After filing for bankruptcy a long time ago, Scandinavian Airlines has been under major restructuring following the U.S. Chapter 11 process. Today, the airline announced something hard to predict: it will be acquired by a consortium that includes Air France-KLM. As part of the announcement, SAS will leave Star Alliance and join SkyTeam after tightening cooperation with AF/KL operations.
This is really interesting for many reasons. First, SAS is a founding member of Star Alliance, so it’s sad to see it go. Second, there were rumors that Lufthansa would take over SAS or at least inject money as they have done for Alitalia, Brussels Airlines, and many others.
SAS travelers and loyal customers seem to be puzzled. If you read online, there are many concerns about what will happen to the SAS EuroBonus program, its benefits, members, and points.
Here’s a quick roundup of the news, plus a few tips on what to do as a EuroBonus member.
SAS Acquisition: The News
SAS has reached a significant milestone in its Chapter 11 process by selecting a winning consortium to invest in the company. The consortium includes Castlelake, Air France-KLM, and Lind Invest. The deal is expected to close in 2024. SAS will exit the Star Alliance and join SkyTeam.
The transaction includes a $1.175 billion investment, with $475 million new equity and $700 million secured convertible debt. The new investment will help SAS to reduce its debt and invest in its future growth.
SAS’s decision to join SkyTeam is a significant one. SkyTeam is one of the world’s largest airline alliances, with members from all over the globe. Joining SkyTeam will give SAS access to a wider network of destinations and more opportunities for code-sharing and other partnerships.
The transaction is expected to close in 2024. Once the transaction is closed, SAS will exit Chapter 11 and begin a new chapter in its history.
Here are some of the potential benefits of the deal for SAS:
- Reduced debt: The new investment will help SAS to reduce its debt and improve its financial position.
- Increased investment: SAS will be able to invest in its future growth, including new aircraft, new routes, and new technologies.
- Access to a wider network: SAS’s membership in SkyTeam will give it access to a wider network of destinations and more opportunities for code-sharing and other partnerships.
- Improved customer experience: SAS will be able to offer its customers more benefits, such as access to more lounges and priority boarding.
EuroBonus Alert: SAS Will Leave Star Alliance And Join SkyTeam
Whether you are EuroBonus Pandion or Diamond, Lifetime Gold, or just getting started, the future can indeed be unsettling. The transition to joining SkyTeam can take up to 2 years, and until now, we don’t know when changes will be implemented.
Under these circumstances, here are some strategies you can start thinking about when it comes to next steps.
Strategy 1: Burn, burn, burn.
Who’s this strategy for?
Those who already have enough points and wish to redeem/fly on Star Alliance partner airlines, including certain cabins (Lufthansa First, ANA, Turkish Airlines, United Polaris, etc.). It can also be a good idea for those who have Amex Fly 2-for-1 vouchers available for use, as you can get great redemptions on Star Alliance partners.
If you had a trip in mind with any Star Alliance partner, this is the time to book it. For example, if you dream of flying Lufthansa First Class, ANA First, Turkish Airlines Business Class on the A350, Ethiopian Airlines 787 Business Class, etc., those partner redemptions won’t be available after SAS leaves Star Alliance.
Remember that SAS will leave Star Alliance much sooner than it will join SkyTeam. Also, we know nothing about pricing on future redemptions, elite status benefits, or partners. So, if you have the points, book right away and secure good redemptions before changes happen.
This strategy is safe under high speculation and fluctuation periods, just like the stock market or economic crises. I’ve used it many times, you can check out these posts:
Strategy 2: HODL and observe
Who’s this strategy for?
Those who just started out have very few points. It’s not worth wasting them on crappy flights or items. Just wait, keep earning, and most likely you are still going to get good opportunities down the line. You still have time to think about new routes, itineraries, and airlines once things are more settled.
HODL (hold on for dear life) is a term mostly used for other things, such as currency, crypto, and assets, but why not apply it here too? In this case, you’ll hang on to your EuroBonus points and earning strategy no matter what happens until things settle a bit in 12-24 months.
If you fast-forward two years, maybe SAS is already part of SkyTeam, EuroBonus still exists, and you have been earning points on your flights and purchases for a long time, enough to make redemptions on airlines such as Air France, KLM, Delta, and many more. They fly to A TON of destinations and have attractive awards in all other programs (like Flying Blue and SkyMiles), so chances are you will still get lucky and be able to fly for free with your EuroBonus points.
Just be patient, and keep earning as you do today. The only caveat would be to pay attention to the news and stop flying Star Alliance as soon as you stop earning EuroBonus points for those flights.
Strategy 3: Status match and start over
Who’s this strategy for?
Elite status holders and those who fly a lot. Most often, airlines want to attract high-paying customers and heavy frequent flyers. They offer status match promotions to make the transition smoother and give a taste of what a different airline/alliance can do without starting again from scratch.
Whether you are aiming to keep flying Star Alliance or you are willing to switch to an alternative, the truth is that you can start from scratch on another frequent flyer program. Most airlines, during these major changes on their competition, open promotional periods where they attract new clients by ‘status matching’.
If you are SAS Silver, Gold, or Diamond and show that to another airline like ITA Airways, Air Europa, British Airways, or even Air France/KLM, they might upgrade you to the same elite status level on their own program. This way, you ‘switch’ to them without losing any benefits.
This strategy can be great if you pay for full-fare tickets and spend a significant budget on flights yearly (like business travelers). However, it’s not a great option for those based in Scandinavia, given that most credit cards partner with SAS and not other airlines.
What I think: Mixed Feelings
On one hand, I wasn’t expecting this. I would assume Lufthansa was a better candidate to take over and steer more changes towards Star Alliance. I will certainly miss the chance to use Amex Fly 2-for-1 vouchers on Lufthansa First Class, United Polaris, Copa Airlines, and other Star Alliance partners.
On the other hand, I’m always excited about change and curious to see what’s next. I’ve been a heavy AF/KLM flyer and have my collection of Dutch houses courtesy of KLM (38+). Mainly because they offer great options to deep South America, where I fly a lot, also, our national airline in Argentina (Aerolineas Argentinas) is a SkyTeam member, so this new partnership means I will be able to get new connecting flights from Sweden all the way to Argentina, which I always dreamed of (e.g., SAS + KLM + AR).
Check out these posts where you can read more tips
- SAS Will Leave Star Alliance! Here’s What To Do Next (AwardFares)
- SAS Press Release
- StatusMatcher: Check status match promotions.