SAS Scandinavian Airlines Business Class Review

This is part of my 18,000 Miles For Good series.  I hope you’ll stay tuned for the rest of the posts:

Since the trip to Djibouti was scheduled last-minute, I already had plans to be places both before and after the trip. That limited my options for flights. My first choice was the daily nonstop SAS Scandinavian Airlines flight between my home airport of Washington-Dulles (IAD) and Copenhagen (CPH), where the relief mission would start.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t available. This is where one of my favorite tips come into play. Whenever I start planning a trip, I always think in terms of how I can improve my itinerary. Admittedly, this is harder nowadays with increased change fees for non-elite and lower elite members of airline loyalty programs.

I currently hold 1K status with United Airlines, which means I don’t pay change fees on award itineraries. After booking a less ideal award itinerary on United, I used Expert Flyer to perform automated searches for my preferred flights. A day or two later, ExpertFlyer notified me of availability on that nonstop SAS flight.

The one-way flight in business class would cost me 70,000 miles and $5.60. One of the biggest factors for choosing this flight? I’d be able to see my daughter play field hockey and catch my son’s soccer game. Worth every penny!

The flight departs IAD shortly after 5pm, arriving in CPH around 7:30 am the following day. That’s earlier than I prefer for a red-eye flight, not ideal for falling asleep.  After spending a few minutes in the Turkish lounge, we boarded on time.  We took off as the sun was setting on a clear day.

The new SAS business class product looks beautiful. I really loved the color scheme. The scheme is mostly dark colors with tan accents.

First Impression Of The Seat

The cabin configuration is a 1-2-1 array which allows for direct aisle access for all passengers. The two middle seats offer less privacy than the window seats. However, there’s still plenty of privacy, if desired. The middle seats are still conducive to a conversation between the two passengers if you lean forward. But, you’re unlikely to see the person next to you while you’re eating dinner.

When I arrived at my seat, there was an amenity kit, a pillow, duvet and mattress pad. The amenity kit contained all the standard items you might expect to see.

There were a handful of small touches that I enjoyed. For example, the shelf area is backlit and controlled from the seat console. It really added to the warmth of the seating area. Small details like this make for a more pleasant experience. There’s a small holder for bottled water and a shelf that allows for storage of smaller items like eyeglasses.

There’s one panel for seat controls where you can make a number of different adjustments. A reading light swivels into position when needed. They also included a second set of controls located alongside the side table. That made it super easy to adjust the seat when I woke up from sleeping.

There’s also a universal outlet and USB port located in the side console. Finally, there’s a small remote control you can pop out for the IFE. However, I found the touch screen worked just fine.

The tray table slides out from under the side console. It’s probably the biggest flaw in an otherwise perfect seat, and I really am nitpicking. The tray table doesn’t sit on the arm rest so it wobbles a bit when typing on a computer. But, it’s a heck of a lot sturdier than the trampoline version United deployed in their new domestic first class refurbishment.

Next to the in-flight entertainment (IFE) screen is a coat hanger and a small pouch to hold small items like a magazine or two.

Fully reclined, the seat had plenty of room for me, both in width and length. I’m 5’9” and a bit on the slender side (though not as much lately!). So, I’m certainly not the best judge of such things. Someone with much bigger feet might have trouble turning over while sleeping due to the height in the foot well. I didn’t run into any issues, though.

I think the seat would have been fine for sleeping without the mattress pad. And, I loved that the comforter was long enough to cover me.

In-Flight Entertainment

I really liked the quality of headphones provided. They weren’t Bose, but I’m not 100% sure what brand they were. Bang-Oluffsen?  They were comfortable and produced a great audio quality.  They seem to be a different headphone than one I’ve seen in other blog reviews (like this one).

I found the picture quality of the IFE to be quite good. The selection of movies was pretty decent, with 22 new releases and over 50 movies in total.

