Foreign tourists are landing daily at T.F. Green Airport now that Norwegian Airlines has bridged Warwick and Europe, offering low-cost, “wicked cheap” international flights.
Among the travelers are people like Stacey Sayers. Seven years ago Sayers traveled with her 8-month-old daughter, Kathryne, via Aer Lingus from their hometown of Cork, Ireland to Logan Airport in Boston. For the pair, she said the cost was around 3,500 euros, approximately $4,100, roundtrip.
This time, flying Norwegian Airlines, her husband Tony and daughter Lexi joined on the venture, costing the family of four a fraction of the cost – 750 euros, or about $890.
“It’s insanely cheap, we couldn’t have made the trip if it weren’t for the lower flight costs,” Sayers said.
Usually in the late afternoon, Norwegian Airlines flights landing in Warwick are carrying people from Bergen in Norway, Cork, Dublin and Shannon in Ireland and Belfast and Edinburgh, United Kingdom. At prices as low as $99 for a one-way direct-flight ticket across the Atlantic, traveling to another country has become more accessible to a wider range of the populace.
In the baggage claim area at Green, a woman holds a star-shaped foil balloon blazoned with stars and stripes and “USA” in bold letters on each side. She is among many waiting outside the international arrival gate.
Airlines from Azores, Cabo Verde and Norwegian bring in roughly 2,100 arrivals to Green Airport weekly. Since arriving in late June and early July, Norwegian is sending Americans non-stop to Ireland, the UK and Norway daily – with 18 incoming and departing flights a week. Norwegian confirmed additional destinations Martinique and Guadalupe in the French Caribbean would be coming in October as well.
Flights arrive twice weekly from Belfast on Saturday and Tuesday, from Bergen on Wednesday and Sunday, and from Shannon on Monday and Friday. Planes from Cork arrive three times a week on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Landing four times a week, flights from Edinburgh come in on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Dubliners arrive everyday except Tuesday and Saturday. Flights typically arrive in the mid afternoon.
The Sayers are visiting Stacey’s sister, who moved to Stoughton, Mass. 15 years ago. She hadn’t met her sister’s youngest 7-month-old daughter yet but is excited to join her mother who traveled here two weeks ago.
The clan plans to go to Six Flags, New York City, New Hampshire and a rodeo. Roads will go both ways, as her sister plans to make it back to Ireland for the holiday.
“Two holidays, Christmas and New Year’s,” Kathryne, now 7, said while running laps around a row of chairs the family had gathered on.
Coincidentally, Ciaran Fitzpatrick, 20, of Fermanagh, Ireland flew in from Belfast to join a friend, Owen McDonnell, 20, who is staying with his grandparents in Stoughton as well.
McDonnell came over in mid-May to work and save money for his college education, where he studies video game programming.
“I push carts at Ikea, but it’s worth it because minimum wage is so much more here,” McDonnell said. He estimated minimum wage to be around $7 in his hometown but happily collects the minimum $11 an hour in Massachusetts.
Fitzpatrick, who works in information technology, said he plans to take a gap year and needed to take a break from the stress at his job. He said he wanted to stay 21 days, but found it to be 100 euros cheaper to stay an extra three days.
“I want to just chill out and hopefully come back with a tan,” he said.
Fergal Nash of Darien, Ireland had the same intention. He complained about the weather at home.
“It’s just miserable in Ireland now. I’m really looking forward to seeing the sun,” he said.
Nash is visiting extended family in Washington, D.C. and Boston for a stay lasting three weeks.
Of the six and a half-hour flight from Belfast, he said, “Yes, I believe it was worth it for good weather.”
Dawn and Harry Lewis traveled from Belfast with their young son and daughter to spend a week on Cape Cod. Dawn said customs here was quicker than in Belfast. She believes it is due to the influx of tourists.
“There are a lot more Americans in Northern Ireland,” she said, adding, “It’s nice to hear their accents when I’m walking down the street.”
The Lewis family is doing what many Americans are doing in Ireland – traveling to another country to explore and vacation, with no plans to visit family.
A group of four Irish tourists in their 20s to early 30s rushed to hail a taxi. John Welsch, of Belfast, said the group is only staying to the end of the week.
Not his first time in the states, Welsch said New York City and Boston for a week of partying would end in a relaxing weekend on Cape Cod.
“We came to sample the delights of Boston, and thanks to cheap flights, we can,” he said.
Devon Fernberg, 28, of Providence had only a large camping backpack when he walked in the airport lobby. He brought one change of clothes, two pairs of thermal pants, a poncho and a tent.
“I’m going to just explore, there’s a list of places that I want to go, this is one,” Fernberg said. He has Irish heritage but said he does not identify with it. Flying solo, he said he wasn’t nervous, unlike other single passengers.
Like Fernberg, Alison Winfield is traveling alone. She left her home in Cork to meet up with an old college friend from Shrewsbury, Mass. She nervously checked her phone and said she was panicking because she couldn’t reach her friend.
Winfield had been to U.S. before, but arrived through Logan, and wasn’t familiar with T.F. Green. After using a borrowed phone, she quickly said before running out the doors, “Two nights in Martha’s Vineyard, and three in Vermont.”