Once in a while, the nonrev gods shine down upon me— even with foreign carriers. After a quick traipse across the homeland, I took Scandinavian Airlines from Stockholm Arlanda to LAX— 11 hours of pure bliss.
With my flight benefits via my company, we have a ticketing agreement with global carriers called ZED: Zonal Employee Discount. Fares range based on distance and the type of agreement. It helps in a pinch for last minute gaffs when American carriers fill up, or even taking advantage of routes that we can’t access via our direct flight benefits. It just so happens that my company has an agreement with SAS that allows us to list in business. Other times, we might be able to bribe a gate agent for an upgrade— but more often than not, we’re in steerage. It’s still fine, because these seats, while subject to space available as any nonrevenue flight, cost around $50-$150, depending on the carrier and distance. I’m not complaining.
Honestly, I didn’t expect to get business— I’m the lowest of the low when it comes to priority. I’ve flown before and listed in business to no avail. So far in my life, I’ve experienced Delta One, United Polaris, and now SAS Business. Disclaimer: I’m giddy about any sort of business experience, so don’t expect me to be picky; although, I do have opinions.
My initial reaction was first and foremost that I actually got up front. Seated in seat 7H, I had a window view on the starboard side of the aircraft. My window placement was a bit awkward, but I wasn’t all that interested in watching the ocean. I got settled, and the flight attendant offered me a glass of champagne— standard issue for most international business seats, but lovely nonetheless.
I have to take an aside and explain my normal routine for long-haul flights: I settle in, get a bit liquored up, watch a romcom with Meryl, Diane Keaton, or any other iconic queen, and have dinner. I usually try to watch a blockbuster, one that I haven’t seen in theaters, as I get ready for bed. Then after my nightcap, I try to get sleep— this combats jet lag and gets use out of the lie flat seat. Morning comes, I eat breakfast over a classic film (Casablanca, All About Eve, etc.) and get ready for the day.
This was no different, mostly.
On the taxi, I geeked out as I saw the passenger to my front and left switch to a screen with a camera of the aircraft— I was too busy picking out a movie to watch (Chappaquiddick, which was odd to say the least). Luckily, I caught it just in time before we rolled onto the runway and blasted into the sky. I know I do this for a living, and I know I’ve seen this view over a thousand times— but what a different perspective as a passenger!
We drifted toward the north pole, and I settled in even more, when the food and beverage started flowing.
The first course started out with warm nuts and a beverage— I chose the Wing Pin beer, purely for the label. But I was wowed by the flavor. It’s a sour beer, which I don’t normally drink beer, let alone sour ones. Next up was the appetizer: moose salami with pear and mascarpone. Like, you can’t get more Scandinavian than that. Never having had moose salami, I was delighted— robust yet slightly gamey, but it was mellowed out by the sweetness. Onto the meat and potatoes: that’s exactly what I had. It was roast beef with chanterelle mushrooms and lingonberries— again, so delightfully Scandinavian; my DNA was quivering! I finished with a blueberry crumble cake with crème fraiche and a cup of coffee.
After dinner, I presented the crew with the cookies in my bag that I had forgotten— a small token of appreciation for their hard work, crew to crew. Even on my comparably shorter routes, I love it when people bring treats. It makes the day just a little bit better. I chatted with one flight attendant, the one in charge of the food. We talked about her work history— over 30 years in the industry, first at Gulf Air and then SAS. A Stockholm resident, she showed me her gorgeous house, and we talked about my connections to the country. She got super excited and flipped to FlightRadar24! “Dis one? Oh, ja, I use dis all de time!” she recounted to me in her beautiful accent. “And your cousin, she married a Swede? Good job.”
A First Officer came out for crew rest, and the FA tapped me on the shoulder to talk to him. We chatted about the industry and the plane itself— this happened to be his fourth to last flight before retirement. We both had similar mindsets about working: fly hard until it gets too much, and then take time off. Or at least that’s my approach. I love the job and flying the actual airplane, but sometimes, it becomes a job. It’s at that point when I have to step away and live life, i.e., gallivanting through Europe for a few days.
And then I conked out for six solid hours. I didn’t plan on it— I wanted to catch up in my journal, read a book, and maybe watch another movie. But, admittedly, I had neglected my body over the last few days— physically by walking as a byproduct of the emotional (in a good ish way!) wedding weekend I had just had. In another coming post, I’ll talk about my general sentiments of Europe and why I took this trip in the first place.
So, I awoke to 0:51 left in the flight; the scent of egg quiches wafted throughout the cabin, and I had just enough time to make eye contact with the purser, Håkan, who slid a plate of fresh brekkers on my tray. It was good— I’m a sucker for rolls of prosciutto!
Again, I watched the arrival into LAX, an approach I’ve done many times myself. We touched down on 24R, gradually taxiing to Tom Bradley International Terminal. We waited about half an hour for a gate, but my ride back to Seattle wasn’t until later. In other words, I wasn’t in a rush. When we got to the gate, I gave a polite “hej då!” and headed through Global Entry, one of the many amenities provided by the American Express Platinum Card. If you travel a lot, this is THE card to have, despite the exorbitant fee, because it pays for itself every year for me. Get in touch with me, and I’ll rattle off a ton of reasons why airline folk need it.
Oh, and my only qualm with the business experience is that their movie selection was quite lacking— I don’t know how other foreign carriers compare, but United and Delta sure have a lot better titles. However, I was content with watching the clouds drift by, both on my screen and out the window. It was everything I dreamed of— quite literally!
Tack så mycket, SAS!