Date: May 2016
Flight #: 995
Aircraft: Airbus A340-300
On Time: Y
Reward Flying Experience: 7 of 10 ✈
SAS Scandinavian Airlines has recently undergone a complete revamp of their long haul product including business class hard and soft products. And while it may not be a grand slam in baseball terms, it sure hits the ball out of the park. They have done a fantastic job.
Rightfully so they are proud of their accomplishment. To convey the message they have produced a dozen short videos explaining their concept and end product. You can view these videos on their website or on the IFE when you are flying. They even have an online tour of the new cabins using Google Street View.
Reward Availability: 6 of 10 ✈
✔︎A bit of luck
While SAS has a fairly large fleet of narrow body jets that can take you regionally on a Star Alliance code share, as mentioned above, with only 16 long haul aircraft the international routes available are limited. Recently they opened a Stockholm to Los Angeles route for US travelers to Scandinavia. Reward travel suffers from this limited routing, however SAS does make rewards regularly available for the routes they have for all Star Alliance point programs.
Value for Reward per redemption point: 6 of 10 ✈
The retail fare for this flight was $4,454, one way. This is a seasonal route. Reward points required for one way in business class is 75,000 so the redemption value is about 6 cents.
All done on United’s website, easy and without issue.
Stay at Gate
The lounge in Copenhagen is expansive. There are two floors but the food and largest rooms are upstairs. If you have a carry-on you get to carry it up the staircase to the 2nd floor. I’m sure there was an elevator somewhere but most people used the staircase. Food selection was limited during the time I was at the lounge around 7:30PM. The very Scandinavian wooden floors are attractive but shoes and luggage traversing the floor add a noise element to the lounge. That didn’t stop me from finding a quite room that overlooks the gate area in the back of the lounge that offers comfortable chaise longue chairs to rest on.
Copenhagen airport Terminal 3 has recently made Gold Track available. With a number of foreign airports not having priority security lines, this program, along with other programs like Skyteams's SkyPriority, offer premium members quicker access through security. Granted I wasn't at a peak travel time, nonetheless I was the only person in the Gold Track line.
What were they thinking?
The cabin on this Airbus A340-300 was simply stunning. Of course the plane had the new product installed probably within the last year or so, even still, it was immaculate. It looked like a new aircraft. The windows were clean, I saw no scuff marks, the seats and tables were clean as were the cabin walls.
SAS decided to use dark grey as their focus color. It works quite well. With the front cabin partition grey and the seat pods black and grey with gold highlights and silver trim, the cabin takes on a richness that is unique. It’s might be the nicest looking aircraft cabin I’ve seen, although the Singapore A350 is pretty darn nice itself. But I think this cabin holds up better to wear and tear.
SAS chose the Vantage XL seat for its Business Class cabin. On larger planes like a 777 the original Vantage pod can have 6 across. The XL will only have 4 across and on an A340 this made for what seemed like a first class seat in terms of space. Configuration staggers row and seat placement. Each row has 4 seats, 2 of those seats hug the aisle. Rows are slightly staggered for privacy.
SAS meal service is done using carts. Because of this my recommendation is to get the seat that doesn’t hug the aisle. With these seats you have the side table between the seat and the aisle.
This photo is a seat against the aisle.
The SAS A340 has a mini cabin of two rows behind the 2nd door and business class galley. On my flight it was empty (and dark therefore no pictures). I was told the temperature was cooler in this part of the plane and it looked very private. With the potential of 32 people in the front cabin this might be a good option.
The lavatories on this A340 were large as well, rivaling a Boeing 747-8i in size. Probably double the size of a standard 777 lavatory. They were also immaculate and kept clean throughout the flight. It even had a window shade!
✔︎Just like home
Get me off this plane
SAS chose the Vantage XL seat for its Business Class cabin. Anxious to try it after sitting in the earlier Vantage model on a couple other aircraft, I feel the XL has marked improvements over its predecessor. While the seat comfort and seat dimensions are very similar (a somewhat firm seat), the leg room and pod layout is a vastly better.
The side table has a ring to keep your beverage from sliding.
The perimeter of a generously sized side table is where the seat controls, reading light, water bottle, vanity kit, headphones, video controller, usb and electrical ports are nicely laid out.
The back of the pod in front of you is nicely desinged as well. It houses the 15 inch brilliant color monitor as well as a magazine holder, tablet holder and coat hook.
