Cobblestone Flight Review: MAD-CPH on Scandinavian Airlines

IMG_3303I actually had decided, after this morning airport review, not to do a flight review also. Three things made me change my mind – I finished the book I was reading (The Bone Bed, Patricia Cornwell, should anyone want to know), I’d forgotten my headphones at home (silly me) and looking at the list of postings of the blog, it seems to be quite some time since my last SAS review.

And they are, after all, my home airline…

Let me turn things upside down and start with the verdict: this was an agreeable and nice flight. For once, I was first on board – came to the gate only a few minutes before boarding started and then the gate agents actually looked around at people and asked “Business? Gold? Children?” to people there before going on the PA to announce preboarding and boarding.

...CPH on arrival. Why I travel with carry-on!

…CPH on arrival. Why I travel with carry-on!

I confess to being a little bad on this trip and dragging on two pieces of hand luggage. The only thing near to a New Year Resolution I made for this year was to travel with carry-on luggage only as much as possible. (Oh, and to finally see George Clooney in Up In The Air at some point ;)) But as I also had a aluminium briefcase with the lab equipment needed for the job part of the trip – I decided to sneak it with me…

Turns out that a briefcase fits very smugly in under the oxygen tank that otherwise takes up a good amount of the room in the overhead bin over 24AC. A traveller tip, actually, that works two ways: if you have a standard rolling carry-on, you might want to avoid these seats on A321s (even if, should you actually be on the emergency exit row, your luggage must find room up there and the cabin crew’s bound to help you – it just may mean that it goes in a space further away from your seat). On the other hand, if you travel light, this may offer a storage option in a full flight as many other passengers won’t be able to stow their stuff there.

Here’s an extra seating tip: on the Airbus 321, if you should not be able to get an emergency row seat, have a look if 11A, 25A or 25D are available – not emergency row seats, but these three do not have a seat in front of them. On the other hand, while 10DEF are emergency seats (and E and F have a lot of space!), 10D has a crew seat in front, limiting the space somewhat. As always, consult a seating advice website along with your airline’s seating options to figure out where to sit most comfortably 🙂

Being first onboard gave me quite some time for a nice chat with the cabin attendant in the crew seat at row 24 – first of all, it’s always nice with a relaxing and pleasant conversation (and I always feel like my home country begin on the plane when I step in at a foreign location and meet a Danish crew), but for a travel nerd like me, it is also always interesting to hear about the world from the crew’s point of view. As it took about 20 minutes from closing doors to take-off, including a quite long taxiing to 36R, which was our runway today, we smalltalked and shared views on vacation destinations, travelling with and without teenagers and quite a few other things.

I have bickered a bit about full-fare companies – if such a thing exists anymore; SAS was actually cheapest on this route this time – and their choices to charge for food and/or drink en route. I still think it befits discount airlines more to do so. But at least SAS does offer free tea and coffee – and today, I also got a very nice piece of dark chocolate along with the coffee, whether that was a part of the regular service or as a bit of preferred treatment following the relaxed chat. Appreciated, in any case.

Upon reaching our flight altitude, the accouncement from the flight deck was smooth riding and arrival time some ten minutes ahead of schedule. Along with the chocolate, nothing more to ask for, really.

Earlier this morning, I came too think that I actually ought to do a rating on these reviews – so here, I am introducing the Cobblestone Score: a zero to six rating, with more cobblestones obviously being better. In the coming time, I will go back over previous reviews and, retroactively, assign a Cobblestone Score to each of them.

The scale will be a relative one – it’s not fair to be rating a business class flight on the same 1-6 scale as economy, for instance. In this case, pleasant and smooth as the trip was, the fact that SAS has chosen a pay-based catering scheme for basic economy (SAS Go) passengers in my mind excludes the highest scores. On the other hand, the on-time arrival, the ability with SAS to pick emergency seat rows at check-in (unlike e.g. KLM who charges extra for those) and the friendly crew – and the chocolate 🙂 – pulls the score upwards. It probably should be a four-and-half but the good ambience lands SAS five cobblestones this time.

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IMG_3306PS: The crew on this flight actually earns an extra big smile from me personally – during the smalltalk mentioned above, I somehow mentioned that in the family, we will be celebrating a double birthday (one of them mine) this coming Saturday. Not only did the cabin attendant across the aisle appear shortly before arrival with a happy birthday wish and bag with two bottles of bubbly white, courtesy of SAS. When I was walking out of the airplane and said “thanks for the trip” to the cabin attendant at row 10, she beamed a smile at me and returned a “same to you, happy birthday and have a good party on Saturday!” Talk about making your passengers feel welcome onboard 🙂

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