SAS Blocking Star Alliance Awards, Expiring Points

Filed Under: SAS

Most airline loyalty programs are doing their best to take care of customers during these times, recognizing that many members want to be loyal, but now isn’t the time to travel… and then you have Scandinavian Airlines (SAS).

I wanted to highlight a couple of particularly unfriendly policies they’ve implemented:

SAS continuing to expire miles

While different airlines are updating their policies at different times, at this point most major programs are at least extending the expiration of miles, recognizing that keeping members engaged in the program is a worthwhile endeavor.

In the case of Scandinavian Airlines, they’re specifically stating that they won’t be extending the expiration of miles. How do they justify this?

Currently, this extraordinary situation forces SAS to undertake extraordinary measures across the entire customer offering, including EuroBonus, which naturally affects many customers.

We are sorry for the inconvenience but given the situation, SAS will not be able to extend the validity of points that either has expired or will expire in near future.

Clearly SAS and I have a different understanding of what constitutes “able to.” I’m pretty sure they’re able to, they’re just choosing not to. 😉

SAS EuroBonus miles continue to expire

SAS cuts off Star Alliance awards

Scandinavian Airlines is a member of the Star Alliance, so you can usually redeem miles on Star Alliance partners. However, SAS is suspending Star Alliance awards indefinitely. How do they justify this?

The corona outbreak has spread fast and globally. It has a severe impact on the airline industry. The safety of our travelers and employees will always be our highest priority, and we are monitoring the development closely.

These extraordinary circumstances have led to a large number of last-minute Star Alliance flight cancellations outside of SAS’ control. Right now SAS needs to prioritize support to SAS passengers, and we will therefore temporarily suspend award bookings on Star Alliance partners.

Hmmm. There are a few things worth noting here:

  • If they’re concerned about SAS members needing to travel last minute, surely they would appreciate that EuroBonus members may need to travel to places that the airline isn’t flying at the moment
  • If the problem is last minute awards, you’d think they would still allow Star Alliance redemptions in advance
  • It continues to be possible to redeem Star Alliance miles on SAS, and just not the inverse

To me the motive seems pretty obvious here — SAS is trying to control costs, and when people redeem miles on partner airlines they have to pay those partners.

This is the same reason that many programs (including SAS) have temporarily shut off the ability to redeem miles for merchandise. Even though it’s not a terribly valuable way to redeem miles, it at least allows people to “cash out” their miles.

SAS EuroBonus is blocking Star Alliance redemptions

Bottom line

While most airlines have been doing a pretty good job taking care of loyalty program members in light of the current circumstances, SAS is a different story. They’re continuing to expire miles, and have now also blocked Star Alliance awards…

  1. It is exactly as expected. Anyone familiar with how SAS approaches “loyalty” cannot be surprised.

    They cut earnings on their own metal by 80-90% a short time ago, knowing that most of their frequent fliers fly mostly with them and will be spending more to keep their status. They have also removed free seat selection for Star Alliance Gold customers from partner airlines, even in the most expensive economy booking classes.

    To top it of, many of their own customers defend SAS’ behavior in this case: “We will survive being without status for a while, if it helps them survive.”
    Many customers view bonus miles as a “gift” from the airline that they are not entitled to.
    Like sheep, their customers are absolutely delusional and SAS knows very well how to exploit this.
    I could go on and on…

  2. sas is also one of the few airlines not extending gold benefits for 1 year like all the other airlines, shows they dont give a shit about their loyal customers.

  3. The best part is that they have a lifetime Gold status that requires 10 consecutive years of status if I’m not mistaken. So this one year can really fix that liability for SAS…

  4. Im Norwegian, and Im Eurobonus gold. Ill now skip SAS and continue flying domestic freelance, and Oneworld Platinum international. SAS sux…

  5. They don’t note last minute Star Alliance bookings. They note last minute Star Alliance cancellations (i.e. flight cancellations). The result of this would be SAS agents working to accommodate folks traveling on flights or to destinations they themselves have no control over. With every single airline having hold times hours and hours long, this actually seems like a policy that makes sense. They can prioritize customers on flights that they actually have control over.

  6. Mark: There is no such thing as Oneworld Platinum and SAS is not the same thing as Eurobonus.

    If you have found this blog, you seem to have an interest in this kind of stuff. Do yourself a favor and read a bit about the differences. A lot of people in Scandinavia wrongfully believe that SAS=Eurobonus and that you should (or even must) use the loyalty program of the airline you are flying. Nothing could be further from the truth. But SAS consistently preys on this lack of knowledge.

  7. @Marvin, Im Qatar platinum, Oneworld one of those gemstones. Saphire, Ruby?
    Keep it simple Basic – Silver – Gold – Platinum….

  8. @Mark: Yes, I figured as much. Qatar probably has the worst loyalty program in all of Oneworld. Please do yourself a favor and read a bit more about loyalty programs. Keep flying Qatar, but don’t use their program. Just like you can keep flying SAS, without using Eurobonus… You can still earn Eurobonus points at restaurants and stores in Scandinavia.

  9. However SAS are still offering paying customers excellent service. Since 23rd March I have had four SAS flights cancelled, all were refunded to my credit card inside 48 hours.

    How does that compare with Lufthansa and others who are refusing any refunds for at least six months and pressuring people to take vouchers?

    I’ll keep booking SAS.

  10. @ Marvin I’m not one for conspiracy theories, but I have no problem believing this. Such an easy way for customers to “reset” their 10 year clock. I’m halfway to lifetime Gold and Im definitely going to have it reset this year.

    Customer-hostile move like this was why when I lived in Sweden, I flew BRA domestically and Finnair as much as I could. At least Finnair had brand new planes with nice interiors and super friendly cabin crews.

  11. Have they blocked *A airlines (eg UA customers) from redeeming for SAS flights or just their own Eurobonus customers from redeeming on other *A airlines?

  12. @Ben (not Lucky):
    You can still fly SAS without using their “loyalty” program Eurobonus.

    They have only blocked Eurobonus members from using their miles on other *A airlines. They will still gladly accept money from UA et al. through partner awards.

  13. @Marvin
    Yes, Qatar redemptions suxxx. But they keep me in Flagship lounges, Cathay first lounges, Al Safwa lounge etc.
    And they make sure I make connections in Qatar with below minimum connection time.
    Maybe Oneworlds worst program, but the only one that work for me. At my current location.

  14. And Marvin, Im having Eurobonus status through my SQ and TG flights. With SAS its annualy a few AMS OSL, LHR OSL and OSL TOS flights. Cant get status from that.
    But thx for your lecture 😉

  15. @Mark:
    Maybe if you’re based in Doha, it makes sense, I don’t know. I was assuming you’re based in Europe. It takes one (one!) round trip flight in Qatar business class from Europe to Asia to earn the points needed for BA Silver, which is Oneworld Sapphire, which gets you into Business lounges. Three such trips and you’re BA Gold (Oneworld Emerald), which gets you into First Class lounges. And BA redemptions are much better value. You only need 4 flights with BA or certain BA partners on top, those can be in economy.

  16. I suppose we can still redeem SAS tickets through programs of other *A airlines as that generates revenue for SAS?

  17. It totally makes sense that SAS does not allow to book award tickets on other airlines at the moment. This has nothing to do with trying to keep the miles within SAS but more about rebooking.

    a customer books an award flight with a different carrier, e.g. with Air Canada from Montreal to Frankfurt. Air Canada cancels the flight from YUL to FRA. While AC would rebook their own customers on YUL->YYZ->FRA or YUL->FRA on the next day, an SAS customer would have to call SAS customer service for rebooking. Even though the ticket would be 100% operated by Air Canada the ticket number would be issued from SAS.
    And since it is a European ticket number SAS would also have to take care of accommodation, phone call, Food etc.

  18. Besides: SAS is not a good airline. They don’t even keep the middle seat free in their Intra-Europe Business Class. They cut Lounge access to Frequent travelers and Business Class customers for all third party lounges.

    But that’s off-topic I guess.

