Norwegian joins airberlin, germanwings, Ryanair and SAS in serving Berlin-Stockholm market

Oh look – there’s that cunning fake “famous ABBA” Norwegian tail again. Norwegian joined the ranks of airlines operating Stockholm-Berlin this month and the cost of a fare got more competitive – and complex. Despite the muddle of fees, as might be expected, the cheapest is Ryanair followed by Norwegian, germanwings, airberlin, then SAS.

Oh look – there’s that cunning fake “famous ABBA” Norwegian tail again. Norwegian joined the ranks of airlines operating Stockholm-Berlin this month and the cost of a fare got more competitive – and complex. Despite the muddle of fees, as might be expected, the cheapest is Ryanair, followed by Norwegian, germanwings, airberlin, then SAS.

As of this week, passengers wishing to travel between the capitals of Germany and Sweden now have a choice of five different airlines and three different airport-pairs to choose from. Norwegian became the latest carrier to join the market, which already comprised SAS, airberlin, germanwings and Ryanair.

For this week’s fare analysis, one-way fares were collected on 7 June for flights departing between 8 June and 31 July for all five airlines. Two of the five carriers (airberlin and SAS)  operate multiple daily flights on some days, so only the cheapest fare was used for each day of departure. Fares were only collected for flights from Berlin to Stockholm.

The fares shown in the graphs below are the cheapest possible all-inclusive fares. However, depending on payment option, baggage requirements and seating preference, the one-way fares for all of these carriers (except SAS) can be considerably higher. These additional fees are summarised at the end of this article.

Source: flysas.com, airberlin.com, germanwings.com, Norwegian.com, ryanair.com Data collected on 7 June 2011. Green shaded areas are weekends.

Source: flysas.com, airberlin.com, germanwings.com, Norwegian.com, ryanair.com. Data collected on 7 June 2011. Green shaded areas are weekends.

Across the 54 days, Ryanair’s average daily fare from Berlin to Stockholm is around €43. The next cheapest is Norwegian at €61, followed by germanwings at €90. airberlin’s cheapest one-way fare averages €118, while SAS (which promotes the fact that there are ‘no hidden taxes’) averages €164.

Baggage fees, assigned seating and choice of payment card add cost

The fares illustrated in the above graphs are the cheapest achievable, but in the case of all airlines except for SAS, it requires passengers to have no hold baggage and to pay by means that not many people do. The table below summarises the additional costs of booking the one-way flights with germanwings, Norwegian and Ryanair depending on hold baggage needs, payment option and seating preference.

germanwings Norwegian Ryanair
Payment fees Visa/Mastercard: €8 Visa/Mastercard Debit: €0
Visa/Mastercard: €5
Visa/Mastercard: €6
Mastercard Prepaid: €0
Hold baggage €8 per hold bag
(up to 20kg each)
€8 per hold bag
(up to 20kg each)
1 piece (15kg): €20
1 piece (20kg): €30
Seating Assigned seat: €8
“Best” seat: €15
Assigned seat: €8 Priority Boarding: €5
Example* €24 €21 €41
*Payment by Visa, one piece of hold baggage weighing 19kg and basic assigned seating (or next best option)
Source: airline websites

Ryanair’s bag fee is steep enough that if you do want to take some hold luggage, Norwegian is now around the same cost as Ryanair. airberlin appears to charge a flat “service fee” of €10, which may increase to €17 depending on the passenger’s choice of payment option. This service fee is waived if a customer has Gold Status in the airline’s “topbonus” frequent flyer programme. As befits an airline that is shortly to join the oneworld alliance, there is no charge for assigned seating and passengers are allowed one piece of hold luggage weighing up to 20kg free of charge.

Another factor that may need to be taken into account is in-flight food and drink. Again, airberlin and SAS offer a range of free non-alcoholic drinks and food items such as sandwiches, while all such items on the other carriers need to be paid for. Passengers wishing to collect points on frequent flyer programmes may also wish to consider this factor when determining their choice of airline, as well as schedule quality and which days of the week they need to travel. So in the end, each passenger will weigh up the different trade-offs of time, cost, comfort and convenience for each airline and make their own decision.


Comments

  1. Jan says:

    Nice summary. However, several mistakes in there. Most Norwegian customers pay by Visa debit card or Norwegian Visa card. Both are free of charge.

    Assigned seat on SAS is NOT AVAILABLE for discount tickets. So to say it is included is nonsense. It is only freely available upon check-in. However, at that time it is also freely available on other carriers with no extra charge.

    SAS does certainly NOT offer a range of free non-alcoholic drinks and food items such as sandwiches for discount fare holders. They do not even serve a glass of water for free. Only full-fare economy and business class fares are given free in-flight food and drinks.

    Other than that, good article, very informative. Thanks.

  2. Kristian says:

    Unlike many flag carriers in Europe, SAS on european flights only offers free food and drink on their economy extra and business tickets. (economy extra tickets is quite expensive)

    Economy passengers has to pay for food and drink on the flight.

    SAS Cloudshop Café http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/5e67c06d#/5e67c06d/4

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