Check-In I checked in using the SAS self service check-in, found in zone E, via one of the five computer terminals. Check-in can be initiated through a credit card, the barcode on a pre-printed boarding pass or by simply inputting your flight reference number. You are then asked to swipe your passport, select your seat and can even check in for your return flight, also selecting your preferred seat with both legs of your trip being printed on one boarding pass.
I did not have to check in any bags although, perhaps because I was early to arrive at the airport, there were no queues at any of the desks anyway. Check-in closes 45 minutes prior to departure.
The nearest escalator to the SAS check-in area takes you directly to the fast track security entrance (laptops out, no need to remove shoes this time) although on this occasion fast track could hardly be described as fast, seemingly taking longer than the other security queues.
Once airside T3 is currently being refurbished, conveniently directing you through a vast array of duty free. Due to the refurbishment a lot of the seating has been cordoned off meaning the terminal was crowded even this late in the evening.
Lounge I was welcomed into Lounge B, also known as the London Lounge, which is available to SAS and Air Canada business class travellers and Star Alliance gold card members. This lounge offers seating in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours from red sofas with individual side tables to high wooden stools arranged along a bar. There is ample seating both upstairs and downstairs in both cordoned off areas, glass rooms and more open plan seating as well as a relaxation room and a children’s play area.
There is a business centre with free wifi (although temperamental wifi at times, username: LHR passport: SAS) and plenty of power sockets, this area was nice and quiet. Food and beverages are self-service on both levels and on this occasion included warm jacket potatoes and hot soup as well as plenty of ingredients to make a pre flight snack including ham, salad, coleslaw, cheese, bread rolls and olives.
Becks Vier and Carlsberg were available on draft, cold bottles of Chang in the fridge and a selection of wines and premium spirits also available, with plenty of coffee and tea making facilities. In terms of entertainment there is a TV room upstairs which was showing live sport (Wimbledon tennis) plenty of in lounge Mac computers and a wide selection of newspapers both domestic and foreign as well as plenty of magazines. There are plenty of departure boards as well as flight announcements over the PA system and there is a shower on the upper level.
Boarding The lounge is located close to gate 11 so it was a short walk to gate 9. Boarding commenced at 2035, with no preference given to business or economy extra passengers, possibly because of the small number of passengers to board in total and only myself and one other in business class.
There were no English newspapers provided with two Swedish papers available to all boarding passengers on entry to the aircraft. In business class I was offered a Time or New Statesman magazine once seated but not a drink, despite my steward helping himself to a soft drink. The onboard magazine Scanorama is worth picking up, nicely designed with some good English language travel features.
Departure was delayed 10 minutes by a heavy rain shower. We eventually left the tarmac at 2120 and with a good strong headwind the captain said that the flight would be a swift two hours.
Seat The SAS Boeing 737-700 aircraft is configured 3-3 all the way back with two rows of business class and five economy extra before a curtain separating economy class behind.
There is no change in seat pitch between economy and the other classes (32 inches throughout) although passengers in business and economy extra have the middle seat free for extra space and privacy. An improved food service is also offered with a hot meal for business and a cold meal for economy extra as well as a full drinks service. Economy must pay for all food and drink separately.
I was sat in 1C, the aisle seat of the very front row, and although I had the entire row to choose from this seat offers the best leg room, the only problem being that there is a toilet at the front so you can be brushed past ever so often. There was ample space under my seat to stow baggage and my shoes. There was no IFE on this short flight so a view of a monitor was not a problem.
The Flight Once in the air I was finally offered a drink, I chose a Bombay Sapphire and tonic which came with some cheddar savouries and the dinner service arrived at 2130.
Dinner was a very tasty and generous helping of baked salmon fillet with mashed potato and broad beans with plenty of zesty lemon juice. This was served with warm bread rolls, two cheeses with some beautifully sweet lingonberry jam and a stingy cherry tomato and pesto salad, consisting of three half cherry tomatoes in a pesto dressing. Red or white wine (with a Rose soon to come, read more here) and another full drink service accompanied dinner and then organic tea and coffee with a chocolate. Dinner was served in a porcelain dish with metal cutlery.
The flight was completely turbulence free and as it was nearing midsummer in Sweden the arrival into Stockholm was strikingly beautiful as the clear red horizon maintained its light and colour for the entirety of the flight, despite being midnight.
Arrival We landed at Terminal 5 of Arlanda airport at 0020 Swedish time, exactly two hours later as predicted by Europe’s “most punctual airline,” according to flightstats. A swift 20-minute walk through an eerily deserted airport with no queues at security, which was manned by three officers for good measure, and I was at the Sky City hotel, located between Terminals 4 and 5, where I was staying.
For those heading into town you can get the Arlanda express into Stockholm city centre in 20 minutes direct from terminal 5 with an adult (over 26) return ticket costing 460 SEK (nearly £45).
Verdict All in all a quick and stress free trip with a comfortable seat, a nice clean cabin and surprisingly good food, the London Lounge was also a real highlight.
Price Internet prices for a midweek round trip from Heathrow to Arlanda in mid-July start from around £620.