My flight was equipped with Wi-Fi.  Business class passengers enjoyed free Wi-Fi.  I had a bit of trouble getting online.  Once I did, I found the speeds fine.  I wasn’t trying to stream movies or other bandwidth-heavy tasks.  I spent some time working on e-mail and blog posts and ran into no issues.  The price for paid Wi-Fi access was $12 or 3,000 points.

Dining

First, here’s a look at the full menu offered on my flight:

I chose the poached lobster tail as my starter. It was a simple presentation but one of the best starters I can recall having on an airplane in a long time. The use of color was wonderful. The mango and radish made for a delightful combination of texture. There was just a touch of basil oil on the lobster, letting the natural flavor show through.

I asked the flight attendant if it was possible to choose a second starter. He did a quick count on his cart to see how many he had left. I was seated midway through the cabin, so it looked like he had enough. He was happy to give me a plate of the veal loin to try.

The veal was cooked perfectly and served chilled. The tuna sauce was an interesting accompaniment, though if I’m being honest it didn’t improve the dish. The fave beans were fine but could have used a bit more flavor. At any rate, the veal was a great second choice after the lobster.

I was debating whether to choose the swordfish or chicken for my main course. As a general rule, I find I’m almost always disappointed when I order steak on a plane. I’m not a huge fan of beets, so that ruled out the ravioli.

I do like the idea of a Burgundy sauce, but chicken is so commonly served on airplanes. Was the swordfish high quality? My flight attendant assured me customers loved the swordfish option in the past. He said the purple potatoes weren’t quite as purple as a few weeks ago.

I heeded his recommendation and ordered the swordfish. Oh, my! Let me start by saying that almost every piece of fish I’ve had on a plane is drowned in sauce to keep it moist. I was a bit concerned when the swordfish appeared to be swimming.

It was absolutely perfect, certainly one of the best pieces of fish I’ve ever had on an airplane. The mashed potatoes were tasty but not over-seasoned. Those that know we well will also know that I didn’t try the asparagus. With the cheese course and dessert still to come, I was already having one of the best business class meals I’ve ever had on an airplane.

To be clear, I don’t expect good food on planes. I just think setting high expectations for airline food lead to disappointment. But, SAS really performed on their catering.

Wine

I ended up sampling 3 of the wines. That’s way more than I normally would on a flight. I normally don’t drink that much on planes, I just don’t like the way I feel after a long flight with a few drinks in me.

The Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve Champagne is wonderful. It was a perfect accompaniment to the chilled, poached lobster.

I was curious about the Bib Graetz Casamatta Rosso SAS Special Blend from Tuscany. As the description reads, it wasn’t overly oaked (which is how I prefer my red wines). It might be a bit heavy for the swordfish but it worked okay for me. I really enjoyed that wine. It was such a pleasant surprise.

On the recommendation of my flight attendant, I tried a glass of the Chateau la Riviere Sauternes. For wine lovers, this was a classic Sauternes. I guess I was hoping for something different, which was really my bad. I do like dessert wines, but prefer choices like Inniskillin’s Ice Wine Vidal Blanc, and especially their Ice Wine Cabernet Franc.

Cheese and Dessert

While I didn’t sample the ice cream, I did decide to taste both the Bakewell tart and Vermont Raw Milk Cheddar.

I don’t know that I’ve ever had a Bakewell tart before. It was covered with almonds and complemented with a buttery crust. The orange creme anglaise was a wonderful accompaniment. It tasted very fresh with just a hint of orange.

The cheddar was excellent. Slightly sharp, a nice savory end to the meal.

Snack Bar

Shortly after finishing my meal, I got up to use the lavatory. I had noticed a “snack bar” area when we boarded. During boarding it displayed a bottle of champagne and the menu.

Now, it had been converted to house a number of different snack items, including fresh fruit, bowls of soup, cookies, chocolate, wine and a self-service specialty coffee machine (though I’m sure the staff would have jumped at the opportunity to make me a cup). All in all, a nice selection of snacks if you were still hungry. I was destined for sleep so I didn’t partake.

