Scandinavia’s crown jewel of the skies recently announced a nearly nine percent passenger increase for the month of September, a formidable accomplishment given the financial woes endured by many other Danish stalwarts these days. But only days later, SAS declared that, in future, beverages – aside from water, tea and coffee – would cost money if asked for outside meal time when travelling in economy class.
Apparently some genius at the Stockholm headquarters decided that their customers weren’t already shelling out enough, and SAS will begin charging 20 kroner for a soft drink.
SAS contends that the move will mean fewer drinks consumed in economy, which will reduce the aircraft’s weight and generate fuel savings. They also claim that passengers will benefit because the crew will become more ‘visible’ in the cabin as a result, whatever that means. Sounds like a cargo load of bollocks to me.
It’s the latest daft move from an airline that continues to alienate its customers as it continues on its downward trajectory towards budget-airline ignominy.
Earlier this month, I went on Momondo and searched five random roundtrips from Copenhagen to New York, London, Istanbul, Barcelona and Rio de Janeiro.
SAS was beat in price by 11 different airlines to NY, 8 to London, 9 to Rio, 14 to Barcelona and 19 to Istanbul. Now, I’m no airline specialist, but wouldn’t you expect a local flag carrier to offer cheaper flights to Istanbul than the likes of Egypt Air or Swiss Air? SAS already charges more than most of its competitors for the ticket, and now they want to charge luxuriant prices for drinks to boot? In 2009, US Airways was forced to abandon its policy of charging for drinks following uproar from passengers. Apparently the Scandinavians didn’t bother learning from the Americans’ lesson.
As someone who enjoys silence when embarking on voyages, sitting in the ‘no sound’ compartments of the trains to avoid audible irritants, you can imagine my unbridled glee when SAS announced brilliant idea number two: from the end of this year, people will be able to text and talk on their mobile phones during the flight. I’m sure a few social media addicts leapt for joy at the news, but I can say with a reasonable degree of confidence that the idea is a dubious one at best. One of the last bastions of defence against social-media induced aggravation has been compromised.
We all yearn for sitting in the vicinity of some narcissistic jackass who feels self-important when he’s yapping on the phone about some high-profile meeting in Hong Kong or whatnot. You know the type, first to turn on their phones upon arrival, followed by an abnormally boisterous conversation while filing off the plane. Usually, the ‘delightful’ banter hinges on portfolios, stock options, “Let’s do lunch” or projecting to everyone their general awesomeness. Dude, you’re sitting next to a struggling journalist in economy class, clearly you’re not Gordon Gekko.
Ah, my kingdom for a plane full of mimes and mutes.
“Relax, we’re on time”, is the SAS slogan on their website, which also conveys that they’re the most punctual airline in Europe. Patting yourself on the back for providing the most basic of passenger expectations is not something to be proud of. Treating your long-time customers, who are also struggling through a quagmire of financial duress, with a bit of respect, is. Loyalty is a two-way street. No one will pay that extra few hundred kroner to fly with SAS if they continue to compromise their product. You want to charge 20 kroner for a can of Faxe Kondi, SAS? Fine, then I want tickets priced on par with Ryan Air, because honestly, that’s the direction your service is heading.