Last week SAS took delivery of its very first Airbus A350 and yesterday an inauguration ceremony took place at Stockholm Arlanda airport where invited guests and members of the media were invited to have a look inside the aircraft and for the first time see the new cabin products. There had been very limited information from SAS about what would be available inside.
So what can you expect onboard? Join in and let us have a look!
Some quick facts about the SAS Airbus A350
SAS has ordered eight Airbus A350 aircrafts which will be delivered during the next few months. The aircraft has capacity for 300 passengers with 40 seats in business class (SAS Business), 32 seats in premium economy (SAS Plus) and 228 seats in economy class (SAS Go).
The Airbus A350 has a length of 66.9 metres and a wingspan of 64.8 metres. It has a cruising speed of 910 kmph/570 mph and a range of 13,800 km.
SAS Business – SAS Business Class
The SAS business class seat is basically the same one used on the Airbus A330 and Airbus A340 aircrafts. The seat is called Vantage XL from Thompson Aero with roughly the same design and functionality as before, but there are some minor differences.
There are 40 seats in business class which have been divided into a larger cabin with eight rows and a smaller cabin with two rows. So it means the same number of business class seats as on the Airbus A340, which also has 40 seats, but more business class seats than on the A330, which has only 32 seats in business class.
Just like before the configuration is 1-2-1 with direct aisle access for all passengers.
The seat can be made into a fully-flat bed with a minimum bed length of 196 cm and just like before bedding from Hästens will be provided for an enhanced sleeping comfort.
The seat also has adjustable lumbar support, individual adjustable recline of the headrest as well as a massage function. However the air cushion, available on the A330 and A340, is gone, which many frequent travellers with SAS will probably be rather happy about.
Each seat has an individual 18.5 inches screen, a power socket and a USB port. The screen is slightly larger than on the A330/A340 where the screen is 15 inches. Wireless internet is available onboard, free of charge to passengers in SAS Business.
The main differences between the SAS business class seat on the Airbus A350 and the seat on on the Airbus A330/A340, other than that the air cushion is gone, is that the A350 seat is slightly wider, as the A350 is wider, but the cabin configuration is still 1-2-1. The A350 seat also has a bit more privacy.
Another new and excellent feature is the new and redesigned self-service bar area located next to door 2L and the business class galley, right between the larger and the smaller business class cabins. The design is just lovely and they have even introduced a new cocktail glass, which will only be available on the A350.
SAS Plus – SAS Premium Economy
There are 32 seats in SAS Plus, Premium Economy, on the Airbus A350 compared to 56 seats on the Airbus A330 and 28 seats on the Airbus A340.
The seat is a new model, a different one compared to the one available on the SAS Airbus A330/A340. The new seat type is manufactured by Collins (former B/E Aerospace).
A significant difference is that the configuration is now 2-4-2 in SAS Plus, compared to 2-3-2 on the A330/A340. So eight seats abreast instead of seven. This does not really affect the seat comfort as the A350 cabin is wider, which is the reason why there is space for one more seat, but of course will still make a difference as it means there will be more middle seats.
The seat pitch is 38 inches, roughly the same as in the old seat on the A330/A340. Each seat also has a legrest with foot support and an adjustable headrest. For those sitting in an aisle seat the armrest can be lowered.
The seats also have a 13.3 inches screen for the inflight entertainment system, power socket and a high-power USB-port. Wireless internet is available onboard, free of charge in SAS Plus.
SAS Go – SAS Economy Class
In SAS Go, the economy class of SAS, there is also a new seat. Just like in SAS Plus the new economy class seat is manufactured by Collins.
There are 228 seats in economy class on the A350 and the configuration is completely different compared to the A330 and A340. The configuration on the A350 is 3-3-3 compared to 2-4-2 on the A330/A340. So nine seats abreast instead of eight. Just like in SAS Plus this unfortunately means more middle seats.
The seat pitch is “up to 31 inches”, which is fairly similar to the seat pitch on the A330/A340 which is supposed to be 31-32 inches. The seat recline is up to 6 inches.
Each seat also had an adjustable headrest.
In SAS Go there is a 11.6 inches screen for the inflight entertainment system, compared to a 9 inches screen on the A330/A340, so the screen is somewhat larger. Each seat also has a high-power USB-port. Wireless internet is available but in contrast to SAS Business and SAS Plus it is available at a charge in SAS Go (although free of charge for Gold and Diamond members in the SAS EuroBonus program).
Another great feature is the new inflight shop in the aft galley where you for the first time can have a look at the assortment. Most of the snacks and drinks are still available for sale though.
The Airbus A350 is no longer a new aircraft. It has been around for several years and I have flown it myself several times on airlines such as Qatar Airways, Finnair and Iberia. But it is a nice aircraft to fly on with some nice benefits both for the airline and the passengers.
There was very little information from SAS prior to the inauguration about what would be available onboard. Of course there was some excitement in the air whether there would be for example a brand new seat in business class. But they chose to continue with the existing one. I believe they are rather happy with that choice, and so are most of the passengers, so there was simply very little reason to change it. Also it does cost a fair amount of money to introduce a new seat with all the testing, reconfiguration and certification. And given the current financial situation of SAS they are probably happy to save some money.
But the final result is not bad. They have made some adjustments to the business class seat, fixing some things the customers have commented and complained about, and the new self-service bar is very nice, although not really a ‘lounge area’, as was reported in some media and promo material.
The main reason why there are new seats in SAS Go/economy class and SAS Plus/premium economy is probably because the Airbus A350 is wider, so it made sense to reconfigure everything from scratch. The new cafe counter and inflight shop at the very back is also a nice feature. However a 2-4-2 in SAS Plus is a drawback compared to 2-3-2 on the A330/A340 and depending on your personal preferences so is 3-3-3 in SAS Go compared to 2-4-2 on the A330/A340, as it means one more undesirable middle seats.
But the aircraft and the cabin do give a good first impression and I am sure many passengers will enjoy the experience.