I was expecting the worst, in all honesty. My last transatlantic flight in SAS business class was a disappointment and Lucky had flown the same LAX-ARN route weeks earlier and had reported particularly poor service. But the flight turned out not just to be good, but great. Why? Ironically, it was the service…
My uncle and I arrived at LAX a few hours before our flight. I had scheduled a Global Entry interview for my Uncle (free with American Express Platinum) and that took place before we checked-in for the flight.
While the economy class check-in line was packed, the business class / Star Gold line was empty.
An odd occurrence at check-in: the agent insisted upon a return ticket before issuing our boarding pass. This has never happened in 50+ flights to Europe over the years and the rules are clear: we simply cannot remain more than 90 days during a six-month period. The rules do not require a return ticket.
Since we planned to fly home in Lufthansa First Class using miles, our return space had not opened yet. Not wanting to delay us further, I quickly placed on hold a full-fare ticket from Frankfurt to Los Angeles and showed it to her. That did the trick. There was also a seating issue — we were moved from two windows to a center section as a “courtesy”. Problem: we wanted window seats. Sadly, it was too late–all seats had been allocated.
Boarding began at 1:45p.
Los Angeles (LAX) – Stockholm (ARN)
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Depart: 02:15 PM
Arrive: 10:45 AM+1
Duration: 10hr, 30min
Seat: 2F (Business Class)
Let’s start with the service.
SAS A330 Business Class Service
This picture this says it all–
I took it after the flight. The crew was so friendly I could not help but to do it. Every member of the crew was charming, friendly, helpful, and courteous. They loved their jobs, were happy to be working, and it showed.
SAS A330-300 Business Class Seat + Bedding
SAS features 32 flat bed seats in business class with a full 180º recline. Seats are arranged in a staggered 1-2-1 configuration using the Thompson Vantage XL seat.
We took our new seats in 2D/F and tried to look at the bright side: at least we could chat during the flight.
I loved the bight colors of the cabin and Hästens pillows and bedding. The seat is comfortable in upright, semi-reclined, and fully-reclined mode.
The cabin was darkened after the first meal service, though mood lighting remained on until the lights were turned up for breakfast. Despite a 2pm departure from LAX, I was able to sleep for about five hours.
SAS A330 Business Class Dining
Menus were distributed prior to takeoff. Pre-departure beverages were also offered, though only orange juice, water, or champagne.
Here’s the menu and wine list:
Service began promptly after the captain extinguished the seat belt light, about seven minutes after takeoff.
I was first offered a warm towel. Next, the table was set for dinner, with a table cloth laid followed by a bread dish and utensils wrapped in a cloth napkin. A bowl of mixed nuts was offered. Trying to avoid jet lag, I had only sparkling water to drink.
Service on SAS is via cart and FAs always entered the aisles in unison. The appetizer cart included two choices–veal loin or poached lobster tail. I chose veal loin. Salad was no pre-plated but rather dished out of a large salad bowl.
The veal was excellent and you cannot go wrong with a green salad. But best of all was the bread: very fresh rye bread that tasted like it had been flown in from Stockholm.
I chose swordfish for my main course (served with purple mashed potatoes and white asparagus). My uncle chose beef filet (with horseradish mashed potatoes and mushrooms). Once again, meal service was via cart so there are never meal orders taken on SAS. We both loved our main courses.
Dessert included crackers/cheese, fresh cut fruit, lemon tart and ice cream. I sampled all four.
Coffee is provisioned by illy and I enjoyed several cappuccinos over the course of the flight–
SAS In-Flight Kitchen
Between meal service, a “kitchen” is set up in the business class galley in which you can help yourself to salty and sweet snacks, fresh fruit, and your choice of beverage. I tired to make a cappuccino myself and could not get the milk to foam. Thankfully a FA came to my aid!
Breakfast was served only about an hour prior to landing. It seemed like the FAs may have lost track of time because the meal service went very quickly, but I was appreciative of the extra time to sleep.
Orange juice was freshly squeezed and I also enjoyed Greek yogurt with muesli, an English muffin and citrus fruit.
Moments later another cart appeared with various cold cuts and a hot egg dish plus sausage. Once again, everything was delicious and there was still time for one more cappuccino.
SAS A330 Business Class IFE + Wi-Fi
IFE is controlled by a passenger service unit in the seat or by touch screen. There were two dozen English movies available and a worldwide cinema including Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish movies. Music, games, and TV as well. The IFE also contained an interesting history section, detailing the story of Scandinavian Airline Systems (SAS). There were also back issues of the in-flight magazine, which I have not seen on other IFE systems.
Wi-Fi is complimentary for business class passengers, but I was unable to log on with my seat assignment and last name. Others appeared to encounter the same issue.
The purser wrote down a password to use on a napkin and presented it to me. That worked like a charm and though the internet was not fast, it worked well for the duration of the flight.
My favorite part of the IFE was the tail cam:
SAS A330 Business Class Amenity Kit
The amenity kit is very basic, with only socks, earplugs, a toothbrush, toothpaste, and skin lotion. It’s the first time I can ever recall receiving an amenity kit without an eye shade.
SAS A330 Business Class Lavatories
Lavatories include a window and are stocked with additional “wet wipes” and a flowerless green plant.
SAS business class is a solid product with great food and beverage, a comfortable seat, and good IFE + Wi-Fi. Perhaps I was particularly lucky (or others particularly unlucky) but I had an exceptional crew that made the flight amazing.
Note that when redeeming SAS flights with Aeroplan there is no fuel surcharge, an added bonus to spending your miles on SAS.