My Strange Experience Trying to Book An Award Ticket with SAS Eurobonus

Eurobonus is the loyalty program of Scandinavian Airlines, the flag carrier of Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. The program advertises having over five million members and is the primary loyalty program of literally every Swede I know. I also credit flights to Eurobonus sometimes when earnings are good, but between their lacking technology and the inability to book Star Alliance award tickets via their website, I haven’t really invested in the program.

Well, given my recent discovery of how valuable SAS co-branded credit cards can be, I had a look through their award chart. Interestingly, Central/Northern Africa and the Middle East are all in the same zone. In theory, this means you could fly from Lagos to Dubai for the same price as Muscat to Dubai. I dove in deeper to find out more.

An SAS 737 at Gardermoen Airport.

I searched award space and pulled up the following routing on united.com:

Then I made a call to SAS reservations to price out the reservation since it wasn’t possible to book online. After five minutes of holding, a friendly man answered and quickly pulled up options for LOS to DXB on July 24th. He initially suggested the following routing in business class:

July 24 Lagos to Frankfurt with Lufthansa
July 25 Frankfurt to Zurich with Swiss
July 25 Zurich to Dubai with Swiss

Good! Now I knew it was possible to route this itinerary through Europe. I asked him to check on options in first class, providing him with the exact flight numbers and departure/arrival times. He quickly pulled up the exact same flights I had found on United’s website. This is where it got weird.

Lufthansa First Class.

The dialogue went something like this:
Him: “Would you like to go ahead and book this?”
Me: “Yes, please. First I’d just like to know the price of the ticket if you wouldn’t mind.”
Him: “Sorry sir, pricing is handled by another department. Would you like me to proceed with the reservation?”
Me: “But how can we make a reservation if I don’t know the price. Do you have any idea what the price could be?”

He responded by saying that taxes could be anywhere between $200-400 and we wouldn’t know until the reservation was complete. Okay, that’s fair enough, I guess. I asked if he could at least find out the cost in miles. Looking at the award chart, Nigeria and the UAE are in the same zone, and the ticket should cost 70,000 miles roundtrip in first.

Update: As some commenters have noted, SAS does not allow transfers in second zones unless it’s at a steep price premium. Interestingly, one agent still quoted the lower price. Read on and see what you make of the situation.

He searched around for about 10 minutes before telling me he’d have to put me on hold and go ask a colleague. Seriously? I’m surprised the system doesn’t show the mileage cost of a ticket.

10 minutes later he returned and quoted “72,000 miles + taxes and fees”. One-way tickets are supposed to cost 60% of the roundtrip cost, so that should have been 42,000 miles. Instead, it seems like the cost he provided was for Southern Africa to Dubai, at 120,000 miles roundtrip. I explained that they were supposed to be in the same zone, and he told me that 72,000 miles was the correct price and that he didn’t “make the rules.” This clearly wasn’t going anywhere, so I decided to HUCA (hang up and call again).

This time I went for their US Eurobonus center and ended up speaking with a Scandinavian guy again. I told him my desired itinerary, to which he responded: “that’s not possible sir – we don’t have that flight.” I asked him to please check in the system at least. He found them straight away…

Everything went fast again until I asked him about the price. This time he immediately put me on hold. It took 20 minutes until he returned and quoted 42,000 miles one-way. Whew, that was an adventure. Maybe he took the drive from SAS’ call center to HQ in that time?

So, what’s the point of this article?

Well, firstly, 42,000 miles for 13 hours in Lufthansa First Class is absolutely insane. I plan on taking advantage of this offer sometime soon. Secondly, if the price doesn’t sound right, always hang up and call again. If I’d gone ahead with the price the first agent had told me, I might have paid more than the roundtrip cost for a one-way ticket. However, the problem here seems to be that airlines need to empower their employees. As Ben would say: C’mon SAS, you’re better than this. I’ve never heard of anyone needing 20 minutes to find the mileage cost of an award on a fixed price award chart. Ultimately, I just called to make sure I was able to route through Europe for such a low price. The outcome was good, but the process wasn’t easy.

