SAS ATR-72 Economy Class Review

A Scandinavian Airlines plane at Copenhagen Airport
Scandinavian Airlines ATR-72 at Copenhagen Airport. Photo: Matt Graham.

Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) is a Star Alliance member operating short-haul and long-haul flights from its hubs in Copenhagen, Stockholm and Oslo.

I recently flew with SAS on a short regional flight from Copenhagen to Hamburg in Economy Class, which Scandinavian Airlines markets as “SAS Go” on its European flights. You can read about this flight below.

As a matter of interest, SAS also offers a premium cabin on its short-haul flights which is marketed as “SAS Plus”. Often, the price difference between SAS Go and SAS Plus is not that high, but the latter is more of a premium economy product than business class. While SAS Plus comes with access to priority queues and lounges at the airport, as well as a snack & drink on board, there is no difference in the seating on board the plane. The middle seats are not even kept vacant in SAS Plus, as is usually the case in intra-Europe Business Class.

For someone with Star Alliance Gold status, the main additional benefits of SAS Plus seem to be the on-board snack, more frequent flyer points and a seat at the front of the plane. (Or, in the case of the ATR 72, a seat at the back of the plane!)

Flight Details

Flight number SK651
Route Copenhagen (CPH) to Hamburg (HAM)
Aircraft type ATR-72-600
Class of travel Economy (SAS Go)
Seat number 7F
On-time performance We arrived 5 minutes behind schedule
Star rating 3.5 stars out of 5

The route

SK651 route map

Flight Cost

When I booked this flight around a week before departure, the lowest available one-way airfare was a staggering €599 (just over AU$1,000)! However, cheaper SAS Youth fares were available to passengers aged 25 or under.

I ultimately booked an Economy Class seat for 6,500 United MileagePlus miles and $32.70.

United award itinerary CPH-HAM
I redeemed United MileagePlus miles for this flight.

Airport Experience

Checking in at Copenhagen Airport was easy. There were plenty of self-service kiosks and staffed check-in counters available.

Check-in hall at Copenhagen Airport
Check-in hall at Copenhagen Airport. Photo: Matt Graham.

SAS offers a security fast-track lane for SAS Plus/Business passengers and Gold members of its own Eurobonus frequent flyer program. Unfortunately, my Star Alliance Gold status (via United) didn’t make the cut and I waited around half an hour to clear security through the regular line. It was a very busy Thursday afternoon at Copenhagen Airport!

SAS Security fast-track entrance at Copenhagen Airport
SAS Security fast-track entrance at Copenhagen Airport. Photo: Matt Graham.

I visited the SAS Lounge in the Schengen Area before my flight, which I was able to access through my Star Alliance status. If you’re flying SAS Go and don’t have Eurobonus or Star Alliance Gold status, you could also pre-purchase lounge access online for around ~AU$40.

It’s a nice space with a distinctly Scandinavian design.

SAS Lounge (Schengen) at Copenhagen Airport
SAS Lounge (Schengen Area) at Copenhagen Airport. Photo: Matt Graham.

The lounge is spread across two floors, but when I visited in late March 2022, most of the downstairs area was roped off. The upstairs area was quite full, with most tables occupied.

There was a self-service buffet with freshly baked bread, soups, salads, rice and chicken available. There were also plenty of drinks to choose from, including Denmark’s famous Carlsberg beer on tap.

One unique feature of this lounge was the two sleeping rooms with proper beds! Apparently, you can request the key for one of these rooms at the lounge reception if either are vacant.

One other thing I found unusual, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, was that masks were not mandatory at Copenhagen Airport during my visit last month. I barely saw anybody wearing one. Masks were required on board my flight, due to German laws, but they would no longer be required on internal flights within Scandinavia.

Boarding for SK651 to Hamburg began early and was extremely easy, with automated boarding gates. Most of the other passengers on board seemed to be businesspeople commuting back to Hamburg.

The Hard Product

This flight was operated by Xfly, but the plane was painted in SAS colours and the crew were wearing SAS uniforms.

The ATR-72-600 cabin is laid out in a 2-2 configuration. Interestingly, the SAS Plus passengers were all seated at the back of the cabin – this is likely because boarding on the ATR 72 is via the rear stairs.

Boarding the SAS ATR-72 in Copenhagen
Boarding the SAS ATR-72 in Copenhagen. Photo: Matt Graham.

The blue leather seats are more or less the same as you would find on any other ATR 72 aircraft. They reminded me of the seats on the old Virgin Australia ATR planes, which are comfortable enough for short flights but wouldn’t be ideal for anything longer than a couple of hours.

