For the longest time, I wanted to golf in Ireland and Scotland. For a nearly as long I didn’t because I assumed it was just too expensive. Transatlantic airfare isn’t cheap, everybody knows that.
Except, that’s not always the case. Newer low-cost carriers have been offering flights at a fraction of the price you might expect. I want to talk about one of those airlines today — Norwegian Air — because they’re almost custom made for golfers who want to play in Ireland and England. They offer the cheapest flights – by a good margin – to the places golfers want to go.
How cheap? You can easily find fares from the East Coast to Ireland for $95. Coming back can be a little more expensive, depending on the month, but there are plenty of fares well under $200. Round trip to Ireland on Norwegian can cost under $250.
There are several things — both good and bad — you should be aware of before flying Norwegian.
The good? Their fleet is one of the youngest of any airline. Expect new Dreamliners, not ratty broken-down beaters. I personally find their web site of the best of any airline. It’s sleek, modern and easy to use.
They also offer direct flights — no layover in Iceland or elsewhere. When flying for golf, I always always always try to get direct flights. I don’t want to increase the chances my clubs get lost or delayed or I miss a connecting flight. I don’t want to miss a tee time because of flight problems, and flying direct helps prevent those potential issues.
Now, the potentially not so good.
Norwegian IS a low-cost carrier, like Southwest, Spirit, WOW, or Ryanair. This means the prices quoted cover your seat and that’s about it. If you have baggage (or even want to choose your own seat), you’re paying extra. The charges aren’t out of line with what other airlines charge, but they can add up if you opt for everything.
Some of Norwegian’s flights depart from major airports. Others depart from lesser airports, such as Stewart (about an hour north of New York City) or London’s Gatwick. For some this won’t be a problem. Personally, I’d rather avoid the hellholes that are NYC’s airports all together, so departing from Stewart is a positive, albeit no frills experience.
Finally, Norwegian has been struggling of late. They expanded rapidly and have left themselves overexposed. They’ve cut back their offerings — sadly, most of their flights to Edinburgh — and they should be able to stay afloat. That said, if you’re purchasing airfare well in advance, you may want to have insurance just in case their financial situation deteriorates.
About Edinburgh. Norwegian offered flights to Edinburgh from the New York City-area, Florida and Los Angeles. Those flights are seemingly done as of late March 2019 (I’m actually booked on the last flight to Edinburgh out of Stewart), which is a bummer.
Beyond flights to Dublin and Shannon from a limited number of US cities — Newburgh, NY, Providence, RI and Toronto — Norwegian offers cheap flights to London – Gatwick from most major US Cities. From there, you can easily reach the heathland courses outside of London or the great links of Southeast England, Southwest England and Wales. There are also some seasonal flights to Manchester, which instantly makes Norwegian a great option if you’re looking to play the links around Liverpool (or even a long drive up to southern Scotland).
In my opinion, the downsides aren’t too bad and the cost savings are extremely worth it — which is why I fly on Norwegian when I’m going to the UK. But that’s a decision everybody has to make. I’d recommend reading what others have to say and make your own decision. But let’s hope Norwegian stays around, because they make playing some of the best courses in the world so much more accessible.