality
  • Entertainment selection
  • Range of features
3.7

Summary

A decent, modern system, but Norwegian didn’t deliver on promises of free Wi-Fi and charging points

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at barry@bigtechquestion.com.

2 Comments

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  • My least favourite long-haul entertainment experience was with Thomas Cook Airlines. Despite having spent a pretty penny on a return flight to the US, they held back the majority of the entertainment (both film and TV) unless you paid an additional £5 at the time.

    On top of that, for the return flight there were no screens at all – they expect you to use your own device, which you do via their app and an in-flight WiFi which only appears to work for this app. Except they tell you this once you’re onboard, so you’re suddenly scrabbling to download the app (and if you’re roaming in foreign lands then using your data may not be appreciated when you’ve just left a WiFi friendly airport). The app reviews have plenty of people saying that on-board the plane there was no data signal so they had to go the entire flight without being able to watch anything.

    However, have you tried holding up your phone to watch a 2 hour film? People may have ready-available screens with them but they’re not as convenient as having a screen, at the right hand, in front of you.

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