Using Lufthansa Miles: Part 1 – 17 Ways To Use Lufthansa Miles

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I’ve been digging into the Lufthansa Miles & More program because of the Barclays 50,000 mile credit card. This offer ends on June 30, 2014.

I could not find much information on the program, so I’ve spent over 80+ hours studying how to avoid the high fuel surcharges, discounted award flights, stopover rules, extra award availability and other quirks of the Lufthansa frequent flyer program.  This will be the most comprehensive guide to using Lufthansa miles in English.

If you find this 8 to 10 part series helpful, please consider applying for the 50,000 mile Lufthansa credit card using the links on the blog.  You get the same offer, and I get a commission which helps keep the blog going.  But you don’t have to use our link if you don’t want to!  Or if the card isn’t right for you.

If you’re new to miles and points, like my mother-in-law,  there are better cards for you to apply for like the Chase Sapphire Preferred,American Express Starwood card, Chase Ink Plus, or the other cards on the Hot Deals tab.  But if you’ve been doing this for a while, the Barclays Lufthansa card could make sense for you – especially if you can use their miles for travel within the US and save your more valuable miles.  But make sure you know the quirks of the program BEFORE you apply.

There is another offer for 50,000 miles, with a lower minimum spending requirement, but you may get fewer miles if you’re approved for a lower card with that offer.

“Using Lufthansa Miles” Series Index

1.   12,000 Miles for a Coach 1-Way Within the US

It is only 12,000 miles for a one-way in coach within the US (excluding Hawaii or the Virgin Islands) on United Airlines with NO fuel surcharges.  This also applies for flights from the mainland US to Alaska.

If you can find low-level availability on United Airlines with no more than 2 connections, you can use Lufthansa miles to book that flight.

2.   17,000 Miles for a First Class 1-Way Within the US

It is only 17,000 miles for most one-ways in First Class within the US (excluding Hawaii or the Virgin Islands) on United with NO fuel surcharges.  This also applies for flights from the mainland US to Alaska.

Use Lufthansa Miles

Emily in United Domestic First Class

If you can find low-level availability on United with no more than 2 connections, you can use Lufthansa miles to book that flight.

3.   17,000 Miles for a Coach 1-Way Flight From the US to Central America or the Caribbean

United and TACA airlines fly to Central America and the Caribbean.  It is 17,000 miles for a one-way in coach from the US (excluding Hawaii or the Virgin Islands) to Central America or the Caribbean with NO fuel surcharges when you redeem Lufthansa miles.

You can have 3 connecting flights per one-way because this is a 2 region award.

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Taca Route Map

If you can find low-level availability on United with no more than 3 connections, you can use Lufthansa miles to book that flight.

4.   20,000 Miles for a Coach 1-Way to Hawaii

Go to Hawaii with NO fuel surcharges for 20,000 miles for a coach one-way flight from the US to Hawaii on United.  It is only about 5 hours from the West Coast to Hawaii, so you don’t really need First Class, though it could be worth it for longer flights.

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Star Alliance Flights to/from Hawaii

If you can find low-level availability on United with no more than 3 connections, you can use Lufthansa miles to book that flight.

5.   20,000 Miles for a Coach 1-Way Flight From Hawaii to Australia/New Zealand or Oceania

Not only is this a long flight, but Lufthansa charges about $20 in fees for this ~4,400 mile long flight in coach on Air New Zealand.

If you book a roundtrip for 40,000 miles to go from Hawaii to New Zealand or Oceania (French Polynesia), you can add a stopover or layover!

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20,000 Miles in Coach (35,000 miles in Business Class) From Hawaii to Auckland

You can also pay 35,000 miles for a 1-way in Business Class from Hawaii to Australia, New Zealand or Oceania.

6.   30,000 Miles for a Coach 1-Way Flight From the US to South America

United and Avianca do NOT charge fuel surcharges for flights from the US to South America.

Generally, the hubs that connect to South America for United are Newark (EWR),  Houston (IAH), Washington DC (IAD), Chicago (ORD), and Charlotte (CLT).  But Avianca reaches other cities in the US as well.

Here are flights from select cities to South America with no fuel surcharges.

Charlotte has flights to:

  • Rio De Janerio, Brazil (GIG)

Chicago has flights to:

  • Sao Paulo, Brazil (GRU)

Houston (IAH) has flights to:

  • Bogota, Colombia(BOG)
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina (EZE)
  • Caracas, Venezuela (CCS)
  • Lima (LIM)
  • Quito, Ecuador (UIO)
  • Rio De Janerio, Brazil (GIG)
  • Sao Paulo, Brazil (GRU)

Newark (EWR) has flights to:

  • Bogota, Colombia(BOG)
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina (EZE)
  • Cali, Colombia (CLO)
  • Lima, Peru (LIM)
  • Rio De Janerio (GIG)
  • Sao Paulo, Brazil (GRU)

Washington, Dulles (IAD) has flights to:

  • Bogota, Colombia (BOG)
  • La Paz, Bolivia (LPB)
  • Rio De Janerio, Brazil (GIG)
  • Sao Paulo, Brazil (GRU)

Miami is also a popular departure airport for flights to South America.

