Posts: 52
Joined: Sun Aug 15, 1999 7:06 pm

What Do U Think Of Sabena ?

Tue Jan 04, 2000 2:49 am

Hi guys !!

Happy new year to everyone !!

I just wanted to know what was the opinion of the forum's users about Sabena. Of course I took Sabena as my nick name to be recognized by Belgians !!

But as the opinions are mixed here in Belgium about our national carrier I wanted to have other opinions from anywhere else in the World .

Thanks !!
Finnair MD-11
Posts: 155
Joined: Thu Dec 02, 1999 4:21 am

RE: What Do U Think Of Sabena ?

Tue Jan 04, 2000 3:25 am


Nice airline. Has code-shares whit Finnair. I see many Sabena's B737s in Helsinki-Vantaa airport.
New livery is very good. Last one was awful: white body, little blue Sabena title and big grey Sabena title...

Finnair MD-11
Air Taiwan
Posts: 1498
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RE: What Do U Think Of Sabena ?

Tue Jan 04, 2000 7:24 am

the new paint scheme is nice looking, but i wouldn't say the old one is bad either!
Posts: 692
Joined: Wed May 19, 1999 12:31 am

Such A Beautiful Experience Now Again!

Tue Jan 04, 2000 7:34 am

A recent survey, done by a mayor European travel organisation showed that Sabena came second in service, only after parent Swissair.
Belgians still often think about SN as a state company with the old arrogance... they should know better!!
SN has built a fine name over the past few years, resulting in the biggest growth among all mayor airlines.
Oh yes, they are the safest too...
Posts: 2446
Joined: Wed Oct 06, 1999 5:56 am

RE: What Do U Think Of Sabena ?

Tue Jan 04, 2000 11:13 am

Sabena has a great African route system which I appreciate. I'm a huge Star Alliance flyer/fan but it's really lacking in routes to major and minor African cities. I fly to Mauritania at least once a year and always choose Sabena over Air Afrique. Nouakchott, Mauritania is lacking in amenities so when I climb in to my Sabena business class seat after a week or so there, I feel like I've died and gone to heaven.

Sabena needs to establish an image. I've been to Belgium quite a few times and I think the airline suffers from what Belgium suffers: No defineable indentity...even within Europe. Sabena needs something to make it stand out. I hope I haven't offended. has many forums. It has spell check and search functions. Use them before posting!
Posts: 112
Joined: Sat Nov 20, 1999 5:36 am

RE: What Do U Think Of Sabena ?

Tue Jan 04, 2000 11:48 am

Hey all

I love Sabena. You can fly to every big town in Europe and that more times a day.

Friendly F/A's on board. The food is perfect. I don't fly Sabena alot and I don't fly that many times also. But when I would fly I will choose Sabena. I have no other possibillity because I live in Belgium, but I think it's a great airline with lots of growthpossibilities (wrong spelling probably).

And I'm not offended. It's nice to hear someone knows us or doesn't .

Groeten van een nederlandssprekende Belg
et a bientôt

RE: What Do U Think Of Sabena ?

Tue Jan 04, 2000 2:07 pm

Hi all.
I have had the chance -carefully chosen word...- to fly SN a couple of times. Last one was in the summer of 98. Very good service. Everything went smoothly.... Only have good things to say. Had slight delays but hey, that is european skies and ATC.... They have really improved since Sair Group bought a large stake...
Posts: 398
Joined: Thu Sep 02, 1999 2:24 pm

RE: What Do U Think Of Sabena ?

Tue Jan 04, 2000 3:11 pm

I flew Sabena in Nov. from BOS to FCO, changing in BRU. BOS-BRU was on an A330-300. Aircraft was very comfortable and clean. Service was poor however. Rude attendants and the main cabin lights remained on for at least 4 hours even though I asked for them to be shut off. Adequate food...just like domestic however. BRU-FCO was operated by Virgin Express. Boy, they were really garbage. Mr. Branson should totally disassociate himself from this airline, and Sabena should be ashamed to code-share with them. I received no beverage or snack service on the 2+ hour flight, and it was the most uncomfortable flight i've ever been on. Sabena really dissapointed me overall. Luckily for me, I came back to the states on there is a class act!