  19. @Phil Duncan. How did you manage that? I am still waiting for several refunds (more than 6 weeks for the first one). No news so far.. And I am a long time SAS Gold member..

  20. Thanks, Ben. This is appreciated.

    SAS is an un-mi-ti-ga-ted disaster. They tried hiding the refund options, and they’re pretending they’ll fly to, get this, New York as soon as in 8 days from now.

    They claim to not be able to process *ANY* refunds automatically, and will not give even a sense of how long refunds will take. Let’s just say we’re well over the initial shock, things should be rolling more smoothly now.

    But … it doesn’t. They went home on a long Easter holiday, and haven’t updated their covid-19 site since April 9th 😀

    They’re spurred on by their army of Swedish fan boys who think all criticism towards SAS is akin to heresy.

    Please keep shedding light on how insanely poorly SAS is handling all this. Nobody else will 🙁

  21. Who in their right mind is still a customer (or better yet, sheep) of SAS? After their latest advertisement disaster only globalist shills still want to be giving money to SAS.

  22. This has been the case for several weeks now. As a SK Diamond with 1.5+ million SK miles this is awful. I will lose my status and cant use any miles. Since SK has a very limited long haul network and releases very few award seats in C, they’ve rendered my miles useless (for now).

  23. @criced

    Let’s maybe actually judge them when push comes to shove. Like now.

    Other airlines can handle it.
    Norwegian and Danish companies can handle it while their countries are actually taking COVID-19 seriously – but somehow SAS is completely lost. Hmm …

  24. @Klaus In your example, are you suggesting that becuse of a “European ticket number”, SAS would need to provide assistance due to EU regulation 261/2004?

  25. @John – Klaus is wrong.

    It is the operating carrier that matters when it comes to providing asistance etc EU261 not the ticketing carrier.

  26. @Matt Fortini is absolutely correct about SAS.

    I too have a SAS flight in 10 days that they just refuse to cancel. One cannot buy a seat, and they regularly send me emails reminding me that I can proactively accept a voucher if I’d like to change or cancel. Ummm… thx but no thx.

    I’m ready to initiate a cc chargeback the moment they cancel and refuse to refund. I’ve (successfully) done the same with TAP, who are playing similar games.

  27. @ChrisC: Assistance – yes. But isn’t it the ticketing carriers obligation to rebook you?
    Either way – they currently don’t even seem to try to rebook their own passengers, so it’s clearly a lie.

  28. @ Phil Duncan
    I am not sure if you are a real person or SK-paid troll. But what you say is far from the truth. SAS is far from providing a good service.

    Just this Sunday I refunded 2 LH tickets over the phone. Without any push for vouchers. Not a word. The only warning was the refund may take up to 8 weeks. Fully fine with me.

    About SAS gold for life: not sure if the rules changed now but after 10 years of being Gold they refused me as I was too young!!!! Don’t remember precisely but one must be about 60+ to qualify.

    So happy I moved to TK ever since, even without gold for life!!

  29. Two of my three SAS flights were cancelled and so far SAS has only refunded fees and taxes, but refuses to refund the entire ticket price because they were “non-refundable”. Considering they cancelled the flights, I consider this pretty idiotic and an example of very poor customer service. I will continue to fight for my refund and will certainly think twice about ever booking SAS again.

  30. I requalified as SK Gold at the end of Feb, and as several others have mentioned this is mainly through flying other Star carriers. The main reason for my having Eurobonus is the ease of earning gold (unlike for instance Miles & More). There are no requirements to fly SAS at all to achieve this.

    SAS have a very limited longhaul network with the only two destinations of interest to me are Hong Kong and Tokyo. China is too polluted, and the USA is, well, Trumpistan. However, there are plenty of carriers with great J fares ex OSL. These are also the carriers I use to get to my preferred destinations whether it’s paid or on miles.

    One more thing: SK does not offer business class on shorthaul. This was ditched years ago, and they now offer premium economy only. Often I can find cheaper fares in J (especially on LH group) within Europe than SK premium economy.

  31. @Kaspars

    Thank you for your ignorant insult, you must be quite a special type of moron to post as you have making assumptions which do not suit your Trump version of the truth.

