What can directors really expect when paying £29.90 for Norwegian London-Warsaw shuttle service?
According to Robin Barnett, British ambassador to Poland, the biggest mistake British companies make when thinking about doing business with the country is “not coming to look… If businesses do see potential opportunities, it’s worth taking the time and trouble to come – you can visit many places in Poland in one day.”
Indeed, it’s never been easier or cheaper to visit. Polish emigration over the past 15 years and Euro 2012 infrastructure has bequeathed the country an extensive network of airports offering flights to the UK (Ryanair alone serves 11 Polish cities).
Game-changing airline Norwegian entered the market last September, with its direct flights linking Gatwick and Warsaw. More famous for disrupting transatlantic travel with its headline-making £149 fares, the carrier – founded in 1993 by former fighter pilot Bjørn Kjos – has a long history of serving short-haul business destinations too.
Operating at business-friendly times (leaving Gatwick at 8.10pm, or arriving in Gatwick at 9.25am) the London-Warsaw service is cheap (£29.90). But how does it compete with those of its more expensive rivals?
Norwegian’s self-service red-and-white kiosks were devoid of queues, meaning it took Director only three minutes to be issued with its gossamer-light, easy-to-lose boarding
pass. Gatwick security’s primary-coloured floor markings – indicating where travellers should queue up – might make it look like a crèche, but it’s staggeringly efficient. There’s a reason why Japanese train platforms employ a similar system – Director cleared security in five minutes flat.
The gate was a mere six-minute stroll from main terminal, but Director would warn against getting there too early: the lounge was somewhat spartan, with only a Ben & Jerry’s vending machine for company.
Director was given seat 1B at the front of the cabin. But despite the extra legroom, the grey-liveried seat was rather cramped, not dissimilar
to sitting in a metal box.
Being sat at the front sadly didn’t mean getting served first (the trolley service worked its way from the back of the plane). Nevertheless, the flight was smooth, enhanced by the cabin lights being dimmed 45 minutes before landing – a relaxing touch for the tired-looking business travellers on board this after-work service (compare this to the harsh lighting seen on other evening flights). Norwegian is also one of only eight carriers worldwide to offer free onboard WiFi.
Thanks to the flight landing early, non-intrusive immigration and the central location of Warsaw Chopin airport (just five miles from the city centre) Director arrived at its hotel at 11.35pm – the exact time our Norwegian flight was scheduled to land.
Norwegian’s short-haul shuttle offers a degree of comfort and punctuality its budget rivals can only dream of 39/50
Norwegian flies six times a week from Gatwick to Warsaw. One-way flights start from £29.90 per person.