SAS ATR-72 cabin interior
SAS ATR-72 cabin interior (note that this photo was taken after landing, so the cabin hasn’t been cleaned yet after the flight). Photo: Matt Graham.

Annoyingly, SAS would only let me select a seat in advance for a €20 (~$30) fee. However, I was able to pick from the remaining seats for free when online check-in opened and selected 7F, a window seat. The flight was around two-thirds full but I had a free seat next to me.

The legroom was pretty standard.

SAS ATR-72 legroom
SAS ATR-72 legroom. Photo: Matt Graham.

There was no in-flight entertainment or wifi. This is not unusual for a regional flight on a turboprop aircraft, although it probably would be a good idea for SAS to remove the cards in the seat pockets explaining how to view the digital SAS in-flight magazine using the non-existent wifi. 😉

The Soft Product

We took off from Copenhagen on a lovely afternoon and initially flew towards Malmö, the Swedish city connected to Copenhagen by the famous Øresund Bridge which you can see appearing out of the water in the photo below.

View after takeoff from Copenhagen
View after takeoff from Copenhagen. Photo: Matt Graham.

There was a menu in the seat pocket with a list of snacks and drinks for sale:

SAS in-flight menu
SAS short-haul in-flight menu. Photo: Matt Graham.

As this was a short flight, none of these items were actually offered. Instead, the cabin crew offered a choice of complimentary hot tea or coffee.

Soon enough, we were landing in Hamburg. Although the SAS Plus passengers were the first to disembark, everyone was put onto a single bus which took us to the terminal – so there was no real time saving in sitting at the back after all.

Scandinavian Airlines ATR 72 Economy (SAS Go)
  • Airport Experience
  • Hard Product
  • Soft Product
3.5

Final thoughts

Scandinavian Airlines offers a pleasant and reliable no-frills service on its short-haul European flights.

I don’t personally think this flight was worth the ~AU$1,000 SAS wanted to charge, but it was otherwise absolutely fine – exactly what you would expect for a short regional flight.

 

You can leave a comment on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum.

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]

Community Comments

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Thanks for the trip report!

SAS offers a security fast-track lane for SAS Plus/Business passengers and Gold members of its own Eurobonus frequent flyer program. Unfortunately, my Star Alliance Gold status (via United) didn’t make the cut

Is this common with Star Alliance airlines? To deny benefits such as fast track to alliance members?

You mentioned you paid for the ticket with UA miles (what an incredible use of points -- 15c/pt?!). What's the main method you use to accumulate UA miles? Is it mainly through flights? And is there a reason you credit to UA as opposed to SQ?

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Is this common with Star Alliance airlines? To deny benefits such as fast track to alliance members?

It's certainly not something I've seen regularly with other Star Alliance airlines. I was surprised to find this, to be honest. It's not really in the spirit of the alliance.

You mentioned you paid for the ticket with UA miles (what an incredible use of points -- 15c/pt?!). What's the main method you use to accumulate UA miles? Is it mainly through flights? And is there a reason you credit to UA as opposed to SQ?

Mostly by crediting Star Alliance flights to the MileagePlus program.

For the last 5 years I have used United MileagePlus as my main Star Alliance program as I have status with them. In pre-COVID times, I found it easier to earn status with United than SQ, and found it useful that United partners with a range of non-Star Alliance airlines that I sometimes fly with such as Eurowings and Azul. I also like that with United's program, you can earn miles on the cheaper fares on airlines like Lufthansa and Air New Zealand which wouldn't earn any KrisFlyer miles.

That said, once United stops extending my status (which it has done since 2020 due to Covid), I may look at switching to another Star Alliance program as I'm really not a fan of the changes United made to its frequent flyer program in 2020.

Reply 1 Like

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I was surprised to find this, to be honest.

Thanks. I didn't know if that was common or not with *A. I've never encountered it with OW — the occasional lounge shenanigans (eg QR) notwithstanding.

That said, once United stops extending my status (which it has done since 2020 due to Covid), I may look at switching to another Star Alliance program as I'm really not a fan of the changes United made to its frequent flyer program in 2020.

Extremely helpful, thank you. One challenge I've encountered as I move more and more of my travel to *A is working out which program is the best to credit to.

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When I booked this flight around a week before departure, the lowest available one-way airfare was a staggering €599 (just over AU$1,000)! However, cheaper SAS Youth fares were available to passengers aged 25 or under.

I ultimately booked an Economy Class seat for 6,500 United MileagePlus miles and $32.70.

