SAS B737-800 Economy Extra04/10/2012
Check In There was no need to check in as I had already done so prior to the outbound flight, see review here. Security was relatively slow but I was able to pass the time admiring the complex system of rollers which made up the security belt on the x-ray machine, including the last section where your tray only disappears into a lower compartment once it is completely empty.
Airside at T5 Arlanda airport is an impressively high ceilinged glass building with ample duty free shopping and a selection of restaurants, bars and cafes but with no big name chains, expect more Smörgåsbord than Big Mac.
There is no lounge access for economy extra passengers so I went straight through to the gate, which was F69, the furthest possible away from security and a good 15 minute walk. Once through passport control there are a few more bars and cafés and newsagents but not much in the way of shopping so do this prior to passport control. There are no English newspapers available on SAS so those looking to buy one at the airport will have to fork out for an extortionate £3.50 at the newsagents.
Boarding We were scheduled to board at 1500 but a delay in the arrival of the crew meant that we did not board until 1525, our original take off time, setting us back to taking off at 1540 eventually, only 15 minutes late.
All passengers were invited to board the craft at the same time meaning a fairly lengthy queue. The new generation Boeing 737-800 was full with five rows of business class on the right hand side and four on the left, then a curtain and then six rows of economy extra, where I was seated, and the rest behind in economy.
Flight There is a full bar services for economy extra passengers including Nicolas Feuillatte champagne, premium spirits and a selection of Scandinavian beers I personally haven’t come across before but which are a lot tastier than the standard Carlsberg in my opinion.
Lunch was a cold pasta salad with cold cuts served at 1615 while business class receive a hot meal and economy must pay for snacks and drinks. A beer and a sandwich costs 50 SEK (roughly £5) and a small can of beer is 25 SEK (roughly £2.50).
The pasta salad was plain to the point of tastelessness with a few slivers of sun dried tomatoes and a large portion of cured ham which attempted to resurrect the dish. The warm bread rolls with cheese and the cured ham is a tastier, handmade option.
My seat was 9D, an aisle seat with a spare seat in the middle of the row of three provided in economy extra for extra work and table space, it is also nice not to have to wrestle for the middle arm rest.
All seats in economy extra are much the same although row 6 would be preferable as this is the furthest forward, allowing for quicker disembarkation. Of 32 total rows number 15 in economy offers extra legroom because of an emergency exit. Seat pitch throughout the entire aircraft is 32 inches, with the tray table not invading your personal space too much, although it is a little high if you use it for your laptop.
There is a curtain separating business from economy and economy extra which means there is some confusion as to whether economy extra can use the bathroom at the front of the plane, meaning many walked all the way to the busy back toilets instead.
The staff were very efficient at cleaning up and topping up drinks and the new looking cabin was impressively clean.
Arrival We landed at Heathrow terminal 3 at 1800 and quickly disembarked by 1805 via a welcome air bridge considering the stormy weather. I was through an empty security just as quickly as my travelling companion who used IRIS, and on the tube back to central London by 1830 as I did not have to stop at the baggage carousel.
Verdict Another quick and efficient flight considering the delayed start but the food was dissapointing.
Price Internet prices for a round trip in economy extra in mid-July start from around £870.