Those of you who read my same (mainly poor) review of this same flight taken in August 2022, will no doubt be surprised to see me taking another SAS Connect flight. Same route, same day even.
But why would I be flying SAS Connect after the less than impressive experience last time ?
And if my end destination is Stockholm, why oh why am I flying via Oslo when I could fly nonstop from Manchester to Stockholm Arlanda ?
Let me explain !
Firstly, after my poor experience on SAS Connect last time I vowed to avoid the low cost (lower paid agency staff) as I did not feel the SAS Connect division was a true reflection of the stellar mainline SAS Scandinavian Airlines.
Problems I had were as follows ;
* 3 of the 4 crew looked very tired
* Only 1 of the 4 was properly groomed
* Errors and laughing during manual safety demo
* No mention of Star Alliance in any announcement
* Laughing during the landing announcement and trying to control laughter meaning delays in the announcement
* No Captain's brief and he point blank refused to care it was my first SK experience or my birthday or first international flight in 2 years
* He was seen looking highly aggressive in the terminal at Oslo
Add to this the well documented bankruptcy filing, striking pilots and a cyber attack at the Parent company.
But my first reason to avoid SAS Connect was purely due to the Inflight Manager supposedly taking souvenier photos on her mobile with me which she promised to send. It is March 2023. No photos and no sign of them ever coming to me. Poor service at it's worst.
But what really sealed the deal, was someone in SAS who firstly promised to get the photos and then threatened "further action" if I contacted SAS about this matter again. I was shown zero respect.
But back to why I would choose to fly SAS' offshoot instead of a nonstop mainline flight on the truly amazing SAS ?
Well, I booked a surprise trip for my Parents and youngest Brother to Oslo. The fares were too good so I booked them.
The reason I booked myself to fly MANOSLARN was due to the fact I wanted to surprise my family onboard. The fare was an extra GBP14 or so so I thought why not. Truth be told I was not looking forward to this flight at all due to the above.
Also, it would give me a chance to see if my SAS Connect experience was bad luck or if they are consistently bad. I booked my Dad the Smart Fare with a 23kg suitcase. It was not clear on the app if my Mum had to pay extra to have a suitcase or if it was included so I booked her a Light fare. This is a small underseat bag only with the option to pay for hand luggage and/or checked in baggage.
The Bookings for me and my family as below ;
A mixed bag when it comes to the Booking / Reservation and LiveChat experience.
I made my own booking just after midnight in early October 2022 and it took nearly an hour to get the Airline reference from mytrip.
Then, only the MAN-OSL segment appeared on the SK app. I emailed mytrip but got an automated useless reply. There is no option to copy the ticket number from the SAS app.
There is no SAS livechat in the night or Customer Support so I went to sleep.
I then Livechatted Viktoria first thing in the morning who initially said there is only a MANOSL booking.
When I gave her return date she found the other booking and said there are 2 bookings.
Natasha booked a WCHR for my Mum as is available during booking stage but not after and I had missed the chance.
On the 4th March Sara linked the bookings for my Parents and Brother. She told me weather for Oslo and Stockholm which I think was a lovely touch.
My Brother's fare had gone up by GBP70.00 ( Light Fare ) . No Youth Fares were available despite plenty of seats available for sale. I do find this underhand of SAS as I had to book him as an Adult meaning more money to SAS for lesser The day before the flight my Brother got assigned seat 26A with no option to change.
My experience on Livechat on 7th March 2023, the day before the flight and whilst working from home and chatting with SAS online was poor overall.
Liv - ended chat before she even helped me. She then worried me by saying said it was a duplicate and I need to cancel some bookings.. I explained I had also booked for my family and she understood that others with the same surname are my family. Had told me to cancel checkin and she will look but ended chat. Brilliant.
Marco ) changed my family to to 15ABC for MANOSL sector and even assigned 5D on the return so my 17 year old Brother so he would be sat with my Parents. The reason for the change was that my Brother had 26A and my Parents were on 8AB with someone else assigned next to them.
Row 8 ( my Parent's original row ) suddenly became available in full and I then had to LiveChat again.
Lars Erik – said he can’t help and I need to go to homepage – he even told me his previous colleague was wrong to assign seats. Unable to get a result so back to LiveChat.
The fact my Mum has a WCHR booked was completely ignored and the fact she will have to walk another 7 rows to get to her seat if seated on row 15.
Melissa was friendly and sympathetic, she ensured me only 15ABC is possible and also helped assign return seat for my brother next to my Parents. I would be most unimpressed to learn that my Brother was sat between 2 others on the return. So much for linking the bookings.
