Warning: Wall of Text and very few pictures to follow..
Every year, me and a bunch of friends take a skiing trip somewhere in the Alps. This year, we thought we’d fly down instead of the usual bus trips and to make things a bit more interesting we also split up, flying a few different routes down to our destination in Italy. Me and three of my friends settled on INN via VIE on OS.
The itinerary, nice and simple
The flights were due to be operated by a bunch of different aircraft, with an A319/DHC8 combo on the way down and two F100 flights back home, meaning two new types for me (DHC8 and F100). Booking was hassle-free via a travel agent who also helped me secure reservations for my ski bag at no extra cost.
Arriving at ARN very early this Saturday morning I headed straight for the EBG desk where the agent had no problem checking in my luggage and pointed me towards the special baggage desk to turn in my ski bag. I met up with my friends before security which was a breeze as usual at ARN. We quickly headed for our assigned gate where an A319 was indeed waiting for us (despite some indications of an equipment change to an F100, guess those were false).
Boarding was quickly announced and uneventful, we pushed back more or less on time and headed for runway 08 for takeoff. The A319 started down the runway...and throttled down with some heavy braking action after only a few seconds. Soon, the pilot came on explaining that they had aborted the takeoff due to a fault indication with one of the engines and were speaking to Vienna for advice while we taxied back to where we came from. A few minutes later, the pilots had confirmed with Vienna that the plane would not be going anywhere and that we would be deplaned at the same gate we had left just a few minutes earlier.
After leaving the aircraft, the gate agents announced that new information would be available in about an hour and issued 75 SEK food coupons so we could get something to eat and drink. I headed over to the SK service desk to inquire about our connection but all they could do was to tell us to sit tight. I was also able to call the transfer service we had pre-ordered and advice them we would not be arriving to INN as planned.
As the one hour mark approached, we again headed for the gate and indeed they had new information. We were all rebooked onto the next VIE bound flight, and those of us heading for INN were rebooked onto an early afternoon VIE-INN flight. The VIE flight was about an hour away from ARN and a quick check with FR24 confirmed that it was a 736. Of course, as a frequent SAS flyer the 736 is one of the most flown types in my log, but this was my first time on a non-SAS example of it.
The flight to VIE was entirely uneventful and OS served a (really) nice muffin to cheer us up a bit. Seriously, I think this was one of the best chocolate muffins I’ve ever had.
Very yummy chocolate muffin
Arriving in VIE, most pax headed for the transfer desk building up quite a queue. *G status to the rescue, and I quickly received a new boarding pass from the Business desk and also managed to bail out my friends who were waiting in the (now even longer) line. One thing I don’t like about VIE is that you need to pass another security checkpoint just to be let into the gate holding pen. Once in the holding pen there’s really nothing to do and basically no amenities except for a (filthy) bathroom and some vending machines. Really poor layout, VIE!
Anyway, boarding for the INN flight was eventually called and we headed for our nice and fresh winglet-equipped 73G. Nothing special about this flight either, and since the weather wasn’t very clear there weren’t any really stunning views besides different shades of gray so I didn’t mind having received an exit row aisle seat. The “interesting” INN approach went without problems and we parked on an apron position, to be bussed the 100 m or so to the arrivals door.
Our ride to INN
Various tails and not-so-nice weather at INN
After a few minutes of wait the bags started arriving, and with that the next nasty surprise on this endless Day of Fail. Our ski bags eventually arrived but our main bags did not and we had to rush to the baggage assistance office before everyone else did. I was one of the first to report my bag missing and after large amounts of keying stuff into some ancient computer system I got a couple of papers with a reference number, a couple of phone numbers to call and not much else. We couldn’t do anything except find our transfer service and get going to our final destination.
Our bags did arrive after 43 hours and about a dozen phone calls to Austrian’s central baggage service as well as the service desk in INN (where they usually didn’t answer). All in all, we lost about 1.5 days of skiing. I must have called Vienna every two hours or so during the Sunday, and at least the lady at the central baggage service was very understanding and friendly and did the best she could to help us. The whole event was as follows:
Saturday, 1500: “Lost baggage” form registered
Saturday evening: No answer from any of the phone numbers we were given
Sunday morning: Central baggage service answers, able to find the bags belonging to two of us but not the other two, suspect they may still be at ARN..
Sunday lunch: All bags located, they were in VIE all along and will be loaded on a flight to INN soon
Sunday afternoon: Two bags (including mine) are in INN, the other two in a taxi in its way to INN
Sunday evening: All bags on their way to our hotel (a two hour drive from INN)
Sunday night: Bags still “on their way”, may arrive during the night, driver will call
Monday morning: No call during the night, not very happy as you can imagine.. We head for the ski pass office to explain our situation and have two days on our ski passes refunded. On our way back we spot an Austrian-registered van..and sure enough, about 10 minutes later our bags arrive a grand total of 43 hours after our flight touched down at INN.
We did hear that for some reason, 38(!) bags got left behind at the transfer area in VIE. How they managed to not load that many bags in a 73G (should be plenty of space) is beyond me. Oh well, let’s fast forward a few days, it’s now Saturday again and time to fly home.
Our transfer minibus arrived at INN on time and the airport was of course a complete and utter chaos. Luckily, most people were queueing for charter flights to pretty much everywhere, and the OS counters were completely deserted which meant we were able to check in very quickly. After mangling our way through all the people to the special baggage drop-off, we headed for the (very long) security queue full of the usual “fly once a year” people. Needless to say, it was a pain and I really wished INN had a fast track lane for *G status holders (if there is, I didn’t spot it).
We spent the next 30 minutes or so talking to another friend who would be leaving on a charter flight just before our VIE bound flight. Boarding was called for us just a few minutes after he boarded his flight and the usual 1 minute bus ride followed. This time, our ride really was an F100, yay! Since my charter-flying friend had to settle for an E-190, I think I won..
Everyone got settled in and in no time we were on our way. Since it was completely dark outside there were no views to be had this time either.
Legroom is nice on these F100s
Since this trip was obviously jinxed it turns out we departed INN 10 minutes late. To add icing to the cake, the jetway at VIE didn’t work so it was time for yet another bus ride to a completely different part of the terminal, and a long walk back to the same gate(!) where the same plane would leave for ARN. After yet another of those pointless at-gate security checks (I don’t think we left airside after all) we were waiting for the plane to be readied for us to board again. The jetway didn’t work this time either, so we had to use a staircase and walk a short distance to the aircraft in the freezing wind. Why we couldn’t do this and had to take a bus when de-planing is beyond me.
The flight back home was uneventful and I nostly spent it dozing until we touched down at ARN about 30 minutes late.
My first rejected takeoff, which lead to what can only be described as a comedy of errors. I’m presently looking into using my credit card’s insurance in order to claim reinbursement for some of the purchases I had to make while not having my baggage. I also guess I should send OS the bill for all those international calls to their baggage service. Speaking of which, as I said the woman who staffed the Vienna desk was the high point of the whole baggage ordeal. She was helpful, service-minded and spoke excellent English and actually showed what such staff should be like. Five stars to her, and no stars to the VIE baggage handlers.
Not much to be said about the flights. The cabins were in excellent condition on all four planes, and the cabin crew and inflight service was decent (and the muffin on the ARN-VIE sector was excellent). One new type, the F100, which seemed pretty interesting and I really must try and get on one again in the future. Since I have yet to see the city of Vienna, I might even give OS a chance again, albeit with only cabin baggage.