I flew back to the USA on SAS onboard its brand new Airbus A321LR in business class. This is a cozy aircraft that is quite comfortable in the front cabin. The service and meals onboard were also excellent.
SAS A321LR Business Class Review
SAS does not release a lot of award space, but keep an eye out closer to departure (within 72 hours) and often you will find at least one business class seat. A transatlantic ticket from Copenhagen to Newark will set you back 60K Air Canada Aeroplan miles, 63K Avianca LifeMiles, or 73K United MileagePlus miles. I find redemptions through other Star Alliance currencies more cumbersome or less lucrative.
After arriving from the Faroe Islands, I spent some time in the SAS Gold Lounge before proceeding through passport control and heading to the gate for boarding. We departed from gate E124, which is a very beautiful gate area with floor-to-ceiling windows and live trees.
Copenhagen (CPH) – Newark (EWR)
Wednesday, October 26
Depart: 06:15 PM
Arrive: 09:05 PM
Duration: 8hr, 50min
Distance: 3,867 miles
Aircraft: Airbus A321neo (A321LR)
Seat: 6F (Business Class)
Onboard, I was greeted by a flight attendant, who looked at my boarding pass and directed me down the aisle and to my left.
The A321LR business class cabin features 22 Thompson Aero Vantage seats arranged in an alternating 2-2, 1-1 pattern (think JetBlue Mint). I was able to secure a throne seat, which offers immense privacy and personal storage, though that extra storage comes at the cost of some footwell space.
Storage includes a cabinet that was large enough even for my laptop and a pair of side compartments.
I think the cabin is beautiful and while these seats are typically not my favorite (especially on a widebody aircraft like on SWISS or Austrian), I found the seat very comfortable and must underscore that padding matters and this seat was well-padded.
The seat is 20.5 inches wide and converts into a 73-inch lie-flat bed.
Two touchpads control seating position.
Each seat has a universal power outlet and a pair of USB-A chargers (one above the headphone jack and one below).
Personal air vents are located above each seat.
Beside each seat is a reading light as well as a magnetic loop intended to secure the noise-cancelling headphones.
Bedding is Hästens branded and includes a pillow, duvet, and mattress pad. I did spend half the flight sleeping and credit the plush bedding and air vent for helping me to fall asleep.
IFE + Wi-Fi
Each business class seat features a 16-inch HD entertainment screen that is highly reflective:
A vast library of movies, games, music, and TV shows is available as well as a moving flight map.
I also liked that the entire beverage menu was available on the screen and look forward to a day when drinks and snacks can be ordered from your seat (and this would also reduce the waste of a printed menu).
Noise-cancelling headphones were SAS-branded and worked well.
The IFE system could be controlled via touchscreen or remote.
Wi-Fi is complimentary for business class passengers and worked well during the transatlantic crossing.
It was dark when we took off from Copenhagen, but as we rose high above the clouds I caught a glimpse of late-evening sunlight.
For much of the flight there a hint of sunlight before it finally became fully dark.
A very practical Flippa K branded amenity kit included:
- face moisturizer and lip balm from Vero
- a wooden toothbrush from The Humble Co.
- Swedish Stockings (high quality socks for an amenity kit)
- Eyeshade + earplugs
Food + Drink
Prior to takeoff, a choice of beverage was offered (I had a glass of water) and menus were distributed.
Service began 35 minutes after takeoff with a hot towel followed by a choice of beverage and cashews.
The table was set for dinner.
Appetizer choices included:
- Grilled Fare Islands salmon with pumpkin and sea buckthorn vinaigrette and roasted pumpkin-romesco sauce
- Danish air-dried ham from Ravhede with caramelized cauliflower purée, pickled radish, and potato cream
Both were served with a mixed salad with olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette.
I chose the salmon and found it flaky and in need of no toping, though the pumpkin sauce provided a unique juxtaposition of flavors.
Main course choices included:
- Najad salmon creamy mussel and crayfish fricassee, crushed Jerusalem artichokes with elderberry caper and tomato vinaigrette
- Fried Danish veal top round with horseradish demi-glace and rhubarb compote, browned butter and lemon-potatoes, green beans and sweet peas
- Risotto of organic beans and peas from Gotland mixed with local matured cheese served with semi-dried tomatoes and asparagus
- Grilled welfare chicken breast with spicy tomato salsa and chimichurri, served with cream cheese-cabbage and grilled zucchini
All four choices sounded delectable, but I chose the veal because the horseradish with rhubarb compote nad browned butter sounded like a sumptuous combo. It was a decent choice. The flavors were interesting, though the veal was cooked a bit too long for my preference.
I branched out on this flight and tried two local drinks, including Apple Must (100% pressed apple juice) and a glass of Hernö Swedish gin. Both were quite pleasant.
With dinner I had a glass of Italian red wine (Massolino Langhe Nebbiolo DOC).
Meals were served with “a selection of hand-baked local bread and Danish organic butter.” Bread and butter are something I avoid at home, so it was quite pleasant to enjoy freshly-baked bread and delicious butter.
While my dish was good, my friend ordered the salmon and his meal looked even better. The fish is generally superb on SAS and I will go back to ordering fish next time.
