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Trip Report: Norse’s First Flight to Athens

Norse adds yet another route out of JFK, and we had the opportunity to try the first flight.

Taking off from JFK on Norse’s inaugural flight to Athens (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Joey Gerardi)

As we enter the midst of summer, airlines are ramping up the busy schedules that come with high tourism demand. The weather is nice, many kids are off of school, and airlines are adding new flights and frequencies to their networks.

Back in January 2024, Norse Atlantic Airways announced a new city and country for their New York City operations and their network as a whole: Athens, Greece.

AirlineGeeks was fortunate enough to be able to ride onboard the airline’s first flight into the city, which departed from New York’s JFK Airport.

Day of the Flight

Norse’s flight to Athens out of JFK was scheduled to leave at 1:25 p.m., its counter opens four hours before the departure and closes one hour prior. I arrived in New York from another small city in New York State on a different carrier, so I was at the airport well before I needed to be. I headed to the check-in desks about two and a half hours before departure time.

Norse’s check-in area at JFK for the Athens inaugural (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Joey Gerardi)

For this inaugural flight, the check-in area was decorated with some balloons, but beyond that, the desks looked normal like they would for the other Norse departures to the other cities it serves from JFK. With the airline not offering online check-in for passengers, everyone did need to stop by the counter before heading to the gate.

Around this time of the day Terminal 7, where the airline departs from at JFK, was pretty quiet. In addition to it being a rather slow time, the airline also participates in the TSA PreCheck program so getting through security was easy and quick.

When I got to the gate, representatives from the airline were still setting up for the party. They did have balloons similar to the check-in area, and they also had a table that had cookies and cupcakes on them, the first of which had the airline’s logo.

The cookie and cupcake table at Norse’s Athens inaugural (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Joey Gerardi)

On the departure board, they had a custom backdrop for this first flight to Athens, featuring a lot of blue just as they do in their livery as well as some outlines of New York and Athens landmarks.

The custom departure board for the inaugural flight (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Joey Gerardi)

About an hour prior to the departure, they had some quick speeches done by Steven Thody, who is the CEO of JFK Millennium Partners, the company that runs Terminal 7 as well as the new Terminal 6 the airport is constructing. The other short speech was from , who is the Commercial Director for the airline. Before boarding, there was also a photo op with the entire crew of the flight.

A group picture of the Norse crew operating the first flight, as well as company and airport executives (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Joey Gerardi)

On this flight, the airline operated a Boeing 787-9 that carried the registration LN-FND. It was originally delivered to Norwegian Air UK in March of 2018, before going to AerCap in March 2021 and finally coming to Norse Atlantic a year later in March 2022. All of the aircraft in the airline’s fleet also carry a name, and this one is named “Dartmoor,” which is a national park in southwestern England

After the photo op, it wasn’t long before the boarding process started for the flight. As I was seated in the airline’s Premium cabin, I was one of the first passengers to board, and it also meant I turned left when I stepped onboard as the jetway was attached to the second door of the aircraft. The premium cabin on Norse’s 787-9 is in a 2-3-2 configuration for eight rows.

I was seated in 6A, rows 6 through 8 are the best rows in the cabin for viewing the engine and offered spectacular views once the jetbridge pulled back.

Looking at the engine from my window in row 6 (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Joey Gerardi)

All of the rows in the Premium cabin also had two windows which helped for optimal viewing so you didn’t have to lean way far forward to see out of it, except for row five, which only has one window.

My seat, 6A, in Norse’s Premium cabin (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Joey Gerardi)

There was also a pillow and a blanket for passengers in the Premium cabin to use, and they did come around with a small amenity kit as well which had an eye mask and ear plugs. As this was an inaugural, the airline also handed out goodies to the passengers once we were on the plane. In a Norse branded bag, there was a small blue metal water bottle with the Norse logo, as well as a keychain that said Athens on it along with the logo.

The water bottle and keychain that was given to all on the inaugural flight (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Joey Gerardi)

Before pushback, the crew also came around and served us a choice of either champagne or orange juice. They also went around asking passengers if they had ever been on the airline before, and if the answer was a no they explained how to use the various controls and levers to operate the extras on our seats like the footrest, and where to find the IFE.

We pushed back and took to the skies after a couple of announcements from the flight crew about this being a special flight, along with the pilot explaining our route across the Atlantic. We then took off to the west and turned back east for the flight across the ocean on this inaugural flight.

The Flight

From this point on there wasn’t anything different from being an inaugural flight versus a regular Norse flight, but, it was still a unique flight for me as I had never been on the airline before or on the Boeing 787. After takeoff, some people took out their movie screens and some went right to sleep, but with the meal coming soon I decided to stay awake to enjoy it.

