The recent announcement of Air France-KLM’s acquisition of SAS has raised many questions for current EuroBonus members. As the loyalty landscapes merge, many (including us at AwardFares) are re-evaluating whether to remain with EuroBonus or transition to Flying Blue.

This post aims to provide a detailed comparison between the two programs, highlighting key differences and considerations that could influence your decision in this new era of airline alliances.

Overview of EuroBonus: Understanding the New Context

EuroBonus, traditionally Scandinavian Airlines’ loyalty program, now falls under a broader umbrella due to the Air France-KLM acquisition and the transition to SkyTeam. This development could expand EuroBonus’s horizons with different integrated services and benefits.

Key Features:

  • Airline Partners: Part of Star Alliance until September 1st, 2024.
  • Point Earning: Members earn points based on the fare and the flight length.
  • Point Redemption: Points can be used to book new flights, upgrade seats, or shop in the EuroBonus shop.
  • Unique Perks (compared to Flying Blue): Amex 2 for 1 vouchers, MasterCard Fly Premium Benefit, Free WI-FI onboard for Gold+ members, pay cash tickets with points, Gold for Life, EuroBonus Pandion.

Overview of Flying Blue

Flying Blue is the official frequent flyer program for Air France, KLM, and several other subsidiary airlines. It is known for its flexibility in earning and spending miles and its range of elite status benefits. Flying Blue also collaborates with SkyTeam alliance members, broadening the scope for accumulating and redeeming miles.

Key Features:

  • Airline Partners: Includes all SkyTeam members, offering a comprehensive network of global destinations.
  • Mile Earning: Miles are earned based on the amount spent on tickets rather than the distance flown.
  • Mile Redemption: Miles can be redeemed for flights, upgrades, hotel stays, car rentals, and shopping.
  • Unique Perks (compared to Eurobonus): Promo Rewards, Platinum For Life, Magazine Subscriptions, up to 8 Lounge Guests, upgrade vouchers on Ultimate.

Key Differences Between EuroBonus and Flying Blue

Feature SAS EuroBonus Flying Blue
Airlines SAS and Star Alliance partners Air France, KLM, and SkyTeam partners
Earning Points Points earned based on fare and flight distance Miles earned based on amount spent and flight distance
Redemption Options Flights, upgrades, car rentals, hotels, shopping Flights, upgrades, car rentals, hotels, experiences
Points Expiry Points expire after 5 years Miles expire if there is no account activity for 24 months
Status Levels Silver, Gold, Diamond, Pandion Silver, Gold, Platinum, Ultimate
Status Qualification Based on flights taken and/or points earned Based on XP (Experience Points) earned from flights, which is based on amount spent
Status Benefits Priority check-in, extra baggage, lounge access, fast track Priority services, extra baggage, lounge access, guaranteed seating
Family Account Yes, pooling of points within family members Yes, pooling of miles with family and friends
Co-branded Credit Cards Available in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland Available in France, Netherlands, United States, Germany, Italy, and Belgium
Partners Airlines, hotels, car rental, retail, etc. Broad range of partners including airlines, hotels, car rental, retail, etc.
Special Programs Youth tickets, EuroBonus Shop Promo Rewards, Flying Blue Store, special promotions for members

Which Program is Best?

Finding the perfect travel rewards program can feel overwhelming, but don’t worry! There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, as the best program depends on your individual travel habits. Factors like how often you fly, where you go, and your spending habits all play a role.

In this section, we’ll break down both programs across several key areas to help you make an informed decision.

Based on Money Spent and Distance Flown

This table helps you choose the best program for earning points/miles, considering both how much you spend (economy vs. premium fares) and how far you fly (short vs. long-haul).

The point of this assessment is to compare the different types of award charts for various types of travel: Flying Blue’s chart is dynamic and centered on money spent on the ticket, while SAS EuroBonus considers both distance and fare class.

  Ultra-low Fares Medium/Regular Fares Business Class/Premium Fares
Short-Haul Flying Blue Flying Blue SAS EuroBonus
Medium-Haul Flying Blue SAS EuroBonus SAS EuroBonus
Long-Haul SAS EuroBonus SAS EuroBonus SAS EuroBonus

Some Thoughts

For ultra-low fares (Basic Economy and Deals):

  • Short-Haul: Flying Blue might be better as even low spending can accumulate meaningful miles.
  • Medium-Haul and Long-Haul: Flying Blue is more beneficial on medium-haul due to spending-based accumulation, but for long-haul flights, the increased distance makes SAS EuroBonus slightly better due to its distance-based earning, which becomes significant over long distances.

For standard fares (spending average prices)

  • Short-Haul: Flying Blue continues to perform well here due to its spending-based rewards.
  • Medium-Haul and Long-Haul: As ticket prices and distances increase, SAS EuroBonus becomes more advantageous because its combination of distance and fare class potentially yields more points.

For Premium Fares

  • Short-Haul: SAS EuroBonus tends to offer better value as the high fare class combined with even short distances earns a substantial number of points.
  • Medium-Haul and Long-Haul: SAS EuroBonus strongly outperforms in these categories due to higher multipliers for more expensive fare classes and longer distances flown.

Based on Home Country and Destinations

Next, let’s see how program benefits vary by your home country and travel plans. We’ll consider factors like co-branded credit cards, regional promotions, and how valuable miles/points are for redemptions in specific areas. This will help you decide which program offers the most value for your travel preferences.

