Review: SAS Plus Airbus A320neo

Review: SAS Plus Airbus A320neo

FROM: ARN
TO: NCE
CABIN: SAS Plus
DATE: July 2021
REVIEW RATING:
BEN SAYS: Think of SAS Plus as being more like premium economy than business class -- there are no blocked middle seats, but you do get a drink and snack. Other than that, SAS' A320neos are fine, with the highlight being high speed Wi-Fi.
30

After four lovely nights in Stockholm, it was time to fly to our next destination, Nice. We flew there on Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), which is one of the more unusual airlines in Europe in terms of its premium product.

How I booked our Scandinavian Airlines flights

For the day we were traveling, the only airline flying nonstop from Stockholm to Nice was SAS. Unfortunately there was no award availability, so we just booked a paid ticket on the following flight:

07/05 SK1827 Stockholm to Nice departing 6:00AM arriving 9:05AM

An SAS Go ticket cost $250 per person, while an SAS Plus ticket cost $300 per person, so we spent the extra $50 for SAS Plus. While the fare as such wasn’t cheap, I thought the premium was reasonable for SAS Plus, and this also seemed like the most efficient option. Any mileage redemption option would have involved $100+ in fees, and if I can avoid connections within Europe I do.

What is SAS Plus?

Business class within Europe isn’t much to get excited about, as it typically just consists of economy with a blocked middle seat, and free food and drinks. Scandinavian Airlines doesn’t even have business class on flights within Europe, though, but rather just has SAS Plus, which is more of a premium economy product.

What is SAS Plus?

  • It offers seating in a dedicated section at the front of the plane, but there are no blocked middle seats
  • It includes complimentary coffee and tea, plus a free snack; on top of that, you can order off the buy on board menu for free, though this is generally not encouraged by the crew, and also isn’t even listed on SAS’ website as a benefit
  • It includes priority ground services, including priority check-in, fast track security, lounge access, and priority boarding
  • It offers free Wi-Fi onboard

The reality is that if you have Star Alliance Gold status, the perks of SAS Plus are minimal, since that status offers all airport priority services. The main reason we decided to pay for SAS Plus is because the back of the plane looked packed, while SAS Plus looked mostly empty. So while a blocked middle seat isn’t an official benefit of SAS Plus, I was hoping we’d luck out with one.

Scandinavian Airlines check-in Stockholm Airport

With our flight departing at 6AM, we decided to arrive at the airport at 3:45AM. Why so early? A friend had flown out of the airport a day prior for an early morning flight. He arrived two hours before his flight, and said he almost missed it, so we figured we should play it safe. It’s at least a little easier to get up before 3AM in Northern Europe in summer, when it’s already starting to get light at that hour.

This also gets at one of my airline pet peeves when it comes to managing expectations — Scandinavian Airlines has a bank of 6AM flights, and recommends getting to the airport two hours before departure. Go figure check-in doesn’t open until exactly two hours before departure. That meant when we arrived at the airport we had to get in a single queue with hundreds of people.

Scandinavian Airlines check-in queue Stockholm Airport

Once check-in opened, the line at least moved pretty quickly, given that we had access to the priority check-in desk (it wasn’t possible to check-in online, I guess because our vaccination cards had to be inspected). I thought the sign on the check-in desk about treating staff with respect was interesting.

Scandinavian Airlines signage at check-in counter

We were quickly issued our boarding passes, and headed through security, which didn’t take much time. All the shops in the terminal were still closed.

Stockholm Arlanda Airport departures hall
Stockholm Arlanda Airport departures hall

While we had lounge access, the lounge didn’t open until 5AM. So we just walked around a bit and did some plane spotting, and then had a seat in the gate area to get some work done.

Scandinavian Airlines Airbus A320neo

Scandinavian Airlines lounge Stockholm Airport

The whole ground experience at Arlanda Airport seemed like an exercise in lining up. We were told to check-in two hours before departure, only for check-in to only open exactly two hours before departure. Then the lounge only opens one hour before the first departure. There were many dozen people ahead of us in line to access the lounge, so we had to queue for about 15 minutes to even get into the lounge when it opened.

Scandinavian Airlines lounge queue

Then once inside the lounge we had to queue for the breakfast buffet, since everyone who first queued to get into the lounge was now queueing for the buffet.

