A330 SAS Business Class Review: My Worst Business Class Flight Ever
The headline should set the tone, so buckle up for my worst business class review ever: SAS from Stockholm (ARN) to Chicago (ORD) on the A330. For those a bit surprised, the A330 is SAS’ standard long-haul product. After seeing photos of the cabin, it looked really sleek, and we were excited to check this out. I’ll highlight a few areas where I’m going to give SAS the benefit of the doubt in this review, but my wife and I easily consider our SAS business class experience our worst business class flight ever. We’ll be avoiding them in the future. Here’s what happened.
We booked with Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer and paid 72,000 miles each + $51.11 in taxes and fees. This is definitely not the best option for business class flights from Europe to the U.S. However, after canceled flights and rearranged plans, we had a bunch of miles stranded in my KrisFlyer account. Given that and the recent 20% transfer bonus from American Express Membership Rewards (my wife was targeted for it; I wasn’t), we didn’t have to cough up very many miles. That made it a winner for us.
It was also a winner because we could get to my parents’ in Florida with only one connection, which other alliances couldn’t offer us.
The cash price was $3,427 when including the United domestic flight. This is a redemption value of 4.7¢ per mile. That’s above average for KrisFlyer redemptions — even for premium cabins.
It was a disaster. There’s no sugarcoating it.
SAS had 2 employees for business class check-in and 3 for economy. They were checking in 3 SAS flights to the U.S. at the same time when we arrived. The economy line was 3-4 times longer than the business class line, but it completely emptied out long before the business class line. The worst, slowest check-in agents available handled our line.
When we got in line, there were 6 people/families (whoever was going to the counter together) ahead of us, plus the 2 people already at the counter. We spent more than 50 minutes waiting in line. That’s ridiculous. 2 agents took 50+ minutes to help a total of 8 parties. Here’s why.
When it was our turn to check in, the woman helping us looked at my passport and then gave it back to me. Then she did the same for my wife. Then, when she wanted to look at our Covid tests, she realized she didn’t have the passports to check the names. We had to give them back to her. This “oops, give me the passport again” occurred twice more during the process. Then, she tried to ask if we have visas–not remembering we had US passports. It was a mess.
At the end, she told us we would normally have access to the lounge, “but I recommend you go straight to the gate, since there isn’t really enough time to stop at the lounge.” Yeah, who’s fault is that? We showed up at the airport 2.5 hours before the flight, but we lost an hour and needed to skip the lounge because of potential lines at passport control and needing to go to the tax refund desk.
Employee Gave Bad Info
As we finished check-in and started to walk away, I asked the employee where the tax refund desk was. She told us that the closest one is closed, so go past passport control and find it near our gate. That turned out to be wrong. There’s no tax refund desk near the gates. By the time we figured this out, we didn’t have time to go to the other terminal and make it back to our flight. Since this can’t be done online at this point, she made us lose about $32 by giving bad info.
For reference, it’s the tax refund on items purchased in Sweden by non-citizens who are leaving the EU. The purchases had nothing to do with SAS, but I had assumed she could point us to the right spot. Nope.
This was another disaster, plain and simple.
Our gate had a document check area before you could enter the waiting area. This went quite well. The actual boarding process was another story.
First, there was no pre-boarding, business class boarding, or even groups. It was just a cattle call. “We will start boarding now” and people headed for the jet bridge. Then, we got a surprise announcement. “Since we are boarding by bus, the bus is full. It can only handle 50 people at a time. Everyone please sit back down.” Say what?
First, why are we taking a bus? Second, the people at the front of the line had that “no way I’m sitting down and losing my spot in line” look. It was laughable.
We took a bus all the way around the airport. Our plane couldn’t have been parked further away. People joked that we were driving to Chicago.
Once the bus dropped us off, there was no organization. No employees helping anything. Nothing.
Plus, it was freezing. Many people had put their coats and jackets in their suitcases (including us), since we were inside the airport already. Now, we were outside in the Swedish winter, freezing.
Entering the plane, we just got a “hi” and nothing very friendly as I stepped past the flight attendant to turn left into the business class cabin. My wife didn’t even get a “hi” on her side, at the other aisle.
SAS A330 Business Class Review – ARN to ORD
We got in and thought, “OK, that’s over. Now everything should be fine.” We were wrong, but not everything was bad. I’ll be fair here.
The business class cabin looks pretty sleek. Seats are in a staggered 1-2-1 configuration. There are 8 rows in business class. There’s no real difference in the middle seats. All seats in the “2” part in the middle are basically the same in the fact that none of them are ‘more together’ without the dividers.
For the single seats along the windows, even-numbered rows are more private and closer to the window. This is due to the staggered layout.
Interestingly, while I was taking this picture of the cabin layout, a flight attendant made an announcement. “It is prohibited to take pictures of other passengers or flight crew without their consent under Swedish privacy laws.” I’m sure it was directed at me. They could’ve just come and talked to me, and I would’ve happily shown them that I didn’t take pictures of anyone.
When we first arrived, my wife and I had seats in row 5. We wound up moving to row 6. More on that later, but that explains why you’ll see my controls in a different spot later.
