Norwegians taking off on summer holidays and tourists heading for home once again faced long lines at passport control at Oslo’s main airport, OSL Gardermoen, Tuesday morning. It was another reminder that it can still be necessary for those traveling out of the EU’s Schengen area to get to the airport early.
Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that at one point, the line extended through the entire terminal leading into the area for non-Schengen flight departures. That includes all non-stop flights to the US, the UK, Asia and EU countries that opted against joining the EU’s Schengen area, which did away with most passport and border control amongst themselves.
NRK said the line of passengers extended from the passport control point all the back to the duty free sales area at the terminal’s entrance. It caught both airport and police in charge of border control by surprise.
“We don’t know why this has happened, there aren’t any more (flight) departures than normal,” Lasse Vangstein, communications adviser for the state-owned airport agency Avinor, told NRK. “The police are responsible for staffing passport control but we’re sorry this line has formed.”
The airport has largely gone over to automatic passport control but police still need to be on hand. Solfrid Nyheim, acting division chief for border control at OSL Gardermoen, claimed the line formed because there were more departures than signaled in advance. “We also had a few large aircraft from Asia that landed 45 minutes early,” Nyheim told NRK: “During the last hour before the day shift arrived, we had staffing that was too low.”
She said the automatic passport control machines recently installed have performed “very well” otherwise. “We receive predictions from Avinor on which we base our staffing,” Nyheim said. Aberrations can quickly lead to large lines forming, but she claimed they don’t last long. Border patrol systems have been expanded and improved since long lines caused problems in earlier years.
There were no immediate reports of any passengers missing their flights because of Tuesday’s unexpected waiting time in line.