Review: SAS Business Class Airbus A350-900 (CPH-MIA)

Review: SAS Business Class Airbus A350-900 (CPH-MIA)

More From This Trip
FROM: CPH
TO: MIA
CABIN: Business
DATE: March 2022
REVIEW RATING:
BEN SAYS: Scandinavian Airlines' A350 business class impressed me, between the comfortable seats and cabin, friendly crew, good food, and free Wi-Fi.
28

After an amazing trip to Oman, it was time for the last segment back to the United States, in Scandinavian Airlines’ A350-900 business class from Copenhagen to Miami.

I was looking forward to this flight, as I hadn’t flown SAS’ A350 business class before. Furthermore, I’ve only ever flown SAS’ long haul business class once (on the A330), and it wasn’t a good experience. I was curious to see how the airline would do this time around.

I’ve gotta say, SAS really impressed me — while there are a few areas for improvement, the crew was friendly, the seats were comfortable, the food was good, and business class passengers get free Wi-Fi. This might just rank in my top five transatlantic business class products.

How I booked my SAS business class ticket

I booked the return itinerary through Air Canada Aeroplan, and managed to ticket the following in business class for 105,000 Aeroplan points plus $55.25 in taxes and fees:

02/27 TK775 Muscat to Istanbul departing 1:20AM arriving 6:05AM
02/27 TK1781 Istanbul to Copenhagen departing 11:50AM arriving 1:10PM
03/01 SK953 Copenhagen to Miami departing 9:35AM arriving 2:05PM

One of the awesome things about Aeroplan is that you can add a stopover to a one-way award for just 5,000 points, so I was able to add one of those here, so I could spend a couple of days in Copenhagen.

SAS business class boarding

After visits to both the SAS Lounge and Eventyr Lounge, it was time to head to the departure gate for our flight to Miami. Our flight was scheduled to depart at 9:35AM, and boarding was scheduled to start at 8:50AM, 45 minutes before departure.

The flight was departing from gate E129, which was a surprising distance from the Eventyr Lounge, even though we were already in the non-Schengen area. We walked really far, and the terminal was also totally deserted.

Copenhagen Airport terminal
Copenhagen Airport terminal
SAS departure gate Copenhagen Airport

8:50AM came and went, and there was no announcement about boarding. As a matter of fact, the crew only showed up five minutes after that, at 8:55AM. A moment later the gate agents advised that there was one flight attendant missing, and they were working on finding a replacement, but didn’t have a sense of how long that would take.

At 9:20AM the purser came into the gate area and made an announcement. He explained the situation in greater detail, and said that one flight attendant had called in sick last minute, and a replacement flight attendant should be arriving any minute.

He was extremely professional, and explained that the flight attendant that would be showing up shortly is helping us and not the reason for the delay, so we shouldn’t blame her. Rather he suggested we cheer when she arrives.

Sure enough at 9:30AM the flight attendant showed up, and it was clear that she was rushing to get there, as she was out of breath. She wasn’t just casually strolling with an iced coffee in her hand. Kudos to the crew for the professionalism with which this was handled.

Boarding began roughly two minutes after that last flight attendant arrived, with business class passengers being invited to board first.

SAS departure gate Copenhagen Airport

SAS A350-900 business class cabin & seats

Scandinavian Airlines’ Airbus A350-900s have a total of 40 business class seats, in a 1-2-1 configuration. There’s a forward cabin (between the first and second set of doors) with eight rows of seats, and a rear cabin (behind the second set of doors) with two rows of seats.

SAS has Vantage XL seats in business class, which you’ll find on quite a few airlines, including Philippine AirlinesQantasRwandAir, and more.

Scandinavian Airlines A350-900 business class cabin
Scandinavian Airlines A350-900 business class cabin

In these configurations, seats are staggered in alternating rows to maximize efficiency. This allows the footwell for a particular seat to be to the side of the seat in front. Some people may prefer to sit in the center section if traveling with someone, though in reality you still won’t be that close to the other person (there are no “honeymoon” seats here, as you’d find in some other configurations).

