The 50k mile bonus offer is back on the Lufthansa card mentioned in this post until 6/30/14. Get it now!

  • Earn 20,000 award miles after your first purchases or balance transfer
  • Earn an additional 30,000 award miles when you spend $5,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn 2 award miles per $1 on ticket purchases directly from Miles & More integrated airline partners and 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases
  • Cardholders receive a companion ticket after first use of the account and annually after each account anniversary
  • No Foreign transaction fees on purchases made outside the U.S.
  • Redeem miles for flight awards and upgrades on Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, SWISS, Star Alliance member airlines and on other partners
  • $79 Annual Fee. Please see Terms and Conditions for complete details

Application Link: The Lufthansa Premier Miles & More World MasterCard

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The big news in the miles world is that The Lufthansa Premier Miles & More World MasterCard is now offering 50,000 bonus Lufthansa miles after spending $5k in the first three months on the card.

This is the second time the card has bumped its standard 20,000 mile bonus to 50,000 miles. Last time, I got the card for myself and convinced a few friends to get it also.

I met the minimum spending requirement on the card and almost immediately was offered 15k Bonus Lufthansa Miles for Spending $750 per month for three months. I just completed that, so I’ll soon have 73,000 miles in my Lufthansa account from $8,000 in spending. I haven’t touched my own miles yet.

But I have redeemed 55,000 of my friend’s Lufthansa miles–the exact number you’ll have after meeting the minimum spending requirement–for a trip for myself. (Like nearly all miles, you can use anyone’s Lufthansa miles to book a trip for anyone else.)

The trip I booked is from Honolulu to Newark in United First Class on a fully flat bed, then returning Las Vegas to Honolulu in United economy. The award cost me 55,000 Lufthansa miles + $7.50.

Why did I use Lufthansa miles? How did I get a flat bed? How did I search for the award? How did I ticket the award? What did I do to save 15,000 miles on the award?

Today I’m moving to Hawaii. My next big international trip is in February when I will enjoy Singapore Suites Class, Cathay Pacific First Class, and the Lufthansa First Class Terminal on One Trip.

That trip starts from New York, so I needed a way to get from Honolulu to New York. That big trip will end in Las Vegas, so I needed a return from Las Vegas to Honolulu.

My ideal Honolulu to New York flight is the daily direct flight on United from Honolulu to Newark in First Class because the route is operated by a 767-400ER with 39 flat beds up front.

Note that the seats are sold as BusinessFirst on international routes and priced at the business class award price. Rookie Alli flew this exact plane from Buenos Aires to Newark in BusinessFirst and loved it.

United charges 40,000 miles and $2.50 one way in a flat bed from Honolulu to Newark.

Lufthansa charges only 35,000 miles and $2.50 one way in the same flat bed on the same plane from Honolulu to Newark. And Lufthansa has access to the exact same award space as United MileagePlus members do.

What about the return from Vegas?

I could use 20,000 Lufthansa miles + $5 to book a one stop award back to Hawaii on United or US Airways planes. That’s the same number of miles as United would charge on the same flights, and when the prices are the same, I’ll always burn Lufthansa miles first.

Searching

I had decided to use up all of my friend’s 55,000 Lufthansa miles on two one way awards: Honolulu to Newark in First Class and Las Vegas to Honolulu in economy. Now I had to find the award space.

Searching milesandmore.com, the website of Lufthansa’s frequent flyer program, would have been useless since it only displays award space on Miles & More member airlines:

  • Austrian Airlines
  • LOT Polish Airlines
  • Swiss International Air Lines
  • Adria Airways
  • Croatia Airlines
  • Luxair
  • Brussels Airlines
  • Germanwings

The good news is that Lufthansa has access to all the Saver award space on all Star Alliance airlines that show up on award searches on united.com. So I went to united.com to search.

For more information on searching for award space on united.com, see Searching United.com to Redeem United and US Airways Miles.

On the home screen, I searched for direct flights one way from Honolulu to Newark.

Space was pretty sparse on the direct route. There was ample space on one stop itineraries, but I wanted the direct flat bed.

