SAS Plus — Not Even Intra-Europe Business Class

I’m in Lisbon right now and planning to head to Northern Europe shortly, which makes SAS a natural choice for my flight. Last minute airfare within Europe tends to be pretty expensive, especially in summer, so I’m pondering using miles.

Last year SAS eliminated intra-Europe business class entirely, as part of their overhaul plans. It’s not something I put much thought into, given that I’ve never flown with SAS.

One thing I’ve found rather odd is that they’ve continued to sell business class award tickets for travel within Europe.

SAS-Business-Fare

SAS-Business-Fare-1

When you select business class for an award on SAS, you’ll still see “I” class listed, which is the business class award ticket fare code.

SAS-Business-Fare-2

The only problem is that SAS doesn’t actually have a business class cabin — they only have SAS Plus, which is what you get if you book a business class ticket. For example, take a look at the below ticket. You can pay $171.97 for an SAS Go (economy) ticket from Frankfurt to Oslo, or pay about 50% extra for an SAS Plus ticket.

SAS-Plus-Fare

As you can see, an SAS Plus ticket includes a few extra things, including:

  • Extra baggage allowance
  • Inflight meal
  • Fast track security
  • Lounge access

You’ll notice one thing missing, which I consider to be the biggest feature of intra-Europe business class — an empty middle seat. Nope, you don’t get an empty middle seat if you book an SAS Plus ticket.

Intra-Europe business class is disappointing to begin with, given that you don’t typically get a bigger seat, but the empty middle seat is at least some consolation.

Anyway, the above is just something to be aware of. Ultimately I think the premium on a revenue ticket from SAS Plus over SAS Go is actually quite reasonable — ~$80 for lounge access, a free meal, fast track security, etc. seems like a good value in many cases. Compare that to revenue tickets in intra-Europe business class, which are often exponentially more expensive than economy tickets (which I can’t even begin to justify).

But I do find it deceiving that they sell “business class” award tickets in that cabin. I guess ultimately that system is better than not offering it at all, but if you’re like me and looking to just book an intra-Europe award ticket (as opposed to connecting off a longhaul flight), I sure would be disappointed if I didn’t know about ended up in a standard economy configuration without an empty middle seat.

SAS-737

Does anyone else find it somewhat deceiving that they sell these award tickets as business class?

Comments

  1. This is not SAS’ fault though. From what I understand, the *A award system is mainly made up by X, I, O classes and I is more appropriate for SAS+ than the other classes.

    Also, if you book a codeshare flight with for instance LH Group and you’re in C, you’ll be placed in Sas Plus within Europe.

  2. I booked J on SAS when they still had J, then last year they dropped it and moved to SAS Plus.

    Complete and total rip off. We were beyond annoyed. No recourse or option. Our Star Gold gave us lounge, we had free bags, would have still had FastTrack security. Meal? Please? Half the stuff wasn’t even on board and this was for a OSL-KEF-OSL routing. Not the shortest flight around. So we kept the FAs busy bringing us lots of beverages and chips and cookies. LOL.

  3. @ Damon — Right, not saying it’s anyone’s fault, but at the end of the day it’s worth being aware of if you pay extra for a business class award, only to end up in a non-business class product.

  4. Worth noting that SAS Plus (which I’d just call premium econ) is a great, attainable upgrade over SAS Go, especially for international. No, my SAS Plus seat ORD-CPH last year wasn’t a business class seat, but it was much more comfortable than standard economy, and for no where near the price premium over actual business class, it got me the business class 150% segments/qualifying miles bonus against my United MileagePlus account. It’s something I could actually buy as a real human that’s not on an expense account, plus it does have definite advantages.

    Now, I booked it knowing it wasn’t real business, so I definitely would have been mad if I’d gotten the switcheroo – but just saying that I do like the unique combo of business class bonuses and somewhat upgraded comfort/service with the attainable/closer to economy level fares.

  5. I think using 30,000 UA miles + $53 to buy a $255 “not really” business class flight intra-Europe has more problems than just the seat not being business class. That’s what, less than .7 cents per mile in savings? UA’s chart seems to be pretty bad value for simple trips in Europe.

