SAS Business Class Passengers Will Lose Access to Multiple Lounges
The Scandinavian airline SAS announced today that it would no longer allow business class passengers access to certain lounges in cities across the globe. In addition to cutting back on lounge access, SAS business class passengers will lose access to Fast Track lanes in additional cities. The following lounges that will no longer be a part of SAS business class service are third-party lounges contracted out by SAS.
According to SAS, the following lounge locations will be affected by this announcement;
Effective January 1st: Billund, Dubrovnik, Dublin, Nice, Riga, Split, Venice, Vilnius
Effective February 1st: Aalborg, Aberdeen, Malaga, Alicante, Barcelona, Birmingham, Bologna, Budapest, Edinburgh, Rome, Faro, Gdansk, Keflavik, Krakow, Pulkovo, London, Milan, Las Palmas, Linkoping, Manchester, Malta, Newcastle, Olbia, Bucharest, Palma de Mallorca, Palermo, Poznan, Prague, Pisa, Moscow, Tallin, Tel Aviv, Valencia, Wroclaw
Effective January 1st (Asia): Tokyo-Narita
Effective February 1st (Asia): Boston, Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai
Additionally, SAS is terminating agreements with third party Fast Track providers in the following cities;
Effective January 1st: Dublin, Milan/Linate, Milan/Malpensa, Rome, Vilnius
Effective February 1st: Geneva, Malaga
Why Did SAS Make This Decision?
Of course, the main reason that goes without saying is cost cutting measures. SAS has experienced some turbulent times in the last decade and is making efforts to round out their service. From updated lounges to a brand new business class product, SAS is going all in on transforming their airline. As part of this transformation, services and amenities the airline sees as unnecessary and costly are being cut while new services and products are being introduced.
Though it all makes sense from a corporate standpoint, this greatly reduces the value of a business class ticket on select SAS flights. Business class passengers in Dublin, Rome, and Tel Aviv will lose both a place to unwind before their flight but also priority security. It’s already known that intra-European business class is often nothing more than an open middle seat and an upgraded meal service, removing priority services on the ground makes SAS business class in select markets very hard to justify.
“SAS is ongoing strengthening our offer in the air as well as on ground, where we are investing in SAS Lounges and SAS Fast track at our main airports and our destinations with the largest number of travelers. SAS is investing in digital solutions, new upgraded cabins, new aircraft, high-speed WiFi on all aircraft and have recently launched news in food & beverage onboard. On ground, to be able to continue and invest, expand and improve SAS Lounges and Fast Track offer, SAS will end our collaboration with some of our contracted lounges operated by third-parties. The result will be a continued improvement of SAS own offer where it benefits most of our Plus/Business travelers, members and 29 million yearly passengers. To mention a few examples SAS will invest in new and bigger domestic lounges at Arlanda and Oslo Gardemoen as well as upgrading our international SAS Lounges in New York, Paris and Chicago.” Link
This is a pretty big move from Norway’s largest airline. SAS has an extensive route network throughout Europe, Asia, and serves North America. Ending agreements with these third-party lounges will put the airline at a disadvantage as it fights to fend off competition from new low-cost carriers like Norwegian Air Shuttle. Depending on the quality of the lounge at an airport, Fast Track security might be a bigger loss to some SAS business class passengers. SAS did, however, state that at major international airports like London and its Asian destinations would still have Star Alliance lounges for business class passengers and select elite travelers. Cutting ties with third-party lounges where alliance lounges operate makes sense, however, cutting ties with third-party lounges where alternatives do not exist is not a very smart move if the airline is working towards overhauling their brand.
What do you think of SAS’ decision to cut ties with third-party lounges? Might other airlines follow in SAS’ footsteps?