This report will cover several firsts for the site since it will be the first report on a SK wide-body. This will also be my first time aboard an A340 and my first time flying SK.
How did I end up in the J-cabin; that still remains a mystery to me. When I booked the ticket 4 days prior to departure (in the BA Terraces Lounge at BOS), there were no more SAS Go (economy) seats available on the outbound flight so I was approved to book a ticket in SAS Plus (premium economy) for SK 984, which was in fare class “S.” Perhaps SAS Go was already oversold.
I forgot to take a screenshot of the seat selection screen, but in the SAS Plus cabin the day before departure, there were still 5-6 empty seats in the cabin. I had picked 16D since there were no window seats left and the middle seat was currently unoccupied. At check-in at NGO, I was just handed a boarding pass for 4D. The NH agent didn’t mention anything about the upgrade, so it must have been processed before I got to the airport. My eyes lit up when I saw the 4D on my boarding pass, but I just played it cool and waited until I was out of sight before I got giddy like a schoolgirl. I was looking forward to giving you guys a report on SAS Plus, but instead we are going to get a look at SK’s business product.
And now on to the report.
I left off the last series while I was in the UA Club at Narita. If you are interested in this lounge, go back to Part 1 for a review of this lounge. What I didn’t show in the last report is my spotting bonus from the UA Club, which has some really great tarmac views (much better than the ANA Lounges). So I’ll bore you with some spotting to start things off.
NH B763 with winglets.
NH B788 departing, the ground crew waves goodbye.
Polar Air Cargo B747F.
PR A333 lifting off in the heat haze of the NH B763.
ANA Cargo B767F.
Rich Austrians leaving in a Gulfstream G650.
NH B738, but not just any one, this is JA81AN, which was the plane that I just flew on in Part 1 of this series. It is already heading off on its next domestic mission.
Leaving the UA Club, a brief stop at the FIDS. My flight is still showing the 80-minute delay due to a late inbound aircraft. AF also has a new departure time, but believe it or not they are moving in a more favorable direction.
Some spotting on the way to the ANA Lounge in Satellite 5.
The underground tunnel between Satellites 4 and 5.
Artwork at the entrance of the ANA Lounge in Satellite 5.
The ANA Lounge at Satellite 5. This is the bigger of the two lounges.
Entering, two NH agents greet me, scan my boarding pass, and remind me that my flight is delayed. They then motion for me to enter the ANA Lounge side. Entering the lounge, it is so much calmer than what I saw before my NRT-ORD flight the previous month. All of the NH TPACs are gone and took the crowds with them.
I head over to the noodle bar to get some food since the UA Club had such a poor offering. I order some ????????.
While I wait, a quick shot of where the rest of the food is located. Basic offerings with limited hot options.
My ???????? and a glass of oolong tea.
After that tasty snack, I wander into the annex area of the lounge.
Since no one is back here, I’ll take a picture of the food offering at the ANA Lounge. It is the same in the main seating area.
The empty seating area in the annex; only two Germans in the corner having a loud conversation.
My second offering highlighting the hot food options in the ANA Lounge: fried chicken and potato wedges. The best of Japan’s culinary offerings.
After an hour in the ANA Lounge at Satellite 5, I head over to the ANA Lounge at Satellite 4 since it is closer to my gate. On my way there, some more spotting.
BR A321 with sharklets.
As I just stop by my gate to see what is going on, I see Danes starting to appear out of the jetbridge!
The beautiful A343 (not really given how dirty the fuselage is) that will take me to CPH.
At the gate next door, there is an OZ B744 in from ICN.
And another OZ of the A333 variety leaving for ICN.
An example of the gate areas in NRT.
The entrance to the ANA Lounge in Satellite 4.
The NH agents as before scan in my boarding pass, notify me of my delay, and then motion for me to enter. Press offering on the way to the food.
The noodle bar.
This lounge does not have tarmac views and has a very dark seating area.
Nihonshu at the bar.
The food offering here is identical to the other lounge.
Anticipating lunch on the plane soon, I just grab a bowl of miso soup, coffee, and oolong tea.
I only stay 30 minutes until an announcement is made that our flight will be boarding soon. On the way back to my gate, I cross a BR B77W.
Scandinavian Airlines, SK 984 Equipment: Airbus A340-300 [OY-KBI “Rurik Viking”, delivered November 2001] Departure: 12:30 (ATD: 14:04) Arrival: 16:05 (ATA: 17:08) Flight time: 11:04
Reaching the gate, there were already lines forming for the priority boarding and the general boarding. I grab one last shot of my plane basking in the sun.
I’m near the end of the priority line so it takes a while to get scanned in and head down the jetbridge. A nice glimpse of the nose of this A343, which confirms not only that we have pilots today, but also that we will be aboard Rurik Viking, a 14-year old member of the SK fleet. She could use a new paint job; she is looking pretty rough around the edges (both outside and inside).
A big burly SK FA is greeting passengers. Not what I was expecting at all, but he was actually quite nimble in the cabin and very friendly so my prejudice was not warranted.
