After a four-month hiatus in the Philippines, I officially bid farewell to my long-time seafaring career. But I am hopeful that my adventures will not stop there. My boyfriend is currently studying in Sweden so that was my next destination.
The country is very much unfamiliar to my senses. But I welcome the strangeness it offers with open arms.
Flying towards the Arctic circle meant traveling for a good day and a half. I flew with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines to Amsterdam, it was a comfortable trip although I could have been happier if the flight from Manila went straight through instead of having to do a stop-over in Taipei. I checked my flight itinerary in detail beforehand and saw that tiny print of surprise.
Tip #1: Inspect the details of your purchased flight, check for fine prints.
Sometimes when we book flights we fail to see the tiny footnote denoting a flight leg. Be sure to take note of it as it usually means there is a stop-over waiting to happen. For first-time flyers, it might be good to know in advance that you will have to deplane at some point and then re-board after going through security check. Make sure to listen to the plane announcements for instructions.
When we landed in Taipei, I made sure I took all my belongings with me upon leaving the plane. The airport was easy to navigate with all their signs translated in English and ground staff were already present in the transit terminal coaching passengers where to go. Security check went smoothly.
Off to my next stop, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. Upon arrival there, you would be greeted warmly by airport personnel ready to assist and help. Talk about being proactive! Kudos to the Netherlands. There was no need to look for the information center if one has questions. I hoped all airports implemented the same operation.
I found a quiet seating area close to the boarding gate. I decided to rest there while using the airport wi-fi. As the area started to get busier, a fellow Filipino sat next to me. He asked me if I live in Stockholm and I told him it will also be my first to step foot in the city. We started chatting. He told me that he will just be visiting for three days. He works in the Marketing Department for an airline company and he is based in Dubai, this flight is just one of the perks he enjoys from his job. Lucky dude, I said, because flight fees set your wallet back a lot when travelling. At that point, all he needed to think about were accommodation and food expenses. I immediately wished I, too, enjoyed the same job benefits.
Tip #2: When you need to change airlines for a domestic flight upon reaching the country of your destination, make sure to check the next airport’s layout prior to arrival.
As Stockholm neared, I made a quick mental note of how I will traverse the airport. I had a good 3 hours in my hand before check-in to re-arrange and split my luggage content into two bags. I was allowed this time to have two luggage bags weighing 20 kgs. max but only one hand-carry. Stockholm Arlanda Airport was easy to navigate and domestic flights were on terminals 3 and 4. The terminals are interconnected via walkways so it was easy to transfer from one to the other.
Tip #3: Never feel intimidated by the hustle and bustle of airports.
If you feel lost and disoriented, find a suitable corner. Almost all airports have wi-fi so you can check their website to see where the nearest information center is. Also, the fastest and most reliable way is to ask airport personnel any question that you may have.
Upon reaching terminal 4, I had to ask the information center where I can check-in with Norwegian Air as I saw that the counters were without ground staff. He explained that I can use the service kiosks to check-in and further explained that there is always at least one counter personnel who can help me out.
Tip #4: Be airport savvy and use the self-service check-in machines.
Norwegian Air Shuttle has self-service kiosks and baggage drop system that one can utilize in order to print the boarding pass as well as luggage flight identification tags. The baggage drop zones are still supervised by at least one airline agent for passengers who might still need help.
In using the self-service check-in kiosk, one just needs to scan the bar code of the travel document or ticket sent by the airline but if that proves complicated, simply punch in the passenger’s information such as passport number or ticket number on the machine screen. Claim the boarding pass and wrap the printed flight tags around the luggage handles. Remember to keep with you the baggage claim stubs that you will peel off from the ends of the flight tags.
When I arrived in Umeå, I was dead tired. The overall journey was truly exhausting. After disembarking the plane, I prayed that both bags would be present for pick-up. That is one problem I would never want to worry about upon arrival, lost luggage. I was glad it was a small airport. I saw a chance to slither through the sea of co-passengers after picking up my bags and as people in front of me parted, I saw the first best sight of the city, the smiling boyfriend I have missed for so long.
Any tips you can add? Share your helpful travel guide.