    SAS cancelled my flights, I called them on each occasion and spoke with someone who was helpful and said they would refund me ASAP and the money appeared on my statement within forty eight hours. It was far better than I was expecting but then I’ve generally had excellent service from SAS.

    It is very well reported elsewhere however that Lufthansa are refusing to refund cancelled tickets even to HON members and telling them it won’t happen until September at the earliest. You seem to be an exception to that most unusually.

  32. @ChrisC:
    I can recall two occasions where I was travelling on a european ticket number with a different airline.
    LH Award ticket (220) on Air India segment from Delhi to Goa which was cancelled. Air India told me to call LH for rebooking and hotel booking. I have to admit the flight from Munich to Delhi was operated by Lufthansa – that may change the rules as the start was in the EU.
    Revenue LH ticket (220) with Air Canada segment last week from Montreal to Frankfurt. Flight was cancelled. Once again, rebooking had to be done via LH. I have been told that the hotel will be refunded. (New routing was Montral-Toronto-Frankfurt. The flight from Toronto to Frankfurt had 17 passengers and 2 infants onboard. Onboard service was a bagel and water. Interesting enought that they still operate a daily flight from Montreal to Frankfurt and another one from Toronto to Frankfurt.)

    Back to the actual topic:
    In my opinion it does make sense for SAS to not allow award booking on other airlines. While I am also very sad that we can probably cancel our next two vacations I guess we should give airlines a break until there is a plan for the future.

  33. SAS update.

    This morning SAS finally cancelled my flights scheduled for 10 days hence. I called the 1-800 number, was “number 1” in the queue (11am EST) and the Estonia-based agent fully refunded my fare without question.

    It took 2 minutes, including the receipt of a confirmation email. The original cancellation email only mentioned “vouchers”, but there was no pushback from the SAS agent when I requested a full refund.

  34. @ChrisC
    I think you’re right on EU reg. 261/2004. Conditions of carriage could state otherwise outside the scope of the regulation.

  35. @Phil Duncan

    Thanks for your nice words. Just lovely. It seems you really live on another planet, even if mentally.

    BTW today I successfully cancelled another LH flight over the phone in 3 minutes. So much for your “well reported “ things.

    And yes, don’t bother replying.

  36. @Kaspars Angry rhetoric aside- my experience today having SAS refunds processed without argument echo those of @Phil Duncan. (To my knowledge I am not an SK-paid troll.)

    Of course, the proof will be when it appears on my credit card (5 wks)- but I have an email confirmation.

    Hoping this helps. Wishing you a less angry day!

  37. What is wrong with people? Many posts Here and elswhere is just throwing up on SAS Because of this and that. I think you should try to calm down a bit and understand they are struggling for survival.
    I also had an issue with SAS 10years ago and stated ”never again” But was the Grass greener on the other side? No it was not.
    I am Diamond for third Year and have already before Corona a renewal to next period ending 210430. I Do Hope I can start to fly again in August and have two SAS flights booked in August and September. #flysas #wearetravelers Bytheway I am not a SAS troll But a SAS fan.

  38. @Carl F: LOL! So funny that one of you guys made it here. You are the reason SAS behaves like this. The true Stockholm syndrome in its purest form. I don’t believe their is a single other airline in the world with such a servile followership. Is there anything SAS could do to make you not praise them? No, everything SAS does is always right. Because we’re Scandinavians and we’re the best!

  39. @CarlF:
    While I do understand the reasons of SAS not accepting award booking and implementing measures to cut costs before Covid, I cannot understand why one can be a fan of SAS?

    It probably wouldn’t be fair to compare SAS with some 5* Asian airlines because Europe is a difficult market with high labor costs. But comparing them to other European airlines they are still not good in my opinion.

    No competitive Business Class On intra-Europe Flights and no Lounge Access. Transatlantic C is okay. Own lounges are overrated in my opinion. No catering in economy class. Seat selection often doesn’t work. Prices are not competitive.

    SAS may be a good choice for domestic travel but for international/intra-European travel I am avoiding them because I have a choice.