Sorry I moved from SXM, looking for a new house on Anguilla now!
Posts: 695
Joined: Sat Dec 04, 1999 3:59 am

RE: What Do U Think Of Sabena ?

Tue Jan 04, 2000 7:27 pm

hi there,

I totally agree with Panaman about SABENA code-share
with Virgin Express, SN should break its agreement with
VEX because there is so a huge difference between
both, FA's attitude, and so on...!!!
They should better have a code-share flight with Alitalia on its italian network, BA or BM on its british
network, and so on who have better service !!  
How a company that is challenging to be one of the
best in Europe can be linked to a "charter made"
company...?? One time I had to fly to LHR also and to
my big disappointment I had a "sabena" ticket but flew
in VEX aircraft..that "haddocks-tin" with bad service !!
VEX is a good company if you look for cheap travel
around Europe and Middle-East or North Africa...I mean
charter flight...if you pay for comfort, avoid them !!

Anyway, I'm a Belgian too...and to be honest if I think
SABENA has really improved its service these past years
(new livery, improving over food, FA's attitude, and so and very good aircrafts also), it's a very
competitive company on the European sky but for my
long-haul flight I would rather prefer KLM,LH or SR for
their service in general !!

are there Belgian there ?? what do you think about
CityBird ??? I heard so many bad things about them,
never flew fact most of times I find better
prices on "regular" companies like BA, LH or KLM with
I think pretty much good service !!

Posts: 692
Joined: Wed May 19, 1999 12:31 am

RE: What Do U Think Of Sabena ?

Tue Jan 04, 2000 10:31 pm

To all people who dislike the VEX/SN codeshare:
Sabena's prices are exactly the same as VEX, sometimes even cheaper.
In C class, one has more legroom and you are served a light meal.
Passengers are warned beforehand that the plane is a VEX plane, if not, it is the fault of the travel agency.
Posts: 52
Joined: Sun Aug 15, 1999 7:06 pm

Sabena Far From Being The Best !

Wed Jan 05, 2000 4:05 am

Thank you guys for your opinions.

Well, in fact Sabena recovers quite well from its previously bad reputation, thanks to Swissair mainly. But one of you and TCA256 pointed out an important matter : the code-share agreements signed with Virgin Express on some destination ( FCO, LHR-LGW, BCN ) which is difficult to understand for some persons. My opinion is that SN as the national Belgian flagship carrier should fly by itself on those important destinations. Even if they’d lose money by doing so. Virgin is a good low cost carrier ( I took it several times and no major problem ) but has different standards to those applied by a regualar airline like SN.
I also think SN should add more destinations in Asia (such as HKG, SIN or BKK) and one in Western America (LAX, SFO or why not SEA …) it would be profitable for their image. SN lacks of image, that's the point !
Anyway their brand new Airbus fleet look good despite the retirement of the 747 and soon the MD11 (I will miss them !)

Olivier – Brussels, Belgium.

nota: by the way, A330 there is not more legroom in C class on virgin Express jets.
Posts: 96
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RE: What Do U Think Of Sabena ?

Wed Jan 05, 2000 6:51 am

I fly Sabena quite often (every month) and I think is one of the best in Europe. Sabena surely is advantaged by having one of the best hubs in Europe, actually the only one till now where my luggage has not been lost!
F/a are quite nice, with a peculiar sense of humor and above all seem to enjoy what they are doing, what a difference with the cold "handbook smile" you find elsewhere (expecially BA).
Moreover, their connections within Europe are just great, and often the only way to avoid a night out for a short meeting.
Regarding code share with Virgin Express, I just hope it will soon replaced by Air Europe (getting aggressive in Italy and backed by Swissair)
Posts: 46
Joined: Wed Jul 07, 1999 7:04 pm

RE: What Do U Think Of Sabena ?

