SAS manages to out-do BA with a new service cut …. which hopefully BA won’t follow

Whilst British Airways has become a little paranoid about Norwegian’s low cost long haul operation from Gatwick – which has led to BA launching ‘spoiler’ routes to Oakland and Fort Lauderdale – it is Scandinavian airline SAS which has taken the brunt of the pain from Norwegian’s growth.

Like BA, SAS has been attempting to take layers of cost out of their operations.  Like BA, they will probably find that all this does is drive away the sticky corporate traffic which is happy to pay higher fares until it seems pointless due to service dilution.

If you were unhappy with some of the recent BA changes, take note of what SAS has just announced.

Third party lounge access and fast track security will no longer be provided on Plus short-haul fares or to Gold card holders.

SAS, technically, does not have short haul Business Class.  Plus is as near as it gets – added ticket flexibility, free food, extra luggage allowance, lounge access and fast track security.

SAS will still allow Plus ticket holders and Gold card card holders to use SAS or other Star Alliance lounges if they exist.  However, at airports without a lounge run by a Star Alliance member, you will no longer be getting in, irrespective of how much your ticket cost or how shiny your status card.

This clearly saves SAS some money.   Third party lounges will be charging €10 – €15 for access, and airports charge a small sum for letting passengers use Fast Track security lanes.  In the context of a £700 Plus ticket from Heathrow to Stockholm, however, it is hardly a lot.

(I found Plus fares from Heathrow as “low” as £436, to be fair, but they did go as high as £700.)

sas

The interesting point is that this is NOT being done to allow the airline to offer lower fares at the bottom end.  Plus is the most expensive ticket type sold by SAS on short haul.  On the face of it this seems to be a slightly crazy move which will save a very small amount of money but risks losing the high paying corporate customers that the airline relies on.

For customers flying SAS from London, the impact is minor but there will be changes.  SAS customers will no longer be able to use the Plaza Premium lounge in Terminal 2A.  They will be able to use the Lufthansa lounge in 2A – which is not as nice in my view – or the various Star lounges in 2B.  2B is a long trot if your flight departs from 2A, however.

Full details can be found on this page of the SAS website – scroll to the bottom.

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Comments

  1. SAS Such A S***

    • SAS Plus is only useful for earning some miles.

      The seats are all metal and so tight and close to each other — your neighbour is reading off their phone screen practically on your lap. Well, gives a chance to start a conversation and learn smth, as those are indeed corporate flyers.

      Once again, SAS seats are very hard and extremely inconvenient even for short flights. They are hardened Scandinavian people one would say.

  2. Passengers on a SAS flight heard this announcement from the captain, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I am sorry to inform you that we have lost power to all of our engines and will shortly crash into the ocean.” The passengers were obviously very worried about this situation, but were somewhat comforted by the captain’s next announcement. “Ladies and Gentlemen, we at SAS have prepared for such an emergency, and we would now like you to rearrange your seating so that all the non-swimmers are on the left side of the plane, and all the swimmers are on the right side.”
    After this announcement, all the passengers rearranged their seating to comply with the captain’s request. Two minutes later, the captain made a belly landing in the ocean.
    The captain once again made an announcement, “Ladies and Gentlemen we have crashed into the ocean. All of the swimmers on the right side of the plane, open your emergency exits and quickly swim away from the plane. For all of the non-swimmers on the left side of plane… “Thank You For Flying SAS.”

  3. The best thing about SAS is that all economy fare classes earn 100% on A3. Cutting 3rd party lounge access is a minor loss for 100% mileage credit.

    • shhh…

    • Absolutely. I like SAS, they’ve always been excellent when I’ve flown with them.

      And anyone spending £700 for a 1 hour flight probably needs to re-think their travel policy anyway.

      • A cut is a cut. It doesn’t matter if YOU don’t spend £700 on such a fare. Someone else does. And one day (probably very soon) they’ll be cutting benefits on the fares you do pay.

        In any case, why be so selfish as to say ‘I’m alright Jack’ – which is effectlvely what you’re saying?

        I have never understood this response to cutbacks, see it repeatedly on Flyertalk. I presume it can only be made by people instigating the cuts in the first place.

        • I buy SAS Plus fares so this will potentially affect me. I just don’t pay £700 for them. And I fly from MAN so it probably affects me more than London-based passengers.

          I just can’t get excited by it that’s all.

        • the real harry says:

          yep many FTSE100 cos have a no business class rule for under 4 hrs flight duration for a good reason

        • Knocked my socks off with kneowedgl!

  4. But it’s just another cut in an ongoing race to the bottom.

  5. I’ve always rated SAS short haul as pretty dire even before this change. The planes are old, dirty, BoB expensive/unimaginative and the service is usually somewhere between cold and atilla-the-hun. CPH can be a ball-ache from schengen to non-schengen too.

    The Scandinavian nationalist loyalty is the only reason they survived in the first place. After all, 1 in 3 Scandinavians are Eurobonus members!

    So, along comes DY with clean new planes, internet, prickly pears instead of old crab apples and a reasonably good BoB offering and fares without a 2 or 3 at the start of them…

    No surprise at all!

    However, they can’t cut themselves to success! This move will only alienate their best customers which is the opposite of what they should be doing!!

  6. Does this mean then that if I’m connecting from MAN to a long haul flight from CPH I will no longer get lounge access at MAN with a long haul J ticket?

    • You will probably be ok because the ticket will still be Business not Plus. A bit like LHR-MAN on long-haul business.

  7. Aside from the newer, shinier planes I haven’t had great experiences on my three Norwegian flights. The wi-fi hasn’t worked once and on two flights from Portugal to Sweden they sold most of the BonB stock on the outbound flight. On one occasion every meal option had run out by Row 6. SAS is a bit basic but as long as I continue to get my free bag with Silver and the free tea and coffee on board then I’m fairly happy. I only use short haul so my opinion could be different if I ever had to go further afield.

  8. Your description of SAS Plus pretty much sums up BAs CE!

    Therefore BA doesn’t have a short haul business product either…. 😉

    • Krankyfly says:

      You are wrong. BA does have a separate Business cabin on shorthaul with the middle seat left empty.

      SAS does not. No free middle seat either.

  9. “I found Plus fares from Heathrow as “low” as £436”

    SAS Plus can be had for a lot less than that, and often for only a small supplement over SAS Go which I think is part of the problem!

  10. Michael_S says:

    Rob, I think the title sounds worse than the actual news. In LHR as well as in all major nordic destinations SAS flies, there should be a SAS / SA lounge? Flying mainly with SA (i have gold), haven’t come across a single airport where SA has a service and doesn’t have a SA lounge

  11. SAS will block the middle seats if it can in plus (I.e until the plane is full), and I’ve only once had someone in the middle (of aboutm20 flights over the last two years). Policy wise it stinks but on london to Scandinavia, I never understood why they added plaza premium (iirc nor did rob as posted an article at the time). You used to be able to bid/request upgrade and they came through at least 59% of time for me with the added benefit that you could then change online for free (within 24 hours) once online check in opened, it was really easy to change and used a couple of times to extend/curtail business trips, not sure if that still works? DY only fly to Gatwick which is a pain for me so unless it was super cheap had to stick to ba or sas.

  12. Only thing keeping me flying SAS are their insanely cheap youth tickets… but yes, the product is crap.

  13. dicksbits says:

    I flew BA CE from ALC back to LGW in November and used the third party lounge. I noticed a lot of people flying SAS to two destinations in Norway I had never heard of. One woman was sat opposite me with her SAS flight tag.