SAS Plus Review: Roundtrip SFO-CPH
Flying SAS Plus on their A330-300 wasn’t really on my shortlist of airline products to try. I flew their business class on the same aircraft about a year and a half ago, and it was enjoyable. Ryan, one of Miles to Memories former contributors, didn’t have nearly the same experience. Now I offer a SAS Plus review, having just flown the carrier’s premium economy cabin after booking it during an excellent fare deal.
While my SAS Plus flight was fine, and I’d happily do it again for the price, it’s not something I’d consider at a more typical price point. I did make a bid for business class, which didn’t pan out. But there are certainly some pros to flying premium economy instead of plain ol’ coach, and I’ll detail those in this SAS Plus review. I’ve focused on the outbound trip to Copenhagen, but details from the return flight are also included, as it was the same cabin less than a week later.
Scandinavian Airlines premium economy is branded as “SAS Plus”. It’s usually substantially more expensive than coach. Coach ticket prices on this route vary considerably, as it is the only nonstop flight flight between Copenhagen and San Francisco. It’s on a weird schedule, operating roughly 4-5 days most weeks.
As a cash fare deal, I was able to book my SAS Plus ticket using Chase Ultimate Reward points through their travel portal. The round-trip fare from San Francisco (SFO) to Copenhagen (CPH) was going for $752.37, which required a redemption of 60,189 Chase Ultimate Rewards points at 1.25 cents each, since I have a Chase Ink Business Preferred card.
Here are my itinerary details:
- Airline: SAS (Scandinavian Airlines)
- Aircraft: Airbus A330-300
- Cabin: SAS Plus Premium Economy (B-class)
- Origin: San Francisco (SFO)
- Destination: Copenhagen (CPH)
- Outbound date: January 26, 2023
- Return date: January 31, 2023
- Seat: 27F outbound (inside aisle), 27H inbound (window)
I decided to credit the ticket to Asiana Club at the last minute. My thinking is that I may have other Star Alliance flights over the next couple years, and this could potentially allow me to earn Star Alliance Gold status, providing United Club access when I travel United.
Since the SAS ticket departed SFO, I booked a positioning flight from my home airport at each end. The first I got for 8,700 United miles and $5.60. The latter cost me 6,500 LifeMiles and $15.60. I’d earn 13,682 Asiana Club miles for the ticket.
I’ve been to San Francisco International Airport many, many times. I arrived into Terminal 3 on a United Express flight, walking from Concourse F to the International Terminal G. There are a number of good restaurants at SFO. Among large U.S. airports, it’s one of the best.
I actually left security, though, to head to the SAS ticket counter. There had been an issue trying to check in online, and I had to head to the desk. With a dedicated line for SAS Plus and Business class customers, check-in was very quick. I had no bags. Luckily, with TSA PreCheck, I was back through security in a few minutes.
With a few hours to kill, I watched the many long-haul aircraft coming and going, grabbed dinner, and then finally made my way to the gate shortly before boarding.
It was pretty busy downstairs in the gate area, with both gates at that particular seating area being used at the same time. Our A330-300 had arrived a bit late into SFO, but boarding started on time. The Beatles also graced us with their presence.
Boarding and General Impressions
One of the first announcements made was that the Wi-Fi on our aircraft wasn’t working. I made sure to download a couple documents for work. What wasn’t clear was whether the in-flight entertainment was out as well, as the gate agent had encouraged everyone to download movies and shows.
I had several books, certainly more than 10 hours worth of reading. Plus some audiobooks. I decided not to worry. Turns out it was only the Wi-Fi that was down. IFE was just fine.
Premium economy passengers were able to board using either door, and SAS Plus boarding follows business class.
One thing I did not expect: using my face to board the place. Turns out that SFO is trialing facial recognition boarding technology. I’m not a fan. The fewer biometric systems we use, the better.
It was a breeze, though. But I ended up at the end of a long line of people. Turns out that basically no one had boarded the aircraft yet. There was one preboard passenger still being helped onto the plane, and it took a couple more minutes even after I arrived in the line. Bad decision on SAS’s part to not give them a bit more time. It would have been better to leave passengers seated for another couple minutes.
I almost walked right past the premium economy section. There is very little to distinguish it. With only subtle difference in color and finish, I was a hair confused. There is no bulkhead providing a clear divide between the cabins. The premium economy cabin is hard to distinguish from regular economy. There is a cloth curtain that is used to divide the cabins while in flight, but it is pulled back at takeoff, landing, and while on the ground.
The SAS Plus cabin isn’t exactly flashy. The seats are grey and arranged in a 2-3-2 configuration on the A330-300.
I grabbed a couple shots of the economy cabin as well. Economy seats are narrower, in a 2-4-2 configuration across the A330, which is standard.
I got settled in while the boarding continued. It was clearly a light load, making me wonder whether an economy ticket would have been just fine. I’d prefer “poor man’s business class” to premium economy any day. But that’s never guaranteed.
