Oslo Gardermoen is now bigger and better than ever before, but the new baggage rules are taking time to settle. Here's what you need to know.
When the new expanded terminal opened at Oslo's Gardermoen airport earlier this year, frequent fliers breathed a sigh of relief. More spacious public areas, better signage, more security lanes, and more departure gates causing less last-minute changes at busy times. The much-crticised domestic baggage transfer rules have also been overhauled, but not everyone is happy.
Up until this year, passengers arriving at OSL on an international flight had to collect their checked luggage and clear customs if they were transferring on to a direct flight. This meant an added delay in re-checking bags and clearing security again, making short layovers at Oslo an unwanted experience for many. To add to the confusion, these were the rules even if your baggage was checked to your final destination, a rule which most airline staff in foreign airports were never aware of. Such was the volume of uncollected baggage at Oslo Airport, something had to change.
A new domestic transfer system has been introduced. This works only for passengers with SAS, Norwegian or Widerøe, so if you are arriving on one of the growing number of global carriers that use Oslo Airport, tough luck. Here's a video that makes it all sound oh-so-simple:
But wait! Even if you are flying with Norwegian, you cannot use this system if you are arriving from one of these destinations: Agadir, Antalya, Athen, Beograd, Bordeaux, Burgas, Corfu, Heraklion, Keflonia, Kos, Kreta, Lanzarote, Larnaca, Lefkas, Malta, Marrakech, Menroca, Palanga, Pisa, Rijeka, San Torini, Sarajevo, Szczecin, Tivat, Varna. That's quite a list of exceptions, and won't do much to help the confusion. With SAS, the following destinations are not part of the new system: Cagliari, Gazipaza, Lisboa, Napoli, and Tenerife.
Unsurprisingly, not everyone is happy with the new system. Life in Norway reader Richard Lewis from Stavanger got in touch to share his story.
“Prior to my arrival at Oslo Gardermoen, I was full of anticipation, dare I say it excitement at the prospect of an improved system for baggage arrival/clearance and onward journey. Sad to say, as a predominantly Norwegian family of four (myself being the odd one out), returning to Norway after a glorious two weeks in Mallorca, we’re we left feeling rather deflated by the whole experience. No problems in Palma; luggage checked in, SAS Plus tickets and priority. Suitcases tagged with Stavanger as final destination and good to go.”
But it was when Richard arrived in Oslo that the fun and games began.
A broken process
“Once pointed out by friendly ground staff we had no problem locating the domestic transfer/custom gates. The information provided seemed clear enough and the advice given followed suit. Await your name(s) in initials to appear on the arrivals screen and proceed through the gates accordingly. You are advised when you arrive at the screens that the process can take anywhere between 20 to 30 minutes if I remember correctly. So no real time saving.”
“Only my daughter (6 yrs old) and I were cleared with our initials appearing. This did not stop the whole family proceeding through the first set of transfer/customs gates (strange). Even though only two family members were cleared, the Avinor assistance confirmed it would be no problem and we should proceed. I was then allowed to pass through the second set (fine), however my son (9 yrs old) was not, thus the confusion begins, as he shouldn’t have been allowed through the first set of transfer/customs gates in the first place.”
“So as a family travelling under the same booking it is entirely possible that you may be split up. My understanding is there is no direct link between the airline reservation and the customs clearance process. My wife with our two children ended up in no-mans land between the two sets of gates. Luckily she managed to find an officer who let her out and she proceeded with the old system. That said, my daughter's suitcase went through (as expected), my suitcase was held up (unexpected as I was cleared) and my wife had to pick hers up (probably expected).”
Only time will tell if Richard's story is just a victim of teething problems, or a fundamental problem with the design of the new baggage transfer system. If you are arriving at OSL on an international flight and transferring on to a domestic flight any time soon, my advice is to allow just as much time as you did before, and watch this space!