Using Lufthansa Miles: Part 6 – How To Find and Book Awards

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I’ve been digging into the Lufthansa Miles & More program because of the Barclaycard 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 lots of time studying how to avoid the high fuel surcharges, discounted award flights, stopover rules, extra award seats and other quirks of the Lufthansa frequent flyer program.  This will be the most comprehensive guide to using Lufthansa miles in English.

If you’re new to miles and pointslike my mother-in-law, there are better cards for you to apply for like the Chase Sapphire PreferredAmerican Express Starwood cardChase Ink Plus, or the other cards on the Hot Deals tab.  But if you’ve been doing this for a while, theBarclaycard Miles & More World Elite MasterCard 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

Route Maps

Route maps are useful because it gives you many options to plan your trip!

You can use the Star Alliance route map to see what routes are available on Star Alliance.  Remember, that you can use Lufthansa miles to redeem for any Star Alliance flight.  The Star Alliance is the largest airline alliance and has many partners such as Lufthansa, United, and Singapore Airlines.

For example, if you go to the Star Alliance route map and click on “Auckland” (in New Zealand) you’ll see flights on Air New Zealand in green color.  You can also select the airline from the options in the left side of the screen.

FindLufthansaAward

Click on Any City & Then Click “Show Destinations” to Find Star Alliance Flights From That City

Make sure to uncheck “Include codeshare” because otherwise it will include flights on partner airlines as well.

FindLufthansaAward

Uncheck “Include Codeshares”

If you click on “Bangkok “you’ll see the Thai Airways flights in red.

If you click on “London“, you’ll see all the flights and can then sort by airline by using the box on the left.

Booking Award Flights

1.   Booking Online

You can only books flights online if they are ENTIRELY on Miles and More airlines such as:

2.   Booking Over the Phone

You have to call in to book these types of flights:

In fact, you have to call in even if you want different connections than what you find online.  The online booking tool only shows certain routes, usually with short connections, but you are allowed connections (or layovers) less than 24 hours.  But you will have to call in to get these longer connections

However, there is no telephone booking fee!

Dial 800-581-6400, press “2″, and then press “1″ to redeem miles for a flight.

Finding Award Availability

1.   The Lufthansa Website for Miles and More Airlines

If you are booking flights with “Adria Airways, Austrian Airlines Group, Brussels Airlines, Condor (Economy only), Croatia Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa and SWISS”, the Miles and More website is the best place to search.

That’s because you get extra availability on these airlines when you use Lufthansa miles to book flights on these airlines.

Step 1 – Log in

Log in to the Miles and More website and click “Flight Award” in the side bar on the right.

FindLufthansaAward

Click “Flight Award” on Right Column

Step 2 – Search for Flights

Enter your flight information, date of travel, and class of travel.  You can search both in one-ways and roundtrips.

Note that for stop-overs/multi-stop flights and open-jaws  you will have to call the Lufthansa service center.  To learn more about booking these flights, see this post on stop-overs and open-jaws.

FindLufthansaAward

Enter Your Search Information

Step 3 – Calendar View

One good thing about using the “Roundtrip” option is that it will show you a calendar view of the award availability and will display the taxes and fees at the bottom of the screen.

Another neat feature about using the calendar view (i.e searching for round-trip) instead of searching for one-ways is that you don’t need the full amount of miles to see the taxes and fees.

If you search for one-way award tickets, you don’t get to see the taxes and fees unless you have enough miles for the trip.  But that is not so when you search for roundtrips in the calendar view!

However, you need a certain minimum amount of miles to see the calendar.  I could see the calendar when I used Lufthansa accounts with ~90,000 miles and 16,000 miles, but not when I used an account with 500 miles.

FindLufthansaAward

You Can See a Calendar View of Award Availability When You Search for Round Trips

Step 4 – Select Your Flight

The next screen will let you choose specific flights and will show you the amount of miles and taxes and fees.

FindLufthansaAward

You Will See The Cost of the Award at the Top

The Lufthansa Miles and More website doesn’t let you choose individual flight segments, but presents you which a combination of flights which are also called “married segments.”

Sometimes, you may get a very short layover or some flights may not be available.  And you could get better connecting flights by searching segment-by-segment.  But I don’t think it is necessary to do that because the Miles and More website usually has good availability.

Tip 1:  For some strange reason, you are charged lower taxes and fees if you break your roundtrip …

into TWO one-way awards.  One from the US to Europe for $431 in fees in business class.

FindLufthansaAward

$431 in Taxes & Fees in Business Class From New York (JFK) to Frankfurt (FRA)

…and the other from Europe back to the US for $295 in taxes and fees in business class.

FindLufthansaAward

$295 in Taxes & Fees in Business Class form New York (JFK) to Frankfurt (FRA)

Compare this to booking a roundtrip on the SAME flights which costs $980 in taxes & fees, or $254 MORE than booking two 1-way awards for $726 ($431 + $295)!

Note that you give up your two stopovers if you book two 1-ways instead of one roundtrip award.

FindLufthansaAward

Booking a Round Trip (Instead of 2 1-Ways) Costs You $254 MORE in Business Class from New York (JFK) to Frankfurt (FRA)

Tip 2:  Taxes and fees for Business Class and First Class are MUCH lower when you book a 1-way from Europe to the US compared to a one-way from the US to Europe.  See the screenshots above for more details!

 2.   United Website

United.com has one of the best award search websites.  It shows all the Star Alliance partners, is simple to use ,and will shows different cabins classes (first, business and coach).  You don’t even need to have a United account to search for awards.

Note that you should NOT use the United website to search for awards on Lufthansa or other Miles and More airlines because you will get much more availability if you search on the Lufthansa Miles and More website.

You should also not use the United website to search for awards on Singapore or South African airlines (use the Avianca website instead), because Lufthansa seems to have access to MORE award seats on Singapore & South African Airlines than United does.

Searching flights on United.com is pretty simple.

1.   Step 1 – Search for Awards

Go to United.com and enter your travel information.  For example enter, Los Angeles (LAX) in the “From” box and Auckland, NZ (AKL) in the “To” box.

FindLufthansaAward

Don’t forget to check the button for “Award Travel

FindLufthansaAward

Step 2 – Write Down the Flight Information

You are searching for “Saver” or low-level awards in the cabin

They will show up as a blue button under the left column for economy, center (or right if there is no First Class) for Business Class, and the right column for First Class.

FindLufthansaAward

Look for “Saver Award” Flights on the United Website

Write down the flight information for the flight.  For example, Air New Zealand flight #1 from Los Angeles to Auckland on November 7, 2013.  Call the Lufthansa (NOT United) service center and ask them to book that award for you.

The United website will not tell you how much you are paying in fuel surcharges because United doesn’t pass on fuel surcharges.  But stay tuned for the post on fuel surcharges in this series.

3.   Air Canada’s Aeroplan

Air Canada’s Aeroplan website also searches for award availability on Star Alliance airlines.  In addition, Air Canada passes on most fuel surcharges and will usually give you a better impression of what the fuel taxes and fees are.

You have to be logged in to Aeroplan to search for award but creating an account is free.

Note that you should NOT use the Aeroplan website to search for awards on Lufthansa or other Miles and More airlines because you will get much more availability if you search on the Lufthansa Miles and More website.

You should also not use the Aeroplan website to search for awards on Singapore or South African airlines (use the Avianca website instead), because Lufthansa seems to have access to MORE award seats on Singapore & South African Airlines than United does.

3.   ANA Website

You can use the ANA website to search for awards.  But you need to have a few ANA miles in your account.  You can transfer them from AMEX Membership Rewards points and Starwood hotels if you have them, but using the United or Aeroplan website could be easier!

Here’s a post by Travel Codex on how to use the ANA website.

Note that you should NOT use the ANA website to search for awards on Lufthansa or other Miles and More airlines because you will get much more availability if you search on the Lufthansa Miles and More website.

You should also not use the ANA website to search for awards on Singapore or South African airlines (use the Avianca website instead), because Lufthansa seems to have access to MORE award seats on Singapore & South African Airlines than United does.

4.  Avianca Website

Lufthansa has access to MORE award seats on Singapore Airlines and South African Airlines than United, ANA or other Star Alliance airlines.

I found the Avianca website to be pretty accurate in finding Singapore Airlines award availability which could be booked using Lufthansa miles because Avianca also has access to more Singapore Airlines award seats than other Star Alliance airlines.  But it wasn’t a 100% match all the time.

FindLufthansaAward

Search for Singapore Airlines Flights on Avianca & Then Call Lufthansa

You have to sign-up for an Avianca account before you can use their website to find award flights.

FindLufthansaAward

Who Says Singapore Airlines Business Class Awards Are Hard to Find?

Other Miles and More Partners

Miles and More has a few other partners which are not part of the Star Alliance such as Air AstanaAir IndiaAir MaltaJet AirwaysAir Dolomiti & Condor.

Some of these airlines fly internationally, but I couldn’t find any awards on Air India (both within India and from India to Europe) by calling the Lufthansa service center.

Jet Airways flies from Newark (EWR) to Brussels (BRU) and from Brussels to India.  The taxes & fees for a round trip on Jet Airways from the US to India is  ~$590.

Condor, which is based in Frankfurt is not a Star Alliance partner, but you can search for Condor flights on the Miles and More website

However, Condor Airlines flights will not appear on the Star Alliance route map. Here is the Condor route map although finding availability can be tough.

FindLufthansaAward

Condor Route Map (Only the Blue Dots Are Condor Flights)

They do have some interesting routes like flights to the Maldives, Seychelles, Goa, Mauritius & Kilimanjaro but their fuel surcharges are high and availability is poor.

Bottom Line

You can only book flights on Miles and More airlines online, but have to call in to book flights involving other partners.

It is best to search for flights on Lufthansa or other Miles & More airlines on the Lufthansa website because you get extra award availability.  But you can use the United and Air Canada website to find availability on other partner airlines.

Lufthansa also has access to extra award seats on Singapore Airlines and South African airlines, so use the Avianca website to search for flights on those airlines, write down the flight information, and then call Lufthansa to book those flights!

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54 responses to “Using Lufthansa Miles: Part 6 – How To Find and Book Awards

  1. I appreciate all the work done in this series, which I will use for reference as I look to use my Miles and More miles. It certainly proves that bloggers don’t just regurgitate information found elsewhere, but sometimes, at least, do great creative research to help the frequent flyer community. Well done.

  2. Does Lufthansa have access to business class awards on Singapore Airlines? I thought that Singapore does not release their business class seats to partners.

  3. Well done. I’m learning about Expert Flyer and was wondering, would it be a good tool for searching for uses of Lufthansa miles? Have you reviewed Expert Flyer? I find the site a little confusing. Thanks!

  4. Thanks for the mention! Another good post on M&M. Glad to see someone doing the work.

    • @DaveS – You’re welcome! Interestingly enough, even though this series will end up taking over 100+ hours to put together after all 10 parts are posted, the most popular posts are usually posts on Chase or American Express credit cards which can be completed in just a few hours or less!

      @Sergey – Lufthansa seems to have access to more award seats on Singapore Airlines (including business class) than United does.

      @Rob – I haven’t posted on ExpertFlyer as yet, but ExpertFlyer doesn’t show you true Lufthansa award availability. It only shows Lufthansa flights available from the United website, and Lufthansa has access to more seats.

      @Scottrick – Thanks!

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  7. Your series has convinced me Miles&More can be useful, especially for folks who want non-stop flights between Europe and the West Coast (i.e., FRA-LAX or FRA-SFO). I just hope Barclays renews its current 50,000 mile card offer in the months ahead. I can’t see applying for this card if Barclays drops the offer to 40,000 miles, given their fuel surcharges

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  9. I never get the “calendar view” when searching round trip or otherwise. Does it still automatically come up for you? I’m logged in and I have a few hundred miles in my account.

    • @jamie – The calendar view doesn’t show up when you are searching for a 1-way, but it does show up when I was searching for a round-trip. That said, it doesn’t always show up the 1st time.

  10. I searched like 10 different times and it never came up. If you figure out the voodoo to get the calendar (in addition to doing a round trip search, which I was already doing) I would be so glad to know. Thanks!

  11. Hi Daraius! Great blog!
    How do I get the calendar to pop up on award search? It does not show even when I go for round-trip. It also won’t show pricing because I don’t have enough miles.. Thanks!
    Goker

    • @Goker – I dig some digging, and you need a certain minimum amount of miles to see the calendar. I could see the calendar when I used accounts with ~90,000 miles and 16,000 miles, but not when I used an account with 500 miles.

  12. When I search on the Lufthansa site, it won’t show me any award space at all since I don’t have any miles in my account. Is there a way to get around this or get miles put in my account?

  13. I have 500 miles in my account already. How many more do I need?

    • @Rachel – That should be enough to search for flights. Emily has 500 miles and can search for flights from her account and see availability, but can’t see the final page where the taxes and fees are displayed.

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  15. Yeah, that’s where I’m at to. I can select flights, but it won’t show me the total mileage and total in fees. That’s frustrating, since I have enough SPG points to transfer, but I want to see the fees to determine if its worth it.

    How many points do I need to see taxes and fees?

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  22. Hi, great information! So if I want to book a flight to Europe on United using my Lufthansa miles, I would have to call the Lufthansa service center, and have them select the flights, and you’re saying to use the United website to see what’s available beforehand? I’m a little confused as to how to find out how many miles I would need for this. I only have 34,000 Lufthansa miles, and from their website it looks like they’re now charging 50,000 miles for a RT economy flight as opposed to the previous 30,000. Would this be the same when booking a United flight? Thanks in advance!

    • @Susan – It is 50,000 miles for a return coach ticket from the US to Europe. But I wouldn’t fly on United unless you’re willing to pay the high fuel surcharges. You can search for low level flights on United and then call Lufthansa and have them book the same flights.

