Update: The current sign-up bonus has reduced to 35,000 miles
[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!]
I’ve been digging into the Lufthansa Miles & More program because of the Barclays 50,000 mile credit card. This offer may end on June 30, 2013.
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
- Part 1 – 18 Ways To Use Lufthansa Miles
- Part 2 – Introduction, Rules, Fees, Mile Expiration etc.
- Part 3 – Calling Lufthansa Service Centers
- Part 4 – Award Pricing
- Part 5 – Segments, Stopovers, & Open Jaws
- Part 6 – How To Find and Book Awards
- Part 7 – Is The Companion Ticket Worth It?
- Part 8 – How to Avoid High Fuel Surcharges
- Part 9 – Hotel and Car Awards
- Part 10 - EXTRA Award Seats on Lufthansa, Swiss, Singapore Airlines & More…
Lufthansa Companion Ticket
One of the “benefits” of having the Lufthansa credit card is that you get a Lufthansa companion ticket each year.
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!
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.
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”
Step 2 – Select Flights
Select your flights and then click “Continue”
Step 3 - Check Fare Class
Click the box in the columns shaded in green to see more information on the fare.
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.
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.
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.
Here are the prices of Lufthansa flights which can be used with the Lufthansa 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!
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!
You have to call the Lufthansa service center to book your Lufthansa companion ticket.
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!