Recently www.AirlinesAndDestinations.com had the opportunity to sample Scandinavian Airlines’ ‘Economy Extra’ premium-economy service product on a transatlantic flight from Newark to Oslo and the carrier’s Business Class service from Stockholm to Newark.
Overall, we found the airline’s in-flight service standards in both cabins to be excellent and the service helped make the flights pass quickly – almost too quickly, in fact, given the pampering we got, particularly in Business Class. Flight attendants were uniformly cheerful, helpful and courteous.
Scandinavian Airlines has newly won an award for its long-haul premium economy service from the magazine Global Traveler. The magazine surveyed more than 36,000 readers who were frequent flyers and most of whom generally traveled in a service cabin other than economy class. SAS’ Economy Extra service is available on all its flights linking Europe with Asia and the U.S.
SAS Economy Extra
Economy Extra does most of what SAS bills for it. First, Economy Extra passengers can skip economy-class check-in lines by checking in at Business Class counters and then can go quickly through Fast Track security (where available) and enjoy priority boarding. They also receive a greater baggage allowance than in economy class, including one additional piece of carry-on luggage.
The Economy Extra cabin offers seats which are wider (47cm/18in) than in economy class and provide almost one meter (38in) of legroom in a separate cabin. Besides manually adjustable neck-rests, the Economy Extra seats also feature foot rests for greater comfort. All seats are equipped with 6.4-inch personal screens which offer audio/video-on-demand, with a wide range of in-flight entertainment. Each seat also features a laptop power outlet.
During the flight, Economy Extra passengers are served a cocktail and snack; a three-course dinner and coffee/tea with liqueurs; drinks, fruit and cold snacks between meals; and a light meal prior to landing. All Economy Extra passengers also receive a personal bottle of water. SAS EuroBonus members receive 150 per cent EuroBonus points when traveling in Economy Extra.
One feature of the Economy Extra cabin on Scandinavian Airlines’ Airbus A330-300s is, however, not ideal. Although the seats rows are laid out in comfortable 2-3-2 rows, the Economy Extra cabin has no dedicated toilets for its passengers. Economy Extra passengers have to make their way towards the back of the plane to use the same toilets as those for Economy class passengers.
If anything, Scandinavian Airlines’ A330 economy cabins are a little under-equipped for toilets. So it is probably a good idea to book an aisle seat rather than a window seat if traveling in Economy Extra: you won’t have to disturb a sleeping fellow-passenger to get to the restrooms and you might be able to get back there a little more often than we were able to.
SAS Business Class
The Business Class cabin in each SAS Airbus A330 offers no such challenges. The cabin has its own restrooms – each with its own window to the sky outside, making each restroom feel bright and airy. Each restroom also has its own handle bar for in-flight stretching, if you’re feeling fit enough to exercise after consuming the good food and drink you are offered during the flight.
Though not quite a full flat-bed seat, the SAS Business Sleeper seat offers a 52cm (20in) wide seat, 155cm (61in) of seat pitch and 200cm (79in) of personal space. When fully reclined at 170 degrees, the SAS Business Sleeper creates a 188cm (74in) -long bed with an additional 15cm (6in) of width at the shoulders.
Seat features include audio/video-on-demand entertainment, a built-in massage function and storage for laptops and other items. The SAS Business Sleeper is equipped with a 10.4in screen, offering movies, music and games on demand. Each seat also features a laptop power outlet.
In-flight service in Scandinavian Airlines’ Business Class is really luxurious but not overdone. We were welcomed on board with a glass of 2005 Henriot, a very decent champagne.
In Business Class, SAS features its ‘Scandinavian World Cooking’ – international cuisine, served the Scandinavian way. Meal service on our Stockholm-Newark flight started with an amuse bouche of venison with horseradish, followed by a delicious, light first course of salmon, mustard and dill.
Main-course offerings included Baltic herring with potato purée and dill; beef tournedos with asparagus and red wine cumin sauce; lamb biryani (very authentic-tasting); and vegetarian ravioli with mushroom and tomato sauce. A course of Swedish cheeses followed, after which traditional Swedish lemon-and-pine-nut cake and fruit salad was offered.
Accompanying the meal service were Scandinavian-styled eating implements and glasses – glasses from Orrefors, cutlery from Georg Jensen and porcelain from Royal Copenhagen.
Although SAS’ wine choices were limited to two whites and two reds, they were very well-chosen. We plumped for the 2008 La Biondina Colombard-Sauvignon from Australian viticulturist Joe Grilli’s Primo Estates.
The description SAS gave in the menu for this wine was actually right on the mark: “a delicious tangy white that is full and ripe, with peach fruit and shiny leather perfume, shot through with lemon zest and green apple acidity.” All in all, it was an unusual wine – quite a brave choice for an airline sommelier to make, but a very good one. This shouldn’t be a surprise, considering that internationally known wine writer and broadcaster Oz Clarke chooses the wines for SAS.
We also savored every drop of the dessert wine offered, a 2002 Château Romer du Hayot Sauternes. What a nice way to finish off a meal. Plenty of cognacs, liqueurs and cocktails were also on offer, as one might expect in a good transatlantic business-class cabin.
On all SAS long-haul flights, the Business Class cabin features a buffet bar at which passengers can help themselves to drinks, fruits, snacks and sandwiches between meals, and pour themselves fresh coffee from an espresso machine.
Flight attendants came round often during our flight with bottles of water – a must for adequate hydration on longer flights. Before landing, we were offered open-face sandwiches with shrimp and mayonnaise or roast beef, potato salad and horseradish, as well as a dessert.
On overnight flights, passengers who wish to sleep longer receive a “Grab & Go” breakfast bag and coffee when exiting the flight. SAS EuroBonus members receive double EuroBonus miles when traveling in Business Class.
All in all, we think SAS premium-economy travelers will feel well-served during their flights, while Business Class passengers should feel rested, relaxed and fit to face the world when they get off the aircraft.