Using Lufthansa Miles: Part 10 – EXTRA Award Seats on Lufthansa, Swiss, Singapore Airlines & More…

[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

Extra Lufthansa & Swiss First Class Awards

Lufthansa miles are the best miles to use (if you don’t mind the higher taxes and fees in exchange for more award availability) for First Class & Business Class awards to Europe!

LufthansaFirst Class flights are some of the best First Class experiences.  But it is almost impossible to find Lufthansa awards beyond 15 days from departure if you use, say, United miles.

But you get EXTRA availability for Lufthansa flights when you book them using Lufthansa miles.

For example, there are multiple flights with First Class seats even in the middle of summer when you use Lufthansa miles.  

The extra award seats on Lufthansa is one of the reasons why Lufthansa miles are so good for getting to Europe  - especially in first or business class.  Do note that you will pay fuel surcharges of ~$250 to $400 each way when you use Lufthansa miles for flights on Lufthansa or Swiss.

It used to be possible to even redeem for Swiss First Class seats, but that is no longer possible unless you are a  Hon Circle member or a Senators elite member.

1.   Finding First Class Seats

I searched for 2 award seats from Zurich to New York on October 10, 2013.

I first checked United.com which found flights in coach on Lufthansa, but none in business class or first class.

United found 2 award seats on Lufthansa  flight 1191 from Zurich to Frankfurt which connected to Lufthansa flight 404 from Frankfurt to New York.  United did not find any seats on Swiss.

United found seats only in economy:

ExtraAwardAvailabilityonLufthansa

United Found Lufthansa Award Seats Only in Coach

Surprisingly, Aeroplan (Air Canada) found no Lufthansa flights at all for that day!

Not only did I find coach seats when I searched using Lufthansa miles, but I also found 2 business class seats on the same Lufthansa flights which United.com wasn’t showing. (Click here to read about finding award flights availability using Lufthansa miles).

Even better – I could select flights on non-stop business class flights on Swiss from Zurich to New York!

ExtraAwardAvailabilityonLufthansa

Lots More Business Class Seats When You Use Lufthansa Miles

But remember that you can save ~$200 in taxes and fees on a business or first class award if you book them as two 1-way trips instead of 1 roundtrip.

ExtraAwardAvailabilityonLufthansa

170,000 Miles & ~$1,000 For a Return First Class Award Using Lufthansa Miles

This is good news for folks who want to travel in Lufthansa First Class because Lufthansa either don’t make their First Class awards available to other partner airlines such as United or release award seats only one or two weeks before departure.

But here it is months in advance when you use Lufthansa miles!

2.   Lufthansa First Class

ExtraAwardAvailabilityonLufthansa

I Don’t Want This Flight to End

You can forget about booking Lufthansa First Class seats using, say, United miles.  Usually, your best bet is to wait untill 1 or 2 weeks before your flight and try booking or switching to Lufthansa First Class as seats become available.

But no need for that struggle if you use Lufthansa miles.  I could easily find seats for 2, 3, or even 4 persons in First Class when I used Lufthansa miles.

Lufthansa flies to their main hub at Frankfurt (FRA) from

  • Atlanta (ATL)
  • Boston (BOS)
  • Chicago (ORD)
  • Dallas (DFW)
  • Denver (DEN)
  • Detroit (DTW)
  • Houston (IAH)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Miami (MIA)
  • New York (EWR/JFK)
  • Orlando (MCO)
  • Philadelphia (PHL)
  • San Francisco (SFO)
  • Seattle (SEA)
  • Toronto (YYZ)
  • Vancouver (YVR)
  • Washington DC (IAD)
Lufthansa Flights to the US From Frankfurt

Lufthansa Flights to the US From Frankfurt

Lufthansa also flies to their secondary hub at Munich (MUC) from:

  • Boston (BOS)
  • Charlotte (CLT)
  • Chicago (ORD)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Montreal (YUL)
  • Newark (EWR)
  • New York (JFK)
  • San Francisco (SFO)
  • Vancouver (YVR)
  • Washington, DC (IAD)
Lufthansa Flights to the US From Munich

Lufthansa Flights to the US From Munich

Lastly, Lufthansa also flies to Dusseldorf (DUS) from:

  • Chicago (ORD)
  • Miami (MIA)
  • Newark (EWR)
  • Toronto (YYZ)
Lufthansa Flights to the US From Duseldorf

Lufthansa Flights to the US From Dusseldorf

Lufthansa also flies to other cities besides the US.