Legroom is plenty. This photo shows how deep the footwell goes. (Apologies for the photo, this was a night flight and I will not use a flash on an airplane.) I am 6 feet and sitting in the chair with the ottoman extended I wasn’t close to the back. With the bed extended I still did not reach the back wall. A tall person would be very comfortable in this seat as a bed.
SAS has partnered with a Scandinavian company called Hästens to provide their bedding. Hästens is known for their quality and has been in business for over 150 years. A mattress pad, duvet and large pillow were provided. You can easily get a solid nights sleep with the SAS bed and bedding, as I did.
Cabin/Seat: 8 of 10 ✈
A standard fare amenity kit was provided with sample skincare from Ren Skincare. Quality noise cancelling headphones are provided as well.
✔︎ Wine Menu
✔︎ Multiple coffee selections
✔︎ Multiple tea selections
Pre-dinner beverages were offered in a menu that had something for everyone, including non-alcohol wine. However I felt the wine selection was limited, only 2 each white and red. The red was an Italian Barolo and a Chilean Syrah. Missing in my opinion is either a Bordeaux or Cabernet. Other choices included an Air Mixology list which featured some creative hard liquor drinks as well as Charles Heidsieck Champagne.
The dinner menu was in Chinese and English, not Danish so I assume there must have been a seperate menu for the locals. The menu offered a choice of 4 mains. Interestingly enough none of these selections in English were Chinese dishes, as this was a flight to Beijing. The largest selection of beverages were for tea lovers.
The fact no dish was Chinese seemed odd. So I used Google Translate on the Chinese menu and turns out all the dishes offered were the same. But I did find out that veal shank in Chinese is calf leg!
All food service was carried out using a standard airline cart. Doing so simply doesn’t create the ambience like Turkish and Austrian have with trolley service. Cart/Trolley service is great for viewing selections to choose from such as appetizers and desserts. Not bottles of juice and cartons of milk and your meal that slides out from a shelf inside the cart.
Compliments to the Chef
Fine dining with a miss or two
✔︎No rave reviews
Get me a meal from economy
A small bowl of nuts were offered (you could have more), however no Amuse-bouche to began the meal.
At least the disappointment over the food served didn’t begin until after the appetizer. I chose the salmon and it was nice portion of marinated salmon that was accompanied by a delicious sweet mustard sauce. It was on par if not better than the Austrian dish on my previous flight. The small salad served with a balsamic dressing was also quite good.
Next was the Veal shank and this was typical airline food. Greasy, not very tender and over cooked as well as not very attractive.
Dessert was a raspberry and white chocolate mouse cake as well as ice cream and fruit. The strawberries were as red, ripe and juicy as could be.
SAS has installed the Snack Bar in their business class cabins. Located at door two, between meals you can get snacks, fruit, coffee, tea and soft drinks.
Breakfast was a big disappointment as well. Items were served A la carte from the airline cart. It just seemed like an odd selection of meat, cheese and vegetables. Must be the Danish breakfast. Muesli (not shown) was a small packet of dried muesli and the soufflé could have been found on a US domestic flight any given morning.
Food: 5 of 10 ✈
IFE: 9 of 10 ✈
✔︎Can I stay and watch some more?
Watched a favorite and went to sleep
400 cable channels and nothing to watch
Glad I brought my tablet
This is the same system as on the Austrian plane. I can’t find out who makes it (if someone knows leave a comment). It’s simply a beautiful screen. I never had to remove the controller, just used the touch screen.
✔︎Yes and Free
Yes and Purchase
SAS offers free WiFi to business class customers. I connected but was unable to send any text message or load any website. I guess sometimes when it’s free you get what’s it’s worth.
Crew: 7 of 10✈
Made the flight special
✔︎Did their job
Did they board?
Flight attendants were quite nice. They were friendly, service was not rushed and available when needed. There were 5 attendants on board, with a maximum cabin size of 40 which was less than half full. However I wouldn't say they provided a personalized service. There was a minor language barrier.
Aircraft: 6 of 10 ✈
✔︎Didn’t realize was on a plane
Time for a trade-in
Airlines are in a race to park A340s so I wasn't expecting much and assumed since these were older aircraft it wouldn’t be that nice of an airplane. Wrong. This flight could have been the aircraft’s first. Hats off to SAS maintenance for making a 15 year old aircraft look new.
I really enjoyed this flight. While the food wasn’t anything special, the seat, IFE, aircraft and to a certain extent the crew made up for those disappointments.
I realize departure videos are boring, but this was particularly beautiful at a 9:45PM sunset.
Do you have any SAS experiences you'd like to share? Feel free to leave a comment.