SAS Will Soon Charge For Empty Middle Seats In European Business Class

Filed Under: SAS

SAS discontinued their intra-European business class product a few years ago. They replaced it with a “light” business class called SAS Plus (not to be confused with their long-haul premium economy). It includes everything that airlines usually offer in intra-European business class expect one thing: an empty middle seat. You get fast track security, lounge access, a meal onboard, extra miles, etc.

The cabin of SAS’ new A320neo.

This brings me to my recent interview with the airline’s CCO, Eivind Roald. I was excited to finally have the chance to ask him why they’ve set up the product this way. What was his reply? Blocking the middle seat is an IT issue for SAS. Apparently, they don’t think it’s worthwhile to invest time into getting their systems on the same level of every other legacy carrier in Europe.

The new SAS intra-European cabin.

However, he did tell me that SAS Plus customers should be able to reserve an empty middle seat for a fee by the end of the year.

The two things I took away from the conversation were:

  1. You can already reserve an empty middle seat, though I’ve never seen anyone mention this possibility before. To do so, you need to contact the SAS call center and pay a fee.
  2. SAS will soon charge business class passengers for a feature that is offered for free on most intra-European business class products. All SAS Plus customers will be able to purchase the discounted additional seat online instead of calling.

I suspect the cost of the middle seat will be approximately the same as an economy light ticket. Only time will tell…

Now, let’s compare the price of SAS Plus to Lufthansa.

These roundtrip tickets from Stockholm to Frankfurt are actually more expensive on SAS than Lufthansa — on Google Flights. For some reason, the price was always lower on SAS’ own website. The total for the above itinerary in SAS Plus was $393.

Meanwhile, the Lufthansa price of $430 was correct. I’ve found that SAS Plus pretty consistently costs around as much or more than the competition on international routes. In this scenario, you’re paying $37 more roundtrip on Lufthansa, which offers an empty middle seat. If SAS charges more than $18 each way to block the middle seat, their price will be higher. I have a feeling they’ll be charging a lot more than $18 each way to block the seat.

I will say that SAS tends to offer better in-flight meals on intra-European flights than Lufthansa does.

Dinner in SAS Plus from Frankfurt to Stockholm.

Generally, I wouldn’t recommend paying for intra-European business class unless it’s a feeder flight on a long-haul itinerary. To me, it’s just not worth it.

If you’re interested in seeing more from my interview, you can check it out here.

Are you excited by the possibility of blocking the middle seat in SAS Plus? Do you think it’s reasonable that they charge for the seat?

Comments

  1. hopefully it will show on the seat map as blocked and you can select a seat next to one someone has already paid to block, same benefit on someone else’s dime!

  2. That full inflight meal in SAS Plus is soon history. Read news from yesterday

  3. I’m very impressed with the SAS lounge in Copenhagen. access to it, plus greater flexibility (smaller fees) in terms of making itinerary changes, made SAS Plus worth the extra $80 USD I had to pay for it on a MUC-CPH-BGO one-way i bought in 2015.

  4. I bought a business class ticket to Asia and did not notice (or better said it was not mentioned in the booking process) that they don’t have a real business class intra Europe. All legs showed as business class. I was very much irritated by the selectable middle seat and assumed something got wrong and called their hotline. They did to offer me to pay a fee to block it, so I hardly believe anyone on the service line did know about that option. Seems a cheap one to me to name IT limitation as reason, but than offering the same for some extra bucks is of course not an IT problem…

  5. Hang on, so what if you pay in 1C to keep 1B free and 1A does not? Or what if 1A also pays???

    Intra Europe business is already a joke, especially if you have almost any status that gets you almost all the other offerings.

  6. If you want a seat next to you pay for the seat. This sounds like some serious first world problem shit

  7. From an IT perspective, this seems like a blatant lie because:

    A. If you can block a seat already by calling an agent, that means that there already exists the code in their reservation system for blocking a seat. All that’s needed is to implement additional code that mandates that seats be auto-blocked in certain rows. Even if that’s not on the customer-facing site, it clearly exists in the reservation system the agents use.

    B. If that’s the IT issue he’s saying is too costly to implement (writing additional code), then the IT upgrades that will allow pax to reserve a middle seat for a fee are essentially the same upgrades that should allow a seat to be auto-blocked. The reservation system already knows what seats are considered “business” because they’re priced as such, so knowing that all business class fare seats with B or E positioning should be easy to implement.

    This just sounds like some shady way to make more money and blaming it on IT.