As a matter of interest what would rail have cost and time?
Several decades ago drove from Hamburg to Copenhagen (in a VW kombi)

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As a matter of interest what would rail have cost and time?
Several decades ago drove from Hamburg to Copenhagen (in a VW kombi)

I was interested in this as well so I had a quick look. Using Monday week as a date the cheapest direct fare, and using "The Mani in Seat 61", that I could see was around A$89 and took 4hr36m. The cheapest fare was around A$49 and took 5hr29m but included 3 changes of train so lots of chances for delays to occur and it got you into Hamburg at the lovely time of 0025. The 'normal' fare seemed to be around A$104.

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Thanks for the brief report Matt.
The Scarlett family will be on SAS in a week travelling CPH-ARN-LHR and I decided to put us in SAS Plus as the price difference wasn’t much greater than the standard SAS Go economy tickets. Looks like A320s for both legs.

One of the reasons for paying for SAS Plus is the additional ticket flexibility as well as the fact that I have *A gold status with TK, so can access the lounges, but the family doesn’t, so this way everyone can wait in there rather then me only being allowed one guest.

Some questions about the transit for anyone who’s been through ARN:

We’ll obviously be in the Schengen lounge out of CPH. Does anyone know how ARN works for flights to LHR? Ticket says departing T5 and *A has SAS Business and SAS Gold lounges in ARN T5 (what’s the difference between those two?). And is there a non-Schengen part of T5 separate to where the lounges are?

Reply Like

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As a matter of interest what would rail have cost and time?
Several decades ago drove from Hamburg to Copenhagen (in a VW kombi)

We did this trip in the other direction, Copenhagen to Hamburg in 2016 and the train was fine. It was an ICE-TD train that had the interesting distinction of being loaded onto a ferry for the ~40 minute crossing of the Baltic Sea strait between Denmark and Germany.
Four hours seems about right from memory.

Reply 1 Like

We did this trip in the other direction, Copenhagen to Hamburg in 2016 and the train was fine. It was an ICE-TD train that had the interesting distinction of being loaded onto a ferry for the ~40 minute crossing of the Baltic Sea strait between Denmark and Germany.
Four hours seems about right from memory.

I see that they have now started construction of an "immersed tunnel" to replace that ferry crossing. Combined with some high speed rail and new bridges also being built it will cut the Copenhagen - Hamburg trip time by around 2 hours. But it is not due to be completed until 2029. Plenty of controversy about the whole project.

Reply Like

click to expand...

As a matter of interest what would rail have cost and time?
Several decades ago drove from Hamburg to Copenhagen (in a VW kombi)

I was interested in this as well so I had a quick look. Using Monday week as a date the cheapest direct fare, and using "The Mani in Seat 61", that I could see was around A$89 and took 4hr36m. The cheapest fare was around A$49 and took 5hr29m but included 3 changes of train so lots of chances for delays to occur and it got you into Hamburg at the lovely time of 0025. The 'normal' fare seemed to be around A$104.

I normally travel by train for short trips within Europe, but the travel time of around ~5 hours and 20 minutes with 2-3 changes put me off when there was a short, direct flight available for 6,500 United miles. I also would have missed out on going out for dinner in Hamburg with friends if I took the train. However, I would have taken the train if there was no award availability as the ~$80 train fare is IMHO much better value than paying $1,000 for the flight!

Reply Like

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Thanks for the brief report Matt.
The Scarlett family will be on SAS in a week travelling CPH-ARN-LHR and I decided to put us in SAS Plus as the price difference wasn’t much greater than the standard SAS Go economy tickets. Looks like A320s for both legs.

One of the reasons for paying for SAS Plus is the additional ticket flexibility as well as the fact that I have *A gold status with TK, so can access the lounges, but the family doesn’t, so this way everyone can wait in there rather then me only being allowed one guest.

Some questions about the transit for anyone who’s been through ARN:

We’ll obviously be in the Schengen lounge out of CPH. Does anyone know how ARN works for flights to LHR? Ticket says departing T5 and *A has SAS Business and SAS Gold lounges in ARN T5 (what’s the difference between those two?). And is there a non-Schengen part of T5 separate to where the lounges are?

From memory, the only SAS lounges in ARN are in the Schengen Area. The SAS website seems to confirm this - Welcome to our Lounges – enjoy WiFi, food and beverages

You should be able to use the lounge in the Schengen Area before clearing passport control for your flight to LHR.

Yes, SAS has two types of lounges at ARN - Business and Gold. With an SAS Plus ticket, you can use the Business Lounge. With Star Alliance Gold status, you can use either lounge. Gold is supposed to be the nicer lounge, although IMHO the difference is marginal.

When I flew out of CPH in late March, I think they were just operating a single combined Gold/Business lounge.

Reply Like

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