After the gatekeeper greeted me in Danish (my blank stare resulted in a second greeting in English), he confirmed I belong here, and then waved me down the first aisle towards my seat. Since I was not anticipating flying business class, I didn’t do any research into this product so stepping into the cabin my eyes eagerly scanned the cabin with this first glimpse of the SK business class product.
The SK J-seats. In a 2-2-2 configuration with angle lie-flat seats. This is the main J-cabin, there is also a mini cabin behind the galley with 2 rows that sits right in front of SAS Plus.
Here is my seat: 4D. Preplaced on the seat are pillow, headphones, and an amenity kit.
A glance over at the window seats from my seat, which would be occupied by an older Danish couple.
The seatback containing old IFE, which is positioned rather low and is not tiltable.
Seat pitch is good.
The pillow. Very nice pattern and very good quality (Hästens).
The amenity kit. Not as cheap as the paper bag AY gives, but this black plastic bag is only “slightly” better since it has a leather SAS tag on the zipper. The contents are barebone. There was a black eye mask, black socks, REN products (lotion and lip balm), toothbrush, toothpaste, and earplugs.
A brief seat tour before my seatmate arrives. There is no privacy divider between the seats, you are very exposed in this cabin even when in the “bed” position. There is a reading light.
The center console is pretty small and contains the seat controls.
On the side of the center console, there is the IFE remote.
There is a storage compartment below the armrest, which is where the headphone jack and power outlet are.
The seat belt buckle has a strange message. Not sure what they mean, but okay.
This plane needs serious help, the ceiling was filthy and the moving map is prehistoric (same as on AA’s old B772s).
An FA comes and offers a pre-departure drink; I’ll start with champagne. There was no oshibori offered pre-departure. No newspapers were offered either.
The FA then returned and provided a menu.
We backed up a little bit ahead of the announced time. The taxi was fairly quick since we were right near the runway. The safety video played during the taxi. There was no wait to takeoff so we were quickly on our way to Denmark.
The seatback had a little pouch with some limited items.
Opening it up to the fleet, we can see that the newest A333 just arrived bearing the brand new SK cabins. J, W, and Y all look much better so hopefully the SK long-haul experience will also be better in the future.
The safety card. Does anyone else find it really weird that there is not a single word on this card? There are only pictograms.
Leveling off, the FAs distribute slippers. These things were terrible. They were like cardboard on the bottom with this thin hospital paper on the top. I guess these are at least better than not getting slippers at all (CX!).
The meal service quickly started up. Oshibori were distributed.
The FA for my aisle then laid the linens.
Aperitif service was conducted by cart.
I ordered an “Orange Blossom,” which was pretty heavy on the gin (not a bad thing). Served with a ramekin of warm mixed nuts.
After the aperitifs were finished, the crew began the meal service. Drink orders were taken while bread dishes were laid along with distribution of cutlery. I ordered a beer and water.
SK has its own special beer brewed by Mikkeller. I think this is a pretty novel feature and sure beats getting the generic Carlsberg.
The SK cutlery.
I think we have enough cutlery now, so I’m ready for some food. Note the salt and pepper packets in the top right corner; no fancy shakers like you’d expect to see in J.
The starters are rolled out on a cart. Not Do&Co quality, but there is an FA wearing a chef’s jacket that does the buffet service. It’s nice this way since you are able to see the options before picking (menu descriptions are often deceptive).
He asks me if I want the beef or scallop starter. I go for seafood always. He then asks me if I want a salad. I say yes, and he prepares a salad for me on the spot. Visually, this starter looks very good. You eat with your eyes and SK initially leaves a good first impression since everything looks bright and fresh.
The salad is served with this little bottle of balsamic vinegar dressing.
The scallop starter with mango salad was very good.
The bread was warm and hearty.
Seeing my empty beer, the FA promptly delivered a new can.
Several entrée choices looked good. I was torn between the perch and the veal, but went for the veal because I had a craving for mashed potatoes. This is a pretty rustic dish so presentation is not very fancy. It was served with this lingonberry jam that I didn’t use. The veal was very good and well seasoned and I thought the snap peas were very fresh tasting (all the vegetables on SK were really good). The mashed potatoes and gravy were also good. Overall a very well-performed rustic dish. More bread was proposed while I ate the main.
Hot tea was also served with the meal since this flight was originating from Japan.
After the meal, we had digestive and dessert service.
I passed on the cheese plate and just asked for the chocolate cake with orange sauce and fruit. Also, a Irish cream to wrap up the meal.
I thought the cake was pretty poor.
The meal concluded as we began our long journey through Russia.
Once the tray tables were cleaned up, the FAs finally distributed blankets. I guess they assume that nobody uses it until after the meal anyways so they don’t want to clutter your space? The duvet is really good quality and has the same pattern as the pillow.
My Irish cream was constantly topped off by a very attentive crew.
The cabin after meal service.
The IFE is pretty poor: the screen is small, the resolution is bad, and the content is pitiful. I saw nothing of interest on the IFE so I just took a nap.
