Our vacation didn’t end when we debarked the Norwegian Getaway in Copenhagen – we still had an extended weekend in Paris to celebrate Mom’s birthday before we headed home.
We had a handful of options to get from Copenhagen to Paris. There’s the train, but that takes almost 15 hours and at least two transfers, so the least complicated or time consuming option was to fly. Intra-Europe flights can be super cheap because competition is so high. Budget carriers like Norwegian and easyJet run daily non-stop flights from Copenhagen to the City of Light, and that drives down the prices on full service carriers like Air France and SAS.
I try to do most of my flying on oneworld carriers because my status on American translates to extra benefits on alliance partners, but there were no non-stop flights on oneworld affiliated airlines, and paying more to fly to London or Helsinki to connect onto a destination that was less than two hours away direct, didn’t make a ton of sense. And the more time we spent connecting, the less time we’d have in Paris and I wanted every single second I could get.
We wanted to fly on a full service carrier because we were going to travel with a lot of luggage, and add-ons (like luggage, or choosing your seat) can really drive up the cost on budget carriers, and often that negates the savings of flying on a budget airline. So that narrowed our options down to SAS and Air France. We ultimately flew with SAS because, well, one of my former bosses told me not to fly on Air France if I intended on seeing my luggage ever again. While I’m sure that was a total hyperbole, SAS had better reviews and better flight times, and I didn’t want to risk not seeing the matryoshka dolls I bought in Russia ever again.
SAS offers three classes of service for intra-Europe flights: SAS Go Light, SAS Go and SAS Plus. There are few differences between them: SAS Go Light only allows you to bring one piece of hand luggage whereas SAS Go permits you one piece of checked luggage. SAS Plus is the highest class of service offered on Scandinavia and intra-Europe flights, allowing for two pieces of checked luggage, a meal onboard, priority check in and security, choice of seats at booking and usage of the SAS Lounge. There are no differences in the seats – even in SAS Plus, the seat width and pitch is the same as SAS Go, and the only difference is that you’ll sit at the front of the plane.
SAS Go Light wouldn’t work for us since we had four large suitcases across the three of us, and the price difference between SAS Go and SAS Plus was nominal once the additional luggage was factored in. Between that and the hours we’d be burning at the airport and the ability to do so in the SAS Lounge, booking a SAS Plus fare was an easy choice for us. A one-way ticket from Copenhagen to Paris in SAS Plus ran us $185 a person (and even though SAS isn’t a oneworld carrier, I still picked up some miles by putting it on my American Airlines credit card).
The Norwegian transfer dropped us off at the departures area of CPH’s Terminal 3 and there was a lot of hustle and bustle for a Thursday morning. While the lines for SAS Go Light and Go were long and winding, we walked right up to the counter via the SAS Plus line.
The agent checking us in tagged our bags with priority tags (and paid no attention to their weight, which meant we wasted a solid hour balancing weights across four suitcases the night before!), printed our boarding passes and pointed us towards the Fast Track security line.
Despite the busy airport, there was no one in the Fast Track line and we walked right through security and into the Departures area.
I love airports. Being at the airport is part of that spirit of traveling. All of the anticipation and the concept of landing anywhere in the world within a matter of hours. Of all of the airports I’ve ever flown out of, I’d put Copenhagen towards the front end of the list. One of the commonalities across my least favorite airports (*ahem* LaGuardia) is that they have low ceilings, which makes the departures area feel even more cramped than they usually are. Copenhagen, though packed with travelers, didn’t feel nearly as crowded as it was because there was a ton of ambient light and the ceilings were sky high.
Much like the airports we’ve traveled through in Paris, Athens and London, there is so much shopping at the Copenhagen airport that I felt like I was in a mall. Add in the souvenir kiosks, bars and restaurants and if you ignore the suitcases and plane runners, it’s easy to pretend you’re in a shopping mall. With that, there’s plenty of options to pass time in duty free shops, eateries that span any type of cuisine and artesian food markets.
The SAS Lounge
The airport had a TON of ways to pass the time…but not a ton of open places to sit. There were some, but with such a busy travel day, they were just as crowded as the walkways. Thankfully for us, our tickets also afforded us lounge access to the SAS Lounge.
The SAS Lounge is just past security in Terminal 3, through doors that sit beneath large, bold signage that can’t be missed.
There are two lines inside the doors that lead to two different spaces: the Gold Lounge, which was open to Star Alliance Gold elites, and the SAS Lounge, which was open to Business Class and Premium Economy/SAS Plus travelers. There were automated gates to scan your ticket through to enter either, and an agent at a desk between them for assistance.
We made our way into the SAS Lounge, which was expansive, with tons of seating. There were communal tables near the food, couches and armchairs a little further back and a room that had additional seating for those who needed to get some work done. The lounge was all but empty when we arrived, but quickly filled in throughout the morning. By the time we left to find our gate, there were a scant few open seats.
The SAS Lounge offered a variety of newspapers and magazines, free wi-fi and a nice snack spread that was replenished frequently, with Danish breads, meats and cheeses, a small salad bar and some cold pasta salad. There were two wines, as well as Carlesbad beer, on tap, and a variety of juices and sodas, as well. It was perfect for grazing, but probably wouldn’t be substantial enough for a full meal.
Our flight to Paris boarded right on time, and we boarded with Zone B, just behind Star Alliance elites. Our plane was an Airbus 321, with a standard six seats across (three on each side of the aisle). SAS does not have a first or business class on these flights, so we sat right up front, a thick cardboard sign sitting atop a seat marking where SAS Plus seating ended and SAS Go seating began.
When I booked our flights, I thought I had put us in the second row. What I failed to realize is there was no row 1 on these planes, so we ended up in the bulkhead seats. I’m the tallest of the three of us at just under 5’4 and while we had plenty of legroom, legroom is never a challenge for any of us and we were actually kind of underwhelmed by it – domestic US bulkhead seats offer more space.
We took off right on time, the captain coming over the PA to announce our flying time at a scant 1 hour, 50 minutes. The views coming out of Copenhagen and over Sweden were spectacular and I don’t think I even looked at my phone the entire flight!
Once we leveled off at cruising altitude, a flight attendant came around with warm, moist towels ahead of the meal service. Me being, well, me, I did as much research as I could about the inflight meal and it seemed that the meals served in SAS Plus were often seafood and since I don’t eat seafood (and Mom and Stephanie both are fairly limited in what seafood they’ll eat), we pre-ordered the vegetarian meal to be safe. We were served boxes of some sort of sautéed spiralized vegetables topped with asparagus. Everyone around us seemed to have some sort of build your own roast beef sandwich box so we missed out on this one – the vegetables were pretty flavorless, but the warm bread they served on the side was really tasty!
By the time our boxes were cleared, we were already beginning our descent into Charles de Gaulle. We’d never flown into Paris before, having always taken the train into Gare de Lyon, so the view outside the window was a treat. Way off in the distance, I could see the Eiffel Tower, and I could not have been more excited to spend the next four days in my favorite city.
SAS offers a solid full-service option for short haul flights from Copenhagen (and much of Scandinavia). The service wasn’t particularly memorable, but the flight was comfortable and access to the SAS Lounge was an added plus.