Wed Jan 05, 2000 8:03 am

Hi Sabena , Hi all ,

My first flight that I've made , was a SN flight from Brussels to Nice with a B727 on 03/07/1971 , I was 12 years old .
But I still remember today the good service and that first experience on a plane .
Just for the story our King Albert II was on board of the same plane , at that time he was not King of cource he was Prince .
My first flight to the USA was also with SN on September 1988 with a B747-200 .
When we look back in time , I can say that the service was also good ( not like we can have today on a Virgin Atlantic flight for example who is perfect ) but for this time it was okay .
Today I go a lot to California and I fly with VS who is my favorite airline , but if one day SN will go to LAX or SFO , maybe I'll take it once to try .
About Virgin Express I agree with Sabena (Olivier) , do not forget that it is a low cost company and personally I do not need a meal for a flight between BRU and Barcelona for example .

So , you all enjoy your future flight with SN and take care ,
kind regards ,

Patrick Brussels
Posts: 2195
Joined: Fri Jul 09, 1999 12:15 pm

RE: What Do U Think Of Sabena ?

Wed Jan 05, 2000 8:29 am

I really enjoyed flying Sabena last summer from Brussels to Atlanta. This was when Delta code-shared with Sabena, so I had the pleasure of flying them back to the States. I was aboard one of their A330's which I really enjoyed. It was the first airplane I had ever been on with PTV's, so I thought that was great. The flight attendents were nice, and always seemed ready to offer their services. I thought the food was great. We were served meals twice, both meals which were very good. The seats also had movable headrests, and a good recline. I give Sabena two thumbs up.
Posts: 968
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RE: What Do U Think Of Sabena ?

Wed Jan 05, 2000 1:08 pm

A friend of mine is a Delta flight attendant. When Delta and Sabena were code-sharing, he was regularly flying between CVG and Brussels with Sabena crews.

He loved it. He actually thought that the service was better than on Delta.
Posts: 695
Joined: Sat Dec 04, 1999 3:59 am

RE: What Do U Think Of Sabena ?

Wed Jan 05, 2000 9:14 pm

Hi Sabena and all,

I think that SABENA has improved its image these
past years as you wrote, thanx to Swissair mainly !!
But I don't really think that adding routes in Asia or
Western US could be more profitable for the company
in terms of budget...I mean SABENA has been a long
time in the "red", a decade ago it was not a problem
thanx to our government which was behind to cover
high bills and debts  , but now the company is on the
right way but benefits are not yet so huge so they
should check out of very good and profitable routes:
I think SN flew to BKK by its sister-ship Sobelair but
it seems that it's finished except maybe for summer time, all the Asian routes can be avoid because of the code-share with Swissair, SN passengers can fly via
SR and SN gains some money !!

A330, I'm sorry but you're wrong  ...most of time VEX
offers better prices than SN, you have just to book
your flight very lately and you can have very nice
discounts...about 30% to SN prices and on the same
flight !! That's different with companies like City Bird
which try to sell "cheap" flights to US but you can
easily beat them with a cheaper flight and better inflight
service with Air France or British Airways....

Posts: 692
Joined: Wed May 19, 1999 12:31 am

RE: What Do U Think Of Sabena ?

Fri Jan 07, 2000 5:08 pm

Sabena, Business class on SN/VEX codeshare flights has a seat pitch of 32 inches, whereas the Y section has a 30 or 29 inch pitch. All VEX planes flying for Sabena have been reconfigured.

To Tca256: of course, prices differ, everything depends of the load factor for each airline. SN buys a part of the plane. If that part is more booked than the part of VEX, prices go up. But I can assure you that basic pricing srategies are the same (I know what I am speaking of, my dad is an SN executive)

Thanks in name of all involved with Sabena for the positive comments, Sabena is far from perfect, but we are improving day by day, and that is mainly thanks to our passengers who keep flying us,and the enthousiasm of all Sabeniens.

