Yesterday SAS inaugurated its first Airbus A320NEO with 29 more aircrafts to be delivered until 2019, replacing some of the ageing Boeing 737 aircrafts. At the same time SAS officially launched its new shorthaul cabin interior with new seats and a new cabin design, which will be used on virtually all new aircrafts. A similar design is already in use on the longhaul Airbus A330 and Airbus A340 aircrafts in the SAS Go and SAS Plus cabins as well as on the new CRJ-900 aircrafts, which were introduced this summer.
All, or at least almost all, current shorthaul aircrafts will also be retrofitted with the new seats and the new cabin design between 2017 and 2019.
After the inauguration ceremony all guests were invited to board the Airbus A320NEO in the hangar in Stockholm to see the new shorthaul interior for the very first time. Although a few minor details may still be adjusted the design is basically the one which will be used on all SAS shorthaul aircrafts in the future.
A friendly and smiling purser was waiting in the front galley, greeting all guests and answering questions.
The first new feature after entering the aircraft is the cabin wall, which is now in wood and has the large squared blue SAS logo as a centrepiece. A similar cabin wall is used in the SAS Go cabin on longhaul aircrafts. Also the curtains in the cabin are new and in a different colour.
The new seat is the familiar Recaro seat with the rather thin seatback. The seat pitch is 30 inches, which may sound a bit tight but the legroom is just fine, at least for a shorter intra-Europe flight. The innovative seat design with the magazines placed at the top actually makes quite a big difference when it comes to the legroom and the seat comfort.
The seat pitch is the same on all rows, naturally with the exception of the emergency exit seats. In the past the seat pitch has been slightly greater on the first few rows, the ones normally used for the premium cabin, but this is not the case on the Airbus A320NEO.
A great new feature is the USB port which is available at every seat offering a decent 2.1 ampere of charging power. It can be used for example to charge a tablet or a mobile phone.
During 2017 a new high-speed Wi-Fi system will be introduced on these aircrafts (significantly better than the one available today on some SAS aircrafts) enabling passengers to stream video, TV-shows and music during the flight. This is also one of the reasons why the USB port has been introduced.
For the same reason no inflight entertainment system has been installed on these aircrafts and there are no power sockets at the seat.
The new shorthaul cabin also has a new and rather advanced mood lighting system with the possibility to show the flags of the three Scandinavian countries in the ceiling or to simulate a sunset. There are also rather pleasant lighting modes for night flights, early morning flights and for takeoff, landing, boarding and disembarkation.
Overall the cabin ambience is pleasant. The cabin feels fresh and modern and the mood lighting effects are quite impressive. This is not a luxurious product and there is certainly no dedicated business class cabin with proper business class seats at the front. But for an intra-Europe flight of 1-2 hours the comfort is perfectly acceptable, as is the amount of legroom.