SAS All Business Class Flights Between Newark And Copenhagen

SAS has just announced that they’ll be discontinuing their all business class flight between Houston and Stavanger, and instead will be adding an additional flight between Newark and Copenhagen.

SAS discontinuing Houston to Stavanger route

Last August, SAS launched an all business class flight between Houston and Stavanger, Norway. The flight operates 6x weekly using a wet leased PrivatAir Boeing 737-700, featuring an all business class configuration. The aircraft features just 44 seats spread across 11 rows.

PrivatAir-737

As the world’s longest 737 route, it was a unique one, of course, intended to capture the oil business between the two cities.

Houston-Stavanger

Here’s the explanation which is given for the route being cut as of October 24, 2015, which I think is pretty self explanatory:

As a consequence of reduced activity in the oil industry, SAS has experienced a severe decrease in demand and thus passenger loads on the Stavanger Houston route. Hence, SAS no longer has sound commercial grounds for continuing this niche route.

“The oil route came out of creative and constructive product development between SAS and our core clients in the oil industry. We have done all we can to make it viable, however, we have had to accept that the downturn in the industry unfortunately is also impacting us, hence our decision to switch the aircraft to Copenhagen-New York, where the market offers far more potential right now,” says Eivind Roald.

The last flight from Stavanger will depart on 23 October returning in Stavanger on 24 October. SAS will do its utmost to make alternative arrangements for all customers who have flight bookings after these dates.

“I am naturally sad to disappoint our customers who have been loyal users of the route and who will no longer be able to fly directly between these two destinations,” says Roald.

SAS adding Newark to Copenhagen service

SAS will continue to use the PrivatAir 737, though will instead be deploying it on their Newark to Copenhagen route, to add a second frequency.

Copenhagen

The new Newark to Copenhagen route will launch 6x weekly (every day except Tuesdays) as of October 25, 2015, as follows:

SK902 Newark to Copenhagen departing 11:55PM arriving 12:45PM (+1 day)
SK901 Copenhagen to Newark departing 6:25PM arriving 10:35PM

The timing quite nicely complements SAS’ existing schedule between Newark and Copenhagen, which is as follows:

SK910 Newark to Copenhagen departing 5:40PM arriving 6:15AM (+1 day)
SK909 Copenhagen to Newark departing 12:20PM arriving 4:15PM

Interestingly, SAS will actually be reconfiguring the PrivatAir 737 eventually as well. Presently the plane features 44 business class seats, while it will eventually be reconfigured with 20 business class seats and 66 economy class seats. That probably helps to make the flight more viable for them, since presumably there’s not usually demand for that many business class seats.

SAS-Plus-Europe-01

Bottom line

Houston to Stavanger was a unique route for sure, so in terms of creativity I’m sad to see it go. At the same time, that route never seemed viable long term.

Newark to Copenhagen is definitely a more logical route on which to place it, since it’s a route which could use extra capacity. Reconfiguring the plane to add some economy seats will probably help make the route more viable year round as well.

Still, that also sort of takes the lure out of the narrowbody all business class experience. At this point you’re just flying a normal 737 across the Atlantic, which doesn’t sound all that appealing.

It is worth noting that the 737 features angled business class seats, so they’re far from the best out there. Especially in comparison to SAS’ excellent new business class product, which will soon be available on all their A330s and A340s.

Are you surprised SAS cut the Houston to Stavanger route? Does reconfiguring the 737 make sense?

(Tip of the hat to The Points Guy)

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. May be a good use of 90k Aeroplan miles before they reconfigure, since they don’t charge YQ on SAS. I never see award space on their new J seats, have you come across any availability?

  2. Well, I just checked ual.com for C availability next summer. It looks pretty decent, but ual.com identifies 901 and 902 as an A340.

    Indeed, a good use for Aeroplan miles, if one is willing to compromise on the seat quality (one which would have been received with favor just 15 years ago).

  3. Well, I just checked ual.com for C availability next summer. It looks pretty decent, but ual.com identifies 901 and 902 as an A340.

    Indeed, a good use for Aeroplan miles, if one is willing to compromise on the seat quality (one which would have been received with favor just 15 years ago).

  4. SK901/902 has been a summer-only service, with similar departure/arrival times to the ones Lucky listed for the new 737 service. This year, SK901/902 used mostly an A340 that they got from LAN, so it had lie-flat seats in business class. The seats were comfortable, but I wasn’t terribly impressed with SAS or its unrefined idea of service. See my mini report (or rant, if you prefer) on FT: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/sas-eurobonus/1700937-sk902-fail.html

  5. @jfhscott

    SK is switching back to a A340 for the summer season next year, not sure what they will do with the Privateair 737 then since it’s leased until middle of 2017.

