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Travel: Are ‘flexible tickets’ in Norway worth the extra money? 

The coronavirus pandemic has made it hard to plan ahead, especially in regards to travel. Flexible tickets allow you to change your ticket or get a refund if something goes wrong, but are they worth the extra cost?

Travel: Are 'flexible tickets' in Norway worth the extra money? 
Should you opt for a flexi ticket? Photo by Darya Tryfanava on Unsplash

The ongoing pandemic has put a screeching halt on many of our travel plans.

Recently the Norwegian government has lifted the firm recommendation to forego unnecessary travel within the country’s borders.

Residents are cautiously starting to make summer plans to travel around Norway. But the overall increased level of caution has many travellers choosing to purchase a flexible ticket over a regular one. But is it worth the extra kroner?

What is a flexible ticket?

A flexible ticket is a more expensive ticket that you can change in or get a refund if you have cause to cancel the trip.

Andra Rado, the chief communication officer for Wizz Air explains why the demand for these types of tickets are growing. “Flexible tickets are extremely popular right now because it offers a flexibility that everyone is needing in these current times,” he told NRK.

The price difference

Taking a train or plane are two popular transportation methods used to travel around Norway.  Below are examples of the price difference for a regular ticket and flexible ticket both on the tracks and in the air, from broadcaster NRK.

Source:NRK

How much more are you actually paying?

Based on the information in the charts, you can see a flexible train ticket from Oslo to Bergen is nearly three times the price of a non-refundable one. And low-budget airline Widerøe requests 2,551 kroner (€256) extra for a flexible ticket from Oslo to Trondheim. 

“It is true that the difference can be big, because low-cost tickets can often be discounted, while there is never a discount on flexible tickets,” Dag Brekkan, a sales manager at Go-Ahead Norway told NRK.

It appears that on average, an upgrade to a flexible ticket for transportation by train will cost more than an upgraded flexible ticket via plane. 

It is important to note that you are not just paying extra for the assurance that you will get your money back or the option to change the ticket in case your trip is cancelled. A customer who has purchased a flexible ticket for a plane often enjoys the perks of free baggage, access to the airport lounge, and a fast track check-in, in addition to the money back guarantee.

Thinking it through

So, is it worth it? Many residents already have travel insurance that will refund a train or plane ticket should a trip be cancelled for any reason. 

In addition, many credit cards carry their own insurance on cancelled trips. It may be worth buying your transport ticket with your credit card over a debit card if your credit card company has such money-refunding insurances on travel purchases. 

Note that it is important to follow the national rules and regulations pertaining to the ongoing pandemic, as a lot of banks that offer insurance, such as Sparebank1, adjust their rules to fit  the current restrictions.  

The takeaway

To make the right choice between a flexible ticket versus a regular ticket, it is now more important than ever to check the terms of the ticket you would like to purchase. And if you do have travel insurance, stay updated on the company’s  policies concerning travel and COVID-19.

“When it comes to cancellation options for such trips, the individual must check their own travel insurance for which situations provide cancellation coverage through the insurance company,” Caroline Skarderud, a lawyer with  Consumer Council told DinSide.

“When it comes to insurance coverage during the trip, the individual insurance agreement will also decide, so you should also check with your own company,” she said.

If you’re not on a tight budget, and prefer to travel more comfortably, a flexible ticket may be the best choice for you both now, and in a post-pandemic future. 

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TRAVEL

Could Oslo-Copenhagen overnight train be set for return?

A direct overnight rail service between the Norwegian and Danish capitals has not operated since 2001, but authorities in Oslo are considering its return.

Norway’s transport minister Knut Arild Hareide has asked the country’s railway authority Jernbanedirektoratet to investigate the options for opening a night rail connection between Oslo and Copenhagen.

An answer is expected by November 1st, after which the Norwegian government will decide whether to go forward with the proposal to directly link the two Nordic capitals by rail.

Jernbanedirektoratet is expected to assess a timeline for introducing the service along with costs, market and potential conflicts with other commercial services covering the route.

“I hope we’ll secure a deal. Cross-border trains are exciting, including taking a train to Malmö, Copenhagen and onwards to Europe,” Hareide told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

The minister said he envisaged either a state-funded project or a competition awarding a contract for the route’s operation to the best bidder.

A future Oslo-Copenhagen night train rests on the forthcoming Jernbanedirektoratet report and its chances of becoming a reality are therefore unclear. But the Norwegian rail authority earlier this year published a separate report on ways in which passenger train service options from Norway to Denmark via Sweden can be improved.

“We see an increasing interest in travelling out of Norway by train,” Jernbanedirektoratet project manager  Hanne Juul said in a statement when the report was published in January.

“A customer study confirmed this impression and we therefore wish to make it simpler to take the train to destinations abroad,” Juul added.

Participants in the study said that lower prices, fewer connections and better information were among the factors that would encourage them to choose the train for a journey abroad.

Norway’s rail authority also concluded that better international cooperation would optimise cross-border rail journeys, for example by making journey and departure times fit together more efficiently.

The Femahrn connection between Denmark and Germany, currently under construction, was cited as a factor which could also boost the potential for an overland rail connection from Norway to mainland Europe.

Night trains connected Oslo to Europe via Copenhagen with several departures daily as recently as the late 1990s, but the last such night train between the two cities ran in 2001 amid dwindling demand.

That trend has begun to reverse in recent years due in part to an increasing desire among travellers to select a greener option for their journey than flying.

Earlier this summer, a new overnight train from Stockholm to Berlin began operating. That service can be boarded by Danish passengers at Høje Taastrup near Copenhagen.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about the new night train from Copenhagen to Germany

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