ExtraAwardAvailabilityonLufthansa

The Lufthansa Route Map

Using Lufthansa miles for awards on Lufthansa First Class may be the easiest First Class to book for flights between the USA and Europe.  Lufthansa has one of the nicest First Class cabins and lounges.

The flight below was our favorite First Class experience because not only did we get our own large First Class seat, but also a lie-flat bed!

Business Class Seats

 

1.   Austrian Airlines Business Class

Austrian Airlines (sometimes referred to as Tyrolean Airways) has availbility in business class if you use Lufthansa miles.

Austrian Airlines Business Class

Austrian Airlines Business Class

Austrian Airlines flies planes with both Economy and Business class to Vienna (VIE) from:

  • Chicago (ORD)
  • New York (JFK)
  • Washington, DC (IAD)
  • Toronto (YYZ)
Austrian Airlines Flights From Vienna

Austrian Airlines Flights From Vienna to the US

Some flights have business class awards (when you use Lufthansa miles), but United doesn’t even show one seat on the flight.

ExtraAwardAvailabilityonLufthansa

Business Class Seats on Austrian Airlines, But None When You Use United Miles

There are months where United will find no business class seats at all, but there are options when you use Lufthansa miles to search for the same route.

ExtraAwardAvailabilityonLufthansa

United Only Shows Coach Awards in December

Strangely, availability is much better for business class seats than economy seats when using Lufthansa miles for awards on Austrian Airlines.

ExtraAwardAvailabilityonLufthansa

You Can Get Austrian Airlines Award Seats When You Use Lufthansa Miles

That said, it isn’t always easy to find Austrian Airlines business class availability compared to the many, many options on Lufthansa or Swiss flights.

2.   Polish LOT Airlines

One of the best business class options for flights from the US to Europe is on Polish LOT because their fuel surcharges are much lower.

Polish LOT Airlines flies planes with Economy and Business class to Warsaw (WAW) from:

  • Chicago (ORD)
  • New York (JFK)
  • Washington, DC (IAD)
  • Toronto (YYZ)
Polish LOT Flights to the US From Warsaw

Polish LOT Flights to the US From Warsaw

ExtraAwardAvailabilityonLufthansa

Click on the Flight Number to See What Type of Aircraft

The Boeing 787 is their newest plane and has lie-flat seats.

ExtraAwardAvailabilityonLufthansa

You Can Use Lufthansa MIles to Fly on the Polish LOT 787 “Dreamliner”

Again, you get more availability on Polish LOT flights when you use Lufthansa miles than when you use United miles.

Finding Economy Seats

Using Lufthansa miles gets you more access to more economy seats on Lufthansa, Polish LOT & Swiss as well.

But don’t forget the high fuel surcharges that come with Lufthansa & Swiss flights when you use Lufthansa miles.  Paying the fuel surcharges (~$660 for a round trip in coach, except on Polish LOT) is not worth it for an economy award.

However, when you have to travel – or if you take advantage of the 2 open-jaws and stopovers allowed –  the extra availability may be helpful.

For example, United does not show even one flight from New York to Zurich.

But you get to choose from multiple seats and multiple flights when you redeem Lufthansa miles!

ExtraAwardAvailabilityonLufthansa

Lots More Coach Availability When You Use Lufthansa Miles

This same concept applies to all of the Miles and More partner airlines.   That said, coach award availability is low on Austrian Airlines despite good availability in business class.

Getting Around Fuel Surcharges

See the post on avoiding fuel surcharges when you use Lufthansa miles for more details.

Remember that a one-way award from Europe to the US charges lower fuel surcharges than if you booked a roundtrip from the US to Europe and back.

Of course by booking one-ways you can’t use stopovers but it could be worth it for some.

Extra Award Seats on Singapore Airlines & Other Airlines

You get better award availability on  Singapore Airlines, South African Air and ANA flights when you use Lufthansa miles as opposed to United miles!