Virgin Express
Posts: 94
Joined: Mon Dec 20, 1999 3:09 am

Sabena ? No Thanks !

Fri Jan 07, 2000 10:51 pm

It's not my intention to create a verbal/written fight between "pro and contra Sabena-minded" people or between love/hate Virgin Express-minded people. Hope this will be clear. I travelled 4 times with this company and I must say : I will not do it ever again. Why ? Read my experiences :
1) very unfriendly flight attendants, some of them don't even speak any word of Flemish (Dutch) while this language is spoken by 3/4 of the Belgian citizens. Speaking Dutch is one of the "heavy" requirements to become a f/a by this company !
2) on every flight the company offers me following meal : almost cold coffee, a half a sandwich which looked like a sponge (the ham looked like a piece of leather) and a small yogurt. Enjoy your diner !?!?!?
3) Returning from LHR to BRU with this company was always really absurd : 3 (!) minutes before boarding, the screens indicated the gate ! BTW, people who flew by another company knew their gatenumber at least 15-20 minutes before boarding...

So, Sabena ? Never again.
I love to fly "low-cost comapny" Virgin Express which offers a pretty good and friendly service on the same routes I've flown with Sabena. I'm convinced that Sabena can learn a lot from Virgin Express ! ;-)



RE: What Do U Think Of Sabena ?

Sat Jan 08, 2000 12:32 am

Well, I think I should really sy something about this topic as well, as I am a very frequent flyer of SN/SR, called Circle Member, and flying them over 400.000 miles in 1999.

As I always say, I am married to SN/SR, no matter what, although I stay kind of alert and critisizing towards what they are doing. Today, it is kind of feeling very good when I read the overall positive comments you give towards SN.

Let me first start by correcting (sorry for the arrogance) some little mistakes and misunderstandings made above...

First of all, SN closed its Nouakchott, Mauretania station two years ago. This was actually a very short-living operation. For other reasons, Sabena also closed operations at Freetown, Sierra Leone, Brazaville, Congo, Libreville, Gabon and Bujumbura, although some of them might open again sooner or later. A couple of weeks ago, SN also temporarely suspended operations to Abidjan, Ivory Coast. SN, however, still remains a leading carrier on the African continent, with, for sure better and probably safer service than for instance Air Afrique.

Considering their future fleet plans, there is no sign yet that the two MD11s (OO-CTC and OO-CTS), on lease from Citybird, will leave the fleet soon. But I agree that this will be a logical next step, considering fleet harmonisation and the far from perfect relationship with Citybird.

So, concerning longhaul fleet developments, SN expects delivery of 2 additional A330-200s (OO-SFT and OO-SFU) in 2000. As from 2001, the 4 A340s in service (2 -200 series OO-SCW and OO-SCX and 2 -300s OO-SCY and OO-SCZ) will be replaced by 4 new A340-300s, order announced last december. SN still holds some options it could execute on either the A330 or A340.

Considering the medium haul fleet, SN is continuing the phase out of B737s, as new Airbuses come in. As we speak already 6 A319s, 2 A320s and 3 A321s have been delivered.

Sabena's North Atlantic operations and future plans there remain today much of a fuzz... Partnership with Delta will end soon, and together with the end of this cooperation, services to Atlanta (SN545/546) and Cincinnati (SN543/544) will be discotinued at some point this year. New services to Miami and possibly Dallas, hubs of the new SN/SR partner American, are being strongly considered, but nothing is sure yet, though Miami is very very likely. So, we'll have to wait just a little bit longer to know more about that.