I lucked out on this flight. The SAS Plus cabin was rather full, but I ended up with an empty middle seat next to me. Glad I picked this an not an aisle seat in one of the pairs.
SAS Plus A330 Seat
The SAS Plus seat is well padded and a reasonable width. Due to the solid (and wide) middle divider, it offers just one extra inch over economy. But you do have a bit more distance separating you from the person next to you. SAS Plus offers roughly 6 extra inches of pitch.
SAS provided a blanket, pillow, and shoe bag amenity kit at each seat. I noticed that the amenity kits were only offered on the overnight flight eastbound to CPH. The blankets in premium economy are significantly better than what the airline offers in economy.
Between each seat is a solid divider which contains the tray table. The tray table folds in half and slides, and you have a smaller tiny table that swings out if all you want is a place to put your beverage.
There are two power outlets between each pair of seats. This means that the middle three seats get four outlets total, while side pairs get just two. If you have multiple devices to keep charged, this might be one reason to lean toward booking a seat in the middle section.
Above all, the footrest is a fantastic feature. I struggle to sleep in economy (and even in premium economy, which I’d find out). A footrest is one of those things that helps out tremendously.
Overall, it’s a comfortable seat, but not enough over economy to justify double the cost, in my opinion. The recline is decent, but I simply can’t sleep like I do when in lie-flat.
My one large complaint has to do with how the seats are attached. When the guy two seats away would move, it would jostle my seat. He did this a lot, which didn’t help me trying to snooze.
Service and Catering
Service was good overall during the flight. The flight attendants brought water very quickly after takeoff. Service carts appeared and SAS Plus service began about 30 minutes after takeoff, which I consider pretty quick for a long-haul flight.
Drinks were passed out for both the aperitif and for dinner. I went with a vodka tonic, which proved to be excellent. The flight attendant left me with two mini bottles of red wine for dinner. They only bring the alcoholic beverages around once during the dinner service, so make sure you ask for what you want.
The aperitif consisted of salted cashews, which I paired with a vodka tonic. For dinner, I asked for the South African Shiraz, which wasn’t bad. The dinner of chicken with vegetables did not impress, though. I regretted not choosing the beef spare ribs. Everything needed salt, especially the orzo and mozzarella salad. It was served with cheese and crackers and a dinner roll.
The apple dessert at the end was definitely the highlight.
Light breakfast was served about 90 minutes out from Copenhagen. It consisted of cold cuts, cheese, and fruit, with yogurt and a granola bar. Very Danish. I do like having metal silverware in premium economy.
FAs brought around soft drinks a couple times. I’d never seen this. It wasn’t the full cart service. Water was offered many times as well. Overall, they took good care of us. If only the catering was a bit better. The food was a hair better on the return.
Flight and Arrival Experience
Even with a light load, the outbound flight was slightly delayed. There was an issue loading the luggage. We finally got off the ground at around 8:55pm. It’s always noticeable how slow and lumbering takeoff is in the A330 and A340.
The crew adjusted the cabin lighting through the flight, keeping it reasonably lit during service times (but not bright), and dark during the middle of the flight so people could sleep.
Even though it was just a few hours, I slept about as much as I thought I would. The footrest and headrest helped immensely. The headrest has adjustable arms that are stiff enough to actually stay in place.
While it isn’t especially comfortable, I did end up less stiff than I normally would have been. I didn’t bring a travel pillow, which would be a must in economy.
The IFE is decent. The picture is crisp, and there were enough titles to choose from. However, SAS seems short on kids games and movies. Usually, I don’t look at the IFE very closely, but I wanted to highlight this in my SAS Plus review since it stood out.
We made up some time in flight, arriving only a hair late into Copenhagen. We’d gone from an evening departure to a late afternoon arrival. I bit goodbye to the SAS A330. I also said hi to the very cool LEGO Emirates A380 at CPH.
SAS Plus Review: Final Thoughts
For the price I paid, I was happy with my SAS Plus premium economy experience on their A330-300. The seats are more comfortable than economy, with additional recline and legroom, a hair more width, and much better blanket. The service was good and the flight attendants pleasant, but the food left a bit to be desired. The IFE is decent overall, but the lack of Wi-Fi could be problematic for some (I recalled that the Wi-Fi was also broken on my business class flight a couple years ago). I also think they shortchange the kids on the entertainment selection.
All that being said, this is not something for which I would pay $1,200 to $2,200. This is a more typical price point for the class of service. This flight did pique my interest in premium economy, however, so I will be keeping an eye out for more deals.
And that wraps up my SAS Plus review. Have you ever flown the carrier or this cabin in particular? What did you think?
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Thanks for a PE review, there isn’t enough of these around.
You’re welcome. I wish more could be booked at a better price point, both in terms of miles and cash. Would like to see if I could find a carrier’s product I really like.
Crediting to Asiana, but when are they going to be skyteam as KAL?
It’s gonna be slow from how things have gone so far. If it happens in the next two years, so be it.