May 13, 2017
Five Ways to Book Lufthansa First Class Using Miles & Points
I’ve been flying Lufthansa for over a decade now (well before I started down the miles & points rabbit hole) and I find the service to be professional and reliable nearly every time I fly. Ground staff and in-flight crew will assist you no matter what class you’re flying, the flights are consistently on-time, and the airplane seats are just about the same throughout their entire fleet.
Last summer I flew Lufthansa First Class for the first time for free (using United miles) from Munich-Beijing, and I loved the entire experience- including the First Class Lounge in Munich where I got my Lufthansa World Cup rubber duck! I’ve been wanting to fly Lufthansa First again and I want to share the five ways to fly for free that I’m considering.
Lufthansa is a member of the Star Alliance, an international alliance made up of 28 member airlines from all over the world. You can generally use miles in any of the members’ frequent flyer programs to book award flights on partner airlines. Here are the five best ways to book Lufthansa First Class awards using partner frequent flyer programs.
United allows you to book First Class one-way awards on partner airlines using 110,000 United miles. The great thing about United is that it doesn’t impose fuel charges on award tickets, you just pay nominal taxes and fees, which are typically under $100. United also makes it super easy to book Lufthansa wards online at United.com, so you never have to talk with a phone agent! One important note concerning booking Lufthansa First Class using partner miles-Lufthansa releases First Class award space to its partners 15 days before the flight date. Any frequent flyer program you use to book other than Lufthansa’s program will have this restriction. That being said, I find that Lufthansa releases plenty of seats for its partners. As long as you have some flexibility on your travel dates you should be fine.
United miles are pretty easy to come by. Any United or Star Alliance partner flights can earn United miles if you credit them to your United MileagePlus account. You can also transfer miles from Chase Ultimate Rewards to United-and those transfers post to your account within minutes. You can earn Chase Ultimate Reward points from several credit cards, including the Sapphire Reserve, Sapphire Preferred, Ink Business Preferred, and more.
Avianca charges 87,000 miles for one-way First Class partner awards between the US and Europe. You can book awards directly on the LifeMiles website. One quirk with LifeMiles is that you can’t book mixed-cabin awards. The entire journey has to be in the same class.
Avianca is a transfer partner of both SPG and Citi ThankYou. Another way to accrue Avianca miles is to purchase them. The good news is that they typically offer huge bonuses of up to 140% on purchased miles. This would allow you to purchase the miles at around 1.4 cents each. At that price, it would cost you around $1,220 worth of miles to book a one-way First Class ticket-which retails for around $8,000.
Air Canada AeroPlan
AeroPlan breaks up Europe into two zones. They charge 70,000 miles one-way from North America-Western Europe and 80,000 miles one-way from North America-Eastern Europe. The main drawback with AeroPlan is that it does impose fuel charges, so you’ll likely pay a few hundreds dollars in addition to the miles.
AeroPlan is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards and SPG. Both programs transfer points to AeroPlan at a 1:1 ratio. However, you get 5,000 bonus points for every 20,000 SPG points you transfer. For example, if you were to transfer 60,000 SPG points, they’d convert to 75,000 AeroPlan miles!
Lufthansa Miles & More
Miles & More is the shared frequent flyer program of Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian, Brussels, and LOT airlines. The program charges 85,000 miles for a one-way First Class award between North America and Europe. However, they do impose fuel charges. So you’ll typically have to pay a few hundred dollars in addition to the miles. The main benefit of booking with Miles & More is that you can book the award seat more than 15 days in advance. If you want to lock down your award seat well in advance, this is your best bet. Fun fact-Miles & More was the first frequent flyer program I used back in the day 😉
Miles & More is an SPG transfer partner. This means you can book the flight using 70,000 SPG points (remember, you get an extra 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 points you transfer from SPG). The easiest way to earn SPG points is by using the Starwood Preferred Guest from American Express credit card. It earns 2X points per $1 on all Starwood and Marriott hotel spending.
Asiana is the cheapest way to fly Lufthansa First and is a bit of a gem because of how ridiculously cheap it is. They charge just 50,000 miles for a one-way First Class ticket between North American and Europe. Asiana does impose fuel charges, so you’ll have to pay a few hundred dollars in addition to the miles. But you need so few miles that this is really a steal. But wait, it gets better…
Asiana is a transfer partner of SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest). As I’ve been saying, you get a 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 points you transfer from SPG. That means you can convert 40,000 SPG points into 50,000 Asiana miles. The fact that you can book a First Class ticket on one of the best airlines in the world for only 40,000 points+ few hundred bucks is nuts. The only drawback with Asiana is that you can’t book partner awards online. The best thing to do is look up award space on United.com. Once you find a saver-level award available in Lufthansa First Class, call Asiana, give them the flight info, and have them book the award for you. Remember, Lufthasna opens up First Class award space to partners 15 days in advance.
Based on these options, here’s my suggestion. If you want to book your flight well in advance, use Lufthansa Miles & More. If you want a ticket for basically free, use United MileagePlus-there’s no fuel surcharges. If you want to use the least amount of miles possible, use Asiana-it’s just 40,000 SPG points one way. Leave your thoughts in the comments below and Happy Travels!