A new player for low-cost airfares from the United States to Europe is materializing.
Norwegian Air, already the third-largest low-cost carrier in Europe, will launch 787 Dreamliner service next year, and the prices will surely give the legacy carriers a scare.
Starting next July, Norwegian Air Shuttle will fly to London's Gatwick Airport (easily connected to the city by train) twice weekly from New York, Los Angeles, and Fort Lauderdale.
From New York City, rates will be as low as $292 each way (with distant advance purchase, of course), and yes, that includes taxes. That's $584 round-trip. (When I price-checked, outbound prices were sometimes $340 each way, and return flights were $482 to $530, which indicates they're already selling well and that lowest deal is only for the fastest clickers.)
Los Angeles round-trip rates are as low as $674, and Lauderdale from $578. All flights will be twice weekly.
Those are the airline's "LowFare" rates, which come with the most restrictions. The "Flex" rates, though higher, have more flexibility and fewer additional fees such as for checked baggage. See this chart for the other distinctions between the two ticket types.
From London, Norwegian connects to some destinations that will also excite Americans, including Santorini, Greece, and Corfu, Sicily, and Budapest—all of them are somewhat difficult to reach cheaply otherwise.
Norwegian, which flew 17.7 million passengers in Europe in 2012, brings with it a lot of experience, so it's coming into the American market boldly. It already announced plans to go to Oslo and Stockholm from Oakland, California, and Orlando, which is already does from New York.
Norwegian is online at www.norwegian.com, and on the phone at 800/357-4159.