I compared business seat availability on United.com and called Lufthansa and found that there were many more award seats available if you use Lufthansa miles.  This is big deal because Singapore Airlines is stingy with releasing seats to US Star Alliance partners such as United.

The Avianca LifeMiles website has extra availability on Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa has access to those award seats as well.  Avianca is a South American airline which is also a Star Alliance member.  You don’t need any Avianca miles to search for award on the Avianca website.

I searched for Singapore Airlines business class flights on both the United website and the Avianca LifeMiles website and found Singapore airline awards using both Avianca miles and Lufthansa miles, but not when I used United miles.

For example, I found a Business Class flight on Singapore Airlines from Los Angeles (LAX) to Tokyo (NRT) on the Avianca website.

ExtraAwardAvailabilityonLufthansa

Singapore Business Class Award on Avianca Website

But there was no availability on United.

ExtraAwardAvailabilityonLufthansa

Same Flight is Not Available on United Website

But I could book the same Singapore Airlines business class flight from Los Angeles to Tokyo, which was available on the Avianca website, using Lufthansa miles for only 67,000 miles & $142 in taxes and fees!

ExtraAwardAvailabilityonLufthansa

Business Class From Los Angeles to Tokyo Using Lufthansa Miles For 67,000 Lufthansa Miles & $142 in Fees

But here’s a big surprise.

I was even able to book award flights which the Avianca website didn’t show as available, but which were available on Singapore Airlines’ website!  You don’t need Singapore Airlines miles to search on their website for award seats.

I could book any economy or business class seat which showed availability on the Singapore Airlines’ website with Lufthansa miles!  However, this wasn’t true with First Class awards on Singapore Airlines where Singapore Airlines appeared to keep extra award availability for their own members.

For South African Airlines and ANA, you should first search for flights on the Avianca website and then call Lufthansa to book those flights because the Avianca website has more availability for South African Airlines and ANA than the United website.

1.   Singapore Airlines

Lufthansa has Three Region Award pricing which means that if you fly to three regions on their award chart (even to take a connecting flight), you pay the Three Region Award price or 100,000 miles in economy.

Amol asked if Singapore Airlines Flight #11 from Los Angeles to Singapore via Tokyo would trigger a three region award because your boarding pass only indicates that it is a flight from Los Angeles to Singapore without the stop in Tokyo.

I called Lufthansa and the good news is that flight SQ11 from Los Angeles to Singapore is priced as a two-region award and is only 40,000 miles in economy or 67,000 miles in business class!

Just call the Lufthansa service center and ask for the flight by name (I’d look to book Singapore Airlines flight 11 from Los Angeles to Singapore) and they won’t notice that it stops in Tokyo.

But remember that if you fly United to Tokyo and transfer to Singapore Airlines from Tokyo to Singapore, you will be charged for a Three Region Award.  And you will also be charged the three region award price if you want a longer stop-over in Tokyo.

ExtraAwardAvailabilityonLufthansa

Singapore Airlines Flight 11 Doesn’t Mention The Stopover in Tokyo!

Here are other Singapore Airlines flights which have a layover but appear as non-stop flights when you book with Lufthansa miles (so you don’t pay the 3 region award price):

  • SQ 01 – San Francisco (SFO) to Singapore (SIN) via Hong Kong (HKG)
  • SQ 15 – San Francisco (SFO) to Singapore (SIN) via South Korea (ICN)
  • SQ 25 – New York (JFK) to Singapore (SIN) via Frankfurt (FRA)
  • SQ 61 – Houston (IAH) to Singapore (SIN) via Moscow (DME)

The advantage of these flights is that you can travel from the US to Singapore without worrying about stopping over in a third region and paying the higher Three Region Award price.

However, you can’t book a suite class award on the Airbus A380 on Singapore Airlines with your Lufthansa miles.

2.   South African Air

South African Air also has more award seats when you use Lufthansa miles instead of United.

They have flights from New York (JFK)/Washington DC (IAD) non-stop to Johannesburg, South Africa (JNB).

I found a few examples of flights available to Lufthansa and not to United. For example, the Avianca website showed availability from New York (JFK) to Johannesburg (JNB) on October 28, 2013.

