Sandra Simpson flies from Stockholm to Oslo on SAS flight 849
A 737 configured into two rows of three seats.
The hiccup: We booked SK889, Stockholm-Bergen, through the SAS website in December 2017, paying £137.10 each (about $264). When we arrived at Arlunda airport on the allotted date, six months later (flying from Auckland with transits in Singapore and Moscow), SK889 had been cancelled. Darn.
Shout out: To the jolly, bearded staffer by the SAS ticketing/information counter dealing with all manner of random queries from exhausted travellers. He assured us we'd be automatically re-booked on another flight and directed us away from the long ticketing queue to the check-in counter. Eva was one of only two "check-in support" people and we had to pass a "why do you need to talk to someone" test to get to her as SAS encourages self-service and bag drop. Eva calmly got us sorted with boarding cards and more information — important to know the new flight was a half-hour earlier than the old one.
(But wait . . .) Heartened to hear she had loved her visit to New Zealand.
Class: Economy is all there was.
Flight time: About 50 minutes, but take-off was delayed by 30 minutes due to the plane's late arrival.
My seat: 5E. My least favourite position — middle of the row. The Norwegian in the window seat was a friendly fellow (an SAS employee returning from holiday) and the woman on the aisle was thin and silent.
How full: Chocka. The late departure meant anyone with a connection needed information, and near Oslo the crew provided full details of held flights, rebooked flights, which gates to head for, etc. Our hearts sank at the news everyone had to clear Norwegian Customs before heading to our respective departure gates, but this turned out to be only a machine-read of the boarding pass. Although our onward flight was due to have left 10 minutes before we touched down, it waited and then waited for luggage off the Oslo flight to be loaded. Yay.
Entertainment: None, apart from swapping fun travel stories with the window-seat guy.
The service: Brisk and efficient with a no-nonsense friendliness. All announcements in Swedish and English.
Food and drink: From what I understood, tea, coffee and water were free, everything else had to be purchased (money or airpoints). I didn't see a single transaction carried out and everyone around me was ordering snacks and canned drinks, so colour me puzzled.
The toilets: Didn't use them.
Luggage: Eva wasn't sure if we'd have to collect it in Oslo. "The Norwegians are always changing the rules." Thankfully, we didn't sight our bags again until Bergen.
The airport experience: Arlunda's terminal 5 was busy. Security was well-staffed but taking its time and boarding our flight to Oslo was a scrum, somewhat encouraged by ground staff who were apparently as tired of waiting for the doors to open as we were.
Arlunda has good shopping and eating options. From our quick sprint through it, Oslo's airport looked sleek and modern (and empty)
The bottom line: Disconcerting cancellation made right by SAS staffers. Although we had an extra leg added to our journey, we were in Bergen only 30 minutes later than originally planned.