Scandinavian Airlines business class seats A350-900

The differences between seats are more noticeable in the window seats. In odd numbered rows, the window seats are closer to the aisle, so they don’t offer as much privacy, and it’s harder to look out the window.

Scandinavian Airlines business class seats A350-900
Scandinavian Airlines business class seats A350-900
Scandinavian Airlines business class seats A350-900

In even numbered rows, the window seats are closer to the windows, which would be my preferred seats, given that they offer the most privacy and the best views. I assigned myself seat 8A (row eight is the last row in the forward business class cabin).

SAS business class seats A350-900
SAS business class seats A350-900

Each seat has an 18.5″ seatback television, plus a literature pocket and coat hook next to it.

SAS business class seats A350-900

Along the other side of the seat is a “counter” where you can place things during the flight. There’s also an exposed storage compartment that has a hook for headphones, plus a reading light, the seat controls, entertainment controller, headphone jack, and outlets (USB and AC power).

SAS business class seat functions

In addition to the more customizable seat control positions, there are a few pre-set positions you can control from a panel underneath the side table.

SAS business class seat controls

The tray table could be extended from the armrest on the right side of the seat, and it could be folded over in half.

SAS business class seat tray table

One issue with these staggered configurations can be that the footwell is sometimes on the small side, especially if you have big feet. Fortunately SAS’ Vantage XL seats have reasonably big footwells, so I didn’t find space to be an issue when trying to sleep.

SAS business class seat footwell

Each seat also had the latest generation Airbus overhead consoles, including a reading light and seatbelt sign. Unfortunately there were no individual air nozzles.

SAS A350 business class overhead console

The two lavatories for business class passengers were located behind the cabin. They were quite no frills, and weren’t particularly big, didn’t have windows, and didn’t have any exciting amenities.

SAS business class lavatory A350

SAS business class amenities

Waiting at each seat upon boarding was a pillow, blanket, and mattress sheet. I found the bedding to be quite good — the pillow was quite large, the blanket was cozy without being warm, and it was nice to have a mattress pad (though perhaps it was more of a sheet, as it doesn’t offer much additional padding).

SAS business class pillow & blanket

There was also an amenity kit waiting at each seat.

SAS business class amenity kit

The contents were limited, and included a dental kit, socks, eyeshades, earplugs, face moisturizer, and lip balm.

SAS business class amenity kit

Then there were headphones, which had a mild noise canceling feature.

SAS business class headphones

About 10 minutes after boarding, pre-departure drinks were served, with the choice of champagne, orange juice, or water. I selected the champagne, which was served in proper glassware.

SAS business class pre-departure drink

SAS departure from Copenhagen

Boarding was complete by 9:50AM, about 15 minutes after it started. It was an efficient boarding process, thanks largely to the flight not being too full — business class and premium economy were around 75% full, while economy seemed to be around 50% full.

Once everyone was settled in the purser made his welcome aboard announcement, informing us of our flight time of 10 hours. At 10AM we began our pushback, at which point the safety video was screened.

Pushing back at Copenhagen Airport

We started taxiing to the runway by 10:05AM — it was a pretty quiet day at the airport, without much movement. There weren’t all that many interesting planes, perhaps aside from an Air China A330.

Taxiing Copenhagen Airport
Air China A330 Copenhagen Airport

I didn’t just look out the window, but also kept an eye on the awesome tail camera that SAS’ A350s have. Gosh I could watch this all day. By 10:15AM we were cleared for takeoff on runway 22R.

SAS A350 takeoff view tail camera
SAS A350 takeoff view tail camera

We had a smooth takeoff roll and gradual climb out — what a gorgeous wing and engine view I had from my seat!

SAS A350 wing & engine view after takeoff

SAS A350 entertainment & Wi-Fi

As we climbed out I browsed the entertainment selection. While SAS’ entertainment system is pretty responsive, the screen has a frustrating amount of glare, and there don’t seem to be any ways to adjust the settings to improve that. So when the cabin lights are turned on, expect to be dealing with quite a bit of glare.