I wasn't satisfied with the time it took and the results I felt I had got. I finished work and rang SAS and got through to Suzanna in Cyprus to see if she can get 8ABC as my Parent's were originally on 8AB. She advised the Airport has taken over and to speak to the ground staff and they will help.
I had seat 29F initially but would change this to 17F after Airport checkin as someone had assigned themselves 29D at the last minute I love my space ! ).
SAS don't seem to have a system in place that links bookings and assigns young people seats with their Parents which I find unbelievable for a flag carrier. The LiveChat staff need retraining overall and the systems in place need to be improved.
SAS introduced a New Android App which was a massive and welcome upgrade from the previous, rather basic version.
Rolled out on 22nd November 22, there is a continuous roadmap that shows bugs and fixes.
Entertainment ( Digital Publications) are now only shown 22 hours before departure.
Initially I was unable to screenshot but later was able to.
The Inflight Menu bizarrely does not show until 24 hours or so before the flight. I am unsure why the Inflight Menu and Digital Applications are such a secret until 24 hours before departure.
It would be great to preorder snacks/drinks for onboard delivery. I hope SAS will introduce this in the future. In the meantime the secret menu needs to be made visible from the time of booking.
A great new feature on the app is the GiftCard feature which you may personalise for a family member/friend/colleague etc and customize the amount. More money for SAS yet onboard amenities in shorthaul were lacking last time. Will today's flight be different ?
Some of my SAS collection from years gone by ! Including a forecast of me going to Sweden !
The flight exactly a week before would depart from Gate 28 ( aircraft EI-SIO ).
I arrived into Manchester T1 at 1100am. Checkin was super fast….super quick in fact as I was the only one there !
The Security check was reasonably fast – I did get Priority but my portable speaker added a few minutes to my security clearance.
At 1130am cleared security to go and sit near gate 5 to avoid running into my Family ! Our flight would be departing from gate 24 today.
My Digital Boarding Pass
Time for a little spotting at Terminal 1. First is up it's Mr Uzhu of easyJet !
Turkish Airlines A321neo TC-LSO pushing back as TK1994 to Istanbul, not long after the devastating and tragic earthquakes of Turkey and Syria :(
EI-SIP - "Agnar Viking" - my ride to Oslo taxying to Gate 24 after her inbound flight from Oslo.
As Stevie Wonder would say… Isn't she love-ly ?" !!
Apologies for poor zoomed in photo quality.
The Aircraft was late inbound after a strange detour over Scotland, a route the aircraft never normally takes.
I then started making my way closer to the gate. I love this hanging car everytime I see it in T1 !
And not before time either !
It's time !
Note the Turkish Airlines flight that has a PIA flight number as the airlines are operating a highly successful codeshare partnership whereby PIA fly you from Pakistan to Istanbul and the onwards flight to the UK/US/Canada etc is operated by Turkish and vice versa.
I sat down near gate 21. Random sticker about Copenhagen at the gate .
A Gentleman from the Airport gave me a free sealed and chilled water bottle ( not the norm but an act of kindness ! ) I would give the bottle to my mum on boarding :) I know, I am so kind !
I had been keeping in discreet contact with my Brother. My younger Brother was in the know and in touch by phone. It would turn out that they would board last to allow my Mum to avoid cabin congestion. As I walked to the gate, I heard an announcement for a final call for passenger “Flyer” to proceed immediately to gate 24. I immediately rushed downstairs to then go back up to enter the gate 24 area !
Whoever helped design and build built Terminal 1 must have been an athlete ! A Super unfriendly way to get to the gate. Thank God the Terminal was mainly empty otherwise my stress levels would be higher than the skies I was about to take to ! I got to the gate and there was a problem scanning my boarding pass. For some bizarre reason the SAS app had allowed me to change my seat and not conveyed this to the ALTEA checkin system. This will not be the first time that systems in SAS don't talk to each other for this flight ! Read on.
I boarded just before 1300pm – the cabin would be around 60% full.
The welcome was warm and friendly by the male Purser. It was a relief not to see "She who shall not be named" from last year.
My Mum was just taking her seat when she looked up and was super surprised to see me ! As was my Dad. My Brother was in on the whole thing so we just shook hands !
On my way to my seat at 17A ( whole row was mine ! ) an Airhostess gave me a most beautiful and genuine smile.
Already the crew made a much better impression than the same flight on the same day ( not date) last year.
