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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 points, like my mother-in-law, there are better cards for you to apply for like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase 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
- Part 1 – 17 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…
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.
Make sure to uncheck “Include codeshare” because otherwise it will include flights on partner airlines as well.
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
- Adria Airways
- Air Dolomiti
- Austrian Airlines
- Brussels Airlines
- Croatia Airlines
- LOT Polish Airlines
- Swiss International Air Lines
2. Booking Over the Phone
You have to call in to book these types of flights:
- Flights on airlines besides Miles & More airlines such as United, Singapore Airlines etc.
- Flights with stopovers (long layovers of more than 24 hours)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
…and the other from Europe back to the US for $295 in taxes and fees in business class.
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.
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.
Don’t forget to check the button for “Award Travel“
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.
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.
You have to sign-up for an Avianca account before you can use their website to find award flights.
Other Miles and More Partners
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.
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.
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!