SAS tran-Atlantic Service – 1971
(Written while I was with Pan Am)
Flight SK916/28 May 1971
Seated in Economy
AIRCRAFT: DC-8-55 LN-MOH
LOAD: Full (16F/132Y)
STAFFING: Purser, 2 Stewards, and 4 Stewardesses
SERVICE: Dinner – on departure – Snack – prior to arrival
Dinner – Tray Contents:
Entree plate containing: small filet mignon on a toast square, with mushroom sauce, browned new potatoes, buttered string beans, cherry tomato
Hard roll, 1 continental butter pat
1 packet rye crisp, Danish cheese wedge (wrapped)
Salad – baby shrimp on a bed of lettuce, 1 container thousand island dressing, and 1 container spicy shrimp sauce
Cellophane tube containing: 2 knives, 1 fork, 2 spoons, salt & pepper packets, wrapped toothpick
Peach pastry dessert
Glass wine glass (small)
Snack Tray Contents:
Paper napkin (On snack tray)
Small glass juice glass
1 ham sandwich (small – on roll)
1 cheese sandwich (small – on roll)
(Both sandwiches overwrapped with Saran)
Cellophane tube containing: 1 knife, I ‘ fork, ‘I spoon, salt & pepper packets
This flight included two groups, which accounted for perhaps 75% of the Economy count. One of the groups was en route to Bergen and rerouted via Oslo due to an equipment substitution on an earlier flight. The result was a fairly demanding group of passengers, and the crew was kept busy during the entire flight (7:04 duration).
Boarding was routine, except for a few extra frustrations with excessive cabin baggage. Departure from the gate was about 10 minutes late. The cabin crew attitude was extremely good. A general air of friendliness and a desire to be of service prevailed at all times. At least one cabin attendant was visible in the cabin all night long, and a good number of passengers requested drinks continuously from takeoff until the snack was offered, six hours out of JFK.
Menus were passed on the ground, and magazines & newspapers were offered from a cart shortly after takeoff. The two stewards served as galley attendants, and changed into chef’s uniforms after takeoff. The steward in Economy also replenished the bar cart as necessary during the cocktail service; answering a call button signal from the CIA (crew coordination was excellent throughout). Stewardesses wore serving smocks during the meal services
A bar service was commenced prior to dinner, utilizing one cart initially (moving aft to forward), with the First Class cart brought back shortly after the service commenced and working forward to aft until meeting the Economy cart. At that point, both carts were moved to their respective ends of the cabin and a second, and later a third pass was made. Fifths of liquor were used on the FICL cart, and how the sales were verified remains a mystery. SAS uses a seating diagram, and C/As “tally” the drinks as served. Then the money is collected at the end of the flight. This procedure would make verification of amounts used from each cart difficult. Adding to the dilemma, one stewardess working the forward cart kept count on a piece of stationery, and then gave the information to the stewardess working the aft cart. She, in turn, added these amounts to her diagram, which served as the master chart.
Only by subtracting the value of miniatures used could one get an estimate of how much was sold from the fifth cart. At any rate, this whole situation did not seem to bother the cabin attendants, and it certainly did not detract from the service; in fact, it speeded it up considerably. I was not surprised, however, when I paid my “bar bill” and was charged for one less drink than I consumed. I mentioned it to the stewardess, and she said “no problem,” without collecting the additional money.
Some of the liquor and brands observed were: Ballantine Scotch, Gordon’s Gin, Smirnoff Vodka, Schenley’s Daiquiris, and Tuborg Beer (10 oz. cans). A pitcher of orange juice was also observed on both carts. Prices were as follows:
40¢ – Aperitifs – Campari, Sherry, Vermouth
60¢ – Mixed Drinks – Daiquiri, Manhattan, Martini
60¢ – Liquors – Scandinavian Aquavit, Rum, Cognac V.S.C.P., Gin, Whiskey, Vodka
60¢ – Liqueur – Cherry Heering, Cointreau, Drambuie
50¢ – Wines (1/4 bottle) – Red, White
$1.00 Champagne (1/4 bottle) – Brut
30¢ – Beer (10 oz. can) – Tuborg
When serving mixed drinks, miniatures of liquors were poured by the C/A working the cart, and then served to the passenger, at which time mix was added – a nice touch.