The seat layout looks nice. The layout is pretty ergonomic, and everything is easily reachable. There is a console in the center of the seats, and it wasn’t the most convenient to talk over it to one another, but it wasn’t bad.
On arrival, the seats had a seat cover, blanket, pillow, and amenity kit.
The console by my shoulder sits above a table area, and it had a bottle of water tucked away in the corner, reading lamp, headphones, and multiple controls.
The lamp and seat control buttons worked as expected. The overhead light button did not, however. After we had moved to row 6, the overhead light above my seat would turn on at random times. It was annoying but tolerable.
There are also USB and universal outlets.
The seat belt is a standard belt but with an attachable shoulder harness for take-off and landing.
The safety information and air sick bag sat in a small pocket at knee-height.
The foot well isn’t the most generous, but it wasn’t cramped. However, the shelf sat at a distance where it was a bit too far away to be used as a foot rest when in the seated position.
When putting my shoes, blankets, and pillow in the foot well area, it held all of them.
I found the access to the aisle from the seat a bit tight. The space between the plastic molding in front of me and the molding for my console was closer together than it should be. I think I figured out why later (more on that below). I had to turn my feet sideways to fit through (I wear size 11.5).
The tray table slides out from the console after pushing a button. The button routinely stuck and required a forceful push to release the table. My wife had the same experience, so it wasn’t just me.
The tray table is full-size and does not fold. It’s a good size and can move forward/backward easily, so you can get it in the right spot for working or eating.
Putting the tray table away is another question. It needed to be in exactly the right spot on the track to go away. It usually took me 5 or 6 tries to put it away.
There was a small pocket (pull-out, hard shell on the plastic molding) that could be used to store magazines or a book. It definitely can’t hold a laptop, and I wouldn’t want to keep small items in there that would fall down/be cumbersome to get out.
Personal Entertainment System
When we arrived and got situated in row 5, my wife’s entertainment system wouldn’t turn on. Just a black screen. She called for a flight attendant, and this woman said there were known issues with the system. They couldn’t get it to turn on, so we moved to row 6 behind us, as it was empty.
However, these “known issues” continued. The entertainment system did not have any TV shows or any music.
Count the movies: 4. That’s it. A 9-hour flight, and they had a total of 4 movies. 4 movies plus no TV and no music. It was laughable.
Even though the light above me flickered, I could deal with that as a better alternative than my wife not having a working entertainment system — even with its limited options.
I will classify this as the highlight of the cabin / hard product. That’s saying something.
The lavatories are more spacious than a traditional, economy lavatory. Several flights I’ve taken recently just had a normal bathroom in business class, but this was definitely better. It reminded me some trains with the toilet set in the corner / at an angle.
The sink and mirror weren’t anything special. However, they did have air freshener and wet wipes readily available. Thus, the features of the lavatory weren’t that special, but the space and layout were positives.
I saved this for last on purpose. The bed is…not a bed. This flight was marketed as “lie-flat” and it absolutely wasn’t.
Look at this picture. That’s not even 45º. This was the limit of how far I could recline my seat. Lest you think I just had a “bad seat”, we tested the seats in row 5 and also observed other people in the cabin. No one was completely flat like a bed.
What’s the deal here? I’ve seen other reviews (like this one) that show the bed completely flat. From checking several websites, I found that my flight on January 7, 2022 used a retrofitted plane that is 19 years old. Is that the issue? Do new planes have more space and the seats actually “fit”? I’m speculating. The interior was very new and matches reviews of “new” products, but the plane itself is obviously older.
Maybe there’s less space front to back, but they jammed in the same number of seats. Thus, the seats are too close together to actually go flat. Speculation and giving the benefit of the doubt. However, they should NOT market this flat as “lie-flat business class” because it’s entirely deceptive.
It was not comfortable trying to sleep in this position, and I just put the seat back up to normal and skipped my plan for a nap.
Since I planned to work on the flight (and worked more than planned, due to not having the expected bed), I hopped on the in-flight wifi.
The speed itself was quite good. However, the ping was terrible. This really slowed down the response time for loading websites. I was able to use the wifi and get done what I wanted to — albeit at a slower rate than what I desired, since the speed was negatively affected by the bad ping rate.
Service on SAS A330 Business Class Flight – Bad Review Continues
I mentioned that we weren’t really greeted at all when we boarded the plane. Additionally, no flight attendants came to say hi to us. We only talked to someone because my wife pushed the call button…and then waited. Finally, someone showed up to talk to her about the entertainment system.
There was no welcome drink before take-off, either. Plus, my gut feeling about the passive-aggressive PA announcement above. All of that was prior to take-off.
We also departed an hour late. We only got an announcement about this after about 45 minutes. Between the chaotic boarding, some issues with flight manifest, and trying to get the entertainment systems working (“working” meaning “on with 4 movies, no TV, no music”), we left an hour late. Crew didn’t come around offering water or anything during the delay. In fact, they didn’t even come talk to us at all. They remained in their seats, seat belts on, chatting with one another in the front galley.
