Who Is Lufthansa Miles & More Good For?
For many North American frequent flyers, Lufthansa is best known for its uber-luxurious first class, but in Europe, it is actually the largest airline, and it has the largest frequent flyer program on the continent. The program has more than 25 million members.
Miles & More may have started as a Lufthansa-specific program, but it is now the primary frequent flyer program of 13 European airlines, including SWISS, Brussels Airlines and Luxembourgs Luxair.
Award flights on Lufthansa, in particular, fall into an interesting catch-22. You don’t get good availability on Lufthansa flights when you book through other Star Alliance partners, such as United and Air Canada, and if you book them through Miles & More, you’re facing hefty fuel surcharges. British Airways-level hefty: $300-$600 to get across the pond.
|MILES & MORE||STAR ALLIANCE||MILES|
|POINTS TRANSFER PARTNERS|
|SPG (STARWOOD PREFERRED GUEST)|
- Air IndiaAir India
- Air MaltaAir Malta
- Condor AirlinesCondor Airlines
- TAM AirlinesTAM Airlines
- Adria AirwaysAdria Airways
- Aegean AirlinesAegean Airlines
- Air AstanaAir Astana
- Air CanadaAir Canada
- Air ChinaAir China
- Air DolomitiAir Dolomiti
- Air NewZealandAir NewZealand
- Asiana AirlinesAsiana Airlines
- Brussels AirlinesBrussels Airlines
- Copa AirlinesCopa Airlines
- Croatia AirlinesCroatia Airlines
- Ethiopian AirlinesEthiopian Airlines
- Eva AirEva Air
- Jet AirwaysJet Airways
- Scandinavian AirlinesScandinavian Airlines
- Shenzhen AirlinesShenzhen Airlines
- Singapore AirlinesSingapore Airlines
- South African AirwaysSouth African Airways
- TAP PortugalTAP Portugal
- Thai AirwaysThai Airways
- Turkish AirlinesTurkish Airlines
- United AirlinesUnited Airlines
However, if you are looking to use your points not just to get around, but for really premium products, Miles & More may be the program for you. Award space in some of the world’s most luxurious cabins, Lufthansa and Swiss first class seats opens up nearly a year in advance only to members of these programs, and first class awards on partners can be a major bargain if you play your cards right.
- Dusseldorf Airport
- Frankfurt Airport
- Munich Airport
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How Can You Use Lufthansa Miles & More Miles?
Though the hefty fuel surcharges levied on its own flights seem to make Lufthansa an unattractive frequent flyer program choice, it’s incredibly flexible routing rules can still allow you to get a 3-cent-per-mile value on your awards.
On the standard U.S.-Europe round-trip, U.S. residents get a discount, so the award costs 50,000 points. Pretty standard. Fees can easily add up to $600, which is not so attractive. But if you take advantage of a stopover and open-jaw each direction, you can easily create an itinerary that would ticket at several thousand dollars and allow you to have quite the European city tour.
Lufthansa uses two different award charts: one for Lufthansa (and associated airlines like Swiss) flights, and one for Star Alliance partners, which is based on regions. Awards are calculated primarily on the number of regions traversed, and you are allowed more segments (thus stopovers and creative routings) the more regions you go though in one itinerary.
If, for instance, you need to lay over somewhere in a different region to get between two destinations in the same region, your award price will reflect the number of regions you travel through, not the number of regions you would cross as the crow flies between your departure point and destination.