Meal trays were served immediately following the last pass of the liquor carts, in rapid order. At this point five C/As were assisting, and 132 passengers received their trays in ten minutes! Wine, champagne and beer were offered as the trays were placed, and sales were heavy. Coffee and tea was offered from silver servers, with C/As serving cream (bulk) and sugar (individual) from a matching silver service and tray. At one point, four C/As were simultaneously serving coffee or tea. A few additional cocktail orders were filled during the meal service. C/As seemed to take the additional strain readily, and willingly; I never saw an indication of any kind that a C/A felt overworked, strained, or otherwise bothered.
The last meal tray was picked up approximately 2 hours, 10 minutes after takeoff, a very satisfactory length of time for a dinner service. Crew coordination was largely responsible for this; five C/As were picking up trays most of the ·time. And although the Purser was obviously “in charge” of the crew, I did not notice any issuance of directions to his stewardesses or stewards. They had obviously been trained to function as a team, and it seemed to come as second nature to them. It would have been impossible to count the number of time-saving procedures they effectively used.
Announcements by the captain were interesting and timely. Eastbound, he gave it in English and Swedish. Westbound, it was in English, Swedish and Danish as well. An interesting note: announcements were given first in the language of the country departed from; out of JFK, English was first, while returning from CPH, Danish came first.
Following the dinner service, lights were turned down, and blankets and pillows were offered. All blankets were individually sealed in poly bags, and the purser said that only freshly cleaned blankets are provisioned at the origination of each flight. This feature certainly was impressive, although no doubt very expensive, and somewhat unnecessary, I thought.
The snack service was served 1-1/2 hours prior to arrival, and was preceded by a hot scented towel service. Snack trays went out quickly, with C/As carrying six at a time. Again, five C/As were on hand for this service. Orange juice was poured by two C/As, from pitchers, and glasses were refilled twice. The other three C/As poured coffee and tea, with two more joining them upon depletion of the orange juice. Tray pickup was completed 35 minutes prior to landing.
Flight SK911/30 May 1971
Seated in First Class
AIRCRAFT: 747-283B – SE-DDL
LOAD: 10 First Class, 130 Economy
STAFFING: Purser (“Maître de Cabine”)
FICL: 3 Stewards, 2 Stewardesses
EY: 3 Stewards, 6 Stewardesses
Total: 15 (non-flexible staffing)
SERVICE: Dinner – on departure
Snack – prior to arrival
Departure and Dinner sequence:
1. On-ground departure drink – orange juice
Slipper socks, magazines & newspapers – individually presented
2. Hot scented towels – during taxi-out
3. Cigars and cigarettes – following takeoff, offered from a silver serving tray
4. Menus presented by a steward in full chef’s uniform
5. Drink orders taken
-Bar set up on serving table, directly forward of staircase (same location as our conversation lounge). Fifths of liquor utilized. Mix added at each passenger’s seat, from cans.