7.   30,000 Miles for a Coach Round-Trip From the US to Europe

It is only 30,000 miles for a round trip in coach on select Lufthansa, LOT and Austrian Airlines flights.  These flights have to be booked within a certain date and travel has to be completed within a certain date.

This is a reduced price option with severe restrictions.  Like not getting your miles or money back if you cancel!  And having limited award seats available.

Use Lufthansa Miles

Round-trip economy flights on Polish LOT tend to have fees under $200 while flights on Lufthansa and Austrian have $600 in fees.

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30,000 Miles & $160 for a Roundtrip Flight from Chicago to Warsaw in Coach

8.   52,000 Miles for a Business Class 1-Way From the US to Europe

Lufthansa Miles and More has some of the best business class availability to Europe.  You get access to more seats on Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian and Polish LOT with your Lufthansa miles than you would with, say, United miles.  52,00 miles will get you a 1-way business class award from the US to Europe.

The bad news is that fees for most one-ways are around $450, though they are ~$80 if you fly on Polish LOT.

Use Lufthansa Miles

52,000 + ~$463 in Taxes and Fees for a 1-Way Business Class Award on Lufthansa, Austrian & Swiss From the US to Europe

You can connect on United to the Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian and Polish LOT departure city, as long as you have no more than 3 connections.

BONUS:  Flights back to the US from Europe seem to have half the fuel surcharges (~$260) as flights from the US to Europe in Business Class.  So if you’re saving your miles for a trip in Business Class on Lufthansa or Swiss, you could redeem for a 1-way back from the US.

9.   55,000 Miles for a Business Class Round-Trip From the US to Europe

It is 55,000 miles for select round-trip business class Lufthansa, LOT and Austrian Airlines flights.  These flights have to be booked within a certain date and travel has to be completed within a certain date.

This is a reduced price option with severe restrictions. Like not getting your miles or money back if you cancel!  And having limited award seats and being restricted to only certain cities in the US.

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Budapest and Bydgoszcz for 55,000 miles Roundtrip in Business Class

Fuel surcharges for a round-trip on Polish LOT are $160 and on Lufthansa are about ~$900.

Use Lufthansa Miles

55,000 Miles & $160 for a Reduced Price Business Class Ticket to Europe on Polish LOT

$800 is a lot, but it is less than the cheapest paid ticket ($3,640 on Delta) to a randomly chosen reduced-price destination.

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$3,640 For a Return Business Class Ticket on Delta From Dallas to Budapest

10.   85,000 Miles for a First Class 1-Way Award From the US to Europe

Lufthansa’s Miles and More has the best availability (compared to using United or any other Star Alliance airlines’ miles) on Lufthansa or Swiss First Class.  You can often find multiple first class seats on many different flights every day on many routes.

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First Class on Lufthansa

This could be a great chance to fly Lufthansa First Class or Swiss First Class with miles.  However, the fuel surcharges add up to more than ~$450 for a 1-way, and 85,000 miles is a bit stiff.

BONUS:  Flights back to the US from Europe seem to have half the fuel surcharges (~$260) as flights from the US to Europe in First Class.  So if you’re saving your miles for a trip in First Class on Lufthansa, Swiss, or Austrian Air you could redeem for a 1-way back from the US.

Use Lufthansa Miles

Half The Fees When Returning From Europe in First or Business Class!

11.   100,000 Miles for Coach Flights From US to South America – (Brazil) – Europe to US

Brazil does not allow airlines to charge fuel surcharges to flights, which means that flights departing from Brazil aren’t charged fuel surcharges!

Flights from the US to South America don’t have fuel surcharges  and you won’t pay them for flights departing Brazil either.  So you will only pay them on your return flight back to the US from Europe!

So you could fly from the:

  •  US to South America with no fuel surcharges (#7) and have a stopover or layover
  • Brazil to Europe (all the way to Ukraine or Turkey) and have a stopover
  • Europe back to the US

If you flew back to the US on Lufthansa, Swiss or  Austrian, you would pay ~$300 in fuel surcharges + 100,000 miles in coach for  a 3-region award.

But a flight on LOT back to the US would cost $80 in fuel surcharges.

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A flight from New York to Brazil and Germany for 100,000 miles

The Europe region includes Turkey and Ukraine, so you could fly all the way there before coming back to the US.

There are also some unexpected routes to Europe not by European or Brazilian airlines.  For example. you can fly on Air China from Sao Paulo (GRU) to Madrid (MAD). And you can also fly on Singapore Airlines from Sao Paulo (GRU) to Barcelona (BCN).

From Sao Paulo (GRU) you can fly to:

  • Frankfurt (FRA) and Munich (MUC) on Lufthansa
  • Istanbul (IST) on Turkish
  • Lisbon (LIS), Porto (OPO) on TAP
  • Zurich (ZRH) on Swiss
  • Barcelona (BCN) on Singapore Airlines
  • Madrid (MAD) on Air China

From Rio De Janeiro (GIG) you can fly to:

  • Frankfurt (FRA) on Lufthansa.
  • Lisbon (LIS), Porto (OPO) on TAP

TAP, which is based out of Lisbon (LIS) also flies to Brasilia (BSB), Fortaleza (FOR), Belo Horizonte (CNF), Salvador (SSA), Recife (REC) and Porto Alegre (POA) in Brazil.

Use Lufthansa Miles

A Lufthansa Flight from Sao Paulo, Brazil to Frankfurt Has No Fuel Surcharges

Use Lufthansa Miles

Cheapest flights found for New York to Brazil to Germany to the US

If you’re ambitious, you can book each leg as a 1-way and pay 95,000 miles, but you’d be allowed no more than 2 segments per 1-way.

12.   100,000 Miles for US to South America – (Brazil) to South Africa – to US   

Similarly, you could fly to South Africa routing through Brazil.  This wouldn’t cost any extra miles because it is a flat rate of 100,000 miles in coach. The fuel surcharges on such a flight on South African Airlines are less than ~$300.

You can also fly from Sao Paulo, Brazil (GRU) to Addis Abada, Ethiopia (ADD) on Ethiopian Airlines.  But this flight seems to route through Lome, Togo (TFW). This means both that you could create a stopover/layover there and that you need to be careful not to have too many segments because you are limited to only 4 segments each way on a 3 region award.

If you’re ambitious, you can book each leg as a 1-way and pay 90,000 miles, but you’d have no more than 2 segments per 1-way.

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The Long Way to South Africa

Use Lufthansa Miles

Cheapest Coach Flight for New York to Brazil to South Africa to the US

13.   15,000 Miles for a Coach 1-Way Flight Within the Middle East and Africa Region   

The largest region on the Lufthansa award chart is “Middle East/ Caucasus/ North/ Central Africa.”  Not only is it the biggest region and all prices within it are 15,000 miles each way, but cash tickets can sometimes be very expensive.  This could be a great value if you want to fly within the Middle East and Africa.

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15,000 Miles For a 1-Way Within The Green Award Region

Here is Ethiopian Airlines’ route network within Africa and the Middle-East

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Ethiopian Airlines Africa Route Map

14.   40,000 Miles in Coach for Air China or Singapore Airlines to Far East

Both Air China and Singapore Airlines have the lowest fuel surcharge  fees to Asia.  A one-way flight from Los Angeles to Beijing on Air China would cost ~$140 in fuel surcharges.  And a one-way flight from Los Angeles to Tokyo on Singapore Airlines would cost ~$150 in fuel surcharges.

Use Lufthansa Miles

40,000 Miles & ~ $150 in Fuel Surcharges on Singapore Airlines from Los Angeles to Tokyo

Remember that you can have 3 connecting flights on a 2-region award, so you can connect on United flights to Los Angeles from within the US.

It is important to note that “China (incl. Hong Kong & Macau), Japan, South Korea and Taiwan” are in the “Far East” region.

You will pay more miles if you connect in the Far East to somewhere else in Southeast Asia (say, Singapore), because you are traveling through 3 regions.

15.   67,000 Miles in Business Class for Air China or Singapore Airlines to Far East

Air China and Singapore Airlines have about the same low fuel surcharges in Business Class.

While 67,000 miles & ~$150 in fuel surcharges for a Business Class seat might be slightly higher than other airlines, it could be a worth it to some.

16.   40,000 Miles for Coach Air New Zealand From the US to Australia/New Zealand/Oceania

It is only 40,000 miles in coach and ~$20 in fuel surcharges from the US to Australia/New Zealand or Oceania.

Use Lufthansa Miles

$17 in Fees & 40,000 Miles in Coach from Los Angeles to Auckland on Air New Zealand

I’ve included this lower on my list, because award availability on Air New Zealand is hard to find, but it is possible!  It would cost 67,000 miles in business class if you could find award availability.

17.   Multiple Stopovers and Open-Jaws on International Tickets

Lufthansa has a generous stop over policy on their award tickets.  Most programs only allow 1 stopover but Lufthansa not only allows two stopovers but two open-jaws as well for round-trip flights!

Many of the above round-trip routes, including tickets to New Zealand/Pacific Islands and tickets to Europe could have extra stops along the way at no extra cost.