    Now, if you did that award something like OSL-CPH-CDG-MUC with 23 hour stops in each city… now we’re talking… šŸ˜‰

  6. I noticed something similar on Aer Lingus when I was investigating potential flights from Naples to Dublin for next summer. United’s website prices out NAP-DUB at 30,000 MP miles for a Saver BusinessFirst award, However, as far as I am aware, Aer Lingus only has business on it’s long-haul inter-continental flights? United shows NO economy award availability (either Saver or Standard) on the same flights. Not sure if this is wider spread … but might be helpful to be aware of this when booking Aer Lingus intra-Europe awards.

  7. Ben,
    I am Danish but live in Calgary/YYC and normally travel to Denmark and Scandinavia one/twice a year. I came back from my latest trip and got a chance to try both PLUS and GO in Scandinavia. Plus ā€“ yes no middle seat free and only diff is that you can chooise anything from the menucard for ā€œfreeā€ – do NOT call it a meal. SAS got a lot of complaint from business people about this ā€œmealā€ service in PLUS and it has chance so now they will serve a small hot meal. I had 2 Plus flight and I was soppose to get breakfast (Yough+ sandw-juice and Coffee) but somehow I got what they call Healthy snack (Wasa Sandwich (Swedish bread) ā€“ Smoothie and Mineral Water Price ā‚¬4)
    Now all GO and PLUS get free Coffee (for a long time is was normal that in inter-Europe all Y pax had to pay 3.50 usd/3 ā‚¬ (be aware if you cream to your coffee SAS do NOT serve that ONLY 0.5 SKIM MILK (so different to OS-LX-LH-AB)
    GO class will always serve a FREE 0.20 ml juice on short haul ā€“ coffee/tea on longer leg.
    There was time when SAS was amoung the best in Europe ā€“ and ok airline for longhaul flights. I Took a Business flight from ORD to ARN/Stockholm and can compare to same flight I did back in 2010. Short story is nothing chance to the better ā€“ same old styly ā€“ entertaiment system old and not working on my seat 3H ā€“ Menucard same old wired size and …. Y class more worth than before … has to pay for all your drinks – one meal is still included.

    Botten line: Normally I only flew SAS if no other choice.
    If you thinks about SAS flight back to USA ā€“ think twice and wait at least until they got new business class seat ā€“ mid 2015 (it seem to be a very good idea for SAS even they are slow to do upgrades but better late than ..
    Have a great stay ā€“ trevlig resa to Sweden and (Scandinavia).

  8. Hmm assuming that you have Star Gold status I would rather suggest you opening up a EuroBonus account and book a youth fare instead. These are of extremely good value as you can fly for around $80-100 to most European destination at very short notice.

  9. @Jorgen, sorry off-topic but I am going to YYC next week for the first time. anything i absolutely shouldn’t miss?

  10. @ eponymous coward — Totally agree, and I’d never redeem miles for that route specifically. But similarly, you could also book LYR-OSL-KEF for the same number of miles, which is a MUCH more expensive ticket if paying cash.

  11. Was on 5 SAS flights in past 2 weeks, all within Scandanavia. Plus definitely not worth it. “meal ” meant choose from the card, nothing hot. Seat exactly the same as Go. Wait times in regular security lines 10 minutes max and usually shorter.

  12. Welcome to Scandinavia!
    The Plus intra-eu makes sense if you’re a member of Eurobonus since there’s on some fares only like 30-40USD difference from GO and as a EBG/EBD member you could earn 10k miles on a r/t trip that sometimes costs like 300USD

  13. But similarly, you could also book LYR-OSL-KEF for the same number of miles, which is a MUCH more expensive ticket if paying cash.

    Fair enough, though I’m pretty reluctant to redeem business class at 2x coach, for flights that aren’t transcon-length or longer, even for Euro-business class with empty middle. Heck, even for USA-style “first” class. Expensive $900, 1000 mile coach ticket with awards available? 12,500 miles, please. I’m fairly indifferent to coach seats for flights at 3 or less hours (have even flown Spirit for $200 at the last minute when the alternative was a LOT more expensive).

