Low-fare carrier Norwegian Air is off to a bumpy start with its new long-haul routes to Bangkok and New York. Passengers have complained bitterly in local media that they were denied food, drink and even a blanket because they didn’t have a credit card to pay for what Norwegian considers “extras.”
Norwegian has long had a policy of accepting only credit card payment on board its flights and refusing cash. The problem is that not all their passengers have a credit card, or a card that functions outside their home area.
Newspaper Aftenposten earlier reported that a Thai passenger had to endure the 12-hour flight from Bangkok to Oslo with no food or water. She had neglected to order and pay for any meal or drink in advance, and when she tried to buy food or even a bottle of water on board, flight attendants refused her cash. Her Thailand-based credit card didn’t work on board the flight, so Norwegian’s cabin crew refused to sell her any food or drink.
On Monday came a report of a 16-year-old boy flying alone to visit his uncle in New York on Norwegian’s other new intercontinental route. He didn’t have a credit card either and thus couldn’t pay the USD 5 demanded by Norwegian’s flight attendants for the use of a blanket. His father, Lars Ditlevsen, told Aftenposten that it was cold in the cabin and his son had no sweater available. He had the USD 5 in cash, but it was refused in line with Norwegian’s “no cash” policy.
“They (the flight attendants) could see that he was freezing, but consciously avoided helping him,” Ditlevsen said, adding that the flight was also three hours late. He was furious and has complained directly to Norwegian for what he calls its “terrible treatment” of customers. Yet another Norwegian man said he and several other passengers on board a long-haul flight also weren’t allowed to buy food or drink.
Norwegian officials, who already faced major problems with its new long-haul service because of trouble with the Boeing 787 Dreamliners ordered for the routes, have apologized for both incidents and claim cabin crews on the new intercontinental flights will be instructed to find solutions to such problems. Norwegian also is reportedly reviewing its “no cash” policy.