Review of Sabena flight New York Brussels in Business

Airline Sabena
Flight SN 552
Class Business
Seat 8C
Aircraft Airbus A330-200
Flight time 07:30
Take-off 24 Jul 01, 18:50
Arrival at 25 Jul 01, 08:20
S1 2 reviews
By 4009
Published on 2nd February 2015
Hello and welcome to this vintage report on SN's predecessor SABENA.

JFK-BRU in J - you are here
BRU-JFK in J -

I had the opportunity to fly this established carrier back in July 2001, only a few months before it ceased operations on 07 Nov. 2001. After its demise, SABENA was renamed SN Brussels Airlines in Feb. 2002 and later changed to its present name Brussels Airlines in March 2007 after it merged with Virgin Express.

As an aviation enthusiast, I was extremely excited at the idea of flying a new carrier, even more so in a premium cabin in one of Europe's oldest carriers. This trip took place a long time ago, so some of the details might be sketchy and I must apologize for the quality of the pics.

I took a trip on UA to connect to JFK and once there I checked in at the SN counter which was shared with SR and OS as part of the Qualifyer Group. I was given an invitation to EL AL King David lounge which was basic with some sandwiches and cookies or fruits.

Boarding was efficient and upon entering there were 2 FA's greeting passengers. The cabin felt spacious with the reclining seats that almost lied horizontally. Pre-dept. drinks were offered in glasses and later on amenity kits, printed menus and hot towels were distributed. I loved the fabric of the seats with the flying bird that to me is so representative of Belgium and makes reference to Magritte and Surrealism.

Amenity kit. I took these pics recently and the hand cream was discarded. It was from a generic brand that I have never heard of.

Cabin with a very nice purser.

photo SN 552  JFK-BRU (740x1024)


Wine menu.

The meal service started with drinks served with tapas.

photo SN 552  JFK-BRU (3) (1024x679)

The appetizer sounded great on the menu, but actually I found that the dill and sweet mustard sauce were overpowering, so I just took a few bites. The cheese course and dessert were served on the tray at the same time.

photo SN 552  JFK-BRU (5) (1024x679)photo SN 552  JFK-BRU (7) (1024x619)

I decided to go for something light so I chose the vegetarian dish with was tasty.

photo SN 552  JFK-BRU (8) (1024x545)

After the meal service I watched some movies and tried in vain to sleep. I don't recall any snacks being placed in the galley after dinner.

Soon it was breakfast time and I just had fruit with a warm croissant. Later on I saw a FA distributing yogurt in individual dishes. I thought that a continental breakfast in J was a bit light and a hot dish should have been offered.

photo SN 552  JFK-BRU (12) (1024x593)photo SN 552  JFK-BRU (11) (1024x535)
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Cabin crew10.0

British Airways Concorde Room


New York - JFK


Brussels - BRU



I was glad that I had a chance to experience SABENA before it ceased operations. It's always sad to see an old carrier go and with it a part of aviation history.

Back then lie flat seats with all aisle access were rare so my seat was good for its time.

The purser was excellent with a great attitude and smile that made passengers feel like guests.

Food was OK, not exceptional.

Information on the route New York (JFK) Brussels (BRU)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 6 reviews of 3 airlines on the route New York (JFK) → Brussels (BRU).


The airline with the best average rating is Sabena with 8.3/10.

The average flight time is 7 hours and 26 minutes.

  More information


  • Comment 128449 by
    SMilano 1292 Comments

    Thank's Adan for sharing !

    Sabena... A lot of memories with this airline ! I flew, I don't know how many times with them !
    My father worked for Sabena so it was a family story...

    It was (for me) one of the best airline in the world !

    Thank's again for this memories !

    • Comment 309900 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2294 Comments

      I am glad that you enjoyed this little nostalgic report Sébastien. My only regret is that I wish that I could have taken more pictures back then. I remember that there were two SN liveries during that time.

      You have a personal connection to the airline and that makes it more special. It's great that you had the opportunity to fly with them.

  • Comment 128454 by
    Esteban TEAM GOLD 12275 Comments

    Thank you Adan for this vintage report. Sabena : Sauf Accident Bien Entendu Nous Arrivons or the english version: Such A Bloody Experience, Never Again ^^

  • Comment 128507 by
    KévinDC TEAM SILVER 5318 Comments

    Thanks for posting this retro-report! It's always great to see older reports to see how things have evolved. In this case I'm surprised at how mediocre the catering is for this pre-9/11 flight. The breakfast is as light as what most airlines serve on TATL and the appetizer served with the plastic wrap still on isn't very classy. So I guess AF's catering isn't that bad after all :-P

    • Comment 309877 by
      SMilano 1292 Comments

      You have to know it was already the end for Sabena at this time ! So they already didn't budget to have a good catering... At the end the catering was really low cost...
      It was really better than this ;)

    • Comment 309902 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2294 Comments

      It's a pleasure to share these old memories with fellow aviation enthusiasts.

      SMilano has a point but I also think that this flight was modified to be a supper instead of true dinner. The dept. time certainly falls under the dinner category. It had an express feel to the whole service, with the cheese and dessert on the appetizer tray and no choice for appetizer or dessert course. This was quite a contrast to the return flight that featured 2 choices for both appetizer and dessert, and 4 choices for main dish. The wrap on the appetizer was a bit of a turn off.


    • Comment 309910 by
      KévinDC TEAM SILVER 5318 Comments

      @SMilano: Yes, I'm sure it was better than was on it's last breath in 2001. I've always heard good things about Sabena so I was surprised. Thanks for the info!

  • Comment 128561 by
    02022001 SILVER 4362 Comments

    Thanks very very much for this special FR about an old and dead airline.
    You maybe should start by asking to put the true logo of Sabena and not brussels airlines.
    Too bad for the few photos but this is forgivable because the flight was in 2001 !
    The dishes were tasty and are fairly presented.

  • Comment 128583 by
    Denzee 1761 Comments

    Waoww, really went back in the past :-)

    Really interesting to remind us how was the business class cabin 13 years ago !!!

    Thank you so much

    • Comment 309904 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2294 Comments

      I like to be reminded of how things have changed. We all need a point of reference in order to judge how things have improved (or worsen) through time. ;)

      One of my biggest regrets is not flying the Concorde when I had a chance back in the late 1990's. During that time I was working for UA and we could have flown on BA from JFK-LHR for about USD 600-700. I thought it was way too expensive and never took advantage of it.

      Thanks for stopping.

  • Comment 128625 by
    jules67500 GOLD 4958 Comments

    Thanks Adan :)

    Sabena, back in the future ^^. I just found some pictures of an old Sabena A330, my father and I took in Brussels in 2001, I was 3 and a half at that time...

    13 years ago, Business class was like premium economy nowadays...

    • Comment 309952 by
      jetsetpanda AUTHOR 2294 Comments

      You are most welcome.

      Those pics have a lot of historical value now, not to mention the sentimental ones.

      It's funny that nowadays Business class is the new F, Premium Economy the new J and Economy will always be Economy, especially on some 3 cabin carriers that make a distinction between their Econ. and Premium Econ. Talk about going back. I think initially J was conceived as a Premium Y a few decades ago, and in order to be competitive they kept adding and improving it until it became what it is today. As a result it has gotten so competitive that nowadays some airlines phase out F and just decide to have J as the premium cabin.

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