The Captain made an apology for the delay in departure. The aircraft was late inbound due to snow in London ( prev flight). At 1305pm the Purser welcomed us and advised a 1hr 45 minute flight time.
The crew then took their positions for a manual safety demonstration.
When one of the Airhostesses walked past me during the cabin secure check, I told her that I had ordered 3 pizzas for my family and I would like to prepay for 3 x cokes with lemon and ice. She said she would see what she can do. I obviously told her that we may do this after take off.
I straightened the headrest cover of 17E for the photo. It was scrunched up beforehand.
De-icing starting at the gate.
Pushback onboard SAS Green - the new environmentally friendly division of SAS !
Pushback was at 1320pm. At 1322pm the engines leapt into life, there was also a loud whizzing / whining sound and it was annoying, let me tell you !
As we taxied near the concorde hanger on our way to Runway 2, there was a weird sawing sound.
Those intermittent barking or sawing noises are actually coming from a hydraulic motor/pump known as the "Power Transfer Unit", or PTU for short. Due to the PTU's location on the aircraft you would be most likely to hear this sound should you sit in close proximity to the wings of the aircraft. Check !
Just moments before take off from runway 2 , I was reminded of JAL, when the Purser made an announcement to remind passengers we are about take off and to ensure seatbelts are fastened. Lovely touch !
We had a very short rotation as the aircraft took off and were soon into cloud on this dull Manchester day.
Goodbye to a gloomy Manchester after a very short rotation on Runway 2 !
Seatpocket content - menucard in the Inflight Service writeup.
Whilst filming the take off, I got a text message from SAS and all I saw were two things.
One was my booking reference and the other was that my flight was cancelled ?
I thought,this is odd, as I am taking off. I looked at the message and it said my onward Oslo-Stockholm had been cancelled and I was being rebooked to an alternative.
I had faith in SAS that they would indeed sort everything out. This message did not upset me at any point during my MANOSL flight.
In the same way I have a strong doubt as to whether headrest covers are even changed between flights, I am equally clear that cabin cleanliness is not a priority. As I said last year, Ryanair style turnarounds for a national carrier are just not good enough.
Exhibit A ) Missed a bit ! A nut on the floor
Exhibit B ) Nuts from a previous flight still visible on the tray table - exactly how much time is spent on cleaning interiors I wonder ?
Looks like this chewing gum has been enjoying free rides onboard SAS for quite a while. I wonder how many Eurobonus points it has clocked up ! I have no words for those who damage aircrafts like this. Surely they don't behave like this at home.
By the way, let me point out that my own seat had what appeared to be ( I pray to God ) dried chocolate on the back part of the seatpan so I took the headrest cover of 17E and placed it on the affected area before I sat down.
I remain dissappointed to see that SAS continue to offer drink stirrers to passengers which are unsealed and touched by bare hands before being handed to the passenger. After the pandemic and in line with most Star Alliance Member Airlines ( if not all ) who offer these sealed, SAS really ought to address this for hygiene reasons.
I heard an Airhostess talking to 2 others about a Pizza being ordered for seat 26A but that the passenger there didn’t order one. I advised them that my Brother was originally on 26A but was reseated to 8B. The drama from the day before on Livechat had still not been sorted even onboard even though my Brother had had his seat sorted hours before this crew would receive the Passenger manifest which shows who has ordered what.
It is impossible at this time to preorder drinks to go with a meal/snacks. It would be guaranteed extra revenue for SAS.
My Mum got her onboard menu the night before on the app but I didn’t get mine until late on the night of 7th March.
Whilst enjoying my coffee, I was chatting to one of the friendly Airhostesses and her colleague was doing a second tea/coffee run. I needed more sugar so the Airhostess I was talking to kindly picked one off her colleague's tray to give to me.
Free Coffee please ! SAS should offer a free water / juice as well. Also, it would be great if SAS let you earn Eurobonus points for onboard purchases.
No SAS branding on the serviette. Or the trolley.
An announcement was made that SAS Plus passengers would receive a complimentary cold meal and that SAS Go passengers would be able to purchase from the onboard menu. As always tea and coffee are free on SAS.
The same Airhostess I had spoken to during the cabin secure, then appeared at my seat with a portable payment terminal. I tried my Revolut card but it was not readable so I paid using my UK Debit card instead.
I had a short chat with the Airhostess telling her of the difference in today’s crew and that of the same flight last year. She was grateful for the feedback and genuinely interested in hearing how this flight was better.
She gave me a receipt that has SEK ( Swedish Kroner) but the base currency was GBP and I was therefore not charged a foreign transaction fee as the transaction took place in Pounds Sterling.