Calling this section “language issues” is appropriate because there SHOULDN’T be a language issue. Our business class cabin had 32 seats but only 11 passengers. There were 2 flight attendants plus a purser. You can’t convince me they couldn’t remember that we don’t speak Swedish.
Without fail, every time the flight attendants came to talk to us during meal service, taking away trash, etc. they talked to us in Swedish. Every time. Without fail. And every time, we had to say “English?” or similar. After about 6.5 hours of flight time, I finally told my flight attendant, “We don’t speak Swedish. Please use English.”
The flight crew speaks English. Quite good English, in fact. So that wasn’t the issue. Somehow, they just couldn’t remember (couldn’t be bothered to remember?) the 2 out of 11 people who don’t speak Swedish and then speak to us in English. Needing to constantly remind them about this was strange. I am at a loss for trying to understand or explain this oddity.
I will note 2 instances here.
I get that this is not the most obvious of spots, but I noticed stains while taking pictures of the controls and console area near my seat. This needs better cleaning.
When taking pictures of my foot well in row 6, I was surprised to find a dirty sock left behind from a previous flight. This matches the sock in the amenity kit, so it wasn’t someone’s personal sock left behind, in case you’re wondering.
However, this is a pretty glaring oversight on cabin cleaning.
Let’s talk about some positives. The amenity kit is good.
The case isn’t anything special (it’s rather boring), but the kit is chock-full of stuff. Eye mask, socks, ear plugs, moisturizer, lip balm, bamboo toothbrush, and toothpaste. It didn’t go beyond expectations in any way, but it was a good amenity kit.
Ignoring the weird “please speak to me in English” element of the meal service, the actual meals are a net positive.
After we were airborne, the purser came to our row and asked, “Were you originally in row 5? You have special meals, right?” We confirmed that our vegan meals were on board, and good on her for figuring out the connection with the empty seats in row 5.
Since we had special meals, they didn’t give us a menu to look at. Thus, I didn’t see what the options were.
The first meal had gnocchi as a main course. It was a home run.
I’m not sure why our gnocchi was paired with a Samosa (bottom left), as the Indian-Italian combination was a bit beyond me, but I liked both. We also got warm bread from a woman who came around with a basket of 3 different options. The salad was a bit boring, but I’m letting all of this pass because of just how good that gnocchi was. An excellent main dish makes up for some lackluster sides.
Unfortunately, SAS couldn’t go 2-for-2 on the meals. The “light meal before landing” (we took off after 10am Stockholm time and landed after 1pm Chicago time) was pretty bland. It had a lentil-veggie patty sitting on top of some unidentified green vegetables and a bed of lentils. Neither of these had any seasoning. I wasn’t super hungry, so I didn’t mind not finishing these and just eating the fruits.
The chocolate bar they gave us wasn’t vegan, but my mom was happy to snack on these in the car when picking us up from the airport.
More chaos here. They just opened the middle door and used the “free-for-all” approach. Flight attendants disappeared. They didn’t have business class passengers disembark first. In fact, 2 people from economy shoved past my wife to get off before her in this rush for the door.
Also, flight attendants didn’t stand near the door to say goodbye / thank us. In fact, no one came around thanking us for flying SAS before landing, either. This was odd and not common from my other flight experiences at all.
Overall Thoughts on Service
The flight attendants were really hit-and-miss. Once we could get them to repeat themselves using English, things would go well. I just can’t figure this out for the life of me. 2 out of 11 people don’t speak Swedish. You have 3 employees. And you can’t remember this during the flight. What’s up with this?
Cleaning could be improved a bit, as pointed out.
The meals, though, were the highlight of the service category. Man…that gnocchi was awesome.
Lavatories and amenity kits were pretty good.
Overall, though, the service needs improvements. There’s the language thing and the cleaning aspect. The lack of attention to customers during boarding and pre-takeoff (especially during the 1-hour delay), plus the actual processes of getting on and off the plane.
I tried to be fair in my review of SAS business class, but this flight on the A330 from Stockholm to Chicago is easily my worst business class flight experience. As we walked away from the flight, I asked my wife, “Was this your worst business class flight ever?”
She rolled her eyes and gave me that ‘do you really need to ask?’ face.
We’ll be avoiding SAS. The meal was great, but that doesn’t make up for chaos getting on & off, poor service quality, bad cleaning practices, non-functioning entertainment systems, and the ridiculousness of the “it’s lie flat, but it’s not” with our seats.
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Given my own experience and other trip reports, this seems a pretty one off experience. Looks like there must have been a system-wide issue with the seats, since on my own flights and others have taken, the seats do turn fully flat, and the IFE does offer more than 4 movies (though to be fair, even when it is working, the IFE doesn’t quite compete with Emirates or Singapore).
But still, while the service can be hit or miss, the seats and food are usually good quality. Sounds like you got them on a really bad day.
SAS is very hit and miss.Great crew,I believe Swedish FA going into Kastrup,on return to EWR,asked if they serve Kahlua,Danish FA snapped” next you’ll want calvados”. Stupidity pure and simple.
