The recent crew strike at SAS made me realize that I have been on “savings” mode with my EuroBonus points during the entire pandemic. Let’s face it, the world was paused since March 2020, almost no flights, and full of travel restrictions. Certainly one of the toughest times for the travel industry.
It was not until summer 2021 that things slowly started to re-open… very slowly. It was easier to travel within the EU, but much harder to go to the US, South America, Africa, Middle East or Asia. Despite all the paperwork, I did a few trips here and there: Ibiza, Capri, Barcelona and Argentina on AirFrance’s 787.
During this period, almost every frequent flyer program has extended their deadlines and been much more lenient with their qualification requirements, as most frequent travellers were at home.
What to do when you have too many points?
I kept firm with my strategy on racking up and hodling SAS EuroBonus points steadily. When things started to open again, I booked a couple of flights to use my Amex Elite 2×1 coupon on Star Alliance, but still when the strike happened, I had more than 750.000 EuroBonus points sitting on my account. And those were at risk.
If the airline suddenly decided to shut down, or just shut down their program, those points would have absolutely no value at all. It happened to me before. Four times: with AirBerlin, Alitalia, LATAM and Gol Smiles. So I know the drill.
Hence, I kept monitoring the situation carefully and as soon as the strike was over, I was committed to turning all the points I could into useful flights. I managed to book 3 flights I needed, using a total of 174,000 and 4000 SEK.
With these redemptions I brought down my account total to 351.000 EuroBonus points, still giving me some margin for some new redemptions if needed.
Things worth remembering
I add the details of my three redemptions below (in booking order), together with an estimated value-per-point obtained, but before that, I wanted to share my 2 cents on how I reason about “keeping” vs “spending” points:
- An issued ticked is much more powerful that points on an account. We’ve seen many times that airlines devalue the points with very short notice, or they remove seat availability. It gets tricky because having lots of points may give the illusion of having something very valuable, which is fake. The only moment when points are worth something is when you redeem them!
- Saving points are great when you have a target. If you are aiming for that companion ticket to Thailand in first class, sure, focus your efforts and save every point you can. However, if you don’t have such a target in mind and you are just racking up points every month, keep an eye on where can your points take you already and book if you are convinced. You might find nice surprises 🙂
A great tool for this is AwardFares, which lets you explore those award flights based on availability per frequent flyer program. You can filter out those on SAS EuroBonus.
- Award tickets are (mostly) safe! Remember that the conditions on most award tickets, particularly on SAS EuroBonus, are quite flexible. Most of them are refundable, so if you change your mind or itinerary you can always recover your points and what taxes paid.
- Cash is king. If you hold cash, you can always buy a ticket. If you hold points, you never know for sure…
- Don’t wait to book. if you already have trips planned and know dates, don’t leave it for later, book right away! Availability changes every second, and you never know if those seats are going to be available, or the rates are going to be the same.
My rule of thumb is that EuroBonus points are typically worth between 2 to 2.5 euro cents (€0.02 – €0.025). That is typically the threshold I use to decide whether it is a good redemption or not.
In some cases, I’ve used points even at a bad redemption rate, just because I had many other expenses that month and didn’t want to keep using cash (as a way to alleviate the credit card).
In the flights below, you will see that the first one is an excellent redemption rate, often not seen, partly because I used one of my Amex Elite 2-for-1 vouchers. The remaining two flights were not the best redemptions ever, but as I mentioned before: the main driver for booking was to bring down the amount of points I had and fix relatively decent rates, and reduce the risk of having all those points sitting on my account with no use, and instead paying for all those flights I needed with cash.
(all bookings and rates are for 2 passengers)
Flight #1: Copenhagen to Miami with Swiss Airlines – 78.000 points on Business Class
I needed to go from Sweden to Miami and sure, there are very good deals out there on economy class or even premium economy. I’ve seen flights for €250 with luggage included, and given that those are often day flights, it is not so crucial to be in a lie-flat bed, compared to those red-eyes.
However, I only needed one-way, and except for low-costs, booking those with cash are often more expensive. Using AwardFares I suddenly found two seats on September 6th with Swiss Airlines, but from Copenhagen.
I went ahead and booked them right away. Sure, I would need a position flight to CPH, but given that I could use an Amex 2-4-1 voucher, it was a no brainer.
I’m also excited about these flights for two reasons: first, I never flew Swiss long-haul. Second, I can try their business class product on their 777-300ER, which I always wanted!
Overall, I’m very happy for this redemption and I’m sure it will feel like a “short” flight after all 🙂
- price paid (2 passengers): 78.000 EuroBonus points + 2048 SEK (€196)
I used an Amex Elite 2-4-1 voucher to get 50% off my points
- flight cost at time of booking: €9718
- cents-per-point: €0.122
Flight #2: Madrid to Stockholm with LOT Polish Airlines – 72.000 points on Business Class
There are some Iberia flights in Business Class at around €450, but those were not available at that time. The cheapest option I could find was in economy at €730, and I didn’t want to pay that much for these flights. Instead, I found the following options with LOT Polish Airlines.
I’m excited about these flights since I get to try LOT for the first time, also the Embraer E195LR (long range), AND fly via Warsaw/Poland for the first time! 🙂
- Price paid (2 passengers): 72.000 EuroBonus points + 1660 SEK (€159)
- Flight cost at time of booking: €1240
- cents-per-point: €0.015
Flight #3: Stockholm to Copenhagen with SAS – 24.000 points on SAS Plus
This one is actually the positioning flight for Flight #1. I needed to go to CPH for my Swiss flight, so to be fully honest, these points should add up to the first one and it should all be considered one flight.
These rates were not amazing, but the cheapest flights in cash (with luggage) were more than 1700 SEK per person, and I didn’t want to spend 3500 SEK (€350) on those short hops as we will have plenty of expenses in Miami. Then I went ahead and booked.
The nice part was that SAS let me use my SAS World Elite Mastercard benefits to upgrade to SAS Plus but book on the SAS Go rate. Instead of costing 36.000 points, it was 24.000, but we travel SAS Plus.
- price paid (2 passengers): 24.000 EuroBonus points + 420 SEK (€40)
Used my SAS World Elite Mastercard benefit to get on SAS Plus for free, otherwise the ticket would cost 36.000 points
- Flight cost at time of booking: €512
- cents-per-point: €0.019