Bye Bye to the OSL baggage circus?

SAS plane

Høyre (Norway's Conservative party) may not have pleased everyone in Government so far, but Linda Hofstad Helleland, head of the Transport Committee, has just pleased me.

She's announced a trial of an improved baggage system for international arrivals transferring onto a domestic flight at Oslo Airport.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Read this article about the new baggage transfer rules at Oslo Airport as of summer 2017.

What is the Oslo baggage circus?

Living in Trondheim, I frequently have to travel through Oslo Airport to reach my final destination. Changing planes is irritating, but you soon get used to it living in Norway. The problem comes on the return journey, where on arrival at Oslo Airport you must collect your bags, clear customs, re-check them, and return through security, even if your bags are tagged to your final domestic destination. This is problematic for so many reasons, but most of all for those who are not used to the system and only realise the issue when their bags don't turn up at Trondheim.

“But my bags were tagged through to Trondheim!!” – screamed every traveller at the lost luggage desk, ever

Even for those of us used to the system, it can cause you to miss your tight connection, or at best arrive for it red-faced and out of breath.

So what's changing?

According to a report in Adressa, Trondheim's local paper, the Transport Committee is promising “easier and faster travel” with “continuous baggage handling” through Oslo Gardermoen. New customs and control desks and x-ray technology will be introduced and passengers may be called for manual inspection. The intention is to reduce transfer time from an average of 55 minutes down to 35 minutes.

For the Norwegian Hospitality Association (NHO Reiseliv) it's the culmination of a multi-year lobbying campaign, although it's important to say the change is just a trial, for now.

This is an important victory for the Norwegian hospitality and tourism industry throughout Norway. Continuous baggage handling improves the travel experience for tourists who want to travel to other cities in Norway via Oslo Airport, increasing the competitiveness of airports and the airlines. This is a prerequisite for growth in air traffic, says Kristin Krohn Devold, CEO of the Norwegian Hospitality Association (translated from quote at boarding.no)

I frequently choose Copenhagen over Oslo because of the previous rules, so I'm looking forward to the change. Fingers crossed it works…

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Read this article about the new baggage transfer rules at Oslo Airport as of summer 2017.

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About the Author: David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a freelance writer for technology companies in Scandinavia.


  1. I will be traveling to Norway on August 31. My flight goes through Oslo, then on to Haugesund. Thank you for the information, as I will now remember to gets my bags and recheck them at Oslo. Hopefully this new system will be in place by then.

  2. I experienced this oddity during my flight from London to Trondheim. Fortunately I was traveling with only hand luggage.

    But even so, I felt mildly anxious on behalf of all those who would get caught out. Even more so, because I had only 1 hour stopover gap between landing at Oslo and taking off again.

    I am about to become a regular on this route, so like you said, fingers crossed!

  3. Hi David

    Thanks for your post. How is the arrangement now? Has it changed for good?

    Can you please let us know.

    My wife along with baby is travelling from Frankfurt to Bergen via Oslo and we have been informed by Lufthansa, we might have to do this. Gosh!! Layover is just 45 mins. I did speak with SAS customer care(05400) and they told there is no such requirement..Lot of confusion 🙁
    Keeping fingers crossed!! I will post as it happens.

    1. Hi Sandeep, as I understand it the old system is still in place, but I’d advise you check with Avinor who operates Oslo Airport. 45 minutes is a very short connection time if you have to re-check your bags, I’m afraid. Good luck!

  4. Hi David I have a question, I’m flying into Bergen via Icelandair in July, how long does it take to go through customs in the Bergen airport. Also I will be taking the train from Oslo to Tallberg. How early should I get to the train station before departue?

    1. Hi Sue, I’m not sure if you mean you are transferring through Bergen and have to re-check your bags, or you are just arriving into Bergen. If the latter, you are highly unlikely to be stopped at customs, you’ll probably just walk straight through. As for the train station, assuming you have your tickets already then it doesn’t matter how early or late you arrive. There’s coffee shops and stores to explore if you’re early. Enjoy!

  5. Hi David! I have a question for you, I will be coming from Helsinki to Oslo and then I have connection to a domestic flight and there are 40 minutes between flights but I am only carrying hand luggage, do you think this will be enough time? I am non-european, could this delay me more?
    Thank you in advance

  6. Hola David, My wife and i are traveling from NJ to Oslo Gardermoen on March 6th arriving at 9:45 am oslo time in a United airlines flight, we want to take the flight to Tallinn on air baltic from same the airpot at 10:45 am, we have non-european passports, and traveling with carrie-on backpacks checking the bags in Oslo for the flight to Tallinn, is that enough time in between connections? according to the websites, both flights are from the same airport Gardermoen. hopefully you can help us.

    1. Hi Jorge, I can’t really add any more than I have for all the other comments. It is a tight connection so it really all depends what time your first flight arrives. Good luck!

      1. David thanks, i was able to find a ticket from oslo to riga with 6 hrs in between, so im not too worry now, thank you for the response.

  7. Hi David,

    are there any news about the trial phase? Is the old system still in place or can the baggage be checked through now? I´m travelling from Frankfurt over Oslo to Tromso in september.

