Review: SAS Plus (Premium Economy) A340 Copenhagen To San Francisco

Late last month I was flying from Gothenburg to San Francisco via Copenhagen and decided to try out SAS. All their long-haul aircraft are equipped with this new cabin (apart from one A340-300 apparently). A few weeks ago I wrote about the great deal I got to upgrade on this flight.

SAS Airbus A340 in Copenhagen.

Copenhagen Airport is probably my favorite airport in Europe. While the distance between gates can sometimes be extreme, the design and efficiency are excellent. This was my first time flying non-Schengen from the airport.

Clearing passport control was a breeze. I’d recommend waiting until the last second to clear because boy was the non-Schengen area different from the rest of the airport. There were hardly any stores or restaurants as far as I could see.

SAS 935
Copenhagen (CPH) – San Francisco (SFO)
Wednesday, April 19
Depart: 12:25PM
Arrive: 2:45PM 
Duration: 11hr20min
Aircraft: Airbus A340-300
Seat: 21H (Premium Economy)

Eventually (finally) it was time for boarding. I was one of the first onboard since they boarded business and SAS Plus at the same time.

The SAS Plus cabin.

The cabin was configured in a 2-3-2 layout, as opposed to 2-4-2 in economy. There are four rows with a total of 28 SAS Plus seats with 38-inch pitch.

As you’ll notice in these pictures, the cabin colors are so dark that I had to triple the brightness to catch a glimpse of the cabin on camera.

The bulkhead actually looks a little more restricted than the remaining rows.

I was lucky to get a window seat in the second row. The legroom was great, and the seat plenty wide.

A nice pillow and blanket were waiting at my seat with a water bottle and some cheap headphones. The blanket was a winner, but I don’t understand why they’d offer such low-quality headphones to passengers paying a premium.

SAS Plus headphones.

For long flights I always love a footrest.

Unfortunately, the legroom under the seat was obstructed by two boxes, one on either side.

Two more things stuck out about the seat design itself. Firstly, there was no water bottle holder, which is common on other carriers.

Lufthansa Premium Economy.

Secondly, Lufthansa has a valuable storage compartment under the IFE screen. On SAS I had to leave my belongings on the floor or squeeze them into the seat-back pocket.

SAS also advertises an amenity kit, which was underwhelming to say the least.

SAS Plus amenity kit.

The kit came in a black bag that I initially thought was a garbage bag until I saw the text. In addition, it contained a basic sleeping mask, ear plugs and a relatively nice toothbrush.

Soon enough boarding was completed and the Danish captain welcomed us onboard. Our flight time was estimated to be 11 hours on the dot.

After what was probably the longest takeoff roll of my life, we slowly climbed along Sweden’s west coast toward Norway.

Almost an hour after takeoff the drink service began. There was no menu for SAS Plus passengers, though the drink selection could be browsed through the IFE.

A while later the meal was served.

Lunch in SAS Plus.

Again, I was underwhelmed by the portion size and food quality. The pasta was undercooked and topped with little spinach. At least the roasted vegetable side salad was better than it looks. I was also impressed that they had Froosh smoothies onboard.

Another thing to note is that SAS Plus customers use the lavatories in economy, which I found quite frustrating. Not only were the lines long at times, but we were probably the passengers furthest from a lavatory onboard.

There was plenty of space to work on a laptop.

After the meal I got some work done. SAS offers free wifi to SAS Plus and business class passengers in addition to SAS frequent flyers, which is fantastic, in theory. For other passengers wifi was reasonably priced at $19. I imagine a lot of passengers took advantage of this, because it was so slow it was barely usable. Instead of being productive online, I enjoyed an hour of pure internet rage.

I gave up and decided to watch some TV shows, at which point I asked one of the FAs if they had any snacks. To my delight he brought apples, nuts and chocolate – yay!

Only an hour later, the crew came through the cabin with even more snacks.

An hour after that, they served sandwiches (on Danish rye bread).

SAS Plus mid-flight meal.

At this point, it had been about seven hours and I’d “eaten” four times. The overall food quantity is one area where SAS excelled. The service was unmemorable, but not bad.

I decided to take a nap since we were four hours out. Two hours later, I woke up in the middle of the pre-arrival meal.

The quantity was perfect. This was definitely my favorite meal on the flight. It consisted of some lightly fried vegetables and a delicious samosa.

Soon enough we were descending towards SFO.

We had gorgeous views of downtown and the Oakland Bay Bridge on final approach.

After a quick taxi to the gate, I bid goodbye to the crew and was landside with my suitcase within 20 minutes!

Bottom Line

Overall, SAS offers a weak premium economy experience. The food wasn’t too impressive, though the meal frequency was nice. The service was lackluster and the seat didn’t deliver the same level of comfort as the competition. However, the seat was still significantly better than anything you’ll get in economy. Without a doubt, I’d pay $150-$200 to upgrade to this product again.