- No fee for booking by phone
- No fee for cancellations before award is ticketed (typically 24 hours)
- Five-day itinerary holds on Lufthansa, Swiss, Asiana Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Croatia Airlines and Ethiopian Airlines
- One-way bookings available on Lufthansa
- One open-jaw per ticket
- One stopover per direction on tickets that cross regions
- Fly Smart fares bookable two weeks before departure require 50 percent fewer miles
- Award tickets in Swiss first class may only be booked by Miles & More members
- Taxes and fees can be paid in award miles on intra-European flights
- Award flight bookings available 361 days before departure
- Award tickets for children 2-11 require 75 percent the usual award miles
- U.S. residents pay 10,000 award miles less for a round-trip flight to Europe
- $60 change or cancellation fee
- No changes to departure or destination airports permitted
- Award flights cannot be booked less than two days before departure
- Award miles cannot be transferred
- Award miles expire with 36 months of inactivity
- Many cash tickets do not earn 100 percent mileage credit
Best Value Awards:
While it seems like the coveted Swiss and Lufthansa first class would be the best award you could get with Lufthansa award miles, they actually stretch the farthest when used on United. Surprise, surprise!
As Lufthansa has very high fuel surcharges, especially when you cross an ocean, flying a partner with no fuel charges within one region is often your best use of Miles & More, and with United, you can actually fly first class domestically for 17,000 miles one-way. That’s barely more than you would pay for the lowest award level for economy flights on United.
Worst Value Awards:
While many frequent flyers use Lufthansa miles to get into their (and Swiss) first class cabins without waiting until the last minute, as Lufthansa doesn’t release first class awards to partners until very close to departure, first class redemptions with Miles & More can in many cases be the worst value awards because of fees.
Booking first class awards using Miles & More to fly on other airlines typically cost far more than booking through that airline directly. First class to Europe on United will run 85,000 miles and several hundred in fees each way when booked through Lufthansa, but 80,000 miles and typically less than $50 in fees through United.
The Good Stuff: Upgrades and Elite Status
Upgrading with miles through Miles & More is difficult because you must purchase a B or Y economy ticket or business class ticket to be eligible. If you have one of those fare classes, upgrades run relatively standard, but high. Rates: 10,000 to business and 15,000 to first in Europe; 35,000 to business and 50,000 to first from the U.S. to Europe.
They have recently launched an option to upgrade to premium economy that is only available on flights to Germany, but it can be used in H, M, Q, S, U, V, and W fare classes.
Lufthansa Miles & More Elite Levels and Perks
In the 2014 Freddie Awards, which recognize frequent flyers most beloved award programs, Lufthansa jumped from the number four spot the previous year to take the top ranking, in no small part because of the access to Lufthansa’s outstanding first class products that the higher elite levels provide.
Each subsequent level includes the perks of the previous level, unless stated otherwise.
- Frequent Traveler: Miles never expire, 25 percent more miles earned from cash flights, wait-list priority, business class check-in, one additional checked bag, one golf bag checked free of charge, business lounge access, exclusive service line
- Senator: Two upgrade vouchers per year, guaranteed seat availability 48 hours before departure, first class check-in, two to four additional checked bags depending on route and class, senator and star gold lounge access, priority baggage handling, companion awards, miles advance of up to 50,000 miles
- HON Circle: Six upgrade vouchers per year, guaranteed seat availability 24 hours before departure, first class lounge access, first class terminal access, limo transfer service, miles advance of up to 100,000 miles
Associated Credit Cards
In the U.S., Barclaycard issues the cards associated with Miles & More, chief among which is the Premier Miles & More World MasterCard.
For a cobranded airline card, this card offer relatively standard perks:
- Two award miles per dollar on purchases from Miles & More airlines
- One award mile per dollar on all other purchases
- $89 annual fee
Notably, the Miles & More card gives you the option to earn up to 15,000 points on a balance transfer, and all cards come with a companion pass issued at the time of your first purchase, as well as each year on your anniversary.
Lufthansa’s 50,000-point sign-on bonus in spring 2014 made it one of the hottest credit card applications, but the card usually offers a 35,000-point sign-on bonus. Compared to many programs, this is very generous, especially considering that cardholders receive the first 20,000 miles with their first purchase.
The lower-reward Miles & More World MasterCard and Miles & More Platinum MasterCard come with a lower sign-on bonus that corresponds to a lower annual fee and earning rate (one award mile per dollar on all purchases).