Masks can affect our emotions and memory (More forgetful)…so that might explain some of the FA behavior.
How could you not be happy with the IFE? You had Godzilla vs Kong! /s
Sounds like one of those flights/days where nothing is going your way. Maybe SAS can offer you some Eurobonus miles for your trouble. Not sure how valuable those are.
I’ve never flown SAS Int’l Long Haul Business (Flown SAS coach in Europe only), though I’ve always wanted to try it. I do find it odd that you didn’t try asking a FA about the seat not reclining, even though you tried other seats. You should have made a video about this!
Yes, this isn’t your first “rodeo” but at least you would get an explanation for why it didn’t fully recline. But maybe all the other problems in the day prevented you from asking? If you documented this, you could get some kind of compensation easier. Compromised IFE system is one thing, compromised lie-flat seat is quite another.
Aside from the completely false statement in your first sentence, I’ll reply to the rest of what you said. Given our rather poor impression of the flight attendants and the fact we had figured out “it’s not going to go flat” on the seats, talking to them about it didn’t seem worthwhile. It wasn’t going to make the seats go flat no matter what they said, so we preferred to just not talk to them about it, since it was a done deal.
If the seats didn’t recline all the way why couldn’t the flight attendants step in and help the passenger? The reply about you camping is a little off base. You paid for the product, you weren’t mooching. It was a fair review.
With regards to the seats, this can’t be right. I checked historic flight data based upon the EXIF data of your pictures, and I traveled on this plane two weeks ago. The seats did without a doubt go fully flat. I’ve traveled with loads of planes on SAS Business, and every one of them has gone completely flat.
The position of the seat looks identical to the maximum level when you press the recline. If you press the lie flat-button, it goes flat.
With regards to food, well – vegan isn’t that usual over here. Simple as that. The sock should of course not be there, no excuse for that 🙂
The seats did not go flat, as stated numerous times. This wasn’t my first time flying, and we checked other seats. And so did the other customers. When the seat hits the back wall AND hits the foot well, it can’t go further. The seats didn’t go flat, and you’ll have to take my word for it, since you weren’t there when we were trying them.
> “It is prohibited to take pictures of other passengers or flight crew without their consent under Swedish privacy laws.”
> I’m sure it was directed at me
You didn’t fly much on EU carriers nowadays, I guess, because *every single one announces this recently,
In the past 3 months, I’ve flown KLM, AF, AY, SK, DY and haven’t heard this announcement on any of them except this flight.
old the lack of service be in retaliation to your photographing ? Sometime FA’s hold a grudge.
Clearly you got an old plane probably switched at the last moment – hence the parked gate ?
The cleaning issue really tuck out for me. I realize we are talking SWEDEN here – you know the country that didn’t believe in Covid19 and then saw skyrocketing infections – but at minimal – cleaning the aircraft is a must. A wrapper is one thing but a sock ?? Come on SAS – and this is also a “home port” for them. I can understand cleaning issues at foreign airports.
No Business class Boarding is bad.
I flew SAS business several years ago SFO-CPH and found it lackluster at best. The hard product was meh and the food simply awful. The FAs were inattentive…I get much better attention on UA. I wonder how SAS competes…maybe they don’t.
One humorous thing…the FAs made sure they move the trolleys at exactly the same speed between the two aisles…completely unnecessary theater IMHO.
Jeff and Debit, you are wrong and absurd. This is a review for a business class ticket, so learn some context. That being said, no thanks to SAS. 4 movies is very lol.
I’ll bet it was the one retrofit plane in their entire fleet. Bad luck I’d say. I’ve heard about that plane.
I flew SAS a couple of years ago in J and it was a great flight. Hard and soft product.
Maybe your crew was retrofit too? 😉
Sorry but something is fishy here. I live in Sweden and I’m mostly flying with sas. I sure recognize the chaos at Arlanda airport, and sometimes the boarding, absolutely. But definitely not your description of the experience from the cabin and the cabin crew. Not at all. Never heard of something like this under all these years with SAS.
Carl – not sure if you’re implying something was fishy with my review or with the crew, but this is what happened. I’m honest in my reviews — for the good and for the bad.
I flew one of these EWR – ARN during the pandemic. 6 pax and 6 crew. The seat did lay flat.
Seems they had a content server problem on the IFE. Had way more than 4 movies but a DL flight I took this Christmas also had this problem but more annoyingly all the thumbnails were there, trailers were there but actual movie would not play.
Thanks for this review. Sounds like a pretty terrible flight — especially only 4 films (what?) and the broken seats.
Others in the comments have asked; did anyone talk to the FAs about the seats being broken? I am just curious how the FAs responded since I’m pretty sure they must have also noticed they weren’t going flat. I think if it were me I would play the “silly traveler” card and say, “Excuse me, I just for the life of me can’t figure out my seat! How do I make it go flat? Just to see what they said. Maybe they did have some trick for this particular plane or maybe the entire cabin of seats really was just broken/improperly installed.
