Following Tromsø, my next destination was Bergen, necessitating another flight.
The only direct flight between Tromsø and Bergen is operated by Widerøe, an airline I had never flown before.
Other options are Norwegian and SAS, but bot require at least one change if flight in Oslo.
With this in mind, I decided to give Widerøe a go.
The ground experience is very basic, with self service bag drop and no security fast track or lounge.
The on board experience is also basic, but no more so than economy class on just about any other carrier operating within Europe.
At an even six feet, I found the 29-inch seat pitch rather tight.
A buy-on-board menu is offered, although this short 10:35am flight was a little too soon after breakfast and not quite beer o’clock, so I settled for the complimentary coffee.
Overall, this experience was comparable to the better low cost airlines in Europe, such as easyJet. Given the convenience of the direct flight I was satisfied with the experience, although at around £225 or $270 it was rather pricey for what it was.
As my tour of Scandinavia continued to the Arctic North, I decided to leave my car at Oslo Airport and fly to Tromsø, rather than take a three day drive each way.
There were several options for this route, including Norwegian and Widerøe. However it turned out that the best deal was on the direct afternoon flight with SAS.
The flight was quite expensive for a domestic one-way at €226 for the most basic hand luggage only ticket.
I, however, chose to upgrade to the SAS Plus fare at €270, including checked luggage and access to the SAS Domestic Lounge at Oslo Airport.
This proved to be a good choice, as the American Express lounge to which I would normally have access was located after customs controls and therefore not accessible to domestic passengers. It also allowed me to check in my small rollaboard rather than fighting for overhead bin space.
The lounge was pretty basic in terms of its food offerings, but offered wine and both draught and canned beer and provided a comfortable place to sit while waiting for boarding, so it suited me fine.
The on board experience was not up to the standards of even intra-European Business Class, in that middle seats were not kept free and refreshments were limited to a snack and drink. However, given the short length of this flight and the small premium that I paid, I was perfectly happy with it.
Overall, this was a nice, easy little flight and “upgrading” was worth it in my very specific case.
This is a debate which has been raging for years and will undoubtedly continue.
Those nice big, comfortable seats at the front of the plane always look terribly inviting, but how much are you really willing to pay out in order to travel in style?
A typical long haul business class fare can set you back literally thousands. For some people this is not an issue, particularly when someone else is paying. However, for the typical leisure traveller the cost can be literally prohibitive, especially if you are travelling in a family group. For the cost of a round trip upgrade for a family of four, you can check into a nice hotel for a couple of weeks and still have money left over for a rental car and outings. When opportunity cost comes into play, the other things you can do with that money clearly heavily outweigh 8 hours of relative comfort.
However, there are times when the pointy end of the plane definitely makes sense. I came across an obvious example of this last year, when I found myself in Tanzania and decided at the last minute to relocate to Florida for the winter. Due to the ongoing covid situation, I had no idea of what my next move would be or when I would eventually return to Europe. Clearly a one-way ticket was the only sensible option. However, a last minute one-way was pricing up at around $1,600 in economy.
This is where frequent flyer miles come in. I was able to book a one-way ticket for 75,000 American Airlines miles (about a third of my remaining stack) and minimal taxes. $1,600 of savings for the use of 75,000 miles is quite a good deal even at face value. Except that the mileage ticket was in Qatar Airways’ world beating private QSuites. This was an absolute no brainer and I spent the next 27 hours lounging in almost the almost empty business class cabins, eating my way through multiple courses and sampling some of the nicest wines and champagnes I have had for quite a while.
In conclusion, although economy class has been my traditional default option for air travel, there are often bargains to be had up front and if this is the case, there is often no reason not to go for it.
Do you think premium class travel is worth the price tag? Check out our Air travel discussion forum and share your opinion.