As some of you know, I went to Oslo to see Gabriel Iglesias this weekend, and for the first time, I decided to go with a different airline than I’m used to. I used a low-cost airline called Norwegian Air Shuttle (or just “Norwegian” for short), since their flights matched my own schedule better than my usual favorite this time around.
I had my suspicions beforehand, given the reputation of most very-low-cost airlines (even this one), but I figured I’d be OK, since it was a direct flight (no further connections), and it was for a weekend only. They usually charge extra for checked-in baggage, but since it was for a weekend, I only needed a small enough suitcase bag to fit into the overhead compartment as carry-on luggage.
Then again, since I use Expedia to book both flights and hotel as a combined package, it turned out that the baggage fee had been included in the price, which meant that I could also check in my bag if I wanted to (even if it wasn’t required). Even so, I made sure to shave and wash my hair before I went, so I could cut down on how much I needed to bring with me. This meant that I only had to bring along a few items for my bathroom kit: toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss and deodorant. This also meant no liquids necessary (and I didn’t have to think about that if I had to bring the bag with me through the security checkpoint).
With Norwegian, you can go straight to the gate (through the security checkpoint) without checking in first if you only have carry-on luggage, since their system automatically checks you in (and you can use an app that has your boarding pass on you phone), which was a bit discomforting, since I’m used to checking in to my flights online (which tells the airline that I will be using my flight ticket, and reserves my seat on board).
Taking the flight from Ålesund to Oslo was quite painless. The bag I had was a tiny bit heavy to carry around, so I decided to check it in after all, only bringing my iPad and travel info on board. I also put my show ticket in my iPad bag, in case my checked-in luggage got lost on the way, or was delayed (since the show started only two and a half hours after I landed in Oslo – and a half hour of that needed to be spent on the airport express train).
I was pleased to see that the flight was on time, and the trip itself went smoothly (although I needed to bother the person next to me by taking a quick trip to the bathroom), but one of flight attendants (the one in the front of the cabin) seemed rather in a bad mood (not smiling), so that lowered the experience a tiny bit. Knowing that this was a low-cost airline, that I shouldn’t expect the service I’m used to, it didn’t bother me that much, though.
On my way back, though, I ran into some issues. I got to the airport express train towards the airport a bit later than I originally planned for, which meant I took the one that went at the very last scheduled time that I had written down in my notebook that would still allow me to catch my flight. What I hadn’t accounted for, though, were the extremely long lines for about anything at the airport.
First up when arriving at the airport itself, was the check-in machine, where I would print out a baggage tag for my checked-in bag. That had a small line for each of the machines, but at least I got one printed. After that, there was a very long a slow-moving line to get to the self-service baggage drop-off area (the manually-operated drop-off had an even longer line). When it was finally my turn, and I scanned my baggage tag, I was told I was too late, meaning that baggage check-in was now closed.
Wonderful. Just wonderful.
This meant that I had to take my bag onboard the aircraft instead, at which time I was thankful that I had packed a bag that allowed me to do just that, so I headed for the security checkpoint. The line just seemed endless, but at least I went through security without having an additional check (which would delay me even further), and just as I was putting my belt back on, I could vaguely hear my name being called on the speaker system. Hearing your name being called during boarding time is not a good sign, so I had to start running, and checking the boards along the way to find out exaclty which gate I had to run to. The flight had been assigned gate 15, which is an even worse sign, given that gates 28-30 is the first gates you can see beyond the checkpoint.
To make matters worse, when I finally got close enough to the gate to look for airline personell, I could see that the gate had just been closed, and that no-one was to be seen at first. While panic rushed through my mind, trying to come up with alternate options to get me home, someone popped out from the gate doors (probably to catch up on some manifest paperwork or something – I have no idea what they actually do). She intially said that I was too late when I asked, and I even told her that I had just heard my name being called after passing through security. The airplane was still at the gate, though, so she called them up, read my name from my boarding pass, and thankfully, I was let onto the aircraft after all (and assigned a seat quite a bit further back than my original assignment, but at this time, I was just happy to get home on the scheduled flight after all).
Kudos to the crew at Norwegian that allowed me to get on the flight, even though I was almost a minute late to the gate. This brought a big plus in my book.
I will definitely consider flying with Norwegian again on one of their direct flights.