SAS A321 Economy Extra04/10/2012
FIRST IMPRESSIONS I arrived via tube at 1605 and made my way to Terminal 3, a five to ten minute walk. Here I entered zone E where the SAS desk is located and there were six self service machines working. The one I chose was being temperamental with the passport reader so a member of staff moved me to another desk and two other staff members directed traffic as the area began to become busy soon after I arrived.
Check-in can be initiated through a credit card, the barcode on a pre printed boarding pass or by simply inputting your reference number. You are then asked to swipe your passport, select your seat, I chose the aisle seat 6D. The bag drop desks were also very quiet but I had only hand luggage so went upstairs to the security area and passed through with ease (shoes on, laptop out) and had to quickly show my passport before getting airside by 1630.
It was fairly serene airside at this time of day with plenty of seating available, following the recent refurbishment. To reach the main shops, lounges and departure gates you must pass through almost the entire stretch of duty free, rather tactically.
LOUNGE I made my way to the London Lounge, located on the way to the departure gates. This lounge is normally reserved for SAS and Air Canada business class travellers and Star Alliance gold card members, but as I was attending a press trip the airline sent me a one off lounge pass.
This lounge offers ample seating upstairs and downstairs in both cordoned off areas, glass rooms (a TV room, children’s play area and massage room) and more open plan seating, and a business centre with wifi and plenty of power sockets. The lounge was busy but quiet with most people minding their own business, having a snooze or getting on with some work.
Food and beverages are self service on both levels and included warm pasta with tomato sauce, chicken and vegetable soup and plenty of ingredients to make a pre-flight snack including ham, salad, coleslaw, cheese, bread rolls and olives. Becks and Carlsberg are on tap, cold bottles of Chang in the fridge and a selection of wines and premium spirits are also available along with plenty of coffee and tea making facilities.
I settled in upstairs with a plate of cold bites: a delicious pasta salad with feta and olives, cheese, humus, salad and a cold Chang from the fridge upstairs and logged into the wifi (user: SASWIPOINT Pass: SASMD80). I checked the board and saw that the gate for my 1815 departure would open at 1745, there are no in lounge announcements but plenty of boards.
BOARDING I made my way to the gate at 1745, turning right out of the lounge towards gate five. There was no one else at the gate when I arrived and the plane was half empty once I was on board. There were three/four rows of business class separated from the five rows of Economy Extra by a curtain. There were only three other passengers in Economy Extra so we spread ourselves out, I moved to the window for more space. Business had two passengers and economy was roughly 25 per cent occupied.
THE SEAT I had reserved 6D, an aisle seat, but being afforded a whole row I moved to the window. Seats are the same pitch throughout business and Economy Extra and are configured 3-3 with a pitch of 31”. However the middle seat is reserved in business class for extra space. All seats are upholstered in blue material and are very thin, offering good legroom and are more than comfortable enough for this short flight.
WHAT SEAT TO CHOOSE Row nine of Economy Extra offered more legroom as it was a bulkhead but otherwise most seats are the same.
FLIGHT Once on board we were informed that we had been boarded early because there was a heavy headwind to Copenhagen and the pilot wanted to make up the time, we eventually took off at 1825.
Business class passengers receive a hot meal and free drink service whereas I received a cold meal and a full drinks service. The stewardess came to my seat soon after the seatbelt sign was turned off and I ordered a beer and a still water. Economy passengers must pay for all food and drink except tea and coffee, which has recently been made complimentary.
The meal came in a cardboard box at 1840. This consisted of cold new potatoes and chicken in a pesto sauce which was OK, the chicken was tasty but the potatoes tasted overwhelmingly of parsley. There were also some plum tomatoes, a piece of delicious organic blue cheese which was accompanied by a selection of warm bread rolls, brought round soon after the meal was served and which had already filled the cabin with a delicious aroma. I then had a cup of coffee and my Green and Black’s milk chocolate bar with butterscotch. Service was efficient if a little cold.
I went forwards to the business class toilet as the one further back was a long way. The toilet had two windows and was spacious, big enough to change clothes.
ARRIVAL We landed at 2100 out of the fog into an icy Copenhagen. I was through security first and landside by 2115, making my way straight to the extremely simple to use metro at the end of the terminal.
VERDICT Great punctuality and some of the food was very pleasant. However, onboard Economy Extra provides little extra apart from a free meal, especially if all flights are this empty, whereas my previous experience of business with SAS was of a much better quality meal and a greater emphasis on personal service.