Booking with a budget airline is always a risk, but with a number of out-of-country weddings to attend this summer, when Nordic airline Primera Air announced its £99 transatlantic flight sale in March, the deal was too good for me to resist.
The airline introduced transatlantic flights from London to New York, Boston, Washington DC, and Toronto earlier this year- and there were 99 tickets on offer in the sale for each of the routes.
Primera appears to have even cheaper deals from the US, with a number of $US99 fares available to Paris and London. There were even some $US69 one-way fares available at the time of writing this.
On the day of the £99 sale, the site was so busy I couldn’t get on it for hours – but I still managed to bag a one-way fare from London Stansted to Toronto Pearson for August.
The “light” fare – which normally starts at £149 one way from London – only includes the seat and 10kg hand luggage, so I paid £24.99 extra for a 23kg checked bag and £19.99 for an XL reserved seat, paying a total of £143.98 for the one-way ticket.
However, I was one of a number of lucky customers who were bumped up to the premium economy cabin, which would normally start at £499 each way, or $US749 from the US.
Since not all reviews of the airline have been positive, I expected this would just mean I’d receive some food and perhaps board before other passengers – but it was far more luxurious than I thought.
Scroll down to see what it’s like to fly premium economy on Primera Air.
I managed to bag a one-way fare from London Stansted to Toronto Pearson for £99 as part of Primera Air’s transatlantic sale.
The “light” fare — which normally starts at £149 one way from London to Toronto — only includes the seat and 10kg hand luggage, so I paid £24.99 extra for a 23kg checked bag and £19.99 for an XL reserved seat, paying a total of £143.98 for the one-way ticket.
“Comfort” economy fares, which include a checked bag and priority seating, start at £199 each way, while the “flex” fare which also includes a meal – and is refundable – starts from £419.
However, I was one of a number of lucky customers who were bumped up to the premium economy cabin, which would normally start at £499, or $US749 for flights from the US. This meant I got to pick my seat in the premium cabin. Here’s what the layout looked like:
The premium fare also meant I qualified for priority boarding — something well worth spending extra on, since you can’t check in online with Primera. The economy queues were massive. Here’s the economy line compared to the priority one, which was empty.
Premium passengers have their own check-in desks, and the whole process took me less than five minutes — though it looked long and draining for economy passengers.
I checked in, dropped my bag off, and was through security in a total of 20 minutes — a record for Stansted. I even had plenty of time for a pre-holiday celebratory drink.
I was somewhat relieved when the plane — a new Airbus A321NEO — wasn’t delayed, and we were ready for boarding on time.
The gate was packed with families with children. Once again, premium passengers got to board first.
Still, all travellers were on board nearly 30 minutes before we were due to take off.
Here’s the premium cabin, with the economy cabin in sight just behind. The interior of the cabin was surprisingly modern for a budget airline, with grey and hints of yellow — as well as some mellow and relaxing elevator music.
My seat — right in the front row — was super spacious, and looked more like a business class seat than premium economy.
There was a water bottle waiting for me, and I was immediately impressed by the seat size and legroom — 39 inches, with a 21-inch-wide seat.
The legroom in economy is 30 inches, or 32 in an XL seat, with 18 inches in width.