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Comments

  1. ‘Again, I was underwhelmed by the portion size and food quality.’ – then – ‘The overall food quantity is one area where SAS excelled. ‘

    So was the service good or poor?

  2. I’m really sorry but this review isn’t so great. You say that the services was lacklustre but there’s no evidence to support this in the review. You say that the overall experience is weak but then say that you’d pay up to $200 to upgrade without explaining why. I’m sorry but the conclusion doesn’t in any way reflect the review.

  3. Right after that he said “The service was unmemorable, but not bad.” So OK service combined with a lot of mostly mediocre food.

  4. Here we go again. Perhaps we need to get rid of the people who feel they must complain every time Daniel writes anything.

    The guy is 19 or 20 years old. How many reviews did you write when you were 19?

    He says the seat was more comfortable than anything you’d get in economy and that is why he’d spend the extra money. Was very clear to me.

  5. I took SAS Plus last October from ARN to HKG as Daniel said the foods are just slightly better then economy but not very impressive. The seats are harder and a bit smaller then EVA air’s premium economy, I think.

  6. Oh dear here we go again. It’s fortunate that Daniel is bulletproof eh. All these nasty comments from the jealous twats are tiresome.

    Great report mate. Keep em coming.

  7. Honestly, y’all, what is wrong with the review? Daniel pointed out the positives and negatives of the product and concluded that at the price he got he’d take it again. If you pointed out where the flaws are in this review with concrete evidence, then he gets to go back and write a better review next time. By just saying “oh, this review is shit, get rid of him”, you just make yourself look stupid.

    Daniel, thanks so much for your review – you evaluated the seat, which you said didn’t measure up to the competition because of under-seat legroom and storage issues. You evaluated the food, which you said was abundant but lackluster. I’d say you could talk more about the service and how it was executed next time, which would’ve added more substance to your conclusion. From another young travel blogger who’s getting tired of all these unconstructive complaints.

  8. Alvin – The problem with the review is it doesn’t make that much sense. The food service was simultaneously underwhelming and an area they excelled in?

    Not that it excuses the usual vile comments on here… You people are aware he’s a human being with human feelings, right? And although I don’t think it’s a good review (yes Josh, I could have written better at 19), it’s certainly not that bad!

  9. @ Callum – Thanks for the reply and not being condescending like everyone else.

    It’s worth noting that Daniel stated that the food QUANTITY (amount of food) excelled, as in the fact that you won’t go hungry on SAS. However, the QUALITY was underwhelming, so while there’s a lot of food, it’s not good.

  10. Some people here need to exercise some anger-management!

    Regarding the review, I couldn’t agree more. When SAS installed new cabins and overhauled their long-distance products they had a lost chance at making a more compelling and competitive PE product. Their business class is really great, and their economy is, well, economy. But apart from drinks and snacks selection, the food portions are small (however frequent), the hard product not given enough thought, and their IFE selection abysmal. Very sad given that SAS allegedly has premium paying frequent travellers their main target group.

  11. Hi Daniel,
    The review and the conclusions do not match. Can you please clarify for us?
    Food quality?
    Service?
    Value for money?
    Thank you

  12. Daniel is learning! The reviews are getting better, and the obvious plus point is that other products such as Premium Economy are getting coverage. To the people picking up incredibly minor things: Go and have a read of Lucky’s first reviews.

  13. I recently flew Lufthansa premium economy and was pretty underwhelmed with the experience. Seat was a little more spacious than economy but still too uncomfortable for a 9 hour flight, same food as economy, shared toilets with economy… I’ve also flown PE on AF and BA and been similarly underwhelmed. I’ve been experimenting with PE to see if it might be a viable (and cheaper) alternative to Business but find it isnt. I also dont find the price difference over economy to be worth it. Go Economy or pony up for Business if your can afford it. I will stick to Business….

  14. I read the blog a lot but don’t comment too often. In this case, I’m flying SAS later on this year in business and have been checking as many reviews as possible to get a sense of what to expect/see photos of business/etc.
    Before I read the comments I was thinking that the review wasn’t spectacular for a few reasons.

    Some of the statements as mentioned above are really contradictory, noticeably the one about legroom. “The legroom was great, and the seat plenty wide.” and two sentences later “Legroom is obstructed by two boxes”. I’m a normal person and can understand what he is saying, but I think being a bit more clear with the information would be helpful in the future.

    The other issue is the expectations. It’s premium economy, it’s a bigger seat in economy. It sounds really pretentious and entitled to say “I had to walk ALL of the way back to economy to use the bathroom with the common people”. 🙂
    I appreciate the economy reviews on a blog that mostly covers first products but I also think your expectations should be adjusted based on the class that was paid for.
    Based on the negative comments throughout the review, I was also confused by the ending paragraph saying he would fly it again. No leg room, food and internet complaints, and the hike to the bathroom made the review sound like it was torturous. I guess it wasn’t as bad as described?