  8. I’ve flown a lot of intra-European “business class” in the last six months, often as a continuation of a trans-Atlantic flight.
    Those economy seats with the middle seat blocked are in no way a business class product. They are completely unacceptable,
    BUT, stuffed in back in steerage, well, I did wish I was in one.
    While parsing on here Guerlain moisturizer or lotus-tinged kir can be lots of fun, United States and European coach/economy/cattle is almost intolerable across the board.
    I was on a 3 1/2 hour flight from Helsinki to Rome with every seat filled and a bathroom line that filled the aisle and never ended almost from take-off to landing. It was suffocating.
    We all know that with airlines now, everything is about squeezing out profits.
    And, as they squeeze, they are taking any pleasure out of flying. BA = SAS = AA = Ryanair

  9. This has been available with SAS for years, and I have purchased this both in Go and Plus. This is nothing new. In Go I think it’s lowest fare available minus taxes, and a fixed price (120 euro I think) in Plus.

    Thumbs up for the articles lately related to SAS though.

    – SAS Diamond member

  10. There are reasons why SAS Plus can be a better deal. Our SAS Plus round trip tickets went down in price by $125 and it was easy to cancel and rebook. Greater luggage allowance (important on a long trip). SAS lounges in Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm are very nice with one exception–food is really, really lacking (surprisingly so). We also flew Lufthansa Business intra-Europe and to us, the food on-board on Lufthansa was significantly better than SAS Plus. Our Lufthansa Business and SAS Plus flights were all in the same week (last month).

  11. Presumably, it’s targeted mainly at their frequent flyer business clients who will fly SAS regardless, rather than look for alternatives via a search engine… I always flew on the airline with which I had membership, when I travelled for work, even if it did cost a handful of Euros more.

  12. I fly frequently SFO-BCN and I have flown “business” class many times from X European city to BCN. The major reason I like biz class is that I don’t have people next to be sitting in my lap. My last intra-Europe biz flight was on SAS from CPH-BCN, a 2.5 hr flight. It was no better than coach. Seated next to me were an indulgent dad and an unhappy, sick 5 year old. The kid was coughing and sniffling and the dad had no apparent knowledge that others can get sick from one’s virus or bacteria. I had to ask the oblivious dad to at least try to use a handkerchief for his germ-spewing son. A TV dinner style blob of something was placed in front of me. All I could tell was that it was some type of meat so I asked for a salad instead. The salad I got hadn’t seen a field in 2 weeks, so I passed on the “dining experience.” The FAs were so busy shoving the carts through the aisles, it took an hour to get a much needed glass of (bad) wine. (Of course, I was sick with a cold for 10 days after the flight) Unfortunately, (today) I have a return to CPH in “SAS Plus.” (Plus what?)

  13. Drav,

    Look at the title of this blog. It neither asks for your perceptions about other bloggers nor does it imply that anyone even cares. I’m a physician. Should you need psychotherapy to further explore your inner perceptions of others whom you encounter on the internet, I can get you some help. Meanwhile, there’s Tinder.

  14. @daniel Still sponsored by Norwegian? You keep mentioning them in your interview with Eivind. Find it difficult to take you seriously.

  15. dsk
    I totally agree – LH interr Europe and even dom on short flights is amazing service and always a free emty seat next to me and why airlines is allowed to call service sas provide in front of the plane for a c class produck – it has ABSOLUTE NOTHING to do with normal airlines business class and sas even cost more – ex aegean airlines y class product is even much better )hot meal free wine great coffee etc. and cheaper than sas so called c class read plus.
    SAS is a big joke inside EUROPE- I can only keep saying it is never worth it .

  16. Every time I read stories like this, I realise how lucky and spoilt we are in Asia. Every Asian airlines carries a business class which really makes a difference.
    None of this blocked seat rubbish like in Europe or underwhelming service standard like US airlines.
    I really hope it stays that way in Asia.

  17. As of yesterday, SAS DID NOT offer lounge access for “SAS plus” at BCN in spite of the fact that’s there’s a pretty nice multi-user lounge there. I will be trying LH

  18. SAS Plus is basically a Premium Economy product, positioned below Business. Like this they hope to attract corporate travellers who are not entitled to fly Business Class, at least not short haul – which is almost everyone, today. Not sure if it pays out, but certainly it works in my company: We can fly SAS Plus but not LH Business on intra Europe routes. Weather it makes sense, given the rather marginal other benefits, depends mainly on the flexibility you need.

  19. On these short European flights I would love to exchange that great meal for an empty middle seat. I hate these chock-a-block flights with a passion.

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