SAS Scandinavian Airlines Business Class San Francisco, California to Copenhagen, Denmark
TESTED BY Ramsey Qubein
PLANE TYPE Airbus A340-300
SEAT CONFIGURATION 1-2-1
PRICE Roundtrip starting at $5,136 roundtrip
New, all-aisle access business class seats and an a la carte dining experience create an airborne Danish hygge that cannot be replicated by anyone else.
CHECK-IN Inbound from a connecting United flight, I was pleased that I could use the SAS website to check in for my flight. Those checking in directly with United had some issues because they weren’t able to get a boarding pass to access the United lounge so I was glad that I had a separate ticket and checked in via the user-friendly SAS website.
BOARDING I was invited to use the premium line for boarding, which had me in my plush seat and charging my phone in no time. I was offered a glass of water, orange juice, or champagne within seconds of sitting down.
THE SEAT What I loved most about the SAS seat is that every passenger has aisle access meaning no worries of having to step over someone to use the restroom. There was plentiful storage space for my paperwork and personal items plus the option to charge devices via power outlet and USB port. The seat, once in the air, reclined into a full bed although I opted to sleep at a slight angle since the food was so plentiful and the pillow supported my neck well. While there was a seat cover provided, I did not find that it added any additional comfort although it may be intended for a cleaner sleep experience rather than comfort.
THE FLIGHT The flight left early, and once we were in the air, service began with Scandinavian precision delivering ramekins of warm nuts and my requested French Chardonnay. The flight time was estimated at more than ten hours giving me more than enough time to enjoy wine, tasty cuisine, a movie, and some rest. I was blown away by the service pattern, which was unlike what most other European carriers offer in business class. It was a first class-style of service with dishes placed upon my linen-covered table instead of being delivered a pre-set tray from a rattling metal cart. Service delivery is perhaps the best of any airline leaving San Francisco in business class. Appetizers were served from a cart so that I can see the choices, and while there were no vegetarian options, I could have pre-ordered one in advance of departure if I wished. Side salads were served in deep bowls along with a Nordic-inspired appetizer. Main dishes were served piping hot from the same multi-tiered cart so that everyone could see what was on offer. No trays; no factory-like service; just a clean and transparent experience that mimics what one might find in one of Copenhagen’s many celebrated restaurants.
While the service doesn’t pretend to be like that of Noma, the flight attendants don chef uniforms as if it were a restaurant. Fruit, cheese, and so many desserts followed before my sound rest of six hours (the most I have ever gotten on a West Coast to Europe flight). While I had decided to sleep through breakfast, I woke up rested and was really impressed with the way breakfast was similar to dinner. Choices were served as if this were first class where I could choose what I wanted from a platter served by the cart. SAS deserves extreme kudos for bucking the trend of cheap and convenient service in favor of this personalized, fast, and impressive dining experience.
ARRIVAL The amenity kit provided had a great eye mask plus toothbrush and toothpaste that helped me to wake up well. What many don’t realize is that even business class passengers ending in Copenhagen can use the lounge to take a shower, have coffee and breakfast, and refresh themselves. I availed myself of the lounge so I could prepare for an afternoon of meetings and activities. This Star Alliance carrier may not have a first class cabin, but it offers a similar experience to those that book business class on its long-haul flights.
By Ramsey Qubein
Ramsey is a regular contributor to Business Traveler across all print, digital, web and social channels. He travels more than 400,000 miles a year criss-crossing the globe to report on hotels, airlines, loyalty programs, and all things travel.
You can find more from Ramsey at http://www.ramseyq.com/, on Twitter – @dailytraveltips and Instagram – @dailytraveltips