SAS A350 entertainment system

The entertainment selection was okay, but below average. There were a total of 87 TV shows and 57 movies, which isn’t a huge selection. In particular, I wish there were more than one episode of each TV show, since it can be fun to get into a series sometimes.

SAS A350 entertainment system
SAS A350 entertainment system
SAS A350 entertainment system

As an avgeek I did appreciate the shows on the entertainment about SAS, including how pre-flight inspections are performed, how to overcome fear of flying, etc. Unfortunately each of these only lasted a few minutes at most, so I exhausted that selection pretty quickly.

SAS A350 entertainment system

For most of the flight I simply had the tail camera or the map feature on, which is perfect entertainment, as far as I’m concerned.

SAS A350 entertainment system
SAS A350 entertainment system
SAS A350 entertainment system

Whatever shortcomings SAS has with the entertainment system is more than made up for with Wi-Fi. SAS offers business class passengers complimentary Wi-Fi on one device. Speeds were even excellent.

SAS A350 Wi-Fi system

To access the free Wi-Fi you have to provide your first and last name plus your booking reference, so make sure you have that handy when boarding your flight.

SAS A350 Wi-Fi system

If you don’t have access to free Wi-Fi (or want to buy access for a second device), the cost is a reasonable 199DKK (~$17) for the entire flight without data caps.

SAS A350 Wi-Fi system

There aren’t many airlines offering free Wi-Fi with no data caps across the Atlantic, so this is a huge competitive advantage for SAS, in my opinion.

SAS A350 business class bed

I didn’t sleep on this 10 hour daytime flight, but I did test out the bed mode for comfort. I found the bed to be quite comfortable — the seat padding was good, and I found the seat to be spacious, even though I’m a side sleeper who likes to bend my knees.

SAS business class bed A350
SAS business class bed A350
SAS business class bed A350

One other interesting note about cabin ambiance. The crew never turned off the lights in the cabin during the flight, but rather the below mood lighting was as dark as it got. I find that most airlines turn off lights on longer flights (even if daytime) so that people sleep, though as someone who wanted to stay up, I kind of liked this level of lighting.

SAS A350 business class mood lighting

SAS business class lunch

The meal service started quickly after takeoff. Oddly there were no menus in business class, but rather an announcement was made over the PA informing passengers of the meal choices. Service started with tablecloths being distributed.

SAS business class tablecloth

After that carts were rolled down the aisle with drinks. I ordered a glass of sparkling water as well as an Italian white wine, which were served with salted cashews. The flight attendant working my aisle had the chef uniform on. I find SAS’ execution of the onboard chef concept to be a bit odd — it’s not like Turkish Airlines, where there’s a specific function the chef seems to perform.

SAS business class lunch — drinks and nuts

The entire meal, from starter to dessert, was served covered and on a single tray.

SAS business class lunch

On the plus side, I found the food quality to be excellent. The starter was described as smoked cod loin with pickled beets and seaweed chunks.

Then for the main course there was the choice of steak with cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes, or Faroe Island salmon with jersualem artichoke sauce, and organic pasta with mushroom sauce.

SAS business class lunch

For dessert there was a dark chocolate tart. After the meal a coffee trolley was rolled down the aisle, so I had a cup of coffee to accompany my dessert.

SAS business class lunch — dessert

While the lack of menus and one tray presentation aren’t ideal, the food quality as such was very good. I enjoyed the starter, main, and dessert, much more than the food I’ve had on most other transatlantic flights.

The entire meal service was also efficient, and within 90 minutes of takeoff all meals were fully cleared.

SAS business class snack & pre-landing meal

There was a self-serve bar in the galley between the two business class cabins. This had several types of drinks, as well as packaged snacks, ranging from nuts, to chocolates, to chips, to gummy bears. Of course other drinks were available directly from the crew.

SAS A350 business class self-serve bar

Roughly at the halfway point of the flight, the crew distributed packaged sandwiches, with the choice of either cheese or ham. I had a cheese sandwich, and it was reasonably tasty.