Finally the VEX-code share services to BCN, FCO and LHR; LGW and STN recently being dropped. It is my opinion that this is a far from ideal sollution, though fares are low, and improvements for the Business Express class have been made. But I am also convinced, that, at the time the decission for this cooperation has been made, there was no other sollution. Sabena wanted to further develop their European hub and spoke system, but they didn't have the equipment, so they freed up the equipment by the deal with VEX. Also, keep in mind that operations to BCN and LHR had not been making money before, where they do now, and that the number of flights to both BCN and FCO has doulbled since the start of this cooperation. This is something that would have been impossible if SN would have continued its seperate operations there. Anyway, it is my opinion that SN will do something about this cooperation in the future...

Fnally, some of my own opinions about SN... I think they have improved a lot over the last couple of years, as they have grown considerably as well. But this tremendous growth is now about to kill their system. The SN hubs are getting tremendously congested, resulting in more and more delays and transit pax loosing their connection. SN's on time performance hasn't been great those last months and the appointment of a punctuality manager in the rank of Executive Vice President is most certainely a plus.

Also, level of performance of cabin crew is not steady enough. I've had really great SN flights, but I've also had flights that I was ashamed to be a SN frequent flyer. Sorry, Kathleen, but that is the truth... This has obviously to do with the speed on which they have to hire new cabin crew...

I'm gonna stop here... I could tell you so much more, but, as a final thought, I would say, do try SABENA, Fly It From The Heart Of Europe!

Nick AGA

RE: What Do U Think Of Sabena ?

Sat Jan 08, 2000 3:23 am

And try the new longhaul business class soon, featuring one the most spacious C-class seats in the world...
Posts: 695
Joined: Sat Dec 04, 1999 3:59 am

RE: What Do U Think Of Sabena ?

Sun Jan 09, 2000 6:10 am

To Virgin Express, I don't think 3/4 Belgians speak
Dutch...I don't want to enter in our classical
languages war   but I could tell you the same thing
for the same company: two years ago, I had to fly
Virgin Express to Ovda, Israel and on both flights I had
the worst pain in my life to be understood in french !!
This woman was doing her best to understand me but
she was more easy in dutch...I didn't care..I tried then
to speak her in dutch with a huge smile and things
went allright !! But in general I agree with you, VEX
doesn't kick ass at all !! Speaking "French" is also one of the "heavy" requirements to become a f/a by this company !  

To Nick_aga, on which basis do you point that Air
Afrique is more risky than SN ?? ok they have probably
not the best service onboard and the ruddest FA's but
they're not more risky than flying Turkish Airlines (oooh,
a qualiflyer member or former member I think !!!   ) I've
flown several times African companies and and even if
the service was bad, flight maintenance and cockpit
crew were most of time made and/or composed of
Westerners !!

anyway, enjoy the world...


RE: What Do U Think Of Sabena ?

Sun Jan 09, 2000 6:59 am

To TCA256:

I didn't mean your life would be in danger flying Air Afrique, but your statistical chances of arriving on time to your destination are considerably lower than when you'd fly a european company. Trust me, I know what I'm talking about...
Posts: 692
Joined: Wed May 19, 1999 12:31 am

RE: What Do U Think Of Sabena ?

Sun Jan 09, 2000 8:38 am

Glad to hear from you again, Nick, i think you already know that Miami is still a bit uncertain,I think that Swissair doesn't like SN there for we may steel some pax... Well, that's what you get with AMC being run at the top by Swissair people, with Sabena folks in the shadows. Hopefully, Eric Follet will be able to stand up to the swiss mountain!
Well, I'm getting out of my league here, my dad forbids me to write stuff he says to me on the internet (He doesn't tell me everything too) so I am only guessing...

User avatar
American 767
Posts: 4017
Joined: Wed May 19, 1999 7:27 am

RE: What Do U Think Of Sabena ?

Sun Jan 09, 2000 10:15 am

Nothing in particular to say. I think that they are now a lot better than they used to be about fifteen years ago. I like their newest tail marking.
Such A Beautiful Experience Now Again!
The end of the 747 was a sad thing, but never mind the A330 and A340 are nice aircrafts.

Ben Soriano
Brussels Belgium
Ben Soriano
Posts: 5903
Joined: Sun Jul 11, 1999 6:27 am

RE: What Do U Think Of Sabena ?