I saw an AH talking to my family during the drinks service and she was so pleasant and friendly. I am starting to think my SAS Connect flight last year was a weird and bad dream ! The crew did not touch the rims of the beverage cups, always a plus point in my opinion !
The crew were all lively,engaging, friendly and most professional which immediately made me think my 4608 last year was a one off in all the wrong ways.
This crew of 1 male ( Purser / Inflight Manager ) and 3 females today were Heathrow based and highly in line with Scandinavian values. 1 lady was Polish and the rest of the crew were all English.
I was pleasantly surprised when the crew told me that I may move to 9DEF as the row is free and to be closer to my family. Absolutely Perfect proactive service. For the first time in my flying life since I became a Flight Reviewer I did not ask for a photo with the crew as a souvenier but rest assured they were amazing !
I gave all 4 crew a Thank You card and they were really grateful unlike last year where I scared the living daylights out of 3 of the crew by giving the same cards.
The view when visiting Mum,Dad and my Brother's seat ! Wen the current livery was introduced, the inner part of the engines were meant to have a quirky greeting". I have noted on two aircrafts now that it does not exist. Perhaps SAS decided against it ?
Swedish flag moodlighting switched on by the Purser at my request for a photo opportunity ! I was really humbled they did this.
More seat views - this time at my new seat of 9F.
The rear washrooms on the SAS A320neo are….inside the Galley !
Yuck for want of a better word. I honestly hope passengers wash their hands before even thinking of touching anything in the galley.
Absurd location for washrooms. On my way to the washroom I had heard a conversation between the crew and an older couple. On my way back to my seat, I told the lady of the couple ( the gentleman thanked me too ) of the the possibility of heaving crowds ( like last year) and that they ought to speak to the yellow T-shirt staff who will assign you priority if you have a tight connection. A rather stupid idea if you see what then happened to me upon arrival ( see end of report ).
My pre loaded Downloaded content was not available on the day of travel ! If it was it soon vanished.
At 1605pm we began descent to breathtaking views of Norway. The crew did a cabin secure check. I would love to share the views !
We landed at 1613pm. There was a Star Alliance branded announcement. Everything about this flight was the total opposite ( in a Good way )of last year's not so amazing flight !
Time to switch on the WiFi of Avinor to see what has happened to my onwards travel
It was 1630pm as we taxied onto stand 51 - meaning I would have to dash to get my onwards connection as the flight was about to start boarding or was boarding even.
Arriving onto the stand and me having change my seat to sit further forward to make a quick escape after saying bye to my family !
The original plan had been I will stand in line in Immigration with them until I had to go and get my onwards Stockholm flight but fate had other plans !
I said a cheerful farewell to my family and exited the aircraft to the Purser and Airhostess smiling at me.
Furthermore I then had to go up an escalator and wait as the doors ahead were shut. Many many passengers had gathered and I wondered if I would make it to my next flight on time.
The doors opened after what seemed like forever. I then had to clear Passport control (a less than helpful girl in yellow jacket/tshirt combing the queues told me to ask around 20 people ahead of me if they will let me go before them despite me telling her my flight is boarding (by this time). A lovely and friendly fellow Scottish (lady) heard this and let me go ahead of her. I was so grateful.
I then had to clear security again…literally why ?!!
As I made my way to my gate after clearing security, I saw my Parents and Brother on the upper level heading towards arrivals just like me and two of my Brothers did last year ! They did not see me though !
I needed a moment to compose myself - and as luck would have it I saw an Ethiopian 787 named Frankfurt ahead of her flight to Stockholm Arlanda and onwards to her homebase of Addis Ababa !
What happens next ? Join me on my Oslo to Copenhagen Flight Report to find out !
It was a real delight to meet such charming and enthusiastic cabin crew unlike their counterparts last year on the same flight and same division of SAS.
The App issues especially the secrets around the IFE and Menucard need to be fixed as they are questionably bizarre. The lack of hygiene regards the drink stirrers plus cabin presentation from Manchester is still poor.
SAS did a marvellous job to rebook me but I should have been given priority by SAS in Oslo and had a staff member waiting in the airbridge with a name board to escort me swiftly to my next gate considering my next connection was so tight. There should be a small toy or game for young children onboard.
Overall a much more pleasant experience than SK4608 last year and I will be more comfortable to fly SAS Connect again.
At the end of this trip I would find out that the strange Purser of last year is no longer with SAS Connect ( or SAS I hope ).