    This is just SK making the best of bad situation since they would probably loose more money trying to get out of the contract with Privateair.

    IAH-SVG will run until OCT 25 for those who are looking to try it, that said reports are that the plane will stay all J on the NYC route until at least Christmas.

  6. Why do you add a picture of a SK B738 when the article is about a SK BBJ-configured B737? 😉

    Considering the cheap prices SAS at times have been operating with the past couple of months (1000 USD for a return trip, compared to the 3-4000 USD price it had earlier) I am sad to say this was no surprise.

  7. I am a broker (Stock) and this is only the beginning of the consequences of oil dropping like a stone. There will be ramifications around the world.OIl will not be down forever but this may be as bad as Houston was in the 80’s. Buckle up folks. I flew SAS a long time ago and it was a pleasant flight and I wonder how it is now that air travel has changed so much. What say you who fly as a career?

  8. @Tom: Nope, not at the time. The same plane was earlier used by KLM serving across the Atlantic, but that was discontinued and the plane was later leased to SAS. Currently the only other planes this size flying commercially for an airliner from Europe to the US, is BA with their two A318s.

  9. I actually flew this route (SVG-IAH) in July on Aeroplan award — it was surprisingly enjoyable (and the plane was completely full). Like many others I’m all for flat beds and was not terribly excited about angled-flat seats on this plane but it was actually a ton more comfortable for sleeping than, say, UA’s flat-bed seat in J (on 772).

    So I’m pretty sad the flight is ending although not shocked — when I was looking at flights to Europe next summer awhile back this wasn’t showing up.

    FWIW, I think SAS needs to start service to CPH or ARN out of IAH. IAH-SVG is a niche route and is pretty hard to make connections (my route was actually AMS-CPH-SVG-IAH) but by flying to one of their hubs they are going to open up a lot more one-stop options for regular travelers (like KLM’s IAH-AMS, LH’s IAH-FRA, AF’s IAH-CDG).

  10. @Ivan Y

    This was a a corporate shuttle for the oil industry in SVG to support the niche for direct traffic to IAH, hence the Privateair 737. It was never intended as a classic hub and spoke route with connections. O and D traffic was supposed to drive it mostly, which is why it failed when the oil price fell.

    Going true CPH, OSL and certainly ARN will take considerably longer than than true AMS or LHR for passengers flying out of SVG, and that is where most of the premium traffic for a route to IAH would come when the pace in the oil industry picks up again.

    Also I’m not sure if SK could fill the Y part of a IAH route out of CPH or ARN, just because SVG is in SK land locally does not make SK the best choice for westbound connections since all their hub are to the East of SVG.

  11. I flew in PrivatAir’s A319CJ in 2005 when they were flying for LH on the ORD-DUS. As understandable as the economics are, it’s kind of sad to see this product going away.

  12. I have had the opportunity to fly this flight a total of four times.
    The hard-product might not be top notch, but the total experience is good,
    But no airlines do things for charity, it is all about making profitable business

  13. FYI; They are selling the last seats on the SVG-IAH route for next to nothing (as far as trans atlantic biz goes..); app 778USD return!

  14. Live in Houston Today, I grew up in Stavanger in early 80’s and we frequently traveled this route via LGW and AMS. We flew BCAL and KLM. My Dad thought some carrier would fly weekly 757 service from SVG to IAH to ferry the oil workers who commuted to the North Sea from Texas and Louisiana. I wish I was able to fly this special PrivatAir Boeing 737-700 before the service was discontinued.

  15. In October I took SAS Airbus 330 to EWR in C-class. The new interior and seats were in place. I had looked forward to the trip – traveling with a childhood friend 42 years after our first trip together, in business class; Designed for hedonistic enjoyment, eat well, drink well, nap a little, check out the entertainment system, nap, eat and drink some more, all between exchanging memories with my old friend.

    I was horrified when we entered the cabin: it looked like an office landscape complete with cubicles.
    Gone were the large, comfortable C-class seats, replaced with a “seat unit” designed to fold out to a flat bed. Gone were the comfortable arm-rests, replaced by a hard work surface.

    C-class has become a place for workaholics where they can either work even more – or catch up on sleep lost from working so much. No longer a comfortable respite to just relax and enjoy. However, I maintained my equanimity, for there are worse things in life than being transported across the Atlantic safely and expeditiously, while being served very good food and decent wines – even though while sitting in an office cubicle

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