    I miss UA’s cheap intra-South Asia awards, which were a very modest 2500-5000 mile premium one way for access to SQ C…

  14. flew recently Aerolineas Argentina in CLUB ECONOMY – basically equitvalent to United domestic first class on a CRJ900 – gourmet snack box offering, drinks, same seating, what i might call BUSINESS CLASS LITE or DOMESTIC US FIRST LITE

  15. Ben
    Fast-track is useful in almost all airports nowadays (Summer), Priority-boarding: NEVER saw in intra-europe flights (last 2weeks I flew: LH LHR-FRA, LH FRA-MAN, TK MAN-IST, SK IST-ARN and CPH-AMS) just TK flight had a real priority to Business and *Gold…
    Extra-bag, fast-track and Lounge access Star Gold flying Y works as well.

  16. I have been waiting for you to do an SAS review and wonder why you have never flown them. I’d prefer a long-haul business class review, though.

  17. @ Robert D — Well I can answer the part about why I haven’t flown them yet. They made an angled product and are stingy with award availability, so not a great combo for someone looking to maximize their miles. I do look forward to their new product, though.

  18. I think it should be notes that SAS did a massive change to their inflight service program last year. Before that, they had 3 (!!!!) classes intra-Europe on their small Airbusses, Boeing 737s and CRJ900s. It was SAS Economy, SAS Economy Extra and SAS Business.

    So what they did, is that they changed the name from economy to SAS GO and combined Economy Extra and Business into the new SAS Plus.

    Now, the reason they weren’t filling business class intra eu was that their prices didn’t match the product, and that they also, unlike BA for example, didn’t offer cheaper weekend business class fares. Their whole pricing model was not in touch with reality, unfortunately. So they changed to GO/PLUS. Fair enough.

    Since I’m a Eurobonus member, sometimes it makes sense to book Plus over GO, because we earn 200% mileage on even the Plus saver fares. Add in my Eurobonus gold bonus of 25% and the mileage earning can look pretty nice. I needed to go to Southern Europe last fall, and the premium for Plus was just ~30 USD one way. That’s tough to beat. (I guess it should be noted that this was a leisure destination)

    The meals in Plus, as previously mentioned, are nothing to get excited about. It’s definitely a downgrade from what used to be SAS business class intra eu. On the other hand, it’s a massive upgrade from what used to be Economy Extra. If you factor in the nice perks such as lounge and fast track acces, that you get with Plus now, I think it’s fair to say that it is a great, upgraded ex-economy extra product. Of course is like to see a blocked middle seat, but if you’re lucky (lol, I guess you are) – your Star gold status might help. SAS puts in a soft block for the seat next to me whenever I fly SAS. Even in Go and on long haul (not including long haul business ofc) because of my Eurobonus Diamond (and previously gold) status.

    Okay, I guess that’s all I had to say today šŸ™‚ Haha! Welcome to Norway later in the month!

    – Cecilie

  19. Please excuse any of my typos. I guess I could blame it partly on me writing on my iPad and party that English is not my native language lol.

    Oh and I’m also very excited about the new business class long haul seat. Though I find their in-flight service to be generally very good as of now, I think the whole experience will improve significantly with the new seats.

  20. Not my intention to spam your comment section (“Oh… Not her again!”) but have you checked out SAS’ youth fares? It’s for people under 26. You get cheaper tickets on all SAS-operated flights (even long haul) but it will get you a seat in GO unfortunately. But maybe something to consider if you don’t want to blow off 30K points for a mediocre “business class” product FRA-OSL.

  21. We made the mistake of booking SAS “business class” VNO->LPA. ARL->LPA = 6 hour flight. SAS business class quality is roughly that of RyanAir. To add insult to injury they don’t actually have lounge access, fast track security, or priority boarding in VNO (they aren’t registered with security or with the lounge). If we were flying just to Arlanda we would not have even received most of the services that are paid for with their “business class”. It is a shambles that they sell business class tickets out of airports where you don’t even receive the minimal services they give.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *