I flew from the US to London in economy on Europe’s newest budget airline — here’s what it was like

Primera Air is a no-frills airline.

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Primera Air is a no-frills airline.
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Business Insider/Mary Hanbury

  • Primera Air is a low-cost Nordic airline that launched transatlantic routes from London Stansted Airport and Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport to New York, Boston, Toronto and Washington DC in April this year.
  • Flights start from $99 one-way.
  • We tested out the airline to find out what it’s like.

It’s not unusual to fork out $1,000 for a flight from New York to London on a summer weekend. So when I heard that a low-cost airline was offering $99 one-way flights, I jumped right on it.

Primera Air is a low-cost Nordic airline that started offering transatlantic flights from Boston, Washington DC, and Toronto to Paris and London in April this year.

It celebrated the launch with a limited selection of $99 one-way fares. While these didn’t last long, the airline promised to offer “prices previously unseen,” which continue to start at $99.

We put the airline to the test, find out what happened below:


From the get-go, the website is easy to use – each option and price is clearly marked out for passengers.

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Primera

The price jumps up considerably when booking a ‘flex’ economy ticket. However, it’s less expensive when opting for ‘comfort.’


The sales process isn’t as aggressive as other low-cost airlines. There’s just one page that pushes the various add-ons.

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Primera

Months passed without thinking about my Primera flight until 24 hours before when I came to check-in online. This is when reality hit that this really is a no-frills airline as there wasn’t an option to check-in online. The only option you have is to pay for a reserved seat.

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Business Insider/Mary Hanbury

Primera advises customers to arrive at the airport three hours before the flight departs. This advice might seem overly cautious, it’s is not. The queue was massive when I arrived at Newark airport.


As time was tight, I was ushered into a separate queue, which moved quickly.

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Business Insider/Mary Hanbury

Primera charges for any checked baggage but allows you to carry 10kg worth of hand luggage spread across one carry-on bag and a smaller bag. Any customers with a bulky looking bag looking to cheat the system are pulled aside at the airport and forced to have these weighed.

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Business Insider/Mary Hanbury

If you are traveling for longer than a weekend and don’t want to live off one pair of trousers and a T-shirt, it’s definitely worth checking in a bag.


The check-in process was a stressful start to the trip. I dashed to the gate, which was appropriately luxurious.

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Business Insider/Mary Hanbury

My first impression of the plane was great; things were looking up.

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Business Insider/Mary Hanbury

Primera has two new Airbus A321neo planes which cover the transatlantic route. These single-aisle planes are designed to be more fuel efficient than standard double-aisle planes, which enables the company to offer cheaper seats.

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Business Insider/Mary Hanbury

The seats were brand new…

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Business Insider/Mary Hanbury

…and the leg room felt pretty generous.

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Business Insider/Mary Hanbury

However, there are absolutely no perks on this flight. All you have is a USB plug and a food menu for entertainment.

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Business Insider/Mary Hanbury

There is a limited selection of food and drink and it’s mostly snack food, so it’s wise to eat before you get on board.

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Business Insider/Mary Hanbury

While the food wasn’t cheap, it wasn’t extortionate either, despite this being an easy way for the airline to sting its customers once on board.

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Business Insider/Mary Hanbury

As this was an overnight flight, the comfort of the seats is a big priority.

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Business Insider/Mary Hanbury

I was so bowled over by how new the plane was that I didn’t notice the minimal amount of padding on the seats…

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Business Insider/Mary Hanbury

…or the modest recline. These seats were only slightly more luxurious than a deck chair.

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Business Insider/Mary Hanbury

I arrived at London Stansted a little weary but with no regrets. The return trip home was considerably more comfortable too. While it kicked off with a big check-in queue as it was a day flight, there was no pressure to sleep and the customer service on the flight was great.

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Business Insider/Mary Hanbury

Overall: If you’re looking for an affordable option, Primera is a good choice. It’s definitely worth sacrificing some of the luxuries of other airlines if you can spend 50% less on the fare.