ExtraAwardAvailabilityonLufthansa

South African Flight Available on Avianca Website, But Not United & I Could Book it With Lufthansa Miles!

But the United website did not show availability for this flight.  I could also book this flight after calling the Lufthansa service center.

Bottom Line

You get MUCH more availability on some of the best airlines such as Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian Air & Singapore Airlines when you use Lufthansa miles as opposed to using, say, United miles.  But you also pay more in taxes and fees.

Lufthansa and Swiss have lots of flights to and from Europe, and you get access to extra award availability when you use Lufthansa miles.  This makes Lufthansa miles the best miles to use for travel to Europe, especially in First Class or Business Class.

And Lufthansa seems to have access to the same award seats which are reserved for Singapore Airlines members in business and coach!

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.

32 Responses to Using Lufthansa Miles: Part 10 – EXTRA Award Seats on Lufthansa, Swiss, Singapore Airlines & More…

  1. Excellent post! Great inside into other ways of thinking to travel over the pond. Keep up the good work!

  2. Robert Hanson

    Using LH miles, are the fuel surcharges on Austrian as high as on LH and LX?

  3. @Chris – Thanks!

    @Robert Hanson – Unfortunately the surcharges are as high on Austrian as on Lufthansa and Swiss. The extra availability on Austrian isn’t as much as it is on Swiss or Lufthansa, but still more than United or US Air.

  4. Been churning points for Singapore Airline First class seats. I thought United was the best option then saw this post.

    But you did mention Lufthansa won’t allow you to book First class Singapore flights while United allow you to do that.

    Any better ideas on getting Singapore Air first class flights?

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  6. I am thinking about applying this credit card after reading this post, because “redeem Singapore airline ” cought my eyes. And I am planning my trip to Singapore in 2014 or 2015, while visiting hongkong.

    Now, here comes the question. If I am flying SQ 01 – (SFO) to (SIN) via (HKG), and I want to have a week staying in hongkong, but Singapore is my final destination, does it consider 67000 miles for one business seat? Or it need to break into two redemption?
    Second question, I have never have a credit card from Barclays Bank before. And, I will do the visa gift card and bluebird to meet my min. Spending. And, will probably buying visa gift card using this credit card after that to grab some more miles. Do you think there is issue on this?
    I am currently have 4 bluebird account, and doing visa gift card on my chase marriott. Seems no problem so far.

    Please, any advise will help.
    Jerry

  7. Glad my intuition was correct. 67K one-way for Singapore Airlines Business Class from the USA to Singapore is fantastic!

  8. @Alvin Ch - You can book Singapore First Class seats with Lufthansa miles, but unlike with business and coach, Singapore seems to reserve extra first class seats for their own members. The best way to get access to Singapore first could be with Singapore miles.

    @Jerry – It will price as a 3 region award if you stay in Hongkong for a week. If you fly any other set of airlines and transit in a 3rd region, you are charged the 3 region award price. You should be fine as long as you use the Bluebird to pay legitimate bills etc.

    @Amol (@PointsToPointB) – Thanks for the tip!

  9. Hi Darius – Since EVA Airways just became available, do you know if LH has fuel charges on those flights yet?

  10. Can you use Lufthansa miles to book Turkish Airlines since they are also part of Star Alliance?

  11. Don’t Lufthansa’s miles expire after 36 months of accrual regardless of any recent activity?

  12. @Erik – Great question, and I’ll call to check. Their fuel surcharges are low in any case (~$60 from LA to Taiwan), so it may not matter.

    @Goker – You sure can!

    @Mary Jane – That’s correct, unless you have a Lufthansa credit card and use it each month.

  13. Any insight if Barclays will approve this together with the Arrival Card? How about if I already have the NFL and the USAir?

  14. Oh gosh! Pending on the Lufthansa! I guess I’ll hit the brakes for now.

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  25. Darius: My wife and I are currently booked on a couple of transatlantic Lufthansa flights in Business using USAirways miles. You mentioned you can sometimes upgrade to first 1 or 2 weeks out if they become available. Can you do that with USAirways miles? And, if so, what’s the best way to do that?

    Thanks!

  26. @Slomo63 – Unfortunately, US Air doesn’t let you redeem miles for First Class on Lufthansa.

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