The Final Two Pennies

After catching about 4 hours of sleep we were descending into Copenhagen. I regret that I don’t have any information to share about breakfast other than tasty fresh-squeezed orange juice. As a parent of two who travels quite a bit, sleep is a valued commodity. There isn’t an airplane breakfast that’s worth more than an extra 30 minutes of sleep to me.

I couldn’t have been happier with my SAS experience. I felt like I got a tremendous amount of value for 70,000 miles and $5.60 in taxes for my one-way flight. The staff provided incredible service. It was shocking how warm and inviting they were. My seat was very comfortable for sleep and dining.

I can’t think of a single negative aspect of the voyage. I would absolutely rank my SAS experience ahead of any recent United international business class experience I’ve had. Our Austrian Airlines flight from Vienna was really enjoyable. But, still I think I’d rank my SAS flight to Copenhagen just a notch higher, though maybe that’s just because it’s fresh in my memory.

The efficiency of the service compares to Lufthansa, my daughter’s favorite carrier. However, I felt the SAS team provided a more personalized level of service. I preferred the SAS food and wine (especially the wine), but that could just be cultural preference.

I’m happy to answer any questions you might have about SAS Scandinavian Airlines and my business class experience from Washington-Dulles to Copenhagen.

What’s your favorite international business class experience?

The post SAS Scandinavian Airlines Business Class Review was published first on Pizza in Motion

14 Comments

  1. “Next to the in-flight entertainment (IFE) screen is a coat hanger and a small pouch to hold small items like a magazine or two.”

    Perfect for your iPad when charging via USB or connected to IEF 🙂

    1. Kate, my understanding is there’s one ghetto bird flying around that has the older product. I believe the rest of the fleet is updated. To my knowledge, it doesn’t fly one route. But, chances are you’ll have lie-flat out of IAD.

      1. The ghetto bird you are referring to is flying CPH-BOS leased from Privatair. But that route has gotten so popular that SAS will replace that plane with one of their own updated ones when they get their new planes.

          1. That is no longer correct. The 737 PrivatAir no longer flies for SAS. However, there is one ghetto a330 that has a completely inferior product, and it is a crapshoot which route it flies. EWR, JFK, SFO, and NRT have all had it at some point this year.

      2. You are referring to the RKP, it has actually more leg space and an equally comfortable flat bed. The same movies and service. It’s just the interior and the look of the screens that differentiates. It has top modern engines!

          1. Good to see you enjoyed SAS, Ed. One of my favourite carriers over the Atlantic. LN-RKP is an old LAN Chile A-340 (and AC before that) Better than the old SAS Business but still a bit tired. Still with the old LAN cabin but has been refreshed with SAS colors. Flatbeds but 2-2-2 config. It is a backup aircraft for SAS so it can show up on any of their longhaul routes when they have irr-ops etc. Business and Economy is okay – but Premium Economy has the old SAS seats hence not able to use IFE on the aircraft. They give you iPads on Premium on that aircraft. Rumour has it that this bird will be retired next year. It is over 20 years old this year.

          2. Flemming! Hope you’re doing well. Thanks for weighing in with more context on the ghetto bird. I really, really enjoyed SAS. I think I’d pick them over LH. Glad to hear you like them so much. Makes me think my experience wasn’t a complete fluke.

  2. Ed, your SAS experience mirrored mine, except I was flying CPH-SFO, NS flight. Had a great window seat & was amazed at the comfort level of the seat & bed. For me, SAS surpassed other recent United/SA INTL business class award redemptions: price, same as yours 70k miles+$5 – what a deal for 11.5 hr flight! Enjoyed the SAS lounge too; very nice.

  3. The “ghetto planen” is LN-RKP an Airbus 340. It is a spare aircraft, which is used when one of the normal aircraft is out due to service. It does not fly any specific route. But it does unfortunately have a old cabin interior.

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