Comments

  1. I miss the old Dividend Miles days where your routings were only limited by your imagination and your perseverance!

  2. Always try to book by SAS call center in Tallinn. They answer in evenings and weekends. Much better service. Booked a very complicated iternery yesterday in 10 min without any problems.

  3. Daniel I’ve had horrendous service with UA call centre re miles bookings etc. I pulled out a few white hairs next day. Not a good look I think. Do these agents keep updated with product knowledge ? Incompetent to say the least.

  4. Do you think it is possible to do similar trick and fly from Europe to Asia via USA for the price of direct flight?

  5. The correct price is indeed 72 000 points + taxes and fees. If the flight goes through another area that is more expensive (in this case Europe), that will be the actual price.

  6. “Well, firstly, 42,000 miles for 13 hours in Lufthansa First Class is absolutely insane. ”

    Well the flight from Lagos to Frankfurt lasts 6h30. The rest will be in Business with Swiss, unless you’ve received another routing.

  7. The correct price of this flight combination you found is 72 000 Eurobonus points + taxes and fees. 60% of 120 000 points is 72 000 and not 42 000.

    According to Eurobonus regulations if your flight crosses to another area (in this case Europe) that is more expensive than your departure and arrival areas, the more expensive one will be your price. So, in this case it´s calculated as you would fly to Europe although you actually continue forwards.

    Please, be more careful what you post in the future.

  8. 6h30 in plane plus over 7h in First Class terminal and/or lounge, and maybe some time in Zurich first class lounge.

  9. @Jani Are you sure? There is no *A airline that offers F within that region, so I’d assume they’d let you transfer somewhere else? Regardless, one of the agents clearly had the wrong pricing… I prefer the second suggestion, though 😉

  10. Jani would appear to be correct. From the Eurobonus website:

    “In some cases, there are no direct Star Alliance flights within a zone or between two zones, so you must transit in another zone, which could make the award trip more expensive. Transfer may never be made in a zone more expensive than the destination zone.”

  11. @Daniel Yes but it will get rejected at a later date and you will get moved to business. There is no way around the Swiss restrictions.

  12. This is one of the few areas where UA shines. You can book *A awards on their website and never have to call in.

    With SAS, you always have to call in and it’s a long and time-wasting process. Now the only miles I put on Eurobonus are those in a premium class on SK metal due to the earning bonus.

  13. How you could post it?

    1. You didn’t make final booking
    2. You calculations are wrong, because if you travel via other zone you pay in points more because you have 2 redemption tickets in this case
    Dubai-Europe
    Europe-Lagos

    this post is waste of time, you make your readers fools

  14. Quite interesting to see a post about Nigeria, are you actually visiting Nigeria? That’s my country lol

  15. @Kurt & Storm – interesting. Thanks for pointing that out! I wonder if the agent could have got me the 42,000-mile award since that’s the price he quoted. In any case, I’ll update the post to reflect this.

  16. This was an interesting read. However, I am far more interested as to why you will be traveling to Lagos. Will you actually be visiting the city? I hope so as I would enjoy reading of your impressions (I was there for work last year).

  17. Unfortunately, u really do need to book it, to truly claim it is possible. It is pretty common to know agents will price it at the higher region price. Only if u managed to successfully book it, be it manually or online system, then u can claim so. If not, readers will simply cast doubts as to whether the booking will be eventually successful, despite the verbal offer of the lower mileage.

  18. Well, whether the rules are correct or not does not really matter.

    After winter schedule kicks in, there is no LH First Class in the region of North/Central Africa and Middle East. Since you cannot book LX First Class on Eurobonus Awards, there is zero possibilities to use this award.

  19. @Jani Hyppänen

    If I understand you well, does it mean that Europe to Asia via the USA (USA is cheaper than Asia) would come at the cost of direct Europe to Asia? That would be nearly a RTW!

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