But in the meantime before food arrived, I explored the airline’s IFE screen, where you could look at flight details although they didn’t have a moving map. I did have a chance to speak to Philip Allport, Norse’s SVP of communication, about the moving map, and he said, “At this stage, we do not have plans to add a moving map to our personal entertainment screens across the fleet.” But, even without a map, it still had a lot of information about the flight, including a progress bar at the bottom showing how much time was left.

The ‘my flight’ section of the airline’s IFE system (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Joey Gerardi)

From the IFE screen, one could also order drinks and snacks, as well as watch movies, television, shop for duty-free items, and even call the flight attendant. If I am being completely honest, I didn’t even notice the ‘order’ feature for drinks on this flight and it wasn’t until my second flight with Norse that I actually used it, but it does work and is helpful, especially for those sitting in the window seat that don’t want to bother their seatmate to get up.

Along with the USB port in the IFE screen, each seat in the Premium cabin also had a power outlet that could accommodate plug types for all of the destinations that the airline currently serves.

Another unique feature of the Boeing 787 is the lack of window shades and the use of window dimmer buttons. During takeoff and landing the crew does lock these windows on ‘clear’ mode, which does make the AvGeek in me very happy that people can’t shut the windows.

About 45 minutes to an hour after takeoff, the flight attendants brought around the drink cart, and they had many options from wine, beer, and other alcoholic drinks, as well as soft drinks, and of course water. By the time the main meal came around we were over Price Edward Islands in Canada, so roughly an hour and a half into the flight.

The main course that I chose for the flight over to Athens (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Joey Gerardi)

The choices for those in the Premium cabin included pasta or salmon, although they did have other specialty meals for those with food restrictions or allergies. If someone wanted to, they could also choose to eat one of the main cabin meals, which is what my seat neighbor did and got chicken.

The salmon I got came with Asian noodles, peppers, and spinach. The salad consisted of tomatoes, lettuce and turkey, a small piece of bread with butter, and there was a piece of cake for dessert.

After the meal was over and with about 4.5 hours until landing, they turned off the cabin lighting for those who wanted to go to bed.

The crew turned off the cabin lights so people could sleep (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Joey Gerardi)

After about three hours of what some might consider sleep and 1.5 hours of the flight remaining, I woke up to the smell of food as the crew was getting the breakfast service ready. The cabin lighting had been turned to a blue color, to simulate the sun coming up.

One by one, people started waking up and slowly the cabin lights were turned brighter in preparation for the breakfast service. Other than those with dietary restrictions, there was one option for breakfast, this consisted of quiche, sausage, spinach, yogurt, and an option of either regular bread or pretzel bread.

Breakfast for the flight to Athens (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Joey Gerardi)

After breakfast, we were roughly over the western coast of Greece, and the crew began to clean up in preparation for our arrival in Athens as the sun came up. They also collected the blankets from everyone but if you did want to keep one, they do sell them to passengers.

The sun starts to come up as we begin our descent into Athens (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Joey Gerardi)

Arrival

Norse is a Nordic airline, and given this and the fact that the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis are such a big attraction and beauty of these countries in that region, they did a cabin light demonstration just before landing that was made to mimic the lights with bright and vibrant colors.

The Aurora Borealis cabin light display before landing (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Joey Gerardi)

We touched down in Athens, Greece at 5:41 a.m. after 8 hours and 28 minutes of flight time, and with the day barely started, passengers had all day to explore the wonder that is Athens. Another plus about arriving very early in the day is there are very few non-Schengen zone flights coming in, so we had customs all to ourselves.

This new link between JFK and Athens is another way to get between New York City and the country of Greece with Norse offering the route between the cities five times a week. They are the third option to get between NYC and Greece as both American and Delta fly from JFK to the country, and United also flies from nearby Newark as well.

Editor’s Note: Norse Atlantic Airways provided AirlineGeeks with a seat on this flight, but this trip report is an objective portrayal of the events and is in no way swayed by that aspect.

Joey Gerardi
Latest posts by Joey Gerardi (see all)

Author

  • Joey Gerardi

    Joe has always been interested in planes, for as long as he can remember. He grew up in Central New York during the early 2000s when US Airways Express turboprops ruled the skies. Being from a non-aviation family made it harder for him to be around planes and would only spend about three hours a month at the airport. He was so excited when he could drive by himself and the first thing he did with the license was get ice cream and go plane spotting for the entire day. When he has the time (and money) he likes to take spotting trips to any location worth a visit. He’s currently enrolled at Western Michigan University earning a degree in Aviation Management and Operations.

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