I have definitely been on worse Biz flights (a particular AA flight with a borderline abusive FA, no IFE, beef salad with missing beef and a blanket with holes burned in it comes to mind: https://singleflyer.com/2016/08/07/american-airlines-a330-200-business-class-dub-ord/). But when you are paying/using points for a certain level of service and product, it is quite frustrating when you don’t get that service/product.
Thank you for sharing your experience.
Alan – I didn’t ask the FAs. Given that other travelers couldn’t get the seats flat and we tried 4 seats between my wife and I (it hit the foot well and the backrest, so there was clearly no way for it to move any further), it seemed pointless to me to ask.
given that this plane definitely has lie-flat seats (I’ve flown SAS on this and other A330 routes many times, and recognize the type of seat), you should have asked. You probably did it wrong– that’s my conclusion if I read that you tried four seats with the same results.
In fact, the seats are not super comfortable, but definitely lie flat and I have gotten great sleep on them.
I can confirm that the service and boarding organization is not the highlight of flying SAS.
I can’t get past some of the ridiculous assumptions in this comment:
1-you assume that I (along with all the other passengers) can’t figure out how to operate a seat; 2-you assume there’s something complex to operating a seat, rather than just holding down the button; 3-you assume that you know better about a flight you weren’t on, rather than assuming the more simple option (that the seats don’t go flat, which is why none of the passengers could get the seats to go flat); 4-you assume that putting the seats down is something complex AND you assume that this is OK; and 5-you assume that the laws of physics during this flight were somehow different, where a seat that has hit the foot well/hit the backstop somehow has more space to go down, even where no space exists.
Man, this comment is wild.
The seats don’t go flat on this flight.
It is pretty obvious that you could not find out to operate the seat. SAS has lie flat seats in ALL of their business class cabins. Continuing to insist the seat does not go flat just makes you look even more silly. There are two buttons. One for recline and another for lie flat. The recline button will stop the seat in the position you are describing. Just admit you made a mistake instead of blaming the airline for it.
At least the vegan food looked better than the one we were served on our last AA TATL flight. The lunch started with a salad for appetizer, followed by the same salad on a larger plate for entree and a fruit salad for dessert. Our pre arrival snack? you guessed it ! Salad again ! 😀 We pack our own salad these days !
We have had experiences similar to yours on most carriers based in US and EU. Thats why we avoid them to the best we can ! The only EU carrier we had great experience is Austrian !
SR – that’s an interesting set of meals. Wow.
The seat must have been broken. Your first photo shows the plane as LN-RKM, which is the same plane TPG reviewed in late 2019 and the seats in their review were flat. On other SAS planes the seat goes flat as well.
Your experience reminds me of when I flew on the A340 that SAS had acquired from LATAM (LN-RKP I believe). The seat was different from the normal seat and everything was broken.
There are some things that I agree upon. Prio boarding is something that SAS is not honering on at least 50% of there flights. I have flewn long haul with SAS +20 times and never deboarded before eco.
Why pay for Wifi? It is free!
The seat was obvoiusly broken why did you not talk to the crew? Your review falls short when stating this as standard decline.
Christopher – I don’t disagree with your experiences or the TPG review. The seats during our flight (not just mine, the 4 we tested and those other passengers tried) didn’t go flat.
Hey thats my sock in the foot well I left behind.Appreciate they didn’t clean or steal it 🙂
Can you mail it to me? 😉
My first instinct (coming from an airline employee perspective) is that the flight crew was taking their fear of COVID to the extreme and trying to minimize contact with passengers accordingly. So I wouldn’t assume that the staff is poorly trained or that they didn’t want to interact with their customers, but rather that they have been brainwashed into thinking most contact with other people is bad and potentially life threatening. I’ve seen flight attendants avoiding passengers on purpose on several airlines — including my own — all in the name and lazy excuse of safety and public health. It’s become such a convenient excuse and gone on for so long now that I’m beginning to fear that this has become the new normal and we may never see the old ways again. Staffing shortages could have also been the cause for the humongous mess at the ticket counter, though there is absolutely zero excuse for having the slowest agents assigned to business class. Most airlines put their best agent there, and then they will help will the spillover from the economy class line after they’ve helped their guests. SAS seems to have done things in reverse for some reason.
David – I am not sure that’s it. They came around offering services and didn’t avoid us. The staff just couldn’t remember to speak to us in a language we understand (which they speak), for whatever reason. Once they switched into English, they provided decent service. It was just annoying to constantly remind them. It can’t be that hard to remember the 2 of us throughout a flight. That’s essentially part of their job, in my opinion.
Wow. This is bad review for SAS. They failed not just in one area but many. A dedicated check-in line should be quick. I’m very surprised SAS is like Alitalia with hoards jumping up to enter the gate and no distinct boarding groups. That makes no sense. Sometimes the seats have a malfunction and have to be reset (sometimes the flight attendants know how and sometimes they don’t). If it was incorrectly installed, that’s a major blunder that should get people fired. These are supposed to be all tested. These seats cost at least twenty thousand dollars. I’m curious what the flight attendants said when asked. Did you speak to the purser and ask for compensation (I know the U.S. airlines have the apps to give comp on the spot. Idk about SAS)? It’s a common law expectation that if you pay for lie flat you get lie flat. I definitely would pursue compensation for this. It’s harder on an award ticket (maybe points).