Sun Jan 09, 2000 12:14 pm

I think that this is great, all the positive responses (especially from the people of Belgium) for a once troubled airline. SABENA was like most nationalized airlines, huge costs, bad representation by staff i.e. FA's customer service, etc, and even after privatization seemed slow to change. Anyways, I think that they still have a ways to go, but the road looks smooth from here on in. BRU seems to be a good alternative to LHR, CDG and FRA, so SABENA looks poised to become a world-class airline with lots to offer.

« On ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux » Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

For A330

Sun Jan 09, 2000 9:34 pm

The route to miami will be opened for sure. And what do you mean by ''Well, that's what you get with AMC being run at the top by Swissair people, with Sabena folks in the shadows. Hopefully, Eric Follet will be able to stand up to the swiss mountain!''

Will swissair and sabena ever sort of merge into ''sabeswiss'' or something like that?
Posts: 112
Joined: Sat Nov 20, 1999 5:36 am

RE: For A330

Sun Jan 09, 2000 10:14 pm

I can reply on this subject for a little bit. The other things has to be said by A330.  
Sabena and Swissair are one company called AMC or Airline Management Company or AMP or Airline Management Partnership starting the first of july. The office will be placed in London. Because of the Swiss and Belgian government doesn't allow this, they had to move it to London.

All the different departments are divided in two. Belgium has marketing, e-commerce, Qualiflyer, in-flightservice and the Swiss departments are financial and networkdepartment. All the presidents of these departments are Swiss. Strangely enough I think. This is something really strange. But the Sabeniens say that it is coincidence, but I don't think so. Swissair wants to run Sabena and Sabena is the little brother or sister.

But we'll see in the future what it's going to be.


RE: For A330

Sun Jan 09, 2000 11:01 pm

But do you know if they will ever merge? They could merge into an airline calles Qualiflyer?
Posts: 692
Joined: Wed May 19, 1999 12:31 am

RE: For A330

Mon Jan 10, 2000 1:42 am

Dear Reno_air,

SN and SR are already like two merged airlines, same strategies, same planes,...
The brand names will remain however.
the only thing Sabena has to watch out for is that SR is egoistic and puts Swissair always first, SN second.
My dad was offered a key position in AMC (Head of planning Long Haul for SR/SN) but refused.( He would have to move to Zurich and he can't ski) (real reason: family in Belgium eg.elderly parents).
Now, it is a Swiss who does the job, and Miami is still uncertain.

RE: What Do U Think Of Sabena ?

Mon Jan 10, 2000 4:09 am

Sabena's proposed new service to Miami, intended to be SN529/SN530, was programmed in the reservation computer systems for a while, and has indeed been reported to IATA, but has, at one point about 3 weeks ago disappeared.

I don't know the exact reason for it, but, A330, I don't think Swissair has got anything to do with it (for once!). I suspect it more to be a slot-problem, if not a problem of equipment shortage, now that delivery of new A330s has been postponed until june, and all longhaul aircraft have to undergo a reto fit for the new Business class to be installed.

I know for sure since a couple of days that the decission as been made to discontinue SN545/SN546, service to Atlanta, as I passed through the station and the station manager showed me the official document announcing the decission to the station. (B.t.w. is lost my connection in ATL arriving from SN545 for the fourth time in one month, this flight is one and a half hour late EVERY SINGLE DAY!). Date for discontinuation of the flight is not known yet in Atlanta.

I don't know anything yet about the Cincinnati flight, but I'll keep you posted, as Ill be taking it home in two days. But there is no doubt that this flight has no future neither...

Anyway, it is obvious that SN will have to start new service to someplace, most likely Miami, but nothing is certain yet...

Nick AGA

RE: What Do U Think Of Sabena ?

Tue Jan 11, 2000 1:42 am

Hey, A330, drop me a line once on

Would love to discuss some SN stuff with you!

Nick (mag ook in andere talen...)

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