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Anonymous18 Oct 2015
Scandinavian Airlines is discontinuing the PrivatAir all business class service between Stavanger and Houston and reconfiguring the B737-700 to a two class cabin for the CPH-EWR route. As the service is ending next week there are huge discounts on the fare…circa £520 return from Stavanger and £580 from Oslo. I had booked a weekend trip to Oslo but cut it short when this offer came through and so just spent a night in Oslo and then embarked on this two night jaunt to Houston. You could even just do a back to back flight to Houston for the same price.
There is very little human contact at Oslo Airport. You check in via machines and scan your boarding pass to go through security. I initially didn’t see where the fast track lane was and queued up at the busy main line till I noticed the fast lane tucked to one side with no queue. I quickly went across and was through in a couple of minutes. The domestic lounge is by gate 15 where my flight was leaving from. Again no lounge dragon, you simply scan your boarding pass to gain entry to the small mezzanine lounge. Minimal food and drink offering and the toilets are outside the lounge. No showers. Boarding was swift and the flight to SVG was only 40 minutes. Passengers on SAS plus or business tickets get a small snack and drink for free.
The connection at SVG was only 40 minutes. This was enough to make it to the next gate but not enough to use the lounge which looked nice when I peeked in. Stavanger Airport is small and there is no further security to go through for this connection, just a brief passport check.
Boarding was swift. There are only 44 seats on this aircraft and today’s flight had 43 occupied. I was in the last row. Our coats were taken and champagne, juice or water. Given the size of the aircraft the overhead bins were also used to store the duvets, bathroom supplies and iPads. The bins above row 11 were completely unusable so all of us in that row had to use bins further forward. There are three toilets on this aircraft and four cabin crew. An amenity kit was at the seat. It had the usual socks, eyeshade, dental set, earplugs and lotions in a satin bag.
The seat was better than I feared but no way near as good as what we’ve come to expect for business class. In the sitting position there’s loads of legroom and the passengers in the window seat can get out easily. However in bed mode they have to leap over the aisle passenger. The bed is long enough for my almost 2m frame and I could support myself without sliding down. As it was a day flight I didn’t need to sleep much and it was fine for lounging. I’ll see how it is on the return overnight flight.
Entertainment was in the form of iPads as there are no individual seat monitors. They were pre-loaded with a small selection of movies and TV shows. Sony headsets were distributed if needed. Nothing caught my interest on the iPad so I just read my book.
The flight time today was 9hrs 40mins.
Lunch is served after take –off. Sandwiches and snacks available mid-flight and then 90mins before landing a light meal is served.
Drinks: A selection of cocktails are available, two beers, champagne Henriot 2007, Shearwater Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2013, Marco porello Roero arneis Canestri 2013, La Font du Vent Les Promesses Côtes du Rhône 2013, Cluver & Schaal Syrah Reserve 2013 plus a Sauternes, Port and Calvados as well as other spirits, soft drinks, illy coffee and Damman herbal teas.
Food: Lunch consisted of a salad, choice of starter from scallops or bresaola and choice of main course from four options including trout, chicken, beef and an asparagus risotto. This was followed by camembert and goat cheeses served with marmalade and a cherry tart or ice-cream or fruit though you could have a combination of the desserts. We in the last row didn’t get our first choice of main course but the choices we had were very tasty anyway.
Pre-landing we had a cold meal of roast beef and vegetables plus a panna cotta and fresh fruit.
The crew were fantastic! They really seemed to be enjoying themselves and had a lovely rapport with the passengers. They all commuted from other parts of Europe as none of them lived in Stavanger. Given this is an “oil route” as it was a Saturday flight the passenger mix seemed weighed towards leisure and presumably people taking advantage of the cheap fare like me but there were definitely some passengers going on business.
I am glad I tried out this all business 737 (I haven’t tried the BA LCY-JFK service yet) but I wouldn’t necessarily choose it over larger aircraft. The return overnight journey will be a further test and confirm whether I will even consider it again. Definitely fine for a daytime flight and the crew were excellent.18 Oct 2015
What a difference a crew makes! The return crew last night were completely different…impersonal to say the least.
Despite it being a night flight dinner was dragged on and two hours into the nine hour flight we still hadn’t been served our mains so I gave up and just went to sleep.
The seat as a bed was not that comfortable but given I was very tired I managed a few hours of fitful sleep.
Breakfast was late then extremely rushed to the point of abrupt.
Collecting the iPads was a charade. They couldn’t work out whom they had given them out to despite markng off on a sheet at the start so they had to announce that they were missing two.
One thing that clicked on this flight and true of both flights was that the crew didn’t address passengers by name. There are bigger business cabins on other aircraft and the crews address passengers by name so surprised PrivatAir doesn’t do this. Not sure if that’s an SAS thing.
Both flights arrived at least 45mins ahead of schedule and I could hop onto an earlier connection to Oslo for free and literally realised as they were boarding that earlier connecting flight and I asked at the gate and changed in a few seconds (I only had hand luggage)
Also there were a few people from my outbound flight to Houston so we must have made use of the cheap fare!
In summary the daytime sector is far more preferable to the overnight but the crew does make a difference. Great I had the special fare as I don’t think the full price is worth it.20 Oct 2015