What is better than taking one flight to get home with a seriously bad hangover?
Taking two flights, of course. In this review, I will consider the service provided by Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) on a two-sector trip from Gdansk Poland to London Heathrow England transiting Copenhagen Denmark.
Flight Details Sector One
Flight Number: SAS756 Operated by CityJet Ireland
From: Gdansk Poland GDN/EPGD
To: Copenhagen Denmark CPH/EKCH
Departure Time Planned: 0930
Departure Time Actual: 0959
Arrival Time Planned: 1030
Arrival Time Actual: 1059
Aircraft: EI-FPF Canadair CRJ900
Flight Details Sector Two
Flight Number: SAS505 Operated by SAS Ireland
From: Copenhagen Denmark CPH/EKCH
To: London Heathrow England LHR/EGLL
Departure Time Planned: 1500
Departure Time Actual: 1504
Arrival Time Planned: 1600
Arrival Time Actual: 1559
Aircraft: EI-SIH A320neo
Cost: £84.40 (combined flight, including luggage)
Seat Reservations £18.50
Lounge Access (Copenhagen) £19.70
Booking the Flight
This flight was booked directly through the SAS website, as a connecting flight. Economy class is branded as SAS GO, two fare options were available for this flight. SAS Go Light, which is basic hand baggage only fare or my option SAS Go Smart, which included a 23kg checked in baggage, albeit no seat reservation.
Additional services, such as extra suitcases can be added on at the time of booking. I added a seat reservation for each journey, an additional £18.50 or thereabouts combined total.
Airport Experience Gdansk
Gdansk Airport is always a joy to fly through. Easy to reach from the city centre, by either taxi or train, the fares are cheap too, a taxi cost me 80PLN, which is about £17.50.
Check-in for Star Alliance carriers is located at the far end of the check-in hall. Opening two hours before departure, my suitcase was quickly tagged through to London Heathrow and on its own merry way.
My mobile boarding card was not scanning very well, therefore, the check-in agent issued me a new boarding card without fuss and with a smile.
Security at Gdansk is always painless, I was airside in thirty seconds flat.
With two hours to kill I had to wander around the extensive duty-free and shopping outlets, but being unsure if I was going to leave the airport in Copenhagen, I couldn’t stock up on Polish vodka…
I found a secluded corner to sit and watch the planes go by and enjoy some chilled time before the flight; Gdansk is a very modern and fresh feeling airport that is well laid out, bright and airy.
Our incoming aircraft was late due to congestion in Copenhagen. The screens suggested a new departure time of 0945.
Boarding was not especially well organised, there was no queuing maze or structure except a manual announcement for business class and priority boarding customers to step forward, followed by a call for general boarding.
One thing I couldn’t understand was why a jetbridge was used when the CRJ-900 has steps built into the door of the aircraft.
The jetbridge required realignment once the disembarking passengers had left the aircraft and before we were allowed to start boarding.
Once on board the aircraft, things calmed down quickly. Our cabin manager had a no-nonsense school mistress aurora and was not taking prisoners.
On Board Experience
The SAS fleet of CRJ900 consists of 26 aircraft; the majority are leased from CityJet Ireland, with two additional frames from Air Nostrum and one from Nordica.
The CRJ900s configured with 88 seats with 24 rows in a 2×2 configuration. The seats were well padded upholstered in smooth grey leather, deep and comfortable combined with better than average legroom it was a cosy flight.
My only gripe is that the windows and seats do not line up at all. Every time I wanted to look outside I had to twist my back into a very uncomfortable and unnatural shape.
Boarding was completed quickly and Hattie Jacques the cabin manager was efficient in getting the cabin ready for our short hop to Copenhagen.
We pushed back and taxied to Runway 11 for departure. Our flight took us east from Gdansk then a full 180 westbound taking us towards Szczecin then over the Baltic Sea, skimming the very bottom of Sweden before lining up on the northeasterly runway at Copenhagen.
The service on board was basic but functional. Passengers in the economy are allowed a small cup of tea or coffee for free.
Anything else including water is chargeable, on short shuttle flights such as this, there are no other beverages or snack items available for purchase.
I had a cup of coffee, which was perfectly drinkable and served with milk and sugar on request.
I wish I could say, I sat back, relaxed and enjoyed the flight. As I couldn’t see what was going on the window properly I felt I was in a metal dungeon it left me feeling rather claustrophobic.
Just 35 minutes after take-off from Gdansk, Hattie Jacques was back storm trooping through the cabin ensuring it was secure for landing.
Due to storm cells in the area, the flight deck crew turned on the fasten seat belts earlier than usual and requested the cabin crew be seated earlier than usual too. It was a rough but fun approach to Copenhagen.
It took us about 10 minutes to taxi to the gate, past some very exotic traffic including the Air Greenland A330.
Airport Experience Copenhagen
After our arrival on the stand, we left the aircraft quickly and arrived into Terminal 3. Copenhagen is a great airport for changing planes, it is well laid out and clear.