  40. What I find interesting is the fact that Lucky overlook the following, it is the 2nd Q&A in the link Lucky put in the article.

    It says: “We know that it is important to our members to keep their tier level or strive to reach a new, higher EuroBonus status.

    For travel planned through 15 May 2020, you can contact SAS Customer Service before 15 May 20, provide us with your reservation details of the original booking and we will give you the corresponding EuroBonus status points.”

    So, while SAS is not extending status or miles, they are basically offering free miles to members without even requiring them to fly. I know it’s different from extending the status. For some people, they may not book their trips in advance and COVID19 means they won’t be booking any trips, so still won’t be able to get enough points. But we are still early on, so they may change this policy eventually.

    What I wanna point out is, it seems like SAS still cares about their member to some extend. And it’s a relevant fact that Lucky left out/overlooked in this article.

  41. the SAS FAQ about COVID19 also has this Q&A about members who want to keep Eurobonus tiers but couldn’t make a booking right now: “We will return as soon as possible with information on what applies for keeping your tier. ”

    SAS said they are focus on helping customer with travel plan before 30 April, implying they would offer some kind of deal for Eurobonus members.

    A lot of the comments are focused on tiers, but to me, it seems like SAS is doing this to lower debt (miles is a form of debt to the airline) and control cost. That being said, I would be upset about not extending the miles expirary too, if I am a Eurobonus member.

  42. Does anyone know what the situation regarding SAS Amex 2 for 1 points which need to be used in the next calendar year following accrual. I was due to fly to Chicago next week and had to have the points reimbursed as the flight was cancelled (still waiting for taxes).

    Interestingly up until a few weeks ago, you could use your EB points at at a very generous conversion rate. This feature now seems to have disappeared. My worry is that SAS hit the wall and the miles become worthless.

  43. @Etoile: I think they have also blocked “cash redemptions”. When you use EB points on SAS flights, it doesn’t cost SAS anything. But when you use your points for partner flights or things like, SAS actually has to pay them money. That’s why those redemptions have been blocked temporarily. (But in five minutes some Swedish SAS fan boy will come and tell us that they have only blocked “cash-value” redemptions to protect us.) Nobody knows for how long those restrictions will last. I don’t think the miles will become worthless, but would could happen is that they will keep the restrictions in place for a longer period, or they could increase award prices by 30% or so. And the Swedish fan boys will applaud them.

    @Klaus: You don’t understand Scandinavian culture. It’s a patriotic thing. They could slap everyone upon boarding and the SAS fan boys would still say they’re the best. They have cut catering costs by getting rid of meat and their Swedish customers praise them for being so progressive and caring about the animals and the environment. It’s completely nuts for anyone on the outside. Sometimes Scandinavians would explain to be that “bonus points”, are just that – a bonus. Basically a gift from SAS, not something you’re entitled to. You should be happy when they let you fly for free. Don’t you understand that flying is bad for the environment anyway? And it’s why SAS is doing this now – they know that the corporate contracts won’t be canceled and that most other customers will be calmed by their “We had no other choice” rhetoric.

  44. @JH: They only credit status points (not redeemable miles) for flight bookings on SAS metal that were canceled by SAS. Nothing for bookings with other carriers. And only on request.
    There was also an interview where some SAS manager who said that he thinks that people had more than enough time to redeem their miles, implying they won’t offer any extensions.

  45. @Marvin:
    With your comment about slapping, you are referring to the onboard crew?
    It’s not likely that they will slap customers upon boarding the aircraft. When you look at the SAS corporate philosophy you will see at #4 „Our mission is to offer a consistent Service to our customers. The primary goal of
    our flight attendants is ensuring safety. We focus on safety and do not get distracted by other goals! That is why our crew is entitled to ignore our passengers before, during and after the flight.”

    I guess with “consistent Service” they mean consistently bad. And as their mission states that they are ignoring passengers that also implies that slapping is unlikely to happen.

  46. SAS is now extending their FF status – perosnally my gold memebership was to expire in november 2020, it has today been confirmd by email that it will postpone november 2021.

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