    Just some observations I made while reading it. Not hating, just making some suggestions for future review writing that a casual commenter picked up on.

  15. It would be better if the premium economy and economy cabins were separated with a bulkhead as is the case with most carriers. Just looks cheap when they seperate it with a massive curtain on a long haul flight. They look hideous.

    Lack of empathy or any sort of service is to be expected in Scandinavia. You’re lucky if you get any of them to smile, let alone actually do anything for you.

  16. I do agree with the other comments that the review could be reworded for clarity (i.e. although copious amounts of food were provided, the quality of the meals left a lot to be desired). But it’s informative.

  17. Chill, give him an editor, might be good improvement but otherwise nice review of premium economy product

  18. @Daniel. You got it all wrong mate. Premium Economy is an upgrade of the Economy class not a downgrade of Business class. With that in mind, read your review again and it seems to me you had way to high expectations. You did get a larger seat, and noticed the fails of it. Cudos to that. However your amenity kit comment is down right undeserved. An amenity kit in Economy even premium is not standard. SAS’s is to my opinion quite nice and the quality of the shoe bag impressive. Related to the food and service, your point of views are conflicting and you need to change that next time. Further you failed to mention that you have FastTrack and Lounge Access with your ticket in addition to priority boarding. Good effort but your reviews would benefit from a less condescending tone. Also, lower your expectations. And go with the flow, your impressions will be more objective.

  19. @James thanks for the advice. The lounge access is important indeed. However, regarding the amenity kit, I can name several airlines that offer better kits in economy, such as Virgin Atlantic, Oman Air etc!

  20. @Mirco basically, the flight wasn’t good for premium economy standards, but still a lot better than economy (at the least the seat).

  21. I like most of what you write Daniel, and as a Norweigan I especially appreciate you adding some Scandinavian and European content to this blog. After reading this review however I am left a bit puzzled, as you contradict yourself so many times?

    And to comment on my opinions regarding SAS Plus, I think it’s a great premium economy product compared to others – especially when taking the price into consideration. In august I am flying Oslo to Miami roundtrip in SAS Plus, and I paid 600 USD (5000 NOK)! That is better than most economy fares. Premium economy is not something that’s supposed to be close to business class, but rather a slightly improved economy product. Both the price and product should reflect this, and in SAS’ case I think they stand out in a very positive way when comparing product to price.

  22. @Daniel. Jesus, some people can be precious. Decent job on the review. It’s good to have insight into ‘non-premium’ cabins (not business or first).

  23. Ed wrote: “It’s premium economy, it’s a bigger seat in economy. It sounds really pretentious and entitled to say ‘I had to walk ALL of the way back to economy to use the bathroom with the common people’. ”

    That is not true. While the name is confusing because it contains the term “economy,” PE is in fact a completely different class of service. Perhaps you’re confusing it with Economy Plus, the extra legroom seating section of economy offered by United?

    Many foreign carriers either offer a separate set of lavs for PE passengers or allow those seated in PE to use the business class lavs. The fact that not only does SAS offer neither, but also places the lavs at the far end of the aircraft from the PE cabin is a huge deal to me — but it has NOTHING to do with pretense or entitlement. It’s just unpleasant and disruptive to have to walk past dozens of rows of passengers and wait in a several-minute queue each time you need to use the facilities. I think this was a mistake on SAS’s part, and it may lead me to book LH’s PE product instead. I’m grateful Daniel brought it up!

  24. SAS should be launching the “New Nordic by SAS” – a food concept whose inspiration comes from the passengers.

  25. Not sure where you were going with your comment about the lavatories. Is it your expectation to use the lavatories in Business Class or rather to have one closer to your sear or even dedicated lavatories for PE?

    I’m sure the Business Class cabin doesn’t need 28 extra passengers moving about to use those lavs; closer lavs would have you complaining about all the traffic from economy class and dedicated lavs for PE might be a bit difficult to fit in.

  26. Far too much carbohydrate, almost nothing but.
    As for the flight, I doubt I’d pay much of a premium for this: couple of hundred tops. I think I would be only marginally less miserable in this cabin than down the back, so wouldn’t pay much for it.

  27. I think the reviewer’s expectations are unrealistic. He seems to have expected a business-class experience for a premium-economy product. I do, however, think that SAS could at least plate the food and remove the stupid plastic and foil wrappings. That would go a long ways to at least making a bad meal look good and “premium.”

  28. Hi Daniel,.
    An okay review on SAS PE. Well, still have room for improvement. Next time use your own style while reviewing. Don’t copy Ben coz he is too eloquent, a master and a specialist in his review. Try to be yourself. Cheers..!

    Regards..

  29. the plebians /commoners in the failed empire need to read stuff like this to help them through their corporatist day. It gives the sheeple hope, that maybe perhaps someday, their ship will come in, and they’ll be flyin premium eco someday. Yep–someday my dog will talk.

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