SAS Plus in the Airbus A330-300 to Chicago
With SAS Plus, the Scandinavian airline has created a great product in the premium economy class. In the following Tripreport you will find out what service and equipment you can expect from SAS in the Premium Economy on long-haul flights.
After arriving with airberlin at Terminal 2 of Stockholm International Airport I had to transfer to Terminal 5 for the flight with SAS to Chicago. By foot the way is possible in 15 minutes.
Check-in at the Star Alliance Gold counter of SAS was done quickly. I was able to drop off my luggage, although there was still over 5 hours to go before SK945 departed for Chicago. After the security check you will find yourself in Terminal 5 in the Duty Free Zone or “Absolut Vodka Paradies”. The price for a 1L bottle of vodka was the around 20 EUR. For Scandinavian conditions probably quite cheap.
Now the search for the lounge began. Like last time in Copenhagen, it is not so easy to find it. I haven’t found a single clue except for one tiny signpost. Only with the building map I could orientate myself. The best thing to do is simply look for the way to Gate 1 in Terminal 5, at the junction you will find a spiral staircase leading to the 3rd floor of the lounge.
SAS Gold Lounge at Stockholm Airport
The design of the SAS Gold Lounge is similar to the lounge at Copenhagen Airport. The only, but very important difference is the free view of the apron.
The interior is very Scandinavian and simple. A lot of work was done with wood and metal to create seating groups of different sizes. What I found really fantastic was that there were enough sockets everywhere and even extra USB slots for charging your own electronic devices. In this case, the interior designer simply thought along!
The buffet is located in the rear area of the SAS Gold Lounge. Today we had a pasta-pesto salad, smoked salmon and various vegetables with dip to choose from. A soup of the day and various types of bread were also offered. The choice of drinks ranges from soft drinks (water, ginger ale, cola, tonic and a Swedish drink unknown to me) to various beers or wines and spirits. So nobody has to die of thirst here. After my today’s fellow passenger Robert finally arrived from Munich with a huge delay, we had a small lunch and drank one or two Turborg together.
Flight SAS SK945 to Chicago
Around 14:30 we left the lounge and walked to our departure gate F66. The brand new Airbus A330-300 Enhanced (registration LN-RKR, first flight on 26.08.2015) was already ready at the gate. It took only a few minutes until the boarding started. No importance was given to the booking class and status at boarding. Nevertheless, we were one of the first in the plane and were able to take pictures of the newly designed cabin.
After we booked our flight to Chicago in June, we decide to upgrade to the next higher booking class via the website Optiontown.com. Four days before departure we finally got the long awaited confirmation for an upgrade to SAS Plus (Premium Economy).
SAS Plus (Premium Economy)
The Premium Economy cabin (configuration 2-3-2) is beautifully designed. The seats are covered with grey fabric and have a wide seat surface. The distance to the front row is generous with 97 cm (headrest to headrest). There is also a footrest on the front seat. Each passenger can charge their electronic devices at an individual power outlet and USB port.
SAS Plus – Inflight Entertainment
The new Inflight Entertainment is really great. The screens finally have a good HD resolution (30 cm screen diagonal) and the touchscreen also works precisely and reliably. At our place in row 24 (24A & B) we had earphones and an amenity kit ready. But you can also bring your own headphones, as the seat has a simple jack socket. The entertainment system offers different movies (new and classics like “Alien”), single episodes of TV shows, music, a detailed flight map and two outdoor cameras. Also the food and drink offers can be viewed in the display.
SAS Plus – Free Wi-Fi on board
The boarding of the plane, which was perhaps 60% full, was completed punctually at 15:30 and we pushed back. The taxiway to the runway was very short and already the captain took off. After the seatbelt signs switched off, the WiFi on board was also switched on. This is complimentary for SAS Business and SAS Plus passengers. So I could surf the internet for the first time on FL36 and stay in contact with the people at home. Already! Sure, the speed is not breathtaking and there were always disconnections, but what can you expect at an altitude of 10 kilometers and when flying over Greenland?
Food and drink in SAS Plus
First a bag of salted nuts and various drinks (long drinks, wine, beer, soft drinks and water) were served. For the main course we could choose between grilled chicken filet with grilled vegetables and noodles or cod on rice. We both took the chicken. In addition there was a salad with lots of mayonnaise and crab and fish. One hour before arrival in Chicago a small snack (green salad with three slices of ham and potato salad) was served. In general the service on board was really great.
Arrival at Chicago O’Hare
During the approach to Chicago O’Hare we had a great view of the lights of downtown. The excitement of the Christmas season in the “Windy City” was growing!
After our arrival at Terminal 5, we went quickly out of the plane thanks to row 24 and hurried to get to the immigration. We often made bad experiences with long waiting times in Chicago and the different desert carriers, at the gates next to us, did not promise anything good.
Automated Passport Control (APC) for ESTA travelers
Automatic Entry (APC) used to be available only to US citizens and Global Entry travelers. Since 2014, ESTA travellers have also been able to complete the formalities at a vending machine. The user interface can be switched to German, thus avoiding any communication problems with the officer. The formalities are done quite quickly: you scan your passport, answer questions about entry and/or customs formalities, have fingerprints taken from your right hand and take a passport photo with the built-in camera. At the end you get a small note printed on thermal paper. With this I had to go to an official, who only asked a few questions about the reason for my trip. Thus it is no longer necessary to fill out the white-blue customs declaration “CBP Form 6059B” in the aircraft.
After we had taken our suitcases from the baggage carousel, we went through the customs control to the waiting point for the hotel shuttles. There were many buses passing, but never one from our hotel. After a 30-minute wait, a United stewardess helped us out with her iPhone so we could call in at our hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn Chicago O’Hare. On the phone I learned that Terminal 5 is only served on demand. We would like to have this information up front. After another 20 minutes the shuttle finally arrived and we were transferred to the hotel.
More information about SAS Scandinavian Airlines
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With the new cabin and the introduction of Premium Economy on long-haul routes, SAS has a very good product. The seat is really comfortable and the service is also excellent. If you decide to upgrade via Optiontown or directly at check-in, the price/performance ratio is also right.