The calendar on the results screen color codes the days that have Saver award space–the only space Lufthansa has access to.

On each date, you can tell exactly what space Lufthansa miles can access by looking at an individual flight. Flights with a blue button in the Saver Award column have seats in that cabin available to people with Lufthansa miles.

Flights that only have a yellow button in the Standard Award column and no blue button in the Saver column are not bookable with Lufthansa miles.

I found a day with First Class flat bed award space and noted the date and flight number.

Then I repeated the process looking for an economy class award seat from Las Vegas back to Honolulu on a one stop itinerary. I found plenty of space on the route. When I picked the itinerary I wanted that had Saver award space, I noted the flight numbers and date.

One final point about the award searching that I know confuses some beginners:

We are searching on united.com, but we will be redeeming Lufthansa miles. United.com displays the United miles price of each award. Lufthansa has a different award chart with different miles prices for awards.

That means that I look at united.com to see what space I can book with Lufthansa miles, but I ignore the miles prices listed next to that space.

In this case, the Honolulu to Newark flight says 40,000 miles + $2.50 on united.com. I ignored that price. That’s the price with United miles, but the price with Lufthansa miles is 35,000 miles + $2.50.

From milesandmore.com

Booking the Award

The only way to book United flights with Lufthansa miles is to call Miles & More at 800.581.6400 Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 8 PM ET.

I had my friend call since the miles were coming from his account. Before he called, I coached him on one point. He actually needed to book each direction–Honolulu to Newark and Las Vegas to Honolulu–as a separate award.

Lufthansa has a weird rule that if you book a roundtrip award with one direction in First Class and one in economy, you get charged the roundtrip First Class price. That’s easy enough to get around by booking two one way awards.

I gave my friend the flight numbers and dates of my desired flights and told him to contact me if Honolulu to Newark didn’t price at 35,000 miles + $2.50 and Las Vegas to Honolulu didn’t price at 20,000 miles + $5.

He reported that the call only took ten minutes. The two awards were booked, and he gave me my confirmation numbers. I quickly went online to lufthansa.com and selected seats on the flights.

Getting the Miles

The easiest way to get 55,000 Lufthansa miles–enough for a roundtrip from the mainland to Hawaii with one direction in first class–is to open The Lufthansa Premier Miles & More World MasterCard and spend $5,000 on the card in the first three months.

With the 50,000 mile bonus and $5,000 in spending, you will have exactly 55,000 miles. Full offer details:

Update 12/17/13: The 50k mile offer is dead. All Lufthansa card links in this post go to the following offer:

  • Earn up to 35,000 award miles with qualifying transactions
  • Earn 20,000 award miles after your first purchase or balance transfer
  • Earn up to 15,000 award miles with balance transfers (1 mile per $1 transferred) within 30 days of account opening
  • Earn 2 award miles per $1 on ticket purchases directly from Miles & More integrated airline partners
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases
  • Complimentary Companion Ticket after first purchase, then annually thereafter
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $79 Annual Fee, waived for SEN and HON Circle Members

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With 70,000 miles, you’d have enough for a roundtrip to Hawaii in United First Class. Or with 80,000 Lufthansa miles, you’d have enough miles for two roundtrip awards to Hawaii. Hopefully you’ll be offered 15k Bonus Lufthansa Miles for Spending $750 per month for three months like I was to get to 70,000 or 80,000 miles.

If not, you can transfer Starpoints to Lufthansa miles. Twenty thousand Starpoints transfer to 25,000 Lufthansa miles. You can get 25,000 bonus Starpoints by opening the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and spending $5k on the card in the first six months.

MileValue

The awards cost 55,000 Lufthansa miles + $7.50. The cash tickets would have cost $2,239.

Of course, I would never spend $2,000 cash on a one way ticket from Honolulu to Newark, no matter how flat the bed, so I’ll value that segment at $800. That means I got $1,097 worth of value from 55,000 Lufthansa miles–all of which my friend got by opening one credit card!

That’s about 1.75 cents of value per mile, which is fantastic on a redemption of Lufthansa miles.

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