Scandinavian Airlines lounge queue

The breakfast spread seemed to be the same as pre-coronavirus, which was fine, but nothing to get excited about.

SAS Lounge buffet Stockholm Arlanda Airport
SAS Lounge buffet Stockholm Arlanda Airport
SAS Lounge buffet Stockholm Arlanda Airport
SAS Lounge breakfast Stockholm Arlanda Airport

The lounge itself was perfectly fine, but between first lining up to get into the lounge, and then lining up for the breakfast buffet, we had just a few minutes in the lounge before it was time to head to our departure gate.

SAS Lounge Stockholm Arlanda Airport
SAS Lounge Stockholm Arlanda Airport
SAS Lounge Stockholm Arlanda Airport

SAS A320neo business class cabin & seats

Our SAS flight was departing from gate 12, a short walk from the lounge. Boarding was scheduled to start at 5:30AM. While priority boarding is marketed as a benefit of SAS Plus, the airline was at the time using a back-to-front boarding process, so SAS Plus passengers were asked to board last.

Our flight was operated by an Airbus A320neo, which is the backbone of Scandinavian Airlines’ short haul fleet. SAS’ A320s feature a total of 174 seats. I had assigned us seats 9D & 9F, the window and aisle seat on the right side in the last row of the SAS Plus section.

SAS Plus cabin Airbus A320neo
SAS Plus cabin Airbus A320neo

SAS has slimline seats, with 30-31″ of pitch. The legroom wasn’t great (definitely not as good as on our previous flight on a KLM 737), but it wasn’t terrible either.

SAS Plus seats Airbus A320neo
SAS Plus seats Airbus A320neo

SAS has USB outlets at every seat, though there are no 110v outlets. Some power is better than none, but I just don’t get why airlines can’t offer more power options on newly delivered planes. Do they think personal electronic devices are going away, or are they just cheap and don’t care?

SAS Plus seatback Airbus A320neo
SAS Plus USB outlet Airbus A320neo

There was a standard tray table that folded out from the seat in front. The literature pocket was on top of the tray table, so that the reading materials were exposed when the tray table was lowered.

SAS Plus tray table Airbus A320neo

On the plus side, there were individual air nozzles at every seat — on European airlines this is more common on narrow body aircraft than wide body aircraft.

SAS Plus individual air nozzles Airbus A320neo

There was no curtain between SAS Plus and SAS Go, but rather there was just a small sign on the back of our seat indicating that the SAS Go section started behind our row.

SAS Plus cabin partition Airbus A320neo

Our gamble of booking SAS Plus paid off — while every single seat in SAS Go was occupied, there were over a dozen empty seats in SAS Plus, including the seat between us.

Departing Stockholm

The main cabin door closed at 6AM, and at 6:05AM we began our pushback. At that point the manual safety demonstration was performed. Based on sunlight outside, you would’ve thought it was the middle of the day.

Pushing back at Stockholm Arlanda Airport

We had a quick taxi to our departure runway, and by 6:10AM we were airborne for our 2hr50min flight to Nice.

View after takeoff from Stockholm Arlanda Airport
View after takeoff from Stockholm Arlanda Airport

Okay, why have I never taken wide angle wing pictures before with the iPhone, this is kind of fun?!

View after takeoff from Stockholm Arlanda Airport

SAS Plus food & drinks

The seatbelt sign was turned off about five minutes after takeoff. Shortly thereafter the crew began service. SAS Plus isn’t a proper intra-Europe business class product, but rather just offers more service than in the standard economy cabin. After takeoff, disinfecting wipes were distributed.

SAS Plus disinfecting wipe

Then about 10 minutes later a complimentary breakfast box was served.

SAS Plus breakfast box

It was better than nothing, but wasn’t a terribly exciting selection — there was some yogurt and granola, a small amount of cheese and some packaged bread, and a can of juice.

SAS Plus meal service

Passengers were also offered complimentary coffee & tea, served in cups.

SAS Plus drink service

Interestingly SAS Plus passengers can allegedly also order for free off the buy on board menu. However, this isn’t listed on the SAS website as a benefit of SAS Plus, and for that matter the crew didn’t offer or encourage it. So at the time I didn’t even know this was possible, not that I would have ordered a whole lot else on such an early morning flight. Below is the buy on board menu.

