UPDATED: Thousands of travelers from Oslo’s main airport at Gardermoen (OSL) faced long lines and risked missing their flights Thursday morning after OSL’s baggage-handling system broke down. Many had to choose between getting to the gate on time and leaving their bags behind.
State broadcaster NRK reported that the technical trouble started at 6am, when the machines that X-ray the bags in the original portion of the recently expanded airport broke down. Airlines SAS and Widerøe, which operate from the older departures hall, were hit the hardest. Repairs weren’t made until mid-day, when airport officials claimed the chaos had been brought under control. Delays were expected throughout the day, though, so departing passengers were urged to arrive at the airport early.
Some flights held
“We can’t deliver baggage in from the departure hall,” Jens Christensen, duty manager for SAS, told NRK at around 8am. “There are long lines of passengers waiting both to check in, deliver in their luggage and go through security. That means some of them won’t make their flights.”
An estimated 90,000 people were due to travel from OSL on Thursday. The chaos meant that many faced an aggravating start to long-anticipated summer holidays. Avinor, the state agency that runs the airports in Norway, couldn’t say when the problems would be fixed, and advised passengers to follow directions from their airline.
Flights were held in some cases, to wait for passengers who were delayed, but an SAS spokesman said that they couldn’t wait too long without creating delays at other airports. “If we begin to hold all the flights, all the logistics break down,” said Knut Morten Johansen of SAS.
Passengers were frustrated and some were furious, describing the otherwise ultra-modern airport as no better than a “third-world” airport on social media. One passenger told NRK that his family, bound for Split in Croatia, was told to leave their bags in an area where they were being collected and would be sent on later flights. “It’s a sad start to our vacation, but we’re taking it as it comes,” he said.
By 10am, airport officials had pressed some mobile X-ray machines into service and that was allowing some bags to be sent onward to Stockholm and Copenhagen, both of which are important Scandinavian hubs for intercontinental flight connections. By noon, operations were said to be up and running again. Airport officials promised that luggage left behind by passengers would be sent after them.
Some of the baggage-handling operations were moved to the new terminal, where the baggage system was operating as normal. Norwegian Air, which runs from the new terminal, wasn’t having any baggage problems after a wave of cancellations caused by a pilot shortage.