The only thing worse than a devaluation is a devaluation without notice. SAS EuroBonus is guilty of both. Or, depending upon your perspective, the program may have suddenly become more valuable.
SAS has a great new ad out concerning the joy of being re-united after a trip. I love it.
But there’s another tear-jerker that leaves me feeling sad: an unannounced devaluation of Star Alliance redemptions in the SAS EuroBonus program.
At the end of last month, SAS temporarily shut down online Star Alliance redemptions. When it came back online, prices had changed. And I’m sure you can guess in which direction…
The changes came to premium cabin redemptions on Star Alliance flights. SAS flights and Star Alliance economy class flights remain at the old rates. In some cases, the new prices represent a substantial increase.
For example, a business class round-trip ticket between the USA and Europe rose from 110,000 round-trip to 130,000. First class rose from 150,000 to 175,000. Business class between Europe and the South Pacific jumped from 180,00 to 215,000, a 27% increase. You can review the old chart here (.pdf) and new chart here.
Even more damaging, as far as I am concerned, is that customized routing are no longer available over the phone for economy and business class awards. I’ve called EuroBonus on several occasions in the past to construct complex itineraries starting in smaller Norwegian cities and going to smaller cities in Asia or South America. My understanding is that now agents will only be able to search from origin to destination for your awards. If your desired routing does not show up, you are out of luck. That’s a “stealth” devaluation, which are often far worse than raising prices. For whatever reason, first class awards appear to be temporarily exempt from these new routing rules.
Lower Fees On Awards
SAS, and even some customers, might argue that the “devaluation” is a net positive. In addition to raising prices, SAS capped fuel surcharges. For example, SAS claims Star Alliance fuel surcharges between Stockholm and New York drop to 2,000 SEK ($221) round-trip.
For some, that will represent a net positive.
The move by SAS appears similar to what Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer did last year when it raised rates but lowered fees (although SQ only reduced fuel surcharges on its own metal).
The tradeoff of more miles but lower fees may work well for some people, perhaps most. But I cannot condone a program that detrimentally changes mileage pricing and routing rules without notice. Notice is so much more important than the devaluation itself.
Note as well that SAS gutted on the earning side. That is a whole other topic.