Lufthansa miles can also be the most restrictive as well.  They have certain routing rules that could nearly double the price of your ticket.  So please read the posts on award rules before booking a ticket.

Bottom Line

Lufthansa miles do take some work to use, but they could be valuable for some.

Especially if you use 50,000 Lufthansa miles for trips within the US and save your more valuable miles (United or American Airlines miles or Ultimate Rewards points) for travel outside the US.

But do your research before you apply for the card!

Editorial Disclaimer: Neither the responses below nor the editorial content on this page are provided or commissioned by the bank advertisers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertisers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers’ responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

156 responses to “Using Lufthansa Miles: Part 1 – 17 Ways To Use Lufthansa Miles

  1. @Million Mile Secrets
    question please.
    -so LH will NEVER price an intra-USA UA flight at 50k round trip? always at 35k or less?
    -trying to figure out how to get a domestic FC for 17k M&Ms. must be FC on a 3-class plane? so both biz & FC on a 3-class plane price at 17k 1-way?
    thanks

  2. @Mr. Cool – That’s true for most flights except those to Hawaii. If you can find low level awards on United.com, you may be able to call Lufthansa and get them to book it for you.

  3. @Million Mile Secrets
    thanks
    so is the 17k per 1way only available on domestic UA flights with 3 cabins?.. currently serving SFO/LAX-EWR routes ONLY?
    any other domestic routes where UA offers 3 cabins for 17k M&Ms?
    thanks

  4. @Mr. Cool – Should be possible on 2 cabin planes as well.

  5. @Million Mile Secrets
    good point
    but isnt FC on a 3-cabin plane “better” than FC on a 2-cabin plane?
    thanks

  6. @Mr. Cool – Sure, but the 3-cabin plane may not go where you want to go!

  7. also a good point.
    im just having a hard time understanding why LH’s M&M chart shows a 50k miles option in the “domestic” section if LH will actually price it at 35k or less

  8. Thanks for replying to my previous questions — unfortunately that just makes me feel comfortable asking more!

    After reading your reviews of Etihad first class, I want to fly first class for my honeymoon from Washington, DC to SE Asia (ideally Bali). Because of first class award availability, I think it is easiest to fly IAD>AUH>BOM on Etihad and then fly from BOM to SE Asia. Is there anyway to use Lufthansa miles from BOM to SE Asia? If not Lufthansa, which program would you suggest? (If at all possible, I’d like to avoid using more AA miles because I think I’m going to run out — but I’ve followed your blog for a while and have miles in virtually all the major programs and ~120,000 UR and 60,000 MR points)

    On the way back I’m planning on using more AA miles to fly business class on Cathay Pacific from DPS>HKG>EWR because they have 2 seats open!

    I would never consider spending the $ to travel in style — so points really will give us a dream honeymoon! Largely thanks to you!

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  12. Ok, so here is our crazy idea based on #3. MIA-SAL-HAV on Avianca-Taca. Would it work? Assuming that it would be possible by using points from a non-US airline (Lufthansa) on another non-US airline (Taca), to get to Havana, yay! Also considering we can legally travel to Cuba, it’s just crazy expensive.

  13. I just saw the post from Ana regarding flying to Cuba, is that possible? And I have a 2nd question: How about Atlanta- Toronto – Havana on AirCanada using Lufthansa miles? Man that would be awesome if that’s possible!

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  26. Hi! I am trying to use M&M miles for business class tickets from JFK to KRK on LOT but M&M agent can’t see any open seats. Is there a trick to this? The flight is in December and I have senator status. Thanks

  27. @Anna – try searching online to see what’s available.

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  31. What happened to the 15k redemptions to Africa?

  32. I located domestic flights (RT DCA-BHM) on the UA website with Saver availability in both coach and biz and called Lufthansa to book, and the CSR said they were not available. CSR also said that coach class would be 25K LH miles round trip, biz class would be 35k LHmiles. So LH appears to have less availability than when this article was published in 2013, and the flights cost more.

  33. Hello,
    I tried to use MM miles from LAX to CGK with SQ business card. The Lufthansa agent that I called first gave me a flight through Europe with Lufthansa and then when I said I want to use SQ he said Lufthansa wants us to redeem our miles with Lufthansa first before using a partner airline. I spoke to two different agents and they both gave me a hard time about using my miles with partner airline. Any tips on how I can go around this?

    Thanks,
    Bianca

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  36. Hi! Thanks A LOT for this wonderful web-site! Could you please answer my questions? I am not a resident of the US. Does that mean that I still can use my Lufthansa Miles&More miles on United flights and pay only 12000 miles in economy class on one-way? Does that also apply to all of the written above regarding flights from US to Hawaii and from Hawaii to Australia???

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