My flight to Stockholm marked two firsts for me: my first flight on an Airbus A330, and my first flight on Scandinavian Airlines (SAS). And I was eager to write a Scandinavian Airlines review.
I boarded the SAS flight at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. I found a very friendly cabin crew … and a sweltering-hot cabin. That’s coming from a longtime Phoenix resident, so take that seriously. We were airborne for a good 30 minutes before the cabin cooled down. I didn’t see any of the air nozzles that are common in most aircraft. This may be a quirk of the A330: I found other flyers who said the same thing about the Airbus A330 (this one, for example).
The economy class seating seemed more cramped than I recall on other airlines’ long-haul flights – Asiana, IcelandAir and Qantas all seemed to have more room. Most of the cabin was arranged in a two-four-two configuration. But our economy-class seats were where the fuselage narrows, so there were just three seats in the middle row.
I’d hoped that Scandinavian Airlines would have something really cool on its A330 that Qantas and Asiana have on their 747s and 777s: a water fountain. Several times during those even-longer flights, I refilled my water bottle and kept dehydration at bay. The Scandinavian Airlines flight attendants looked puzzled when I asked, but they did have a “do-it-yourself” water station aft. Once I figured out that it was there, I drank my fill (it would be nice to know about amenities like that … maybe mention it in the in-flight magazines?).
The A330 did have something cool of its own, though – cameras facing forward and downward. You could select them from the on-demand entertainment system. The resolution was a little low, but it was nice for a look outside.
Now, about Scandinavian Airlines itself – its social media team is very responsive, and the cabin crew seemed to take a great deal of pride in the airline. I overheard one flight attendant answering a passenger’s question about the chicken-and-rice meal they were serving: “It’s excellent … it’s SAS!” There was a certain charm in that answer. And it was a fairly tasty meal.
This was only my third flight on an airline with a Scandinavian flavor. IcelandAir did a better job at showcasing its roots – the most visible manifestations were the Icelandic language program in the on-demand entertainment system, the Icelandic phrases with translations on the headrests and the Icelandic-branded bottled water waiting on each seat. It would’ve been fun to learn a bit of a Scandinavian language en-route; maybe I just didn’t find it.
Speaking of water, SAS had a bottle at each seat along with a pillow and blanket. They skipped the amenity kit you’ll find on Asiana and Qantas flights.
Boarding was quick and efficient – typical of twin-aisle jets.
SkyTrax rates SAS as a three-star airline. That’s a fair assessment, and one I can echo in my Scandinavian Airlines review. Other than a hot (at first) cabin, I have no complaints. SAS just lacks a certain flair and sense of place that I see in other national flag carriers.