While not deliberate, I found myself on the inaugural SAS flight from Bangkok to Copenhagen, operated by an Airbus A350-900 in business class. With superb dining and excellent service onboard, SAS remains one of my favorite carriers.
SAS A350-900 Business Class Review (BKK-CPH)
When I noticed some frequent flyer award space from Bangkok to Copenhagen, I thought it would be a perfect way to get to Germany to meet up with my family after my United flight to Manila. Aeroplan allows stopovers on one-way tickets for 5,000 miles, so the journey from BKK-FRA via CPH cost 85,000 Aeroplan miles.
After arriving in Bangkok from Manila on Thai Airways, I had a bit of a wait in order to check-in and spent it at The Coffee Club, getting work done just in case the internet did not work onboard.
Check-in opened three hours prior to departure.
Business Class passengers are invited to use the Thai Airways Lounge and also have access to the Singapore Airlines Lounge and Turkish Airlines Lounge, all part of the Star Alliance network. However, I prefer the Oman Air Lounge in Bangkok (part of the Priority Pass network) which I find to be even better.
> Read More: Oman Air Lounge Bangkok Review
I passed the time by getting a 90-minute Thai massage (cost about $35) which loosened me up for the long flight.
It turned out I was flying on the night of the inaugural service from BKK-CPH. SAS first launched flights to Bangkok almost 75 years ago, but has not flown to Bangkok in nearly a decade. That has changed with new seasonal flights operating three times per week.
While I noticed some SAS staff from Copenhagen on the ground in Bangkok, there was no special festivities at the gate or onboard to commemorate the inaugural (I expect there was on the CPH-BKK outbound).
We boarded at 11:16 pm after some initial confusion by ground staff with the SAS flight boarding software.
SAS (SK) 974
Bangkok (BKK) – Copenhagen (CPH)
Tuesday, October 31, 2023
Depart: 11:50 PM
Arrive: 06:40 AM+1
Duration: 12hr, 50min
Distance: 5,371 miles
Aircraft: Airbus A350-900
Seat: 6D (Business Class)
Onboard, the crew warmly greeted me and was adding flags to the cabin (Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, which represent the theoretical axis of the Scandinavian Airlines System…though these days it is only Denmark that is still funding the carrier).
The business class cabin includes 40 Thompson Aero Vantage XL seats spread over two cabins, with a galley and lavatories in between.
Each seat is 22 inches wide and converts into a 78 Ince lie-flat bed. The seat has a bi-fold tray table that slides out from the console and includes a personal device holder that can support a tablet or mobile phone.
I was seated in a center seat since I was traveling with a friend and found the footwell to be spacious enough for me to rest without trouble.
On the side is a compartment that houses the headphones and below it the seat controls and a universal outlet and USB-A charging port. The light brown leather provided a great contrast to the gray seat.
Speaking of rest, SAS no longer has Hästens bedding. Bedding is now from Dux and included a soft pillow and blanket. While the bedding is more limited than carriers like United which offers extra pillows and mattress pads, the blanket and pillow were ideal for rest.
There are no overhead air vents onboard, though the cabin did not get warm.
Like the bedding, the amenity kit is also Dux-branded in a cute striped bag. Contents included:
- Verso face moisturizer + lip balm
- Swedish Stockings (high quality socks)
- The Humble Co dental kit
- Dux-branded eyeshade
Food + Drink
In my experience, every SAS Business Class flight is a culinary treat and this flight was no exception. Menus were handed out after boarding, though were simply printed on paper (it was explained that the “real” menus were stuck in a local printer).
After takeoff, a hot towel was offered along with a choice of beverage and a bowl of cashews. I had a glass of Champagne, which was Charles Heidsieck, Brut Réserve MV.
For my appetizer, I chose smoked duck and salami with whole grain mustard mayonnaise, truffle mushroom, and pickled vegetables. It was served with a green salad, cheese course with fig chutney (which I saved until after the main course), and a section of fresh bread, including my favorite Rugbrød (rye bread). I love Rugbrød and SAS managed to cater the best “European” bread out of Bangkok.
My friend ordered the alternate appetizer, a Thai roasted chicken salad with pomelo (grapefruit), cucumber, red radicchio, and chili.
Dinner was served by trolley, an old-school approach to service that I quite loved. If you want to guarantee your first choice, do choose a seat toward the front of the cabin. Also, the “chefs” are back on SAS (two flight attendants wear chef uniforms during the main meal service).
Every main course option sounded sumptuous, but I took a gamble on the red meat and made the right call.
Beef short rib with bone marrow butter, thyme sauce, mash potato, French beans and grilled pumpkin
The meat was incredibly tender and could be cut with a fork.
My friend ordered the fish:
Grilled seabass with choo chee sauce served with riceberry, kale, and shitake mushrooms
This dish also garnered great praise.
I rounded out the meal with a Lemon meringue tart and Rooibos tea to aid in my sleeping.
While the A350 does not have the self-serve espresso machine like on the A330, flight attendants set up a self-serve buffet in the galley between business class cabins. High-quality snacks like Swedish cashews and potato chips were offered, along with sandwiches, soft drinks, and candy.
I think Smiling salted cashews are the best in the world and I love drinking Froosh smoothies whenever I travel on SAS.
Two hours prior to arrival breakfast service commenced. It began with a hot towel and service was offered Smörgåsbord-style from carts.
- Overnight oats with mango and papaya
- A hot croissant with Morten Heiberg marmalade
- Charcuterie and cheeses with mixed fresh vegetables
- Onion & cheese ege frittata with ratatouille and grilled bacon
- Freshly squeezed Tangerine juice
Everything was delicious! SAS offers espresso onboard and I ordered a cappuccino which was quite good, but the strong coffee was even better and I found myself drinking several cups of it.
Once again, SAS receives high marks for its onboard meal service, which is truly a highlight of any SAS flight.
Prior to landing, passengers were offered a box of chocolate truffles from Hedh Escalante, a chocolate producer in Malmö, Sweden.
IFE + Wi-Fi
Business class passengers receive free wi-fi, which worked quite well for most of the flight (simply input your first and last name plus booking reference number). There were a few areas in which it was down, including for about 30 minutes at one point, but when it worked it worked well (fast).
Each business class seat is equipped with a 18.5″ HD touchscreen display along with a passenger service unit. SAS has improved its library of content and there were many movies, TV shows, games, and music to choose from. I watched a 2022 sci-fi/romance movie called The Time Capsule which was decent.
While you could not order drinks from your seat, the system also had a section that listed all available beverages.
Noise-cancelling headphones are provided and were collected about 30 minutes before landing.
My favorite feature of the IFE was the tailcam, even though are flight operated wholly in darkness.
Business class on the SAS A350 includes one lavatory in the front of the forward cabin and two between business class cabins. The starboard lavatory is intended for the use of handicapped passengers and is larger. At all points the lavatory was clean and I appreciated the eucalyptus inside, which I think was fake but still looked nice.
SAS vs. Thai Airways
Do note that Thai Airways also serves this route and has a flight time about an hour shorter. That is because Thai uses Russian airspace while SAS does not. SAS still codeshares on the Thai flight (TG950).
Finally, I want to commend the crew of SK974 for their warm, kind, friendly, and engaging service onboard. The crew was top-notch and provided such excellent service that was American in terms of warmth and yet perfectly polished and professional as well. I would love to fly with this crew again.
We landed on-time in Copenhagen. There were huge lines at the passport control, but they moved quickly.
This was my first time flying SAS on the A350 in business class and it was a pleasure. I hope to do so again before SAS leaves Star Alliance.