SAS inflight menu

That was the extent of the service — there was no offer of refills or further service.

SAS Plus Wi-Fi

One of the other advantages of SAS Plus is complimentary Wi-Fi. Connecting was easy, and the airline has Wi-Fi provided by Viasat, which has exceptionally good speeds. While there’s not much else to get excited about on SAS, having high speed and free Wi-Fi is awesome, and it allowed me to stay productive during the flight.

SAS Wi-Fi on the Airbus A320neo

SAS Plus service

There’s not a whole lot to say about the service on SAS. Like I said, the crew made a single pass through the cabin. The crew wasn’t rude in any way, though also wasn’t polite in any way.

The extent of my interaction with the crew was them asking “coffee or tea?” and me saying “coffee with milk, please.”

SAS Plus lavatory

There was a lavatory at the front of the cabin. This was open to all passengers, since there’s no divider between SAS Plus and SAS Go. The lavatory was fairly clean, but otherwise no frills.

SAS Plus lavatory A320neo

Approaching Nice

At around 8:30AM we began our descent into Nice. The views of the French coastline are always gorgeous. The seatbelt sign was turned on about 15 minutes later.

View approaching Nice

We touched down in Nice at 9AM, and from there we had a five minute taxi to our arrival gate.

Touching down in Nice
Taxiing Nice Airport

There were no arrival formalities of any sort, so we headed straight for our hotel, with most of the day still ahead of us.

Bottom line

Flying within Europe isn’t much to get excited about, and that’s especially true on Scandinavian Airlines. The airline doesn’t offer business class, but rather offers a premium economy product of sorts.

SAS Plus offers priority airport services, a dedicated seating area at the front of the plane, an onboard snack along with coffee & tea, and free Wi-Fi. Apparently you can also order items off the buy on board menu for free, but what a ridiculous system — the crew doesn’t tell you about it, and it’s not even listed on the website as a benefit, so I guess it’s kept a secret so the airline can save money.

In our case taking this flight made sense — it was a direct routing, the A320neo cabin was in pretty good shape, and there was high speed Wi-Fi and USB power outlets.

Furthermore, on our flight I think it was worth booking SAS Plus over SAS Go, given the modest price premium. This ended up getting us an empty middle seat, since SAS Go was 100% full, while SAS Plus wasn’t. While I think SAS Plus can be a good deal, in general I’d prefer to fly an airline that has an intra-Europe business class, since having a guaranteed blocked middle is nice.

If you’ve flown SAS Plus, what was your experience like?

Conversations (30)
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  1. Claudia Ramírez Guest

    Bad service no more trips with Alaska , costumer service to bad

  2. Samo Guest

    I might be weird but I actually like SAS Plus. It is fairly cheap compared to regular European business class on other airlines, yet still delivers almost all the benefits.

    I recently flew ARN-MMX in Plus. It cost 30€ extra compared to SAS Go and I got fast track, lounge, beers and some snack on boad, WiFi in board... Absolutely worth it. Just the food and drinks on board were worth 14€, not to...

    I might be weird but I actually like SAS Plus. It is fairly cheap compared to regular European business class on other airlines, yet still delivers almost all the benefits.

    I recently flew ARN-MMX in Plus. It cost 30€ extra compared to SAS Go and I got fast track, lounge, beers and some snack on boad, WiFi in board... Absolutely worth it. Just the food and drinks on board were worth 14€, not to mention all I ate and drunk in the lounge. And no row had more than 4 people in it, so everyone got a free middle seat, although it's not guaranteed.

    Perfect flight as far as I'm concerned.

  3. dander Guest

    I have between Brussells and Stockholm and Stockholm to Copenhagen. We got a meal on one and the I think it was fish and we could get something else. I got something else. I find SAS flight attendants not rude but don't go out of their way to be nice or chatty. Compare it to an Air Lingus flight where tweo flight attendants and I had a nice chat

    1. Samo Guest

      They're called "Scandinavian Airlines", of course they're not going to small talk. It would freak people from their own market out :)

      I personally like the service on SAS, it's efficient and friendly, but not intrusive. The only thing I'd like is for them to make more proactive drink rounds in Plus.

  4. Weymar Osborne Gold

    Does SAS Plus come with any additional mileage bonuses or baggage allowances? If so, I could see myself paying an extra $50 for it despite already being Star Gold.

