We joined SACC Chicago for a talk on innovation and digitalization at Scandinavian Airlines during a recent trip through the windy city. The event was held at one of the world’s largest incubators and startup locations, 1871, housing close to 500 companies in the Merchandise Mart.
The airline is no newcomer to innovation. It was first to introduce windows in every row (yes!), first with tourist class in 1952 and also (much later) with the inventive Euroclass. The DC4 “Dan Viking” opened the first scheduled European commercial passenger service in New York in 1946, and more than 60 years ago Elvis Presley crooned to a group of Scandinavian princesses disembarking from the world’s first flight to LA over the North Pole. The airline also pioneered the world’s longest shortcut over the North Pole to Tokyo in 1957.
In Chicago, the speaker from SAS, General Manager Americas Max Knagge, shed light on where the airline is heading today. He stressed how increased competition from low cost carriers are pushing the full service airline in two ways: offering more competitive prices through higher efficiency, relocation of its fleet and cost savings but also through innovative new services to frequent travelers. By expanding the travel chain and offering a variety of ways to make life easier for the traveler, SAS aims to continue the profitable operations of recent years.
It was fun to hear an insider describe services in the form of new technology for boarding passes, digital bag tags and a new generation of airport lounges set to offer a complete Scandinavian design experience. Scandinavian Airlines's direction makes it more of a lifestyle company, providing premium experiences in a variety of ways, from travel to ways of making life easier in between trips. Why shouldn’t they arrange for filling the fridge with food as the seasoned business traveler returns after a long journey?
For now, SAS has expanded services to the U.S. with three new direct routes added in 2016 — to Los Angeles from Stockholm, Miami from Oslo and Miami from Copenhagen. With seven destinations in the U.S. it has direct flights to Scandinavia from Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Houston, New York, San Francisco and Washington Dulles.
It also increased the number of departures from Stockholm to New York and Chicago, and over 330,000 additional seats on its intercontinental routes. For more info, see www.flysas.com, www.sasgroup.net, www.1871.com, www.sacc-chicago.org

Max Knagge, General Manager Americas for Scandinavian Airlines in conversation with Lakshmi Shenoy, VP of Strategy at 1871.

Jimmie Björling, SACC member and part of 1871 startup Content Carnivores giving a guided tour stopped in front of a blackboard that lists all activities at the center—a hands-on reminder of the value of computers for sure.…