Crews on the big 3 tend to be unfriendly. I would not expect this in business on SAS. I wouldn’t say from your review that they were unfriendly but professionalism dictates they greet business class guests and say goodbye better than they did.
People underestimate the importance of nicely designed bathrooms on planes. It makes no sense why 787s have standard bathrooms in business class. The AA 772s have nice bathrooms in business with the faux tile and sinks.
Jackson – I wouldn’t say they were unfriendly, either. Once I would say “English?” they would be friendly during meal service, etc. It just felt more like “get the job done”–not going for extra or putting in effort. Not rude, just lukewarm.
As a swede I find it sad that you experienced the airline like this. I had business class flight on SK between ARN-EWR and ORD in 2019 in the same seats. As mentioned above the seat goes completely flat – on the A330 I think the biggest problem is the airfilled seat that is suppose to ergonomic but if you get one that leaks you will soon have a very uncomfortable seat.
Covid-19 has unfortunately made the service quite scares and I read somewhere the service has taken quite the toll because of this.
In terms of lounge – I am not the happiest in the SAS lounges but you did miss the American Express lounge in ARN (Available to Centurion and Platinum members). During Covid-19 the lines have been crazy long and the service slow because of the document check. SAS recommend that you are at least 3h before check-in and also check-in online so you have had your documents checked before hand.
I hope you will give SAS a change again as I do find the product on par with other European carriers and absolutely not one of the worst ever – even though your experience would have given me a bitter aftertaste. Last trip I went on was CLT-MUC in C with LH and my last SK flight ORD-ARN was well on par with that.
One quick follow upp that I forgot in the longer post?
Why did you pay for WIFI? This is included for SAS Plus and Business class passengers?
Also the entertainment must have been completely on the fritz as there is usually both a hefty chunk of movies, shows, and music so something must have been wrong
Sven – you’re right. I didn’t pay. I’ve changed this in the article. Thanks for catching this.
And yes, I think there were issues with the entertainment in general. Some screens wouldn’t turn on, and those that did had minimal offerings. So I get that “it’s not normally like this” but this was just another bad element. My overhead light went on and off randomly, so there may have been electrical problems affecting this and the screens.
Thank you for the speedy reply. The light I think I actually can answer as I had the same problem when I flew with them. This is because the remote control that is attached to the side of the seat has a light button and the way it is placed and the way usually means that you suddenly press that. Took me a while to figure this out. But then pulling out the remote and laying it on top usually makes it stop. But still should not be a problem at all.
Agreed that it “should not be like this” element is not defenceable and that your experience was unfortunately bad. I would give them another try and if that flight is the same – then never fly again – also try to fly through CPH and get on the A350 instead of the A330.
Sven – for the light, I actually looked to see if I was bumping something. After we had switched seats, the remote was now on my other side and not near my elbow as I worked. I thought I might be bumping something, but that wasn’t it. I even came back from the bathroom once and found it on–clearly not me pushing it by accident 🙂
Sven – it didn’t go flat. It wasn’t just our seats. No other customers got their seats to go flat, and we tested the row in front of us as well. As far as the airport experience, it didn’t need to be this slow and inefficient, though. I appreciate that they had to check tests and vaccine cards and whatnot. The economy line did this very well, so it can clearly be done. The agents working the business class line were just bad — in general and in comparison to the economy line. If there are just 8 parties in front of you, no one would think it will take 50+ minutes for 2 employees to handle this. Then there’s the stuff with the flight itself. For me, this definitely wasn’t on par with Lufthansa, SWISS, or Finnair.
It is sad you had to experince it like that. The service side of Arlanda and SAS is unfortunently not up to par as most travellers do it online. SAS check-in has unfrotuenly in the past decade become a large baggage drop-off.
Last flight I took from Arlanda brought me through MRS with LH through and the check-in procedure there was the same – 50 min 8 families. It makes it a sad experience – as some has stated in the comments – fly with SAS is better from OSL and especially CPH.
In accordance to the Seats – also there is something not right here and you have gotten a sub par experience of what actually is the real SAS experience as my biggest thing with the seat is that the footwell can get hot and that the seats suck to travel as a couple in. But it is perfect for swedes who wants privacy – and business class is for business!!
Thank you for a great, objective review Ryan. I’ve read and listened to enough of your reviews to know that you give straight up honest information. We’re looking into a Scandinavian trip and have plenty of options flying out of ORD, we appreciate knowing that SAS may not be our best option.
Looking forward to seeing you at one of the meet-ups this year.
Patrick – there’s a 3rd hotel review coming up soon, my favorite of the trip. Keep an eye out for that one for your trip. (suspenseful, right?!)
I will say that I’ve read good reviews of some SAS flights, but my experience was just not good. Reviews are obviously really subjective, but there’s no way to know about the seats issue in advance, since I’ve checked a few weeks’ worth of seat maps at this point and there’s no way to tell them apart. It’s a mystery until you get in and try to put the seat down. That’s not a gamble I’d take on an overnight flight.