SAS business class snack

I had a couple of cups of coffee during the flight, which were served in paper cups.

SAS business class coffee

About 90 minutes before landing the pre-arrival snack was served. This consisted of a chicken sandwich on rye bread, and was quite tasty. This was served with a side of fruit and a box of chocolates.

SAS business class pre-landing meal

Coffee & tea were served after the meal, so I had a cup of coffee.

SAS business class pre-landing meal

SAS business class service

This is probably what impressed me most compared to my last long haul flight on SAS. Unlike my last SAS business class flight, the crew on this flight was lovely. The flight attendants were friendly, attentive, and seemed genuinely happy to be working. Then again, maybe that was partly because they were flying from Northern Europe to Florida in winter, which I imagine might have something to do with it. 😉

SAS approach to Miami

At around 1:35PM local time the captain came on the PA to advise us that we’d be landing in Miami in around 45 minutes. Roughly 15 minutes later we began our descent, and at that point the cabin was already prepared for landing.

Map while approaching Miami
View approaching Miami

As usual, the views on approach to Miami were gorgeous, given that we were landing into the west. We had great views of Miami Beach, the Venetian Islands, Brickell, etc.

On final approach to Miami
On final approach to Miami
On final approach to Miami
On final approach to Miami
On final approach to Miami

We touched down on runway 26L at 2:20PM.

Taxiing Miami Airport

You’ve gotta love the traffic at Miami Airport, from an Icelandair Boeing 757 (operating charter flights to Cuba), to a Boliviana de Aviacion Boeing 767.

Icelandair 757 Miami Airport
Boliviana de Aviacion 767 Miami Airport

We ended up arriving at our gate at around 2:30PM, just a bit behind schedule. We were treated to a beautiful view of the SAS A350 while walking toward immigration.

SAS A350-900 after arriving in Miami

Bottom line

Based on my previous SAS long haul experience, I came into this flight with low expectations. Fortunately they were exceeded significantly. The Vantage XL seats are among the most comfortable transatlantic business class seats offered by a European airline. Add in the tasty food, friendly service, free Wi-Fi, and general comfort of the A350, and this was a fantastic experience.

I’d say the main room for improvement is with the entertainment selection and perhaps the introduction of a menu and drink list, so people can more easily figure out what they’re ordering. But those are minor details in the grand scheme of things, and I’d choose SAS again on a long haul flight in a heartbeat.

Thanks so much for following along with this journey, and stay tuned for the next trip report, launching shortly!

If you’ve flown SAS’ A350 business class, what was your experience like?

Conversations (28)
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  1. Paul G Guest

    Many thanks for writing this report - particularly about the seating arrangement (quick change to my booking & seat selection needed). I have not flown SAS for many years, but will again in June 2022, from CPH to LAX, and will try to remember to give an update on here how it went.

  2. Filip Guest

    I am Swedish and lived in the US for 7 years until this fall so have flown SAS Biz quite a bit. I believe the lack of menus is a COVID-hangover, but usually there is an option on the IFE system to check it (in case anyone is travelling with them in the future)

  3. lkmk Guest

    Thanks for the Miami descent pictures! I vacationed there in December and really enjoyed it, so it's nice to reminisce.

  4. Anders Guest

    Super interesting review - thank you.
    I really feel like I need to add, that the service you experienced is the very reduced Covid-version of the normal service.
    SAS normally has beautiful menu cards, with art designed for the individual routes and seasons. Normally the food is also served in a much more appealing restaurant style service, where no trays are used, the fresh salads will be mixed in front of you, and...

    Super interesting review - thank you.
    I really feel like I need to add, that the service you experienced is the very reduced Covid-version of the normal service.
    SAS normally has beautiful menu cards, with art designed for the individual routes and seasons. Normally the food is also served in a much more appealing restaurant style service, where no trays are used, the fresh salads will be mixed in front of you, and there is a well-stocked dessert-trolley as well. SAS also normally mixes cocktails, served in specially designed glassware.

