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We flew Norwegian to Funchal, Madeira on Saturday 25th February 2017 and returned Saturday 4th March.
LGW dep. 14:10 FNC arr. 17:45 Duration: 3h 35m
FNC dep. 18:30 LGW arr. 22:05 Duration: 3h 35m

This was part of a package that included half board in a superior sea-view room at the Vidamar Resort Hotel in Funchal and private transfers to and from the airport. The package was purchased almost a year ago in a sale for around £500 per person.

Seat selection was chargeable and by the time I looked, the front row seats had already been chosen. I went for row 25 D and F – an old trick where you hope that the airline won’t put someone in the middle seat – only works if the flight isn’t completely full. Charge was £7 per seat, per flight.

I registered for the Norwegian Reward program – this doesn’t offer status levels, just rewards, like free fast track or lounge access in exchange for points that you earn each time you fly. But as with any loyalty program, it doesn’t hurt to register.

There was no queue at check in and we were able to drop our checked bags quickly. I paid for fast track security at London Gatwick South Terminal – £5 per person. So we were quickly in the terminal and went to the No. 1 Lounge.

Boarding by seat row and both front and back. The plan worked and the middle seat was left empty.

What surprised me was the number of Portuguese families on the flight. We had small children and babies all around us. Contrast this with our previous Thomson Airways flight that was a sea of grey-haired English tourists. I guess that with Norwegian scheduled fares so low, many from Madeira are taking the opportunity to visit the UK. If you want to avoid crying babies, I’d choose Thomson!

There was no menu in the seat backs – this was provided a while after take off. Apparently the menu is flight dependent.

Here is the menu for the outbound flight:

The bottles of wine were quite small. The food was okay.

The Pilot announced that there was no Wi-Fi available as this was a brand-new aircraft and it hadn’t been fitted yet. There was free Wi-Fi on the return – it wasn’t that fast but useful for sending messages and checking news.

The overhead monitor showed various cartoons and TV shows, there was no headphone jack in the seat, so they shows had English subtitles.

The flight was about 40 minutes late. We could only disembark from the front and so it took some time. Funchal airport is small and we were quickly outside.

There was a line for check in for the return flight so we had maybe a 15 minute wait. Security was quiet and we were through quickly without fast track.

We could see the aircraft from the gate, but they insisted on using buses. Families were checked through first and put in a room to the left. Then everyone was allowed through on either left or right sides. When the bus arrived, both left and right doors were opened, so families gained no advantage at all.

The bus sat for 15 minutes and then took us to the aircraft. The doors opened and people got off. Then someone ran up to say things weren’t ready and the bus should go around again. Passengers back on. Bus drove around.

Boarding was by the front and rear stairs but without guidance – so some low-numbered row passengers were trying to fight their way all the way from the back to the front.

The flight was full, including the middle seat. We were again surrounded by small children and babies.

The food menu was different, but with some similarities. Drinks menu was the same.

The flight was about 30 minutes late – arriving 13.30pm. Gatwick passport control was quiet.

This wasn’t a bad return flight for the price and I’d certainly consider using Norwegian again on other routes.