On a recent business trip to Copenhagen I had the opportunity to fly SAS (aka Scandinavian) Airlines between Newark and Copenhagen. I would have preferred to have flow from Chicago but apparently the EWR-MEM legs are codeshares while the ORD-MEM legs (both on United) are not and thus the price would have been much higher. I’ve actively avoided Newark in the past but my other choices were two-stop flights on Delta/KLM or American and BA/FinnAir. Since I have Silver (low-level) status with United I wanted to help get that re-established for next year.
SAS Lounge Newark
I don’t have any photos because it was already fairly busy when I arrived. I had a feeling I’d enjoy the decor in most places on this trip as I love Danish Modern design and that was definitely the theme for this lounge. It was light and airy with big windows looking onto the tarmac though you really couldn’t see much outside as there was a walkway from a gate out to the jet bridge in between.
I arrived around 3 PM for my 5:40 PM flight and the only food in evidence at that time was the salad bar. The soft drink fountain was not working but there was a cooler with lots of cans, a full self-serve bar as well as still and sparkling water on tap. Around 3:30 PM lasagna with meat sauce found its way to the food service area. I got just a little snack since I had skipped lunch. It was nothing special but it did take the edge off until dinner.
The lounge could use a kids area as I didn’t see anywhere for them to play and not all of the children were using their inside voices.
As the afternoon progressed the lounge filled up even more. There are three SAS flights each day and the lounge is used by Emirates as well, so I was glad to move on.
SAS 910 EWR-CPH
Boarding was at Gate 68 which was to the far left of the semi-circular concourse, so it was a bit crowded and a little chaotic. After the pre-boards business class was called up and they had us all being checked in a single line. Just as I arrived to the middle of that line they opened the second line right beside me so I was able to zip down and board sooner.
The incoming flight had landed about 5 hours prior and the plane had just been sitting in the hot sun so it was fairly warm inside. As there are no air nozzles we were asked to keep our window shades down to help keep it cooler. We did have to put the shades up for take-off (and landing) and when we were pushed back a good 20 minutes late we could feel it getting warmer. Officially we took off about 40 minutes late because after we pushed back we still had to wait for take-off. Finally we made the turn on runway 22R right after a FedEx MD-11.
SK 910 EWR-CPH
Seat: 4H (Business Class)
Departs: 1740 (actual: 1820)
Arrives: 0715+1 (actual: 0727+1)
Waiting at my seat was a pillow, a thin mattress pad and a thick duvet along with the amenity kit. The window seats alternate with one having a large armrest next to the window and the next having that armrest on the aisle side. My armrest was on the aisle side which gave me a bit of privacy while sleeping.
The tray table popped out from the armrest at the push of a button. It was a single piece that slid over from the side. Had I needed to get up while I still had dishes on my tray it would have been very difficult.
To my left was an upper shelf and a lower shelf. Up top the headphone hung on a hook and the rest of the shelf was open with a small “fence” to keep items from sliding off. At the end of the shelf was a clever compartment where the bottle of water could be stored. Only downside to this was that it couldn’t be reached while the seat was in bed mode but that wasn’t an issue for me.
Underneath the shelf was a control panel with the IFE power button as well as the light and flight attendant call buttons. They were at a bit of an awkward angle to reach and it wasn’t a pop-out remote like I’ve seen on other airlines. Fortunately I really only needed the IFE power button so I didn’t have to access it often. Beside that were the headphone jack, the electrical port and the USB port.
On the outside edge of this area was a personal reading lamp as well as the seat controls to be used while upright. These can be seen in the photo of the shelves.
The IFE screen could easily be reached both when the seat was upright and when it was in lie-flat mode. I’m quite near-sighted and had no trouble seeing the screen while lying down with my glasses off.
Speaking of the screen, that leads to one small complaint. The bed extended so far under the armrest of the seat in front that each time I rolled over I’d hit my knees on the underside of the footwell. I didn’t have a problem with the foot area being too small but boy was that a long, narrow area for my legs.
On the side of the seat, near the button for the tray table, were the controls that were easy to access when the seat was in lie-flat mode.
About 20 minutes after take-off the flight crew brought around hot towels and began the meal service. The menu cover was designed by Natsko Seki, a Japanese illustrator who now lives in London. The concept for this menu’s cover was Denmark in Autumn. Pause the slide show on the page listing the items in her drawing if you’re interested in learning more.
The menu was as follows:
Dinner began with warm nuts. I just had water throughout this meal.
Next was a salad and some bread. A basket was brought around and you could choose from several bread types.
For the Main I had the chicken with potatoes. It was pretty good.
I skipped the cheese course and went straight for dessert. Hooray, a non-US airline finally gave me a chocolate dessert!
After dinner I checked out the lav and changed into my pajamas. PJs are not provided so I’d brought my own. Even the bathroom had Danish modern design. The lav was relatively large and the toilet was actually angled into the corner. There was also a window.
A few basic toiletries were provided and I was very pleased at how clean the lav stayed both on this outbound flight and on the return.
