Today we have a Reader Question about how to handle an award ticket which has been issued by a Star Alliance partner operated by SAS during the current pilot strike.
A friend of mine and reader of LoyaltyLobby contacted me to ask about how to handle a situation involving SAS and his Aegean Miles&Bonus award ticket during the coming days as the airline has already cancelled all Shanghai flights day by day.
John previously wrote about the SAS Pilot Strike and the resulting cancellations.
You can access SAS’ page for strike information here.
SAS offers pro-active re-booking options with the caveat that it’s for SAS’ own tickets only:
We are offering our customers to voluntary change their reservation free of charge on My Bookings, even if the flight hasn’t yet been affected or canceled as long as the following criteria are met:
· Your flight is with SAS
· Flight is not cancelled
· The departure date of your flight are between 26-29 April 2019
· Your ticket number starts with 117
· Your ticket is issued on/before 24 April 2019
· The ticket is purchased on SAS web, SAS App or SAS Call Center.
· If you booked via a travel agent or a tour operator, please contact them directly.
You can rebook to a SAS flight on another date to the same destination if the same service class as the original ticket is available. The new date of travel may not be earlier than 06May until 30 September 2019.
So when my friend asked me about his SAS flight I assumed it had already been cancelled but that wasn’t the case yet. He was just impatient and didn’t want to wait what is coming his way.
Initially he booked 2 seats on SAS with his Aegean Miles&Bonus miles because that way the surcharges for the award flights are minimal, restricted to the actual airport taxes and fees. To change the flight to another airline such as SWISS or Lufthansa would cost him an extra 250 Euro per ticket.
His question: Should he rebook this ticket himself as long as there are still seats available or wait and see what SAS does with his flight?
My argument was that changing the flight by himself will result in nothing but extra expenses without any recourse to claim the additional cost back from SAS. As soon as you cancel a ticket without cause – meaning the flight hasn’t been cancelled yet – you have invalidated the ticket yourself and forfeited all claims for compensation under the original itinerary.
Should the passenger keep the ticket and a cancellation occurs on the day of departure then SAS is required per EC 261/2004 to re-book affected passengers to their final destination at the earliest opportunity even if that means flying them on airlines outside their own alliance – without extra expenses of course.. They may not offer all options voluntarily, however and often customers have to cite the regulation and insist to be re-booked on certain carriers.
The advantage of being re-booked on the day of departure is that someone with an award ticket will most likely end up in a revenue booking class on another carrier and therefore be able to collect additional miles from the new flight.
In this case patience wasn’t a virtue and my friend decided to pay the extra money to re-book the flight on his own initiative from SAS to Lufthansa, forcing the payment of additional charges. This way he avoided the uncertainty and lining up at the airport so it’s a trade-off.
This re-booking would have been free had he waited until the day of departure. Customers are also eligible for duty to care that means accommodation, meals and phone cards in case of long delays resulting from strike cancellations. Cash compensation per EC261/2004 is not applicable.