As winter days go, it wasn’t a particularly cold one in Goteborg. But Landvetter felt a lot colder with the windchill. At check-in, the self-service kiosk refused to read my passport. The alert ground staff monitoring from the center of the circle of kiosks sensed my difficulty and came by to assist. No problems, she printed out the boarding passes at her station, smiled, and said oh by the way I could have used the Business class counter and that I was welcome to use the airside lounge. Only then I realized there was a Business check-in counter.
The international departure hall of Landvetter airport had, over the years, been transformed into a rather appealing space with two-storey high ceilings. After a last chat with the good friends who drove me there, we said our goodbyes and I rode the escalator up to the mezzanine level to pass through to the airside. After going through what seemed to be a detour due to some localized refurbishment works, I arrived on the airside close to the domestic side of the terminal. It was now about one hour to scheduled departure time and there was still nothing parked at gate 16A. I still had some souvenir shopping to do and was starting to wonder if I would have time to visit the lounge. And I did finally allow myself a quick 15-minute visit to the small lounge that bore, despite it being a contract lounge, many of the hallmarks of the distinctive SAS lounge style - pastel upholstery, birch wood, casual kitchen layout near the food and beverage area. My first order of business was to try and see if the CRJ900 had arrived and, if so, could I read the registration. I was just in time to see OY-KFC on the last legs of a sprightly taxi.
Turn around was quick as was expected of a regional jet. Boarding started on time and soon I was walking down the jetway… then out into the open air, down some steps, a very small distance on the tarmac, then up again on the jet’s inbuilt airstairs. I was reminded of the low cabin ceiling and how little above ground one was seated inside CRJ types. The flight was not full; it was probably one of the services operated by the Q400 turboprop before SAS decided they didn’t trust its landing gear anymore.
Gatecheck at gate 16A, GOT
Festive headrest cover
Snack in Economy Extra on a 30 minute flight
Study of overhead panel on the CRJ900NG (OY-KFC) with the unlabeled reading light button
The adjective “quick” pretty much sums up the flight itself. It seemed like we climbed rapidly but probably not to great altitude, which would be typical for a little hop like GOT
which is about 70km shorter than the SIN
route. It was Economy Extra up front and they actually got around to serving the few of us a filled croissant (cold and not very good) in a box and coffee/tea. There was an announcement that they were doing a test service and offering Economy passengers coffee/tea for free. Hurrah if that means there is hope that SAS are starting to back away from the buy or stay thirsty approach in intra-Europe Economy. I found myself hoping that the passengers were effusive in their appreciation such that the SAS bean counters realize a few coffee beans here and there are not too much to pay for goodwill.
CPH and the Business Lounge
Arrived at CPH. The last passenger off gets to clean the CRJ! The lounge entrance
Disembarkation at CPH
was at a remote stand east of the main terminal complex. Off the bus and into the Terminal 3 departure area, I found myself face to face with the entrance to the SAS Business and Scandinavian lounges just before exit immigration control at the C pier. It was dinnertime and, unsure of what was on offer inside the lounge, I took stroll on the always pleasant airside of Kastrup airport. The seafood and caviar bar was busy. I leaned in to see what caviar and blinis looked like in real life. There was a set composed of a sampling of the gourmet treasures – caviar, oysters and foie gras that did not seem exceedingly pricey though it was clearly some ways above the cost of a typical dinner. I briefly toyed with the idea of satisfying my curiosity regarding caviar but ultimately decided to save the experience for another time.
With at least a couple more hours to kill, the lounge beckoned. I was welcomed into the Business lounge at entrance level; the Scandinavian lounge one level up was reserved for elite frequent flyers. The feel of the lounge matched the expectations based on the little parts that were visible from outside through the glass. I have heard remarks referring to the lounge as an IKEA lounge. The palette does indeed evoke IKEA but the charm of the lounge went beyond that. The functional arrangement and mix of furniture imparted a sense of cosiness despite the size of the space. You were not here to feel precious or zen; rather, you were invited to feel at ease, drape your jacket over an unassuming armchair, slouch over a latte and a few pieces of gingerbread on a napkin at the communal kitchen table. There was beer and it was the first time I had seen wine on tap (or maybe the second; there could have been wines on tap at the GOT
lounge too), although I skipped the alcohol hoping to stay sufficiently awake for the inflight supper service. There wasn’t a lot of variety in the food offering, but the marinated chicken breast, leaf salad, cous cous , pasta salad and a couple of varieties of bread was satisfying enough; besides I had already had some cold meatballs, beet salad and blue cheese at the lounge at GOT
. Then I made myself a little tea, grabbed a bowl of chips and read a paper at the dining table, as I might be found doing on a Sunday at home. The computer area – a slightly darkened corridor separating the dining area and a quiet area at the back of the lounge, was equipped with handsome back-to-back rows of iMacs in a layout that felt open yet sufficiently private. With internet access and enough reading material, the time flew by.
SAS Business lounge at CPH
iMacs at the Business lounge
There was almost no line at exit immigration. The walk along the C pier was rather quiet. However, I found gate C29 bursting at the seams with the crowding serious enough to make me wonder if I might not make it into the holding area until they started boarding the aircraft. But I did get in rather quickly and was glad to find a little corner to stand close to the glass. There, the nose of Toste Viking was visible although the view was marred by the clutter of reflections from the holding area.
Many of the Business class passengers has already lined up to board, so I knew the photo of an unoccupied cabin would be out of the question tonight. The boarding was conducted through exit 2 for all passengers and as I turned left I was welcomed by the sight of a bustling forward Business cabin with passengers stowing their things and cabin crew assisting and going around with a tray of pre-flight drinks.
