Dear Norwegian,

I am a frequent traveller, and I have been one of your loyal customers for about ten years. I have always experienced excellent service from you, and I have always recommended you to all my friends and family. I used to be one of your greatest fans. At least this was the case until I came to the gate of flight DY1550 from Oslo to Budapest on 25 September:

Ground personnel one: “Sir, you have two pieces of hand luggage, so we need to check them.”

My luggage consisted of a Rimowa Salsa Ultralight Cabin Multiwheel (dimensions 55 x 40 x 20 cm) and a Dicota Notebook Backpack Light (dimensions 47 x 33 x 20 cm). The size of the luggage was fine, but the Rimowa weighed 7.4 Kg and the Dicota 5.4 Kg, for a grand total of 12.8 Kg.

My infamous hand luggage

My infamous hand luggage

Ground personnel one: “I am sorry, but your luggage weighs 12.8 Kg and the maximum allowed is 10 Kg. We have to check your luggage, and you have to pay 400 NOK.”

Me: “Madam, I am on a business trip. Once I arrive at Budapest airport, I will only have one hour and 20 minutes to get to Budapest Keleti train station, buy a train ticket to Bratislava at the international ticket office1, and board the train. I have two pieces of checked luggage included in the ticket, but in order to minimise the risk of missing the train, I have decided to take hand luggage only. If I miss the train, I will be in serious trouble. Is an excess weight of 2.8 Kg that much of a problem?”

My ticket including two pieces of checked luggage

My ticket including two pieces of checked luggage

Ground personnel one: “Sir, too many passengers have broken the rules and brought excessive weight on board lately. We have to ensure that passengers obey the rules.”

Me: “Well, as we speak, other passengers are bringing hand luggage that looks much bigger and heavier than mine…”

Another ground personnel—who had probably started the day off on the wrong foot—jumped into the conversation:

Ground personnel two: “Don’t you understand that it doesn’t help to quarrel!? Don’t you understand that it doesn’t help to point at other passengers!? You have been caught with excessive weight. We will check your luggage and you will pay 400 NOK. Period.”

He used the term “caught,” seriously… Like I was committing a misdemeanour.

At this point, I avoided answering to be polite. I gave them the Rimowa and paid the 400 NOK fine fee. Yes, according to the rules, I was wrong and they were right. Yet, since my ticket included two pieces of checked luggage, they should have avoided treating me like I was trying to abuse the system. Besides, given my risk of missing the train to Bratislava, they should have shown some consideration. Eventually, I lost 20 minutes to collect my Rimowa at Budapest airport. Fortunately, I managed to catch the train at the last minute, but I arrived at my destination with a lot of unnecessary frustration and stress.

I have never experienced anything like this in my ten years as a frequent traveller. Not even Ryanair has fallen so low. One thing is certain: from now on I will give priority to SAS and other airlines over yours.

I have some friendly advice: stop this excessive strictness right now. Your hard-line policy seems to aim at exploiting customers rather than offering them a better service, which may give you the reputation of being cheap—as in “of little worth because achieved in a discreditable way”—rather than just low-cost. Getting rid of this reputation is extremely difficult, especially among business passengers, and you do not want to be placed into the same basket as Ryanair.

All my very best,
Alessandro Rossini, Ph.D.

Footnotes

  1. Slovakian railways do not sell international tickets online nor on machines.

About Alessandro

I am a senior information technology advisor, researcher, and Ph.D. If you liked this article, feel free to share it and follow me.