    I recommend to read some of the pre-Covid reviews, which will give a more precise picture of the service level that SAS will return to soon, in a post-pandemic world

  5. Andy Diamond

    Great report. Looks like an excellent experience and a very professional crew. I have two upcoming longhaul flights on SAS - looking forward to them!

  6. Jesper Guest

    @Ben, the menu is usually on the IFE. And I have usually had the cabin crew bringing their tablet to show the selections.

  7. Hodor Guest

    Not sure if others are having the same problem, but the last few instalments of this trip report (Copenhagen hotel review, two lounge reviews, flight review) are not showing up on the OMAAT homepage for me.

    The OMAAT homepage is also having an issue that it has had in the past, whereby going to onemileatatime.com does not load the latest posts-- only a browser refresh does that. Google Chrome on Windows 10/11. Thanks.

  8. Martin B. Guest

    I recognized that you guys are not anymore showing the "information block" with all flight details = flight no., day/date, hour of departure/arrival, duration, etc. - especially the duration I always found a nice detail. Any reason for not mentioning that anymore? (e.g. see your other review July, 19th 2016)

  9. Adrian Guest

    Thanks for the trip report! But my conclusion is that I have no interest to fly SAS in the near future. The food was subpar and one tray service really was unacceptable, especially given Covid-19 restrictions are mostly all lifted in Scandinavian countries. For a day time flight, the meal should be served in courses. The quantity was also lacking. The mid-flight snack was basically the same cheese roll offered at SAS Buy on board...

    Thanks for the trip report! But my conclusion is that I have no interest to fly SAS in the near future. The food was subpar and one tray service really was unacceptable, especially given Covid-19 restrictions are mostly all lifted in Scandinavian countries. For a day time flight, the meal should be served in courses. The quantity was also lacking. The mid-flight snack was basically the same cheese roll offered at SAS Buy on board programs in Europe. The pre-arrival snack is just a joke.

    I agree with you that that seats looked good. Free WIFI is always good. But the whole business class experience looked weak. The SAS lounge was bad even pre-Covid-19 and the food looked weak. I am glad that you introduce us to the other lounge though. I will skip SAS lounge if I fly non-Schengen in the future from Copenhagen.

    Thanks again for starting the trip report series again. Unfortunately I will skip SAS on long haul flights until things are improved.

  10. Morgan Gold

    Fantastic trip report as usual!

  11. Steve M Guest

    I enjoyed reading this review very much.
    Thank you Ben!

  12. Carrie Member

    The sparkling wine ordered with the Italian wine has the suspicious appearance of water.

  13. andy Guest

    I flew this product last summer and prefer the reverse herringbone KLM/AF seat. The foot rest is closer and I can put my feet up when seated upright. The foot rest on SAS is smaller and I couldn’t reach it when seated upright. It’s very low so the sleeping position is also lower than KLM. Feels like the seat slides forward and down vs just forward on KLM.

  14. Rafa Guest

    Great report Ben.
    Can you please list your top transatlantic airlines in business Class?
    For me it was LH but sadly no more.

    1. Oliver Guest

      Definitely SIA FRA-JFK. Polaris? KLM?

    2. Rafa Guest

      SIA has my vote too. Problem is if you travel beyond FRA you have to buy separate txt. Polaris has a nice hard product. Service and catering is nothing to remember. Haven’t flown KLM for ages. Perhaps emirates to Athens is a smart choice?

  15. ArnoldB Guest

    The food looks like a joke tbh, especcially the second "meal". And the cheese roll also functions as second meal in economy - and I found it disgusting.

  16. Ryan Guest

    SK is tied with OS as my favorite Star Alliance business class across the Atlantic. I think OS has slightly better food but prefer the SK cabins and hard product.

    This seems to be a watered-down COVID service. SK used to have nice printed menus with Scandinavian artwork and an amazing selection of drinks (including all kinds of unique spirits and Mikkeller microbrews). They also used to serve all the courses by cart so that...

