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A Quick Trip Report: Amsterdam

I know how everyone loves trip reports.  Here, I’ll throw you a bone:

January 9: Newark – Copenhagen
SAS A330, Business Class

I’ll be honest: I took an Ambien in the lounge a bit too early, which I realized when I sat down in my near-lie-flat seat, picked up a magazine, and the words did not come into focus.  Oh, I tried, but they floated there, moved around, rearranged themselves.  That’s when I thought, “oh right, I usually don’t take the Ambien until I’m already on the plane.”  Oops.  We took off, I reclined, and I woke up in Copenhagen.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:  I have no idea what people complain about on any business class trip, especially to Europe.  Reading reviews online, you’d think that some business class service is like spending a month at Guantanamo.  You get a decent night’s sleep, and a few hours of quiet.  What is there to complain about?  (Or, frankly, let’s not fetishize the first class experience either.)  Airplane food gussied up is still airplane food (yes, even on Singapore), and even a genuine lie-flat first class seat is not a bed.  It’s a seat that you can move into a 180-degree angle.  I’m reminded of an old Simpsons episode where Milhouse’s father is talking about how great it is living in a singles community after separating from his wife:

Milhouse’s dad:  I sleep in a racing car, do you?
Homer: I sleep in a big bed with my wife.

No matter how supposedly-cool a first class cabin is, it’s not like sleeping in a big bed with your wife.

January 10: Copenhagen – Amsterdam
SAS A319, “Business Class”

I have the boarding pass, so I know I was on this flight, but I was still in an Ambien haze so the only memory I have of it was that “business class” on intra-Europe flights is actually just coach with the middle seat blocked out.

January 13: Amsterdam – Copenhagen
SAS MD-80, “Business Class”

Again, intra-European coach/business hybrid.  They did serve some food, though I’m not sure why, as the flight was 50 minutes.  I had a 4 hour layover, so I hopped the Metro and walked around Copenhagen.  No complaints.

January 13: Copenhagen – Newark
SAS A340, Business Class

Another thing people complain about that I don’t understand is the pre-departure drink.  It isn’t offered quickly enough, or something else — I’ve read many-a-comment on pre-departure drinks.  But here’s the thing:  didn’t we just spend an hour in the lounge before the flight?  How thirsty can you possibly be?  And while I’ve been in the crappiest lounges in the world (Colombo, Sri Lanka, I’m talking to you) and the best lounges in the world (Singapore First Class Lounge in Singapore, I’m talking to you), the fact of the matter is this:  sitting inside in a lounge is, without hyperbole, 47 billion times better than sitting outside in the terminal.  I remember that Singapore Airlines’ lounge offered a lovely spread of sushi, among other eats.  But when I think about it, wouldn’t that just make it $20 better than the Colombo lounge, where nothing was offered?  Really – I probably ate about $20’s worth of fish, yet I felt like I was being pampered.  Pampered with $20 worth of food.  Sad, really.  I’ve come to appreciate the lounge, regardless of what they’re offering.

We boarded.  I barely slept the night before, so I reclined by seat, slid down because it’s an angled seat, cursed that I was uncomfortable, then slept for 4 hours straight.  Watched Winter’s Bone (great).  Got hungry.  For the past year I’ve been bringing my own food on board, even on long flights when I’m up front.  I decided that I want to eat when I want to eat; I’ve also decided that 99% of the time a sandwich from Subway is better than whatever heavily sauced concoction they’re serving on the plane.  Although I missed the meal service on this flight (airplane food, perhaps with a Scandinavian bent) they do keep snacks in the galley for your snacking pleasure.  I retired to the galley for a little nibble and discovered that one of the choices was a reindeer and margarine sandwich.  I have one – and only one – rule of flying: never, but never, ever turn down a reindeer and margarine sandwich.  Which is funny, as that rule has never really been applicable.  But there it was, staring at me.  I couldn’t pass that up, and in 30 seconds I was at my seat, halfway through the finest snack SAS had on offer.  If I told you that it tasted exactly like a reindeer and margarine sandwich, you would remark that that was not a helpful description.  But I would insist that that is exactly what it tasted like because, forgive me, that is exactly what it tasted like.  Sandwich completed, I read for 4 more hours, landed, and went home.

In short:  SAS was perfectly fine.  I have no idea what people complain about.

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  1. I assume that the last segment on your trip report is back to Newark on the A340, not from Copenhagen to Amsterdam as is listed.

  2. No blurry photos of Diet Coke glasses and the Rudolph Sammich? Disappointing ;)

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