    1. Hi Simon, I haven’t transferred through Oslo in a long time, but I think the old rules are still in place. Either way, your bags will be labelled to your final destination so just ask the air crew (I find the staff at the check-in desks don’t know)

  8. Hi David.
    I understand the old system is still in place re inbound from e.g. London-Oslo then transit Trondheim. I notice from one of your earlier messages that you now travel via Copenhagen when travelling from abroad to avoid this problem?! Am I therefore correct in thinking if I travel from London-Copenhagen, then transfer to flight to Trondheim the luggage will be sent directly from London to Trondheim and I no longer need to follow the ‘pain in the neck’,(literally!) Oslo and other Norwegian airports scenario?

    Thanks so much in advance.

    Best Wishes,

    1. Hi Helene, yes, exactly right! If you have more than one hour transit time at OSL then it doesn’t tend to be so much of a problem. Your other option is direct from Gatwick to Trondheim with Norwegian.

  9. Brilliant, Thanks so much for confirming. Will definitely book via Copenhagen, great news!

    Warning ‘re Norwegian, as used to be ok for direct flights to. Trondheim from LGW: only direct flights changed to arrive @ Værnes airport do now not land until close to midnight!! Can cause issues if you have further travel with bus, boat, ferry etc. Not sure why Norwegian in their ‘wisdom’ changed the arrival time to something so absurd, but there you go..

    Thanks again for the information, very much appreciated.

    Best Wishes,

  10. Hello David,

    A very useful article you wrote here. I just came back from Scotland to Bergen via Oslo (OSL) and had to collect my bags before checking them in again. I was travelling alone with my 3 month old baby girl and NO ONE has told me that this transit rout would be so problematic. I ended up missing my check-in and was then rebooked by Norwegian for the next flight. This time they did it for free but they told me to book a longer transit time next time.

    I am looking to complain about this, because if i knew that through transit i have to collect my bags and check them in again….all with a baby on my chest…then i would have booked a different (longer) transit ticket. Do i blame the airport? or do i blame norwegian? for not giving me this vital information during booking of the tickets? And how dare they even think of charging me for another ticket when they did not advise on current rules, where everywhere in europe you do not have to go through this nuisance.

    Thanks in advance 🙂

    1. Norwegian aren’t to blame for the rules, but you could argue they are to blame for not informing you well enough. However be warned if you complain… I complained to Norwegian in July (a totally unrelated issue) and only just had a reply this week..!!

  11. It’s december… 2015…. and I’ve just missed my continuing flight from oslo to bodo. Guess the reason… Ya! Exactly because of “buggage circus”

  12. Thanks for the article. Sadly as of December 26 2015 things had still not changed. We flew from Heathrow to Tromso via Copenhagen and Oslo. No problem at Copenhagen but we saw the fiasco first hand upon arrival in Oslo. The first we heard of this was upon check-in at Heathrow. No mention of it when we booked the flights with SAS. Thankfully over 30 people off my flight were joining for Tromso so thet had to hold the flight. Longer gaps between flights next time.

  13. Just flew from Zurich to Olso (en route to Stavanger) February 21, 2016, and they STILL have this old system in place. Our bags were checked all the way to Stavanger from Zurich, yet we still had to go through the entire process of re-checking back in. What a pain!! Due to a flight delay from Zurich and luggage delivery delays upon arrival, we almost missed our flight to Stavanger, but SAS held the plane 30 minutes for us and several other families. We weren’t too happy to have a stressful situation in between flights due to “Oslo airport procedure” and will avoid Oslo as a stopover from now on.

  14. * Update May 2016*

    I travelled through Oslo yesterday and asked both the security guys and the “connecting norway” assistants. Right now you must meet two requirements to avoid the circus:
    (a) you land from abroad (no matter if it’s EU/Schengen or any other country) and you continue in Norway with the SAME airline or an airline with shared code.
    (b) you travel only with hand luggage.
    In this case you follow the “connecting norway” signs (not the transfer flight signs!) that leads you to a small security check. After you pass the check you go downstairs to the international departures hall and walk towards the domestic departures hall. Between the two halls there is a toll check where you scan your boarding pass for your trip from Oslo to another city in Norway. You MUST have your boarding pass beforehand, as there is no machine to print it in the international hall.

    In the future (nobody knows when) it will be possible to do the same with checked in luggage too. You will wait before the security check and when the bags of your flight are cleared (there is a screen in the security check), you will follow the same route.

    Be careful that you should continue with the same airline! I landed in Oslo with Norwegian and my next flight was with SAS to Trondheim. I followed the “connecting Norway” signs, went through the security check and relaxed in the international hall for a while. When I tried to cross the toll check for the domestic hall my boarding pass was rejected. An assistant told me that it’s because of the change of airline, so finally I had to go out again! So, I went through 2 different security checks! Luckily I had 1,5 hour and the airport was almost empty late at night.

    TL;DR : Only hand luggage and same airline –> follow connecting norway signs.

  15. Hello, I have just read the last entry, and its only added to my confusion. I am flying from Dublin, Ireland, to Kristiansund, via Oslo. I will have one checked bag. That I was hoping would be checked through all the way to my final destination. Will I have to retrieve my bag and go through the process again. Confussed

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