    SK is tied with OS as my favorite Star Alliance business class across the Atlantic. I think OS has slightly better food but prefer the SK cabins and hard product.

    This seems to be a watered-down COVID service. SK used to have nice printed menus with Scandinavian artwork and an amazing selection of drinks (including all kinds of unique spirits and Mikkeller microbrews). They also used to serve all the courses by cart so that you could see the entrees before making your choice. Hopefully they'll return to that standard of service as it was unique and a definite differentiator.

  17. James S Guest

    I see my building in your approach-to-Miami photo!

  18. Willem Guest

    I flew it with a load of 3/40 business class pax (including myself) back in June 2021, no pre departure drink but everything else was exactly the same for the service. Crew were bemused that they outnumbered us, given that this was shortly after Denmark started accepting vaccinated travelers without a COVID test I guess word hadn’t gotten out yet!

  19. Stephen Guest

    That top pic of CPH airport. I love that wood flooring. If I ever need to re-lay a hardwood floor it's going down like that.

  20. Aaron Guest

    The cutbacks to the meal don't seem too extreme, it seems like they don't serve a salad with the appetizer anymore and no fruits with desert.

    The big difference with the meal service compared to pre-Corona times seems to be in the presentation. It was nice to see the choices for the appetizer and main meal displayed in front of you on the cart. And I did like how the pre-arrival meal could be customized...

    The cutbacks to the meal don't seem too extreme, it seems like they don't serve a salad with the appetizer anymore and no fruits with desert.

    The big difference with the meal service compared to pre-Corona times seems to be in the presentation. It was nice to see the choices for the appetizer and main meal displayed in front of you on the cart. And I did like how the pre-arrival meal could be customized before you as well.

    Ah well, at least the quantity still seems to be good.

  21. sheilacarson Guest

    I flew this plane and cabin from ORD to CPH and mostly agree with your assessment. What is striking in your report is the stark difference between CPH airport, and the concrete, third world dump that is MIA airport.

    1. Mike C Member

      I have found something similar. For the most part, US international arrival areas are, how shall I put this, 'austere': bare metal and concrete, unadorned in any way. In most other countries (although my travels have taken me to few recently), they seem to have made an effort with the decor, and have displays and the like that reflect the country or the city. Auckland did it pretty well. The marginal cost of thoughtful design...

      I have found something similar. For the most part, US international arrival areas are, how shall I put this, 'austere': bare metal and concrete, unadorned in any way. In most other countries (although my travels have taken me to few recently), they seem to have made an effort with the decor, and have displays and the like that reflect the country or the city. Auckland did it pretty well. The marginal cost of thoughtful design isn't that much, perhaps try it some time.

    2. Ralph4878 Guest

      @Mike C - you haven't been to YYZ lately, have you? ;p

    3. Always Flying Somewhere Guest

      ...or HNL

    4. Eric Guest

      Since I’ve lived & worked my whole life in these third world dumps, I can assure you MIA is better than those, and better than many large US gateways (JFK, ORD, PHL, etc) or European (LHR, MXP) . It also depends on which airline you fly, since the first (AA) and last terminals are modern. And none can beat it for location convenience.

      No US airport can even compare with the world’s best, and...

      Since I’ve lived & worked my whole life in these third world dumps, I can assure you MIA is better than those, and better than many large US gateways (JFK, ORD, PHL, etc) or European (LHR, MXP) . It also depends on which airline you fly, since the first (AA) and last terminals are modern. And none can beat it for location convenience.

      No US airport can even compare with the world’s best, and I’ve never seen an airport with the gorgeous parquet flooring shown in CPH photo.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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Rafa Guest

Great report Ben. Can you please list your top transatlantic airlines in business Class? For me it was LH but sadly no more.

2
Carrie Member

The sparkling wine ordered with the Italian wine has the suspicious appearance of water.

1
sheilacarson Guest

I flew this plane and cabin from ORD to CPH and mostly agree with your assessment. What is striking in your report is the stark difference between CPH airport, and the concrete, third world dump that is MIA airport.

1
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