    1. Tennen Gold

      @Weymar Osborne, yes, SAS Plus earns more miles/points than SAS Go (Economy), but it depends on who you credit to. The checked baggage allowance is 2 bags (instead of 0 or 1), and if you're on or connecting to/from a long-haul flight, your carry-on allowance is 2 (or was before COVID) plus 1 personal item, the same as business. The fares are flexible, and can be changed/cancelled for free, except for long-haul Plus Saver fares.

  5. Andy Guest

    The SAS Plus concept is mainly aiming at corporate travelers, whose employers do neither permit Business nor Premium Eco. Therefore, even in GDS it is coded either as Plus or as Eco, but not as Business or Premium eco.

    Apart from the benefits you mention, the Plus fares are also flexible.

  6. Chris Guest

    Ben, I’m curious, where did you credit the flight?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Chris -- I credited it to Singapore KrisFlyer, simply because I'm a Star Alliance Gold member there, so wanted to have that on the reservation.

  7. LOA Gold

    I flew CPH-KEF in June 2021...also on SAS Plus and we got the same exact box and service from FAs. the Plus cabin was mostly empty, friend and I each got our own rows. As far as food, something more substantial would have been appreciated since flight was over 3.5-4hrs long.

  8. DCharlie Guest

    @Ben - just a small correction to the sentence where no was typed instead of "now".

    "now" queueing for the buffet

    On a different note, the choice to limit power provisions to a USB is deliberate for two reasons:

    1. Most personal devices are now coming with USB charging cables where the adapter is replaceable. This is compact.

    2. Airlines want to limit high current loads much as possible. I have observed people...

    @Ben - just a small correction to the sentence where no was typed instead of "now".

    "now" queueing for the buffet

    On a different note, the choice to limit power provisions to a USB is deliberate for two reasons:

    1. Most personal devices are now coming with USB charging cables where the adapter is replaceable. This is compact.

    2. Airlines want to limit high current loads much as possible. I have observed people plugging in their multiplug adapters to the conventional seatback power plugs and charge their laptop, ipad, phone, camera batteries, powerbanks and what not. If everyone did this, there would be a significant load on the power supply units on the aircraft and much greater amperage capacity needed to each seatback along with ways to dissipate the greater heat. Hot and heavier cabling are undesirable on aircraft.

    In business and first, airlines can get away with higher amperage plug points since these cabins serve a smaller number of passengers.

  9. Flemming Guest

    In SAS Plus you can choose anything on the menu for free - except the “Specials” section.

    But on morning flights it is not offered actively for some strange reason. They do try to keep it as a secret to save money obviously.

  10. Kasper Guest

    Yeah, Ben you are incorrect as to alcohol, which is served “limitless within reason” in Plus……

  11. Matt Guest

    Flew SAS Plus last week, was not proactively offered alcohol, but asked for and received red wine, three servings, on a two hour flight with no charge. Also several bottles of water, and a box of chocolates.

  12. Patrik Guest

    Ben ben... everything from that menu is free for Sas plus passengers.

  13. wpcoe New Member

    Anybody surprised that the sign at check-in was in English ... US English?

    1. Anonymous Guest

      No. I'm sure it's mostly directed to the American passengers, so it makes sense to write it in English.

    2. Eskimo Guest

      You expect it to be in Hindi or Mandarin?

    3. Kanga Guest

      Not really. English is the global language of aviation.

      Furthermore, almost all Swedes speak excellent English.

  14. Oliver Guest

    Technically, SAS Plus IS premium economy. It isn't advertised or sold as business class as they have a separate SAS Business for their long haul fleet and removed business class on their short haul and medium haul flights a long time ago. Also, if you book SAS Plus and the flight is operated by, say Lufthansa, you'd be seated in economy. As a premium economy product it's perfectly fine, nothing fancy or extraordinary, but not too bad either.

  15. Grey New Member

    Have they changed the policy about SAS Plus getting the buy on board products? I haven't flown them since 2019, but I used to fly them several times per year and loved that you could get anything from the Buy on Board menu for free. They usually had good chocolate, and their gin is quite yum.
    If that still is the policy, but you chose not to take anything, it seems a bit harsh to critique them just because you chose not to ask...

    1. Grey New Member

      Also, it isn't only Plus passengers offered free coffee and tea. All passengers are offered this.