Without going into specifics, all of the negatives here are VERY unusual for SAS. You can absolutely use them, it’s fine. There ISie-flat on ALL planes (believe me, I’ve tried just about every one of them, being SAS diamond for about 8 years.) There usually is a rather orderly priority boarding and deplaning, and the crew is usually very friendly. So you’ll have to be more than a bit unlucky to have an experience like this. SAS Business is about on par with Polaris on United – AA is slightly better in my opinion. But it’s nowhere near as bad as described here – although the reviewer may have run into a horrible bunch of coincidences of bad luck. Even the check-in is usually quite good (however Atlanta is a horrible airport, but that’s hardly SAS’ fault)
*arlanda. Stupid autocorrect and can’t edit.
Torben – I agree that it’s a string of multiple bad events, but given that this was our first time flying SAS business (we had SAS flights from Arlanda to Luleå and back the week prior) or any SAS flight more than 2 hours, it left a really bad taste. Given that there are so many other options available, I don’t see myself flying with them again. Yes, I am aware others have good experiences and that the seats SHOULD lie flat. Our plane clearly had multiple issues, but this is what happened. Glad your experiences have been better.
Near as I can figure, you and your wife must look Swedish so they instinctively spoke to you in what they presumed was your native language. In Miami, my stepdad had an interesting way of dealing with being addressed in Spanish: he would respond in Danish. That normally stopped the other person in their tracks and they would ask if he spoke English, to which he would reply that he spoke it very well, thanks.
My wife is brown and often assumed to be in MS-13 because of her many tattoos. I don’t think we look Swedish at all, but an interesting theory I suppose 🙂
This review is overall very appropriate for a forum such as this, not sure why people are getting fired up when you are reporting on your take on service, boarding, comfort etc. That being said I find it impossible that they installed seats that will not lay flat because of a retrofit into an older plane or something.
The long wait at check in for business is indeed unacceptable. And I agree that SAS (and more frequently Swedish SAS) crews on transatlantic business are generally lukewarm at best, and almost always not friendly or fuzzy. The part about being spoken to in Swedish and you taking offense to it is bordering on ridiculous though. Is it really that hard to say something like “English please” several times? After all your flight originated in Sweden and with a Swedish crew. If you don’t ever want to be spoken to in another language then just take AA or UA (and deal with some of their “friendly” crews).
Also regarding the remote stand – they exist in many European airports and are really not that big of a deal, a minor nuisance mostly. One should expect that possibility and carry a sweater or jacket in the winter.
Nice review overall – conveys your flight as you experienced it from your perspective.
Paul – Some thoughts: after 6.5 hours of continuing to say “English please”, wouldn’t you expect this person to remember? Regarding remote stands: I’ve flown a ton and am familiar with them. I lived in Germany for 2.5 years, FYI. However, this particular flight using one made no sense in a lot of ways logistically. Thanks for the laugh about thinking I don’t want people to speak other languages. Couldn’t be further from the truth here.
I’ve flown Brussels airlines, Air France, Alitalia and Aeromexico. Never has a flight attendant ever started speaking to me in a different language more than once. Including on the Brussels flight, in economy.
It’s a matter of service, as well as good manners. If you’re working on an international flight, you should assume that at least some of your passengers live in, and speak the language of, the country you are flying TO.
In a business class cabin, it’s even more important, as service is rightfully expected at a higher grade.
This was not a good flight, full stop. Shouldn’t find socks from a prior flight and a seat with working entertainment system are minimum standards for any airline. But if this is your worst business class flight, you’ve been unbelievably lucky or haven’t flown much. My primary criticism of your review – and from many other American bloggers (I’m assuming you are American) – is you didn’t ask for what you wanted. If you asked “does the seat recline further?” You wouldn’t be left to guess and might have enjoyed the flight more. FAs are not servants. They are people. Don’t expect them to guess what part of service you are unhappy about and ask for what you want in a conversational tone and more often than not you’ll get it. Regarding service on this flight, I strongly suspect you really annoyed one or more of FAs. Most can spot an American from moment they enter the plane. On SAS, they all speak perfect English. Hard for me to believe your experience was an accident. Regarding boarding and de-planning. I basically agree with you but there are few good ways to board at a remote stand and given you mentioned leaving late I presume you also arrived late with some people having connections. Context matters. Wish you had a better experience but nearly every airline has bad days. Food looked better than anything you’d get on a US airline.
It’s hard to caption how wrong your assumptions are, but I’ll try to be quick. 1-we didn’t need to ask the FAs about seats, because we tested more than 1 and saw other passengers having the same issues. This was mentioned in the article. 2-my wife and I speak fluent Portuguese and are dual nationals. We speak exclusively in Portuguese when traveling. 3-we didn’t ask for anything or even interact with the flight attendants in any way when arriving or finding our seats, let alone that it’s somehow my fault they refused to do a basic job function (speak to me in a mutually-intelligible language). I’m confused that your comment is essentially that you agree it’s a bad flight but somehow the bad service is my fault. At no point did I ever assume the flight attendants should figure things out without being asked or speak to them in any way but nicely. After the first time telling them I don’t speak Swedish, any other airline crew would likely remember this and put it into practice. This is not a complex requirement, I was nice about it, and in no way will I understand your insinuation that I did something / it’s my fault the service sucked. The service sucked. It’s the employees’ fault. Even if they found me annoying (which I doubt), continuing to speak to me in Swedish over and over is a jerk move and totally unacceptable.