I woke up about 3.5 hours later, quite an impressive feat for this really angled seat.
Time to head to the lavatory. And now for the best part of SK’s business class on the A343! I’m not kidding; I would gladly give up my seat and sit in the lavatory all flight. Look at this thrown with a view!
No wonder the lines for the bathroom were always really long.
The sink on the other hand is average, but contains a lifetime supply of wet towelettes.
Passing through the galley, I stop and chat with the FAs for a bit. They make me a cup of coffee (there is an espresso machine in the galley) and then show me the food offering. I just take a chocolate back to my seat with me.
At the halfway point, the FAs come through the cabin with a cart with snacks on it. I grab an apple half, a banana, and a glass of apple juice. They also had small sandwiches and other sweet snacks.
The offering on the IFE is really bad, maybe 12 movies max and no TV shows of interest. I watch Mission Impossible until we reach the Ural Mountains.
The FA sees I’m up and moving about so they check on me regularly. They bring me a glass of water and some sweets while I watch my movie.
Sunset shot over Finland from the lavatory.
As we reached Helsinki, the second meal service started up. Oshibori were distributed.
Linens were laid.
A tray was delivered bearing the duck starter, and a fruit cup. Bread was distributed and drink orders were taken.
The duck starter with potato salad, asparagus, and some sort of chutney (wasn’t listed on the menu). Getting both scallop and duck starters on this flight is a good sign from SK catering that they are willing to use more exotic products than other carriers.
The chef then came through the aisle with a cart and served passengers “family style.” On the cart was all of the options and you picked what you wanted. I asked to try the apricot and mozzarella-stuffed pork loin and vegetables.
The pork loin was very good and very tender. The vegetables were phenomenal, they had a smoky grilled taste to them and were crisp. I don’t know how SK did it, but these were really good vegetables and some of the best I’ve ever seen on a plane.
Again, hot Japanese tea and coffee were offered.
Meal service concluded as we approached Stockholm.
I did some work until the cabin was prepared for landing. We had a very smooth landing in to a cold/wet Kastrup from the northeast.
The cabin during touchdown. We landed about an hour late, but ahead of the estimated arrival time given our delayed departure. The pilots made up about 30 minutes enroute. The taxi to the gate was pretty short. Deplaning, the crew thanked me for flying with them.
There was no line at immigration since we were the only non-Schengen flight arriving at that time. Danish immigration officers at least scanned my passport before stamping it unlike my last visit to Europe in FCO where they just opened it to a page, stamped it, and handed it back.
The bags were about a 20-minute wait, but I took that time to use the ATM to get some Kroner and buy my ticket for the subway. København’s subway is very clean and efficient depositing me downtown in about 15 minutes. With that I will leave off this series as I begin my short 2-day stay in København. Please join me soon for the return to Nagoya looking at SK’s long-haul economy product (no upgrades on the way back…).
ANA Suite Lounge Satellite No. 5
Tokyo - NRT
Copenhagen - CPH
My first time aboard SK and after reading a lot about its decline into LCC territory, I didn’t really have high expectations going into this series. The SK hard-product leaves much to be desired. I found it to be better than AA’s angle lie-flat seats and comparable to JL’s angle lie-flat seats (which is still not a high benchmark for comparisons). I found the crew to have a very warm Scandinavian touch to their service and the catering was pretty good (mid-flight snacks were a little average, but both meals were very good). I think with the cabin refurbishment underway, SK has some room to improve their offering to a higher level so it will be interesting to try them again in the future.
Cabin comfort: Full cabin, but it didn’t feel that claustrophobic in a 2-2-2 configuration. These seats are old; there is no way to get around this problem. There is a complete lack of privacy with these seats. I was able to sleep for a couple of hours, so not terrible seats since they were fairly comfortable for lounging. Nice duvet and pillow, but below average amenity kit. Fantastic toilet.
Crew: Scared a little bit initially when seeing the hulk welcoming passengers. After that initial shock, everything went smoothly. The crew was all smiling, friendly, and a Scandinavian touch to their service. Also had a Japanese FA working our cabin so I didn’t see any obvious language issues since they all spoke English flawlessly.
Meal and catering: I thought SK’s catering was very good overall. I like how linens were laid for both meals. I also like how the food was brought out on carts so that you can see the options before picking and how the second meal service was a “family-style” offering. I thought everything I ate was very good, but the dessert was a miss and the fruit wasn’t great. I like how they serve local craft beer specially brewed for SK.
Entertainment: I can’t believe I’m saying this, but this actually wasn’t the worst IFE I’ve seen this year (that award goes to AA). Nonetheless, the IFE was old, slow, and lacked content. I think there were maybe 10 movies in total, I didn’t check the music selection, but there was also no TV shows available. No newspapers were offered either.
On-time performance: SMS message notifying me of the delay well in advance due to late inbound aircraft. We left a little bit ahead of our new scheduled departure time and we arrived only 1-hour late into CPH since the pilots made up some time enroute.
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