TRANSIT IN STOCKHOLM
I just stepped off an Airbus A 321 of SWISS, arriving from Zürich. It’s just gone nine o’clock in the morning and I now have another six hours to make my connection to Hong Kong.
There is no SAS or Star Alliance lounge in the non-Schengen sector of the F concourse, from where the flight to Hong Kong will be leaving. But SAS has a Business Class lounge and a dedicated lounge for Star Alliance Gold members in the Schengen area.
The Business Class lounge is nice, although it is quite small and tends to get very busy at times. Here too there’s a bit of a IKEA showroom/Starbucks café vibe going on. But given that this is the heartland of IKEA and I’m shameless enough to stereotype, I guess that’s fair enough.
The food and drinks selection is somewhat limited though. But I’m guessing the lounge had been designed mainly to cater for short-haul traffic, seeing as the number of long-haul flights from Stockholm is fairly limited. But the wifi connection is good.
One hour before departure the valiant M. has solved yet another series of mathematical somethings that only an engineer could find exciting, and so we head off for our departure gate. The queue at immigration is quite busy, especially seeing as the Thai Airways and Emirates flights are departing ahead of our flight to Hong Kong. But the line moves quickly.
The non-Schengen area has closed gates, so when the flight starts boarding, that only means that passengers are invited to enter the holding area. But at least there are plenty of places to sit.
I must say, I rather like the new SAS Business Class cabin. The colours are admittedly a bit dark, but I think that only makes the cabin look more elegant. The seats are in a 1 + 2 + 1 configuration and there are eight rows of seats, which means a total capacity of 32 seats in Business Class – all of which have direct access to the aisle.
On the even numbered rows the window seats and the D aisle seats have a bit more privacy because they are not directly on the aisle.
The seats are staggered, so that the window seats are slightly in front of the middle seats.
The seat is comfortable to sit and lounge in. In the bed position though, it feels a bit tight because there isn’t a lot of height clearance to move the legs.
The touch screen is very responsive. Moreover, you can touch the screen from your seat without even having to bend forward.
Apparently, there is complimentary wifi on board for Business Class passengers. But I try a couple of times throughout the flight, and it never works.
A duvet, pillow, seat cover and the amenity kit have already been placed at every seat.
After take-off the crew also distribute slippers.
The crew on today’s flight is really excellent. They’re very friendly and their interaction with the passengers is relaxed and welcoming. It’s nice to experience a crew on a flight that actually looks happy to be there, for a change.
The service on the ground begins with the welcome drinks. There is a choice of orange juice, water and champagne. While we’re still on the ground, the crew also distribute the nicely designed menu for the flight and an unscented hot towel.
After take-off, once the service begins, I notice that the crew always make sure to start the service at the same time on both aisles. This is really just a minor thing, but still I think it’s a nice gesture.
The meal service begins with a large bowl of mixed nuts and an aperitif. I decide to go with the Apple Must, which is some sort of thick apple juice and very tasty.
After that, the table is set. For the first course there is a mixed salad, which the crew prepare in front of you. There is also a choice of two first courses. I go with the smoked cod served on a bed of pickled root vegetable julienne and a mustard, dill and brown sugar dressing. During the first course the crew make two bread rounds and actively encourage passengers to take as much bread as they like.
For the main course there is a selection of four main dishes. Again, I go with the fish and have the baked cod with herb butter, parsley potatoes, cabbage with onions, oven dried tomatoes and a Hollandaise sauce.
After the main course there is a cheese and dessert service, which is served from a trolley and really looks very nice. I have the rhubarb tart and strawberries, which are served with thick whipped cream. With that I have a Sauternes to drink.
And then to conclude the meal, I have a coffee.
All in all, I have to say I really enjoy the meal. I think the quality of the food is very good. What’s more, there’s copious amount of it and the presentation on the trolley is nice. After the meal service the crew set up a self-service bar by the side of the L2 galley. And here too there is a large selection of items to choose from, including crisps, biscuits, instant noodles and fresh fruit.
THE SECOND SERVICE
Ninety minutes out of Hong Kong, one of the cabin crew comes to wake me up, it’s time for the second service. This consists of:
- a selection of breads and butter,
- yoghurt and müsli,
- a selection of cold cuts, cheese and vegetables,
- a small Stilton and broccoli pie,
- coffee and juices.
The timing of the meal is very good and shows that the breakfast service needn’t take for ever. Again, the quality of the meal is very good.
Normally you can expect arrival traffic into Hong Kong to be fairly busy, causing long delays for the approach. But today is different and we’re on the ground fairly quickly. I guess it probably has to do with the fact the SAS is one of the earliest arrivals from the European airlines in Hong Kong, with most of the others not arriving until the afternoon.