Using Lufthansa Miles: Part 7 – Is the Lufthansa Companion Ticket Worth It?

[Disclosure:  Emily and I get a commission if you're approved using the link to the Barclays Lufthansa 50,000 mile card in this post.  We always include the best offer for a card even if it doesn't pay us a commission.  You don't have to use our links, but thanks for your support!]

Update: A credit card offer in this post, may no longer be available, but check the Hot Deals for the latest offers!

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.

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 Preferred, American Express Starwood cardChase 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

Lufthansa Companion Ticket

One of the “benefits” of having the Lufthansa credit card is that you get a Lufthansa companion ticket each year.

LufthansaCompanionTicket

The Lufthansa Companion Ticket

This is good for 1 companion to fly with you when you buy a cash ticket on Lufthansa.  But is it worth it?

Unlike the British Airways card where you have to spend $30,000 within 1 calendar year to get their companion ticket, the Lufthansa companion ticket is just given to you every year you keep the card which has a $79 annual fee.

So is it even worth using the companion ticket at all?  And is the Lufthansa companion ticket worth the $79 annual fee?

The answers are most likely not!

Restrictions

The companion ticket lets one person fly with you when you pay cash (and not use miles) for an economy (first and business class are excluded) ticket only on Lufthansa operated flights.

This means that you cannot use the Lufthansa companion ticket when you redeem miles for an award and that you have to fly on Lufthansa operated flights.  Flights on other Miles and More airlines (say Austrian Air) are excluded and so are other Star Alliance partner airlines such as United.

When you pay cash for your ticket, your companion will fly on the same route and only pay the taxes & fees.  But the companion will not earn miles from the ticket.

This still sounds like a good deal except for:

1.   High Taxes & Fees.  Lufthansa flights charge high fuel surcharges.  Expect to pay ~$650+ in fuel surcharges for a coach roundtrip from the US to Europe.

LufthansaCompanionTicket

~$640 in Taxes and Fees on Lufthansa Flights

A regular paid coach trip to Europe should cost ~$1,000 (less in low season), so you may feel that you’re still saving money for using the companion ticket, but that is not true.

2.   Have to Book Expensive Fare Classes.   Most discounted economy tickets are NOT eligible for the Lufthansa companion ticket.   This really kills any potential value of the Lufthansa companion ticket.

The terms say that your paid ticket must be booked in “H Class or higher.”  This means that you have to book your ticket in either H, M, B, or Y (full fare economy) to use the Lufthansa companion ticket.

Airlines have different fare buckets (denoted by a letter of the alphabet) for the same seats on a plane.  For example, tickets which cost more cash may earn more miles and have less restrictive cancellation policies than cheaper fares.

Airlines code these different fares with different letters  such as “K,” “T,” “S,” etc.

Lufthansa forces you to buy a HIGHER PRICED fare in the H, M, B or Y fare bucket to use their companion ticket.  So you’re often worse off because you have to:

  • Pay a higher cash price for the more expensive coach ticket and then
  • Pay the high taxes and fees on the Lufthansa companion ticket which is usually more expensive than just paying cash for two discount coach tickets!

The Lufthansa companion ticket also has other restrictions:

1.   Valid Only From the US.   The Lufthansa companion ticket is only valid for flights “departing from the US.”  This means that you cannot use the companion pass on a flight going from Europe to the US or starting in any other region.

2.   Not Valid to All Destinations.   The terms also say that the Companion Pass can be used only for flights “to Europe/Middle East/Africa and Far East.

This means that you CANNOT use the companion pass for flights to India and Southeast or Central Asia.  However, one phone agent said that I could use it for flights to India, but her supervisor said that it wasn’t possible.

How to Find “H, M, B or Y” Lufthansa Tickets

You can use the Lufthansa website to find the cost of H, M, B or Y tickets on Lufthansa.

Step 1 – Go to Lufthansa Website

Go to the Lufthansa website and select enter your flight information

Then click “Search Flights”

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Search for Flights on the Lufthansa Website

Step 2 – Select Flights

Select your flights and then click “Continue

Select Flights & Click "Continue"

Select Flights & Click “Continue”

Step 3  – Check Fare Class

Click the box in the columns shaded in green to see more information on the fare.

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Click Box to see More Fare Information

Then click the link under “Mileage Credit

Be sure to click on only flights which are operated by Lufthansa because you CANNOT use the pass on flights operated by partner airlines like Swiss International Airlines etc.

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Click Link Next to “Mileage Credit”

A new window will open with the booking class.

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A New Window Will Open With the Booking Class

Step 4 – Find H, M, B, or Y Lufthansa Fares

To find eligible fares to use with the companion ticket we have to find Lufthansa tickets that are in the booking class H, M, B, or Y.  

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Higher Fare with “B” Booking Class

You will notice that fares are much higher than the cheapest Lufthansa fares and fares on other airlines.

Step 5 – Compare Results

Here are the prices of the cheapest Lufthansa flights, but you can’t use your Lufthansa Companion Ticket with these fares.

I used ITA Matrix to find fares in order to display the results in a calendar view, but you use the Lufthansa website to more easily find fares on Lufthansa and Kayak to find the cheapest fares on other airlines.

LufthansaCompanionTicket

Prices of the Cheapest Lufthansa Fares (Can’t be Used with the Lufthansa Companion Pass)

Here are the prices of Lufthansa flights which can be used with the Lufthansa Companion Ticket.

LufthansaCompanionTicket

Prices of Lufthansa Flights Where You Can Use the Companion Ticket

But don’t forget to ALSO search for the cheapest flight on ANY airline.  You shouldn’t try to use the Lufthansa companion pass just because you have it and end up paying more money for the flights.

Here are the prices of the same flights using ANY airline!

LufthansaCompanionTicket

Prices on ANY Airline are Much Cheaper!

Perhaps you will be able to find cheaper fares, particularly if your flight is full. But on average it seems $700 more expensive to book an eligible fare to use tour Lufthansa Companion Pass.

Why It’s Not Worth It

For example, you will pay ~$1,800 ($900 per ticket X 2) for two discounted coach tickets to Europe on another airline.

In contrast, you will have to buy one higher priced ticket on Lufthansa for $1,598 AND pay ~$650 in taxes and fees on your companion’s ticket.  So you’re paying $2,248 for two tickets and you’re NOT earning miles on the second ticket.

So you’re paying ~$448 more just to use your Lufthansa companion ticket.

I’m not saying that you will NEVER find a time when the Lufthansa companion ticket will save you money.  But it will be extremely rare!

Booking

You have to call the Lufthansa service center to book your Lufthansa companion ticket.

Bottom Line

The Lufthansa companion ticket sounds good in theory, but it is almost never worth it because:

  • You have to buy a higher priced cash ticket on Lufthansa
  • You have to pay high taxes and fees
  • And because you can’t use it to all Lufthansa destinations.

And don’t forget to check other airlines for cheaper fares as well!

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

31 Responses to Using Lufthansa Miles: Part 7 – Is the Lufthansa Companion Ticket Worth It?

  1. Thanks for the post.
    I have one question though, why do you say to Uncheck Allow Airport Changes?
    Is this ticket not good for flying into other smaller airports that do not have direct flights from the USA?

  2. Another question, when following your example but different dates and location, the ITA Matrix shows me flights that seam to be operated by others (like United, and Lufthansa cityline gmbh). I assume that these flights would NOT be allowed with the companion pass?
    How do you use the ITA Matrix to NOT show those options?
    Thanks again

  3. @Adam – I edited the post to show an easier way to find the booking class for Lufthansa flights. You can’t use the companion ticket with codeshare flights so United or Swiss flights would not be eligible.

  4. Daraius — please apologize to Emily for me. I was staring at her in BWI on Friday, debating whether to go over and say something, and I think I freaked her out. Not my intention!

    James, loyal reader

  5. Good post and pretty much shows its a useless benefit. Can you do a post on the BA companion pass at 30K spend? Seems worth it to me when considering the cost of the taxes/fees vs the value of Avios (or alternative miles) that are being saved.

  6. @James K. – That is so funny! She actually mentioned it to me on Saturday and thought you may have been a reader. She wasn’t freaked out so no worries!

    @Jeremy - I like the BA Companion Pass when you spend $30K if you use it for business class or first class redemptions. You will pay ~$900 in fuel surcharges for a return trip so this is not worth it in coach.

  7. I’m not sure if this is the correct post to comment on but here it is.. I changed my award-booking flight with United by calling customer services and was told that if my departure and arrival airports remain the same and I change only the date of flight, there is no penalty fees no matter my original award-booking is in Economy or Business/First. I found this very convenient. I did not know this before so would like to share :)

  8. Quick question, I read trough what it is posted, but I could not find any info in regards to spending miles on hotels and car rentals. Can I do that? If so, is it worth it?
    I successfully did that using BA and United Miles programs and found it very useful and beneficial considering it was almost impossible to book flights using these programs during high season and on days I need. But with the hotels, I was able to do this without any problems.

  9. Paul hanley

    Saved a ton of money on car rentals in Hawaii and NYC using United miles.
    But many times no value. Worth checking out. Also good to great using United Cruises…Usually 4 to 8. Points per $. Sometimes UR mall to Travelocity is better. Have found no value in using points/ miles to pay for cruises.
    YMMV. IMHO. Have found no value with using AA or Usair. Miles for hotels or cars.

  10. Yes, I also used United miles to book a hotel in DC and it was well worth it. So if with this card I will find difficulty booking flight tickets for the dates I need, at least I can use the miles to book hotels or car rentals.

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  12. @syoutenga – That is a nice perk of booking award tickets with certain US airlines!

    @Dmitry @Paul hanley – I’ll be posting on that next week, but it isn’t a great way to use Lufthansa miles.

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  18. I would think one option that “might” work is if there is a family or group of 4 going where you have 2 kids to put in the back and 2 to move upfront………under this scenario both parents would have a companion pass and then “try” to upgrade with miles on the revenue tickets while leaving the kids in the back? How easy do you think the revenue companion is to upgrade or is that not allowed?
    Just a great series on the options here…………

  19. @JustSaying – I’m not sure if you can upgrade the ticket.

  20. I’m curious about the leap from “H class or higher” to “H, M, B, or Y”. I know that booking codes vary from airline to airline. Do they publish them anywhere? Or am I dependent on googling in hope of a travel blogger spilling the beans?

  21. @Kate Y – Your travel agent can tell you or you may be able to find out when you book the ticket online.

  22. Thanks for that info. I checked out a flight from Seattle to Frankfurt for March, 2014. Cheapest fare about $1100 (with 25% mileage credit!)(Class K). Checked the next box over (now we’re up to $2200) with 50% mileage credit–(Class U)NOT an eligible class! And the fees were $600+ of the price. Next was refundable coach ticket at $4400–100% of the miles and Class B–an eligible class. Won’t be getting one of these cards…

  23. I was wondering if the companion ticket booking has to be for the same dates as the purchased ticket. I am assuming so but wanted to double check. Thank you!

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