I had purchased access to the SAS lounge but decided to go for a walk and hopefully photography a handful of SAS heavies.
As both Poland and Denmark are part of the Schengen agreement there was no border control I was out of the airport in no time at all.
There is a lot of construction work being carried out around Copenhagen Airport so be careful, access roads and footpaths are very haphazard.
Due to a runway change, it would become impossible to photograph any aeroplanes, as I had a short layover I did not have time to visit any other spotting areas that would have wielded more pleasing results. Therefore I returned to the airport to enjoy the lounge access I had previously booked.
The SAS lounge is best described as typically Scandinavian.
The Scandinavian way is for things to do exactly as they say on the tin. The lounge is admittedly basic however it is clean and the décor simple and stylish.
All food and drink are complimentary, the buffet selection had chicken pasta, bread and salad.
There was no dessert option and to drink either red or white wine, draft beer plus a range of fruit juice and fizzy drinks including apple, orange and Coca Cola.
I did enjoy escaping the general chaos of the airport and had a reasonable amount to eat that kept me going all the way back to London.
I cannot however conclude that the lounge was worth the high asking price.
Around 45 minutes before departure I started to trot off towards our boarding gate which was to be D103.
Passport control was a little hectic, with poorly marked lines to get through to the e-gates, there was a manual barrier as well, but this was just as chaotic.
The gates on the D pier in Copenhagen are on two levels. The top level is where you queue and the gate agents check your boarding card and passport.
Boarding is done from a seating area on the next floor down, it has to be said this is preferable to the concrete pens that are used at most airports.
After a few moments, our crew were ready to board the aircraft. With rows 1-14 directed to the jetbridge and front door. Those in rows 15-30 were directed to the rear door to board via the steps.
On Board Experience
The SAS A320neo is laid out in the standard 3×3 configuration across 30 rows. The seats are modern and slimline.
Upholstered in the light grey cloth they were pretty unremarkable. One great feature, however, is that SAS has fitted all seats with a USB charging socket.
It cannot be used during taxi, take-off or landing but is available for the remainder of the flight. This A320neo was also fitted with WiFI though I could not get my phone to connect during the flight.
The legroom was rated at 30 inches, which is standard for economy flights. I did not find it any better or worse than any other economy product.
The crew on this flight were a distinct improvement over the crew on the previous sector.
As this flight was operated by SAS Ireland, our crew were London Heathrow based, friendly and energetic was the order of the day here.
Our cabin manager was a very calm gentleman with a soothing voice and aura. We pushed back a few moments late and taxied to take off to the south, the opposite way to which we landed just four hours earlier.
Our route took us in more or less a straight line from Copenhagen to London, flying over Northern Germany, the tip of Holland then over the English Channel, we flew parallel to the River Thames before flying the horseshoe to line up and land on 27R at Heathrow.
The service started quickly upon departure from Copenhagen.
The cabin crew first passed through the cabin with a trolley of drinks, offering tea and coffee, as well as a selection of soft drinks and alcoholic beverages available for purchase.
The crew then passed through with a trolley of snacks available for purchase, offering a range of sweets, crisps, chocolate and the hot option which was a Pizza, I was still running off the carb overload from the lounge so ordered nothing else.
The fight passed by quickly and before too long we were descending into London Heathrow, due to the patchy cloud we had a few bumps on the way down but it was nice to see the intricate patterns in the clouds up close.
We touched down fast and hard and vacated to the left very quickly.
Taxing around Heathrow just before tea time is not particularly exciting, as most of the interesting traffic has left by lunchtime and it does not start to get busy with a wave of Asian traffic until around 1900.
This crew were very obliging to my request to have a look in the flight deck, even allowing me to sit in the Captain’s seat.
I thanked the crew and bid them a farewell, before taking my chances with Heathrow Arrivals.
Heathrow Arrivals Experience
Heathrow Terminal 2, has recently been refurbished so it is clean, fresh and airy. My only grumble was the bedlam at passport control.
As the border force officers were changing shift the e-gates were locked for five minutes and with a queue of people halfway back to the aircraft, it was extremely stressful and tense with no information coming and the queue not moving.
There was no wait for my suitcase and I was quickly on the underground to Hatton Cross to enjoy I couple of hours hassle-free plane spotting.
In this review, I have looked at the offering by SAS on two separate flights. I would have expected both flights to be fairly consistent, in terms of service, crew and comfort.
The A320neo was the more modern aircraft, but the CRJ900 had more luxurious seats.
One crew left a lot to be desired the second crew were a credit to SAS. Copenhagen was a nice airport to fly through, however, it was let down by the poorly managed passport controls and the mediocre lounge.
As this was a journey of opposites I am struggling to conclude and rate my experience objectively.
I would fly SAS again if it was an A320neo route, but I would certainly consider my options if I was to fly on a regional route operated by a CRJ900.
I think it is safe to say the service is basic and functional but nothing too bad either.
|Key Area||Sector One||Sector Two||Average Score|
|Arrival Airport Experience||8||7||7.5|