-Small dish of mixed nuts served with drinks – seconds & thirds offered
-Drink placed on small pullout table, which extends from armrest (similar to PAA 707)
6. Headsets rented – Movie: “Mrs. Polifax, Spy”
7. Tables individually set – Contents:
-Linen tablecloth and matching dinner napkin
-Empty 6-1/2″ diameter plate
-Empty 8-1/2″ diameter plate
-In cardboard folder: I knife, 2 forks, wrapped toothpick
-3 cut-crystal wine glasses
-Crystal salt & pepper shakers
-1 2-1/2″ dia. plate with plastic butter ramekin
-Smoked lamb chops
C/A added a butter knife to the 6-1/2″ plate prior to serving
9. Rolls (flutes) & breads – offered from a linen-lined bread basket
10. Choice of wines
-Red: Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte Bordeaux
-White: Graves Rosechatel
-Champagne: Moet et Chand on Imperial Brut
11. Second selection of hors d’oeurves – from an aisle cart
-Duck and/or salmon (beautifully displayed)
Refills on wine; additional rolls/butter offered
12. Salad service – from an aisle cart
Served in a deep china bowl – mixed greens, with a choice of Thousand Island, French, or Roquefort dressing
C/A added a fork to the table prior to serving
13. Entree – offered from a serving tray (except roast, which was from an aisle cart)
-Rib Roast with Red Wine Sauce
-Breast of Chicken in Cream Sauce seasoned with Tarragon
-Veal Fricassee in Dill Sauce
Served with a choice of 1 or more of the following:
-Buttered Green Beans
-Braised Pearl Onions
-Garden Green Peas
Additional rolls/butter and wine offered
14. Cheese service – offered from an aisle cart
-5 varieties of cheese
-4 varieties of breads and crackers
-Basket of fresh fruit
C/A added a knife and fork to the table prior to serving
15. Dessert service – from serving trays
-Royal Viking Parfait – ice cream cake
-Coffee and tea
-Danish chocolates (offered three times)
C/A added a fork and teaspoon to the table prior to serving
16. After-dinner drinks – from serving tray
Additional coffee/tea offered, and gradual pickup initiated where possible.
17. Seconds on after-dinner drinks; completion of pickup
Total elapsed time for meal service: 2 hours, 40 minutes
Snack Service: “Viking Buffet” – items set up on center cabin table, and served to passengers at their seats
1. Table set -
-Disposable tablecloth and paper napkin
-Knife and fork
-Crystal salt & pepper shakers
2. Snack service – on wooden plank, approximately 7″ X 9″
-Cold Spare Ribs
-Cold Mutton Roll
-Cold Prosciutto Ham
~Cold Stab bur Sausage
-Assorted breads and crackers, offered from a linen-lined bread basket
-Fresh Swedish butter, served in a small wooden ramekin
-Choice of cocktails, beer and soft drinks. Beer served in plastic souvenir “meathead” glasses (draft beer, from a small foreign-made tapper keg).
3. Hot scented towels
With five C/As and only 10 passengers I’m sure the service couldn’t be too bad on any airline. However, the meticulous personalization had to leave its added impression on everyone. An advertisement in the “Scandinavian Times” magazine states that Pursers assigned to the 747 have undergone a six-month training course, and I believe it.
Some of the personalized touches observed were:
1. Individual explanation of the route of flight by the Maître de Cabine, including display of a specially prepared route map.
2. Placement of minimal amounts of silverware on tables initially, and subsequent adding of items, course by course.
3. A “thank you” offered by the C/A each time any item was placed before the passenger.
4. Adding mix to cocktails at the passenger’s seat.
5. Passengers individually asked if they desired cologne on their hot towels, and subsequent adding of it.
6. Wine and champagne bottles properly displayed to the passenger before pouring; bottles were never totally emptied into a glass.
Lavatory amenities included: after-shave lotion, hand lotion and cologne (in large bottles), mouthwash, Wash N Dry-type packets, and gum massagers. Cloth hand towels were provisioned also (remember the days?).
The SAS 747 (they only have one, with a second on order) has been named “Huge Viking,” and more aptly so than one would expect. An article from “Scandinavian Times” describes the background of “Huge” in Norse mythology, as well as other information on the airplane. Here’s the article
The flight was of 8 hours, 20 minutes duration, including a 50-minute hold for ATC in the New York area. During that entire flight, every passenger’s desire was fulfilled in a timely and efficient manner. The overall image projected by SAS personnel was excellent, on both flights. Attention to passenger needs and comfort were always at the forefront, and attitude in this particular area was uniformly good. This asset, combined with excellent food and spotlessly clean equipment makes SAS a very rough competitor