With increased competition from ultra low cost carriers, we’ve seen many European airlines transform their business models, especially on flights within Europe. There’s no airline where that’s more evident than British Airways, as they now have hand baggage only fares, they charge for food & drinks in economy, and they’re cramming more seats on their planes than ever before.
It’s always interesting to see how airlines handle elite benefits when it comes to these new, more restrictive fares. On one hand, airlines want to retain their loyal customers. On the other hand they often can’t justify providing all kinds of benefits for free when they’re publishing very low fares.
One European airline is changing their elite benefits within Europe. SAS has published Go Light fares for a couple of years now, which don’t come with a checked baggage allowance. Up until now, SAS has still offered free checked bags to elite members who book these Go Light fares. This includes EuroBonus Silver, Gold, and Diamond members, as well as Star Alliance Gold members.
SAS will be changing that policy going forward. For departures as of May 7, 2018, SAS will no longer offer elite members complimentary checked bags when traveling on Go Light fares. Those who have booked their ticket before January 25 for departures on May 7 or later can be refunded for their baggage fees by contacting SAS customer relations after their trip (they’ll still have to pay in-person when checking in).
SAS’ policy regarding these hand baggage only fares was one of the more generous ones out there. As a point of comparison, both British Airways and Lufthansa don’t waive baggage fees for elite members traveling on hand baggage only fares.
This stings for elite members who are loyal to SAS, though at the same time I guess SAS thought this benefit was costing them too much, as they continuously try to better segment the market.
(Tip of the hat to @ameeriklane)