    2. Oliver Guest

      They have limited alcohol to three units/bottles, but the rest is free of charge. The chocolate praline is back too, though last week they only gave one per person. Having commuted quite a lot on both SAS, Lufthansa, SWISS and United, there is a fairly big difference, but Ben is assuming SAS Plus is the equivalent to business class, which it isn't, and isn't marketed as such either, though I can understand the confusion.

  16. Tennen Gold

    @Lucky, "I don’t believe any further drinks are included with SAS Plus, so this isn’t like business class, where you get free alcohol and other beverages."

    Wrong, unless things have changed since the pandemic. In Plus, you can order anything from the BOB menu and get it for free, including alcohol, water bottles, smoothies, snacks, sweets, etc. That's the case on intra-Nordic, European, and long-haul flights. They usually aren't proactive on short-haul, so you have...

    @Lucky, "I don’t believe any further drinks are included with SAS Plus, so this isn’t like business class, where you get free alcohol and other beverages."

    Wrong, unless things have changed since the pandemic. In Plus, you can order anything from the BOB menu and get it for free, including alcohol, water bottles, smoothies, snacks, sweets, etc. That's the case on intra-Nordic, European, and long-haul flights. They usually aren't proactive on short-haul, so you have to request them.

    Also, fast track security is a huge benefit for flying Plus at SAS hubs, since non-SK *G members are specifically excluded. OTOH, neither Plus nor *G will help at most other airports for lounge access/security - only works at airports with *A lounges/Gold Track.

    1. Oliver Guest

      Last week, they had limited all alcoholic beverages to three units/bottles. Anything in excess of that you had to pay for, and that was on a 6 hour flight in SAS Plus.

  17. David Guest

    Further drinks are included in SAS Plus. In fact, you can order anything off the buy onboard menu without paying for them as they are included in your SAS Plus ticket. I usually get the muffin as they are quite good. The crew are told to not proactively offer this nor tell passengers unless being directly asked about it, so only their regulars know to ask and will get it. This is another initiative to...

    Further drinks are included in SAS Plus. In fact, you can order anything off the buy onboard menu without paying for them as they are included in your SAS Plus ticket. I usually get the muffin as they are quite good. The crew are told to not proactively offer this nor tell passengers unless being directly asked about it, so only their regulars know to ask and will get it. This is another initiative to reduce costs. Up until about late 2018 they used to make cabin announcements about this so passengers who aren't regulars would be aware, but they have stopped under management directive since then.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ David -- Thanks for the heads up, I updated the post to reflect this. What a bizarre system, given that this is neither listed as a benefit on SAS' website, nor is it encouraged by the crew. But good to know nonetheless, thanks!

  18. FNT Delta Diamond Guest

    1) The legroom is pretty bad when you consider how the fact that Swedes, Danes and Norwegians are significantly taller than other nationalities.

    2) The only go thing about SAS Plus is the lounge access, when you can actually access the lounge. Getting drunk for free is great since they basically don't have any in-flight service with free booze.

  19. Jeroen Van Vuuren Guest

    Best think about sas plus is that it offers good millage earning on partner airlines. 150% on a3 for example.

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DCharlie Guest

@Ben - just a small correction to the sentence where no was typed instead of "now". "now" queueing for the buffet On a different note, the choice to limit power provisions to a USB is deliberate for two reasons: 1. Most personal devices are now coming with USB charging cables where the adapter is replaceable. This is compact. 2. Airlines want to limit high current loads much as possible. I have observed people plugging in their multiplug adapters to the conventional seatback power plugs and charge their laptop, ipad, phone, camera batteries, powerbanks and what not. If everyone did this, there would be a significant load on the power supply units on the aircraft and much greater amperage capacity needed to each seatback along with ways to dissipate the greater heat. Hot and heavier cabling are undesirable on aircraft. In business and first, airlines can get away with higher amperage plug points since these cabins serve a smaller number of passengers.

2
Samo Guest

They're called "Scandinavian Airlines", of course they're not going to small talk. It would freak people from their own market out :) I personally like the service on SAS, it's efficient and friendly, but not intrusive. The only thing I'd like is for them to make more proactive drink rounds in Plus.

0
Claudia Ramírez Guest

Bad service no more trips with Alaska , costumer service to bad

0
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