Wanted to book SAS for my next trip to US, thanks for saving me from this “experience”
Oh no, you made me cry. How can such airlines exist? I understand that you are going through tough times now. Would suggest getting on antidepressants and light anxiolytics. Talk to your physician. They know what to do. I’d go as far as making a formal complaint to IATA and Swedish Aviation regulators, too.
Nice try SAS
Is Jameson a paid SAS poster, defending their horrible performance on an expensive flight? Ryan has done all flyers a service by exposing this. Bravo to him, shame on SAS.
SAS is a reflection of Sweden. I think it was pretty accurate.
The Swedes are too arrogant, believing they are the best country in the world and that their approach to everything is what the rest of the world should follow. This might have been true once, but now is a pride-before-fall situation. Chalk it up to the infamous Swedish attitude problem.
SKG – I’m not sure nationality has anything to do with it. I feel the same about Americans most times, to be honest.
Culture due to genetics/ethnicity does play a role. The southern Italians tend to be a certain way, the Germans run airlines a certain way, the Spaniards (Iberia) tends to do service a certain way, the Japanese are very clean and follow the rules to the letter, Middle Eastern hospitality is well known, and the Nordics will of course have their own way. A pattern emerges.
I do wish Sweden smartened up on its immigration system. Swedish women are being attacked and brutalized because of it.
Exactly – years ago they were running the boarding gates at CPH – overruling the Danes and I was never ever upgraded – even with my issued “certificates” from EuroBonus – it appeared to be purely racist…
In any case, thank goodness CPH is run by Danes now (or they were maybe 3-4 years ago) and is slightly better than the elitist Swedes!
Fly with Danish or Norwegian crews and things will be a bit better…
As you know, I’m a regular on SAS between Scandinavia and the US. It’s been a long time since I’ve been on a long-haul SAS business class flight where the seats weren’t lie-flat, so I don’t know what’s up with that. Even those legendary OSL-PVG/PEK fares were on lie-flat seats for the long-haul.
Danish crew members tend to provide me better service on my TATL SAS flights than the Swedish crew members. Not always, but on average.
Sad as it is to say this, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the Swedish crew were giving the blogger and his wife the treatment they got because of his wife’s appearance. The snobbery of “oh, she doesn’t look like a business traveler” or “she’s an immigrant (to Sweden) pretending to not be” does hit at times.
GUWonder – an interesting theory.
I think you just described those of us that are from the US.
I fly SAS C all the time and its kind of hit or miss. But I have never had the problem regarding lie flat. It works perfect, thats why it seems very odd when you are writing that no seats in the cabin was lie flat.
Johan – and I’ve seen other reviews where it went flat, so that’s why I’m speculating as to cause (the retrofit?). As you can see in the pictures, there’s just no way there would be enough space to go flat. It wasn’t like it was stuck and needed an “ump” to get down. It was pressed against the divider in the back, ran out of space. And we tried some other seats. Other passengers fought with theirs and couldn’t go flat, either.
There’s definitely something wrong. The backrest is pressed against the divider, yes, but it’s supposed to push forward to make a lie-flat seat. I get that the crew wasn’t great, but did you really not ask them about this?!
Would I need to ask them about it when it was obvious that none of the seats could go flat after experimentation with multiple passengers and lots of seats? Scientific experiment was concluded.
It is space to go flat, and it will. If it do not go flat the seat is broken. The seat will after 45(ish) degrees go «down» and forward so it will be on the same level as the foot rest and leave space for the back to go further down in a flat position. It will stopp slightly before start moving forward. Same seat on all SAS long haul wide-body aircrafts (A330 and A350). Have flown SAS business several times and all have worked fine and I have slept comfortably in a flat position. only complaint I have regarding the seat is the fact that the seat is air filled to be able to regulate firmness, which is not a good solution for a heavy person like myself.
I suggest asking the crew next time, especially when writing review stating that the seat do not go flat. It might have been something wrong with your seat, but it shall and will go flat if it is in working order.
AJ – it wasn’t just my seat. This has been covered ad nauseam at this point. The seats in our cabin did not go flat.
All SAS Business seats are lie flat seats. (The aircraft from LAN Chile has left the fleet some years ago) Sometimes the mechanism gets stuck on one or several seats, I have experienced this on some occasions. It’s easily solved by resetting the seat either by means of switching the seat off with the switch on the seat, on the flight attendant panel or manually. The flight attendants usually fix this quite quickly. The same goes for deflated seat cushions, they can be reset too but off course you’d have to tell the crew if you’re experiencing problems with a seat..