Low-cost airline Norwegian will open a nonstop Seattle-London route from September with one-way economy class fares — including taxes but excluding fees for checking baggage and meals — starting at $199.
The lowest fare that includes seat selection, checked luggage and meals is $289 one way.
The airline will fly Boeing’s widebody 787 Dreamliner on the route between Seattle and Gatwick Airport.
The service starts Sept. 17, but tickets were available as of Thursday at Norwegian.com, with the dates for the lowest fares listed on the airline’s fare calendar.
Norwegian will have four flights per week — departing Seattle on Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays and Sundays.
Anders Lindström, Norwegian’s U.S. director of communications, said a limited number of seats will be available at $199 one way, with the second-lowest ongoing fare set at $219 one way (also without checked baggage or meals).
The news comes 10 days after Virgin Atlantic began nonstop 787 service between Seattle and London Heathrow Airport, replacing Delta’s flight on that route.
British Airways also flies nonstop to Heathrow from Seattle.
The lowest economy-class fares on Virgin and British in September are more than $1,000 round trip, including checked baggage and meals.
Norwegian will also offer premium-class seats that include priority boarding, “sleeper seats” and meals and drinks for $839 one way, including taxes.
The sleeper seats are not “lie-flat” seats as in business class on British or Virgin. Instead, they recline to about 45 degrees and offer 46 inches of legroom with support under the legs, offering comfort beyond premium economy but short of an international business-class seat.
Fares for premium economy on Virgin and British in September start at about $1,600 round trip, while business class starts at about $4,000.
Norwegian has been expanding rapidly in the U.S.
It flies 787s across the Atlantic from Boston; New York; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Orlando, Florida; Los Angeles; and San Francisco into London, Paris and Barcelona, Spain.
In September, it will also start nonstop 787 service between London and Denver.
Beginning in June, it will begin flying the new Boeing narrow-body 737 MAX between various smaller airports on the U.S. East Coast and Belfast, Dublin and Cork in Ireland, Edinburgh in Scotland and Bergen, Norway.
Introductory fares for those flights start at $69 one way.
“Our nonstop routes from the U.S. to London, Paris and Barcelona are all doing phenomenally,” Lindström said. “We will continue to expand with more routes, and open new European gateways in the near future.”
He added that “with today’s route announcement, we surpass all the American airlines in terms of nonstop routes from the U.S. to London. … Yet we still see the demand for many, many more flights to London (and) to many other cities across Europe.”
Norwegian’s growth, fueled by debt it uses to buy new Boeing airplanes, has brought fierce opposition from large U.S. airlines and labor groups, which accuse the carrier of paying lower wages to pilots and cabin staff.
Despite protests from American, Delta and United, the U.S. Department of Transportation in December granted Norwegian a long-delayed permit that will enable further expansion.
The airline’s chief executive, Bjorn Kjos, denies the low-wage charge, insisting that he pays the going rate to U.S. crews.
Kjos says his new long-haul, low-cost model will expand transatlantic travel significantly and create thousands of aviation jobs.