A Rather Diminished Joy of Flying

Starring:

dubrovnik.jpg
It is yesterday evening the 22nd. I’m on Norwegian flight DY928 from Oslo (OSL) to Copenhagen (CPH), scheduled to leave at 1750 hours. The weather has been splendid all day in Norway, so I’m looking forward to the view (free seating secures me 3A) on the 1 hour hop down to Denmark. Usually a simple trip, but not today.

After the sound of “boarding complete” we wait for the plane to leave the gate, but in vain. Instead the crew begin discussing something fervently, and after a while ask for a certain person on the PA system. He’s not there, and after yet a while they embark on roll call not unlike those in elementary school. This does not satisfy them either, so they tell us there is one person too many on the plane and they need to see everybody’s ID again and cross-check with the passenger manifest. Free seating sure paid off here.

Neither plane nor crew is actually from Norwegian, but from Dubrovnik Airline of Croatia. They are smiling, but not very professional.

Finally, at around 6:30 they find the problem – there was no terrorist or stowaway on board. A computer error had given them a completely wrong manifest. The crew is quick to point out that the fault lies at Oslo Airport, not at Norwegian or Dubrovnik. Fair enough.

At this point, we have been in the plane (no air-con) at the gate for an hour and everybody is getting impatient. But alas, Air Traffic Control cannot give us a time slot for take-off for yet another hour. Now the thing you should know about Oslo Airport is that it’s not exactly the busiest place on earth. While time slot delays are quite common at, say, Heathrow, they shouldn’t occur here.

We finally take off, shortly before 8 p.m., more than two hours late. It is not until the captain’s address at cruising altitude we get the real explanation for the delay: lack of staff at Air Traffic Control (Avinor).

This is hardly the first time Avinor have caused trouble, and fairly often there have been reports of disruptions in air traffic over Norway. It is beyond me that one of the richest democracies in world can have such shabby aviation infrastructure. Someone needs to get their priorities straight.

An hour later we land at CPH, and after visiting Starbucks and Burger King I catch the last train for Århus, arriving at my home at 1:30 a.m. Still quicker than the ferry would have been, but not quite as fun as hoped for.

3 responses to “A Rather Diminished Joy of Flying

  1. Time slots are also calculated according to the destination airport. So even though the airport you are leaving from may seem empty, you probebly won’t arrive at the destination any eariler, because the plane then has to circle before apporach. Due to fuel costs, it is therfore much cheaper to wait at departure airport. The skies are actually quiet crowded and they are getting to the point where they might have to make the planes safety zone smaller.

    The computer error is just dumb. I think we depend a little too much on computers and I’m dreading the day someone detonates a E-bomb (bomb that fries all electronic devives), we are all to vunerable.

  2. You are right, of course, regarding time slots. This was also the initial explanation, and was accepted as such.

    It was only later they admitted that, actually, the delay was due to understaffing at Avinor. That is NOT acceptable.

  3. An under staffed ATC doesn’t sound very reasuring :s

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