  23. Hi,
    so after reading your entire series about miles and more I must say, thanks a lot!
    I prefer reading blogs instead of forums because everything is written compact so its not as time consuming.
    However, I still got a question.
    You wrote that I cant find any US / UA award flights on the mm.com website, therefore I have to look for them somewhere elese (UA or like ANA)

    Now you also wrote that LH or better to say MM has a higher availability on award seats than other airlines have.

    So now I know where to look for to build my preferred routing but where do I look to find out if M&M still has availability for that flight?
    Lets say I want to fly US on M&M, therefore, its not listed on M&M and ua.com could show me no availability even M&M still has availability for it.
    Can I only find out about M&M availability for that US flight by calling?
    I am aware that I have to call them in the end anyways to make the booking but I’d love to check the availability myself in front of my own screen 😉

    • @aqua – Thanks for reading. The M&M website is the best place to look for M&M airlines availability. For US Air or United awards, check United.com (search for award flights at the saver level). Then write down the flight information and call M&M.

  24. Thanks for the quick reply!
    Well from my understanding you wrote that UA and US availability on the UA website is not the same as m&m is going to have when I call them.
    So lets say UA shows me that they don’t have any award tickets for a specific date anymore, how can I find out otherwise without calling m&m and asking for availability?

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  26. Hi Daraius,

    I’ve been having an extremely difficult time booking UA flights through Lufthansa…I can see low-level (Saver) economy awards on United.com, but when I call Lufthansa to book with their miles I’m told that award seats are unavailable. At this point I’ve called five times (and spoken with a supervisor three times), and each time I’m told that Lufthansa’s award availability is not the same as United’s. (I’m trying to book SAO-NYC on United Airlines.) Any help you could provide would be much appreciated!!

  27. Darius,

    I have the same trouble as Mike Williams. I can see availability on United but when I call Lufthansa, they say they can’t see it. The agent today said that United is being very stingy about giving them seats. I am trying to schedule PHL-BNA for late October….United has 13 award flights available on one day but Lufthansa doesn’t see any…same for the next day…..
    Any suggestions?

  28. I used United website to find availability for M&M and found several options for 40k. When I called M&M only some of the options were available for 40k and others were 50k because of plane changes in a 3rd region. Did I do something wrong?
    If this is correct I think its an important thing to note when people are looking for award availability.

  29. I used United website to find availability for M&M and found several options for 40k. When I called M&M only some of the options were available for 40k and others were 50k because of plane changes in a 3rd region. Did I do something wrong?
    If this is correct I think its an important thing to note when people are looking for award availability.

    • @Toadhollow – Very strange. I’d try calling later (but you probably already knew that!)

      @TAtravelers – There is increased prices for awards which transit 3 regions. Please check the other posts in the series.

  30. Thanks for the detailed article. After reading this article I was able to use my Lufthansa miles for 2 roundtrip tickets in the US! These miles have been sitting in my account for over 2 years!

  31. Can award miles be transfered from one star alliance member to another so that I could use my United points to book on a different partners airline?

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  34. Hi Daraius, great blog!!! I have a question. I’d like to use my M&M miles on United so I search on United sites. Do I look only for “saver” to find availability, right? In other case there’s no seats for M&M award, am I right? And the number of miles needed for a coach roundtrip inside US is only 25k (as on ST award chart) and not what I see on United sites, right? Sorry for these silly questions, but I found your really useful and I want to use it as best as I can.
    Thanks

  35. @Auprog

    Yes, the best way to find space is by using united.com
    However, it won’t show you all the availability for all airlines, such as LOT, Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines it has a different / lower availability shown on ua.com than actualy m&m has.

    And yes, only the saver awards are bookable to partner airlines.
    The needed miles is always the one from the award chart you have your miles with, no matter what UA.com says, same with the fees and taxes.
    For instance UA has a late booking fee of 75$ when you book an award ticket last minute, you don’t have to pay that when you redeem your M&M miles on a UA flight.

    To see how many miles you need for an award ticket with Miles and More, please go here:
    https://www.meilenrechner.de/spend_miles.php?language=eng

    Keep in mind that a one way award costs only 12k miles but a RT within the U.S. costs 25k, so you can save 1000 miles by purchasing 2 oneways instead of 1 roundtrip

  36. i tried to find availability using the roundtrip option from MIA and orlando to poland but the award calendar never appeared. Also tried one way and got an error message after choosing continue continue

  37. @DD
    When you use united.com to search for avaiable award space, make sure you are entering an airport that Star Alliance flies to.
    Have a look here: http://routemap.staralliance.com/

  38. Hi Darius,

    Do you know if I can book a ticket for my wife using Miles and More points if I’m not traveling also?

    Thanks!

    Andrew

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  40. Mixed class 1-ways price as two awards. Caveat Emptor!

  41. @ed
    nope, mixed cabin awards still price as 1 award, you probably tried a routing where no basefare exists for that route