Home Country/Destination Flying Blue SAS EuroBonus
Scandinavia (Home) Good for flights to/from Europe; limited credit cards Best option; extensive credit card options, optimal for regional travel within Scandinavia
Europe (Home) Best option; numerous credit card options, excellent for intra-European flights Good, especially for travel to/from Scandinavia
Europe to Asia Excellent; strong network via partners, beneficial for flights to Asia Good; benefits from Star Alliance network
Europe to Americas Excellent; offers robust rewards for transatlantic flights, especially via Air France and KLM Good; Star Alliance benefits but fewer direct options than Flying Blue
North America (Home) Best; extensive partner airlines, multiple credit card options Limited; less advantageous due to fewer direct flights and partners
Asia (Home) Good; strong partnerships with Asian airlines, good redemption options Limited; fewer direct connections compared to Flying Blue

Key Points

  • Scandinavia as Home Country: SAS EuroBonus undoubtedly wins here. It is tailored to the needs of Scandinavian travelers, offering extensive local benefits, credit card options, and promotions. Redemption options within Scandinavia and Europe are particularly valuable.
  • Europe as Home Country: Flying Blue generally offers greater flexibility and benefits for European members, with a wide range of airline and non-airline partners across the continent.
  • Long-Distance Flights (Europe to Asia/Americas): Flying Blue tends to be more advantageous due to its strong connections with Air France and KLM, which have extensive networks in these regions. Additionally, Flying Blue often runs promotions that enhance mile earning and redemption on these routes.
  • North America and Asia as Home Countries: Flying Blue offers more benefits due to its extensive network of partner airlines and more frequent direct flights to various destinations in Europe. Additionally, the availability of co-branded credit cards in these regions makes accruing and redeeming miles more accessible and lucrative.

Based on Status

EuroBonus and Flying Blue both reward frequent flyers with tiered memberships, offering a path to unlock valuable perks and accelerate your points/miles accumulation. Earning your way up the tiers can bring exciting benefits like priority boarding, lounge access, and even free flight upgrades. The key difference between the programs lies in how you qualify for these tiers. EuroBonus uses a combination of the amount you spend and the fare class you choose, while Flying Blue focuses primarily on the total amount spent on your tickets.

SAS EuroBonus

Tier Benefits Earn Points Multiplier
Member Earn points on SAS flights 1x
Silver Lounge access on SAS flights, Priority check-in 1.10x
Gold (until August 2024) Lounge access on SAS & Star Alliance partners, Priority boarding, Extra baggage allowance 1.25x
Diamond Priority boarding, extra baggage allowance, complimentary upgrades, Lounge access on SAS & Star Alliance partners (until August 2024). 30% Discount on regular trips paid with points. 1.25x

SAS EuroBonus Status Tiers.

Flying Blue

Tier Benefits Earn Miles Multiplier
Member Earn miles on Air France, KLM & partners 1x
Explorer Priority boarding & baggage allowance 1.25x
Silver Lounge access on Air France, KLM & SkyTeam partners, Priority boarding, Extra baggage allowance 1.5x
Gold Priority boarding, extra baggage allowance, complimentary upgrades on short/medium haul flights 1.8x
Platinum Priority boarding, extra baggage allowance, complimentary upgrades on all flights. Stay Platinum for 10 years in a row by reaching the required threshold and qualify for Platinum for life. 2x
Ultimate Dedicated Ultimate Assistant available 24/7. Complimentary access to Air France and KLM lounges for you and up to eight guests. Extra check-in baggage allowance on Air France, KLM, and SkyTeam flights. Ultimate and/or SkyPriority airport services for you and up to eight travel companions. Four one-cabin upgrade vouchers per membership year. One partner Flying Blue Platinum card 2.25x

Flying Blue Status Tiers.

What if SAS EuroBonus Gets Replaced by Flying Blue?

As expected during major shifts, there are rumors and speculation that in the future, SAS EuroBonus might be ditched or shut down, with Flying Blue replacing it. There’s usually very little point behind speculating, but here are some insights in case that happens, based on what has happened historically with other airline mergers or acquisitions.

  1. Integration into Flying Blue: Members of EuroBonus might have their accounts and points transferred to Flying Blue. This means a new set of rules for earning and redeeming points, and a different network of destinations and services.
  2. Status Alignment: The transition could involve mapping EuroBonus membership tiers to corresponding Flying Blue levels. This might affect how quickly members can earn status and the benefits associated with each tier.
  3. Changes to Benefits and Perks: This may mean new partnerships with hotels, car rentals, and other travel-related services. In addition, co-branded credit cards will be adjusted, for example, in countries with SAS co-branded cards.

Historically, several notable mergers and acquisitions have led to the integration of airline loyalty programs:

  • Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines: After Delta acquired Northwest in 2008, Northwest’s WorldPerks program was absorbed into Delta’s SkyMiles program. The transition involved transferring WorldPerks member balances to SkyMiles and aligning benefits under the SkyMiles framework.
  • United Airlines and Continental Airlines: When United merged with Continental in 2010, Continental’s OnePass program was merged into United’s MileagePlus. Members of OnePass saw their accounts transitioned to MileagePlus, with efforts made to match tier statuses and balance points.
  • American Airlines and US Airways: After their merger in 2013, US Airways’ Dividend Miles program was eventually integrated into American’s AAdvantage program. This included a comprehensive transition plan for transferring miles and aligning elite status levels.

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