No food or drinks on long-haul international flights? No problem

Norwegian Air
No-frill airfares have become popular on short-haul domestic flights but experts predict that more airlines will offer ultra-cheap fares on long-haul international flights too.
(Johan Nilsson / Associated Press)

For the last few years, cheap, no-frills airfares have become popular for domestic and short-haul flights.

After all, fliers who want to save a few bucks can endure a few hours in a cramped airline seat without food, drinks or onboard entertainment.

Now air travelers can expect to see more airlines offer no-frills airfares on long-haul international flights.

Norwegian Air, the low-cost carrier that recently got the green light to fly from a base in Ireland to the U.S., offers nonrefundable tickets, starting at $210, for 11-hour flights from Los Angeles to Stockholm. Fliers in these seats must pay extra for meals, snack, drinks and to check bags.


Other carriers like Icelandair, Jetstar and Scoot also sell ultra-cheap fares for long-haul flights.

It’s only a matter of time before American, United and other major carriers adopt similar no-frill tickets for international flights, said Jay Sorensen, president of IdeaWorks, a Wisconsin-based travel and airline consulting company.

“I think the consumer will react fine with this,” he said.

American, United and Delta have already adopted no-frill seats on domestic flights to compete with low-cost carriers like Spirit, Frontier and Southwest airlines.


Sorensen made the prediction in a report released this week that says the world’s top 10 airlines collected nearly $26 billion from bag check fees, food, entertainment and other extra charges. By comparison, the world’s top 10 carriers generated only $8 billion from such charges in 2008.

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