In 2019 I booked a flight ticket with SAS to Svalbard. Unfortunately Covid19 happened.
My ticket is from a flight outside the nordic countries, with a layover in Oslo.
I'll be prevented from entering Norway, since I'm not a resident. Moreover, even if I was already in Norway right now, I'd be prevented from boarding the flight from Oslo to Longyearbyen, since Svalbard also separately restricted travel.
To add to the complexity, when I tried to book this ticket, SAS doesn't offer a flight with a single layover. All of the flights I found have a further layover in Stavanger, Stockholm, Copenhagen... even if SAS offers direct flights to Oslo! The solution I found was to book with a travel agent which sold me a ticket with a single layover.
So, SAS has a page for Covid19 information, with links to a search tool (a bit buggy and annoying to use) to check cancelled and confirmed flights, I haven't been able to confirm it for sure, but the closer we are to the departure date (it's less than 10 days from now), it seems that the less likely it'll be for it to be cancelled.
I have the option of
REBOOKING FREE OF CHARGE, unfortunately
The rebooking can be made only once. and due to the current uncertainty, it's really difficult to pick another sensible date on which to plan my trip (no idea when Norway and Svalbard will reopen to visitors).
In theory, I have the option to exchange my flight ticket for a voucher, that way I'd have the option to defer choosing the new date, which would suit me much better. Unfortunately
The voucher is valid for bookings made directly with SAS (not for bookings made by travel agents).
I already contacted my travel agent 6 days ago. They ask not to call, and contact them via their ticketing system only for trips in the next 4 weeks. Unfortunately, both messages I sent them have been replied with an automated reply which suggests to call them on the phone (phone which only has a recorded message, saying that they are unable to take calls due to the huge volume of requests).
So, it seems that I'm stuck. I was thinking that given that in normal circumstances I have right to travel to norway (being an EEA citizen), if I'm denied boarding I should be able to at least hope for compensation according to EU regulation 261. Though it seems there's an exception
For safety, security or health reasons, which usually is for different kinds of concerns, but it might be applied to a blanket ban on non-residents due to Covid19.
Regardless if that exception happens, I'd have to actually attempt boarding (be at the airport on time) to actually claim compensation. I could do that, but that seems less than ideal:
- I'm social distancing, and I'd rather avoid a needless trip to the airport
- As described above, I don't know if I should realistically expect compensation (maybe you can help me here)
- I'd have to hope that the airline would really not let me board (given that I'd then be stuck in Norway without a flight to come back immediately), though I guess I can go past the gate and then turn back before entering the plane.
I guess that if the worst thing that happens to me during this pandemic is that I'll lose out on the money for this flight ticket, that's still pretty good, all things considered. Before giving up on it though, maybe you have some suggestion on how to able to be refunded?