Two weeks ago we were finally on our way to Nice again, for the first time since July last year, and for the very first time our friends Maria and Daniel were joining us for part of the trip. But French air traffic control wanted differently, as they went on strike the same day we were supposed to fly.
If I believed in signs I'd think the universe was telling us something already ahead of the trip as both Daniel and I fell ill the weekend before. Neither of us were in great shape on departure day but that didn't stop us from going. What did stop us was a strike as well as, it seems, very bad management by SAS.
French air traffic was minimal on Tuesday and our flight was one of the ones which had not been cancelled, albeit delayed. Around the time of our original departure, 10:20, we were told that our flight did have a slot time at 12:30, but that unfortunately it looked like SAS didn't have a crew anymore for the flight. The original crew had been working too many hours already and the new crew members might not make it to the airport in time. And that's what eventually happen.
What I don't understand though is how SAS (and maybe not just SAS but airlines in general) can have so small margins in terms of the crew's working hours. I understand that they probably started their day in Östersund at 5am and going to Nice and back to Stockholm would make their work day very long. But it's not like the flight was hours and hours delayed. Two hours must be pretty normal if something happens, for example technical problems. And I don't understand how they don't have a new crew on stand-by that can make it to the airport in a few hours. Daniel, who also happens to be a pilot, said it's probably down to one member who didn't make it in time and because they have to be a full team (of course) the plane can't take off.
|Big kids also have fun at the play area at Arlanda!|
There was no point queuing at the transfer centre at the airport so we checked out our luggage again and headed back home to try to rebook our tickets over the phone instead. Once we got through we were told we were rebooked on another flight the next day, via Copenhagen this time. So far so good. We knew the risk was high that flight would be cancelled too, especially since the strike was planned to last three days, but we didn't want to give up just yet. Even though the flight was an early morning one.
So the next morning we get up in the wee hours (and carry heavy luggage and two kids out of the building again, in and out of the car, on and off the airport parking bus...) and we make it to Copenhagen without problems. Of course this wasn't the leg with issues but it felt promising still. Why fly all of us to Copenhagen if they didn't think we could make it?
|Yes, we're off to Copenhagen and then we'll see...|
But of course it was too good to be true. We're told that we'll get new information at a certain hour and that time gets pushed a few times. They give us food vouchers, which we spend to the last penny. Eventually they give us the bad news that the flight is cancelled. After a long wait at the transfer centre we're booked on a flight back to Stockholm (some passengers opt for a flight to Milan - which hopefully weren't affected by a similar strike in Italy that day - and bus transfer to Nice but we don't want to do that with two small children, especially since we would have arrived in the middle of the night).
|Happy travellers despite everything!|
Luckily Isolde is a bit too young to understand the concept of a missed trip and and for her exploring airports and flying back and forth Stockholm-Copenhagen is enough of an adventure. She must have wondering why we were hauling around so much luggage for such a short trip though haha. She was a star throughout except take-off and landing, as she doesn't like to be strapped in, but that's just something she has to get used to. She flew quite a lot in her first year but before this trip she hadn't flown since last summer. Harald is just the most easy-going baby so he was his usual smiley self both days - although the day after he slept all day almost.
|We had brought our Babyzen Yoyo pushchair, which folds into a very small carry-on size, for Isolde, and discovered that Harald could ride in it too.|
|At Kastrup they had pushchairs suited for both children and babies, which is excellent when Isolde and Harald were asleep at the same time.|
Once we had landed in Stockholm our luggage had not travelled with us of course, but luckily we didn't have to wait long and it was delivered the next morning. But the bad luck didn't end there. When we had picked up the car from airport parking and just turned onto the motorway Maria and Daniel, who were ahead of us, called to tell us that there has been an accident and that they were now stuck in stopped traffic, and recommended us to get off the motorway. We got their call just in time and turned off and into a McDonald's. I spot a playground and suggest we hang out there until the road is clear. After a while both kids require a change of nappies and we discover that we've run out (Harald went through 13 nappies that day!) so we decide that then we can just as well go to Ica Maxi and pick up supplies for the next few days, including nappies.
And that's how we ended up at the supermarket instead of France...
We could have made a new attempt on the Friday that week (our original departure was Tuesday) but SAS for some reason didn't allow us to rebook the return flight (strikes are considered force majeure) and we felt a five-day trip would be too short compared to the eight days we originally planned for. And we were tired of airports and also worried that the strike might still cause delays and even cancellations. So we opted for a full refund. We also tried to get some compensation for pain and suffering but our request was turned down. At least we got compensation for extra expenses such as parking and cancellation fee for the rental car in Nice. We'll try with our insurance company but it sounded unlikely when we talked to them on the phone.
We looked at buying new tickets for a later time in June or July but the tickets were really expensive compared to what we originally paid for ours in January. Instead we'll spend it on visiting Maria and Daniel in Bodø in the north of Norway where Daniel works. It's supposed to be very beautiful there and I'm also looking forward to experiencing midnight sun!