Only a curvy SAS tumbler of orange juice remained when the tray reached me, but I wanted orange juice to perk up as it was getting dangerously close to bedtime for me at a quarter to eleven in the evening, especially with a bit of jetlag. I took it, and the crew returned to me after replenishing her tray to check if I would have wanted a glass of champagne instead. I suppose the average SAS Business passenger rarely declines champagne if it is available.
Seated forward view from seat 5B
Looking back at seats 6A and 6B
Drop-down center bins
Pre-departure orange juice in the Orrefors tumbler
My seat neighbor in 5A
– a lanky casually-attired Swede who looked still in his twenties and a little lost – was one of the last to board. As far as I could tell, Business class was full or almost full, including the smaller second cabin that I surveyed later during the flight.
During pushback, the friendly captain greeted us over the PA system and gave us our flight details including the takeoff runway, which, to my surprise, was to be 22L – the one more frequently used for takeoffs to the west seems to be 22R. He added that we would experience some delay in getting on with our journey as some clear ice and grime had been detected on the wings, which would necessitate a brief stop at the de-icing station. It was also around this time that I became aware that the gentleman in 4E was having a bad cough. This gentleman had had my attention a little earlier, partly owing to his tall and rather corpulent physique and partly because of I had eavesdropped on his conversation with a lady passenger requesting to exchange seats so that she could be seated next to her son – presumably the gentleman in 4D
. He had then firmly but politely refused to switch to a window seat because… well, he pointed both hands at himself, seeming to indicate that he would have difficulties getting out due to his size. The conversation ended well. Except now he was coughing continuously and very loudly – not just a dry hacking cough, but a rather disgusting rattling cough – without so much as lifting a hand to cover his mouth. I was rather irritated and felt sorry for the guy in 4D
who appeared to be squirming and leaning a little towards the left aisle. Then I saw that the passenger in front of me – 4B – was staring across the aisle at the offender. In a startling move, she (clearly not an acquaintance of his) motioned at him with her pillow miming how she thought he should cover his face with the pillow when he was coughing, and then threw the pillow across the aisle and 4D
into his lap. Unsurprisingly, he reacted angrily, said a few words that I didn’t hear, and then threw the pillow back across the aisle at her. Fortunately, 4B stopped after this and the confrontation did not escalate into a brawl or I would have had a lot more to write about. She did, however, wave down one of the crew to complain but it seemed in vain. For reasons unknown to me but thankfully anyway, 4E’s coughing fit did not persist too long after departure, which did take a while as the de-icing station was on the way to the threshold of runway 22R and after that we had to make a u-turn to head back past the terminal towards the start of 22L at the eastern corner of the airfield.
Despite my earlier efforts, drowsiness had begun to set in as the A340 was climbing silently over northern Germany. By now I had browsed through the menu, looked through the contents of the amenity kit and put on a plushy pair of slippers. It also helped that they had offered us a towel to freshen up. Supper was served shortly after. The appetizer, which could certainly qualify as a very good dessert if you took away duck confit, was odd but quite good. The beef tenderloin wasn’t particularly tender, but it wasn’t too difficult to work it out with a generous glass of shiraz. The bread was as good as freshly out of the oven and should be held responsible for me polishing off the cheese with the onion relish even if I could very well have gone without more food. And the petit fours after they had cleared the tray… that was simply gluttony on my part, although I declined coffee and liqueurs. I had started the movie “Beginners” before supper and labored to finish it; it had a very interesting look and feel but, given the state I was in and the distraction of supper, I didn’t do it justice. I’ll have to watch it again.
The crew who worked our aisle and was responsible for most of the service was irreproachable. It seemed as though she never stopped working. As soon as supper service (efficient but never rushed) was completed, she brought out our duvets from the overhead bin for us. And if readiness to smile was among the criteria for good service, she certainly outshone her equally capable co-workers who were more stoic in their demeanor.
When I was ready to put my seat in bed mode, I initially ran into a little spot of trouble. The seat had stopped moving and I found myself positioned higher than my sleeping neighbor. But after a tiny struggle I managed to get it to go all the way. Advice to newbies like myself: a partially extended legrest may be at conflict with the travel of certain parts of the seat during transition to bed mode; if in doubt, stow the legrest and return to full upright position before using only the “bed” button to make the seat extend all the way.
Inflight snack buffet
Lavatory sink and little rolled handtowels
Despite the slope, I awoke with my head still on the pillow on the headrest and without a wedgie. But my back hurt. It felt like I had been sleeping with my back bent backwards. The cabin was dark and the blinds had been drawn. I pressed on the “upright” button to retreat slightly from the full bed mode and immediately felt a lot more comfortable. Unable to return to sleep, I lounged in that position until the lights came back on again, which did not seem a long wait at all. Another round of towels and I learned that we were about an hour and a half from arrival. Despite the early afternoon local time, the second meal service was a breakfast. Again, there was no lack of food: a very excellent citrus yoghurt parfait with muesli flakes, a nice tumbler of orange juice, a plate of cold cuts and cheese, a hot main composed of up to five items from serving dishes on a trolley and an abundance of warm bread.
The breakfast spread with the familiar Orrefors glass and Royal Copenhagen cup; I forgot to check but the silverware might be norwegian?
We had not made up much of the time lost to the de-icing and thus came in to land about 15 minutes behind schedule, which was no issue as our aircraft had many hours of ground time to look forward to at Suvarnabhumi and, based on the flight connection information flashed on the screen, there was no real threat of a missed connection for any of the passengers. The external camera view was a little blurry and the runway markings did not display clearly but it did not take much to figure out that we were touching down on 01R.