As this is a fairly short flight at around 7h 30m I went to sleep as soon as possible after dinner. I think I slept for about 2-3 hours which was decent.
I had asked to be awakened for breakfast even though I figured I wouldn’t be very hungry. But since I didn’t know when I’d eat again I thought it wise to have a little something before leaving the plane. Breakfast was served all on one tray which was good as it helped to speed the service along. I ate the fruit and mixed the muesli into the yogurt. A warm fritatta was offered but I declined as I just wasn’t that hungry.
I had a glass of OJ to start and a cup of hot tea to finish.
We landed about 12 minutes late, so we made up a fair amount of time in the air. As Copenhagen was my destination, it didn’t really matter to me. The crew blocked off the premium economy and economy sections to allow business class to deplane first, which was greatly appreciated.
I got through Immigration fairly quickly but had to wait what seemed like quite a while for my checked bag. It did seem like they were putting the bags marked Sky Priority on the belt first, there were just a lot of bags. Once I had my bag in hand I passed through Customs quickly and into the arrivals hall of Terminal 3.
There is construction going on in front of T3 right now so all pickups and drop-offs occur in front of Terminal 2. I followed the Hotel Shuttle signs to Terminal 2 but once I actually arrived in T2 the signs disappeared. I went outside for lack of anything else to do and eventually saw a shuttle unloading on the first traffic island. It turned out this was the hotel shuttle point and from there I was able to reach the hotel.
SAS Lounge Copenhagen Airport
Copenhagen is a hub for SAS so the lounge is quite large. Once through the lounge entrance there are electronic gates that scan your boarding pass. Head to the left side for SAS Business Class and Premium Economy and to the right (which leads upstairs) for Star Alliance Gold members.
I didn’t take photos as it was starting to fill up in advance of the longhaul flights but like its Newark counterpart, it had the light wood and simple forms associated with Danish Modern design. There was a children’s play area near the front door and I wish a certain child in the lounge had been introduced to it so she wouldn’t have been zooming around the lounge looking for her parents. (But I digress.) In retrospect I could have skipped the buffet at the hotel and saved my company a few bucks because there was a decent enough spread here that certainly would have seen me through until lunch on the flight.
Wi-fi speed was good, though I wasn’t doing anything data-intensive. There were power ports at each seat and several tables suitable for dining.
SAS 909 CPH-EWR
While the lounge is post-security, you still have passport control to go through so be sure to leave yourself time for that when going to your gate. Once I reached the gate, my boarding pass was scanned before I reached the seating area. That meant when it was time to board, the passes did not have to be scanned again, only checked to be sure we were boarding with the correct group. At first I found it annoying but on second though I didn’t mind it at all. There were restrooms inside the gate area though there may have been only a couple of stalls because at times there were several people lined up outside the doors.
SK 909 CPH-EWR
Seat: 4H (Business Class)
Departs: 1025 (actual: 1038)
Arrives: 1255 (actual: 1233)
This flight was very similar to the flight to Copenhagen except we left closer to on-time and landed 22 minutes early. The business class cabin reflects the signature blue and gray colors of SAS along with white and light wood-colored highlights and I think it’s a classy look.
The beverage choices were the same as on our flight over but the food selections were different.
The meal began with warm mixed nuts and I had a ginger ale.
As on the outbound flight, the meal was served from a cart directly to my tray table. For the started I selected the salad with oil and balsamic dressing.
I then had a complete brain blip and totally forgot to photograph my entree. I had the steamed coalfish as my entree and had originally been concerned the chili orange seafood sauce would be too spicy for me (I have a wimpy mouth for hot food) but it was not. It wasn’t fantastic but wasn’t bad either. I skipped both the cheese course and the dessert as I just wasn’t interested after all I’d had to eat that morning.
I made my bed up (I really like their comforters) and slept for a couple of hours.
After awaking I watched the remaining Big Bang Theory episodes on offer but all-in-all the IFE selection isn’t fantastic.
Before landing we had a small meal, served all on one tray.
The quiche was served separately and was warm. I mostly just ate the fruit and the quiche. I did enjoy a cup of tea after the meal. Unlike tea at other meals, there was no choice as to the what type of tea; it was pre-made and poured for you. But that was fine with me as it was regular black tea.
As noted above we landed some 22 minutes early. The cabin crew once again allowed business class to disembark first and without really even trying I found myself among the first people off the plane. Thanks to Global Entry I was through Immigration in a heartbeat (there were no other people even in the Immigration area) and was at baggage claim before the first bags were out. Unfortunately the ground staff at EWR wasn’t as diligent at putting Sky Priority bags out first. But I made it through Customs quickly and headed straight to the United desk. Thanks to weather moving into the greater NYC area later that afternoon, United was willing to put me on the earlier connection to Memphis. Even though that flight was delayed I landed three hours earlier than my original plans.
In The End
As a Star Alliance flyer, this was the best balance of flights and price based on my company’s travel agreements. The planes were clean, the staff was pleasant and spoke great English. I wouldn’t hesitate to fly SAS again should my travel plans take me back to Scandinavia.