SAS crisis sparks EuroBonus concerns
Published: 19 Nov 2012 14:29 GMT+01:00
Updated: 19 Nov 2012 14:29 GMT+01:00
As SAS teeters on the edge of a possible bankruptcy, worried members of the airline's EuroBonus rewards programme remain concerned about whether their painstakingly accumulated points will retain any value.
- SAS chairman: 'now it's business as usual' (19 Nov 12)
- Seven of eight unions sign new deals with SAS (19 Nov 12)
- SAS in talks while staff prepare for bankruptcy (18 Nov 12)
With roughly a month left until Christmas, worried SAS customers wonder if the company will last that long, and whether or not they will be able to use their EuroBonus points to purchase the perfect holiday gift.
“I believe in Santa Claus and in SAS, so I signed up for the EuroBonus Christmas calendar,” tweeted Sasha Vincic, one of 2.8 million EuroBonus customers.
Not only does a festive season calendar still have pride of place on the EuroBonus website, there is little to indicate that customers' points may expire anytime soon.
“Stay calm! You’ve got several years left," the website reads, explaining that all points in the EuroBonus system remain valid for four years after being earned.
Customers who have bought SAS flights with air miles could also be affected should SAS fail to avoid bankruptcy, a prospect which still hangs in the air despite the airline succeeding convincing eight union groups to sign on to a massive savings package on Monday.
“If you have bought a flight with SAS one should assume that the flight is cancelled and you cannot reclaim the money,” legal expert Katarina Karlsson with the Swedish Consumer Agency (Konsumentverket) told The Local, but added that talking about a SAS bankruptcy remains highly speculative.
However, should SAS go bankrupt, flights bought on credit cards would be covered by the issuing bank, while Karlsson urged customers who have used debit cards to check their conditions of use.
Some home insurance policies would also cover the expense, she said. However, flights bought using EuroBonus points could pose problems.
"Whether the miles will be refunded, depends on SAS partner airlines," said Karlsson.
"It depends on how Star Alliance decides to solve the question."
The German headquarters of Star Alliance, an alliance of 28 airlines including SAS and other industry heavyweights such as Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa, could not be reached for comment.
EuroBonus members are certainly important to SAS as they accounted for 41 percent of the company’s income according to its last annual report.
The EuroBonus website suffered performance problems recently due to a spike in visits Sveriges Radio (SR) reported.
And a call from a gold member to the EuroBonus team on Monday morning was rerouted to a general number as its representatives were too busy to respond.
EuroBonus members have also taken to social media outlets to express their concerns and frustrations.
”I’m gonna be properly pissed off if I lose my EuroBonus points. It’ll destroy my plans to go to Canada in the spring,” read one tweet on Monday, that also included an offensive hashtag.
Another user simply said: “Emptied my SAS EuroBonus account yday (sic). Booked a couple of hotel weekends. Fingers crossed...”
A SAS spokesperson told The Local the company was fielding questions about EuroBonus on all channels – by phone, on Facebook, via Twitter – but said the company’s intention was to “keep flying”.
She said that no plan of action for an eventual bankruptcy would be made public.
On Twitter, user Trond H. Bendikten injected a bit of ironic critique into the debate.
”The worst thing if SAS goes bankrupt is all the people who’ll lose their EuroBonus point. The 15,000 people who will lose their jobs, they can just get new ones…”