Max Bania flies from London Stansted to Newark, New York, aboard Primera Air.

The plane:

A brand new Airbus A-321, the stretched version of the A320.

Class: There's only one: Economy.


Price: $460 return.

Hang on, who on earth are Primera Air: An Icelandic leisure airline that mainly operates charter flights around Scandinavia. Earlier this year they launched an ambitious play at the low-budget trans-Atlantic market, with daily flights to New York and four a week to Boston.

Flight time: Scheduled for eight hours, but some circling of the airport before landing pushes it out by 20 minutes.

My seat: 31F. It's a single-aisle layout with three on each side. The seats are lightweight and thin, in the style of all contemporary budget airlines, but they're comfortable and there's plenty of leg room.

Fellow passengers: A lot of young professionals and exchange students. A good smattering of New York hipsters. Not a single screaming baby.

How full: I was expecting this flight to be packed but it was two-thirds full at best, which means the rare luxury of an empty seat next to me.

Entertainment: There's a window and a USB socket. The rest is up to you.

The service: New planes, new routes, (relatively) new airline and the service is crisp, confident and charming to match. Before takeoff the head purser announces that his staff collectively speak English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Dutch and Romanian.



Food and drink: We brought enough of our own food to last the eight hours, expecting outrageous on-board prices. Actually, they were very reasonable, with a beer costing less than it would in central London and a $5 pot of laksa noodles actually tasting like laksa noodles. Impressive.

The toilets: As clean and tidy as the rest of the plane.

Luggage: 10kg of carry-on for free, with each checked bag an additional £25 ($48).

The airport experience: It's a slow process at Stansted (London's third-ish airport) because of extra security for flights going into the United States. At the other end, Newark airport is an absolute breeze and we're through in 15 minutes — as word filters through of hours-long immigration queues across town at New York's other airport, JFK.

It's about a 30-40 minute taxi journey into Manhattan.

Would I fly this again? Definitely. This flight was so much cheaper than the full-service airlines, for almost the same in-flight experience — only newer and flasher.