Misc: July 2010 Archives


July 16, 2010

On my way through Oslo Airport (OSL) on Sunday I found an interesting design flaw. The gate area I was supposed to depart from is shown schematically below.

The way things work here is that you disembark in some semi-controlled international zone but then some flights require you to go through passport control again. (I'm not actually sure why; an FA told me that it had something to do with Schengen versus non-Schengen but since I came in from Germany, which is in the Schengen area, it's not clear to me if one would be going through passport control to enter or leave some jurisdiction.) However, what's unusual is that the gate area is used for both European and International departures. If you're on an International flight, you enter through Door A; on a European flight you enter through Door B.

When I showed up, however, I didn't have a boarding pass, and there wasn't any obvious place to get one. I asked one of the not-so-helpful floating information people who told me to ask passport control. When I asked the woman staffing passport control she told me that I didn't go through passport control and I should just wait for the gate area to open. Now, I'd already tried and found it locked, but when I went back, another passenger was opening the door so I just walked in through door A. I asked the gate agent where I should go and she sent me over through some tunnel to gate 49, where I picked up a boarding pass and had a seat. When I looked over, though, the other set of doors (door B) were also open, allowing me—if I chose—to totally bypass passport control. At some point an FA came over and closed door B but they were simultaneously open for maybe 20 minutes.

Obviously, this isn't that great a design: The doors aren't interlocked in any way so it's easy to make a mistake and have them both open at once. People are moving back and forth between the two gate areas all the time, so it's really hard to keep control of the situation; even if you were able to guarantee that the doors were never open at once you still wouldn't be able to prevent unauthorized transit between the zones without also making sure everyone left the area in between having each door open.