To conclude dinner I enjoyed a cup of coffee (the espresso machine was broken, so no cappuccino) with a trio of desserts, including:
- Seasonal assorted organic cheeses from local Danish dairies with dark plum and port wine marmalade from Hedh-Escalante in Malmo, Sweden
- Strawberry tart with elderflower crumble
- Organic rhubarb ice cream lolly from Hansens dipped in organic white chocolate from Mikkel Friis-Holm
The strawberry tart and cheese were excellent, but the rhubarb ice cream bar was even better.
A snack basket in the front galley included chips, nuts, chocolate, and fruit-flavored gummies.
Reminding me of why I do not keep snacks at home (because I cannot stop eating them), I enjoyed a couple bags of chips and a couple packets of cashews along with some apple, elderberry, and ginger juice from Froosh.
About an hour outside of Newark, a light pre-arrival snack was served, billed as a traditional Scandinavian open-faced sandwich.
The sandwich included Swedish shrimp with chive mayonnaise, organic eggs, and pickled red onion on Danish rye bread. It was fresh and flavorful: I think I liked it so much because I never make anything like that at home.
It was served with fruit and chocolate on the side.
Business class passengers can make use of a lavatory in the front of the aircraft, which was clean but otherwise lacking any extra amenities.
While I generally try to avoid narrow body aircraft on long haul flights, I really enjoyed the SAS A321LR and would not hesitate to fly this single aisle jet again. I do prefer the SAS A350 seating, but the throne seat was cozy and private on this flight and felt spacious when fully flat. As always, SAS business class service and food onboard was excellent and I look forward to flying SAS again.
Bread basket looks phenomenal. A green salad? You must have been a kid in a candy store. Love love love the purple lighting. Their FA uniform looks like United at a quick glance.
I still have not flown a narrow body across the Atlantic. I’ve managed to avoid this for years. But I have to admit that these new A321LR’s do look quite cozy and I imagine boarding ease and general atmosphere perhaps makes them overall a better experience. I really need to try soon on TAP or SAS.
Re: narrow bodies, it’s a good point, I wonder where they find the space for the extra catering and all of the special items they need that would fit much easier on a wide body
The soft product is good but I do find the service generally cold on SAS and the hard product is average.
Great report, thanks!
Does SAS still give the little blue plastic clothespin to clip your napkin to your shirt?
I forgot about those!
No, not on this flight.
That was one of those things that actually gave SAS some charm. Kind of like the Virgin Atlantic airplane salt/pepper shakers.
The cabin is probably closer to what Aer Lingus offers on it’s narrow body planes.
Did they serve the food on a trolley the way to do on their wide body planes, or do you not see the food before it is served?
Did cost cutting hit the pre-arrival meals? While I am sure the sandwich was good, I remember it used to be a trolley where you could select items and make a plate of sorts. Though if there is no trolley for the first meal there wouldn’t be for the pre-arrival meal…
No trolley. Haven’t flown the A330/350 since the pandemic, so can’t compare…but I hope to soon!
Trolley service returned April 1 2023 on long-haul flights.
Like @Stuart, I have never flown long-haul on a narrowbody plane but I am drawn to the idea and hope to be able to do it sometime soon.
I think it would be particularly helpful at long-haul outstations where you sometimes have a zoo created by the fact that they allocate three desks for checking in 496 passengers within the space of 1.5 hour- even access to the business class queue isn’t going to make for a painless experience when the family in front of you is checking in 7 suitcases and the poor employee is frantically trying to locate and apply the interline protocol for sending them across to be loaded to an Air Vanuatu ATR 2 days and 4 segments down the line.
The problem is that most of these flights seem to be from/to New York, and I don’t have plans to go there anytime soon (and even if I did, I might not want to spend a large amount of miles and/or money for an overnight business class journey that’s too short for getting any meaningful sleep, although CPH might just be far enough for that).
What would be really interesting is to see some of these planes plying routes between Europe and Africa such as DSS and DLA (or even LAD if it’s still within range)- it would be great to open a few markets of the sort to those of us who like to travel instead of restricting them to a mix of loss-making VFR traffic in the back and absurdly high expensed fares in business.
I´ve flown SAS on their 321LRs quite a few times now, If i have the choice i would always go for their 330s or 350s. The norrow bodies are just a pain in almost every aspect. Just my 5 cent.
Outstanding review with great photos and commentary. I flew the SAS A321LR in business (IAD-CPH and CPH-IAD) earlier this month. I have some additional observations from my perspective:
— both seat configurations (I tried the 2/2 and the single) have downsides: exiting the 2/2 configuration is difficult for the window seat passenger. The single seat configuration does have lots of storage and space but the very narrow foot area makes it difficult for a six foot person to shift positions when taking a nap
— The seat controls do not allow one to control the seat movement other than the pre-set positions. This is unfortunate for those who like a slightly raised position when sleeping/napping.
— The wifi on my the return flight was available intermittently. On the outbound it was not available at all due to the earlier SAS hacking incident.
— When business class is full (as it was on both segments) the front lavatory tends to be very busy with a line of 2-3 passengers standing in the aisle for much of the flight. This is not ideal for those sitting in the first and second rows and also those who are waiting to use it. As your report noted the lavatory is also very small and difficult for males to use except when sitting down.
The service and food/drink offerings were indeed excellent but the passenger comfort of this configuration is significantly different than that on SAS (and other carriers’) wide body transatlantic flights.
Great comment! Appreciate your insight.