LifeMiles Blocking Lufthansa First Class Award Space. Back Up Plans

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Lufthansa First Class is no longer bookable using LifeMiles.

For the past few years, Lufthansa has only released first class award space to its Star Alliance partners 15 days before flight departure. LifeMiles, which is in the Star Alliance, used to be an excellent program with which to book these last-minute luxury flights.

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Recently, however, Lufthansa first class award seats have not been showing availability on lifemiles.com. When I called and talked an LifeMiles agent, he was also unable to find any Lufthansa first class availability.

This is another significant blow to the value of LifeMiles. Lufthansa first class is a great product, and enjoying the First Class Terminal in Frankfurt is on many frequent travelers’ bucket lists.

  • What’s so great about Lufthansa First Class?
  • Why is losing the ability to book Lufthansa First with LifeMiles such a big deal?
  • What other mileage programs can be used to book Lufthansa First?

Just last week I wrote about a major devaluation to the LifeMiles award chart. Previously, I also reported that LifeMiles were becoming more expensive to buy and that hidden city ticketing to Asia with LifeMiles is dead. To add further insult to injury, LifeMiles can no longer be used to book Lufthansa first class awards.

Lufthansa First Class

Flying in Lufthansa first class is one of the most luxurious ways to get to or from Europe. Lufthansa serves several routes with state-of-the-art A380 aircraft, and the first class product on these planes rivals that of almost any other airline (a notable exception being Etihad’s “The Residence”). In addition to convenient routing with a great hard product and excellent service, flying Lufthansa first class gives a traveler access to the exclusive First Class Terminal at the Frankfurt airport. Among other perks, travelers using the First Class Terminal are driven between gate and plane in a luxury vehicle.

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The Problem

For Star Alliance partner awards, first class flights on Lufthansa can only be booked 15 days in advance. Recently, however, I was trying to book an award for a client of my Award Booking Service and could not find any space in Lufthansa first class when using LifeMiles.

We know that the problem is with LifeMiles and not with Lufthansa because Lufthansa first class award flights are still bookable with other programs. Here is a representative example:

This screenshot shows open space using United miles to fly Lufthansa first class from Washington, DC to Munich on Sunday, August 10th.

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 1.50.22 PM

I searched for the exact same itinerary on lifemiles.com and found no availability.

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 1.54.38 PMI also called LifeMiles and spent quite a bit of time on the phone with a very helpful agent. He was unable to find any availability in Lufthansa first class.

United is no Longer a Good Option

If you looked at the above screenshots carefully, you probably noticed another major obstacle to booking Lufthansa first class: partner airline first class flights to Europe now cost 110,000 United miles each way. Before the devaluation, booking a last-second first class award to Europe was an excellent use of United miles. Now, it’s not so appealing.

With United’s February 2014 award chart devaluation, especially for premium cabins on partners, I only use United miles to book economy, United BusinessFirst, and United Global First.

Why is Losing LifeMiles Lufthansa First Awards so Bad?

After the United devaluation, LifeMiles became by far the best currency for booking first class award flights on Lufthansa. This was for several reasons:

Unfortunately, many of the above attributes are set to change in October. Even with the new award chart, however, one-way first class awards to Europe will cost only 87,500 miles, which is 22,500 miles cheaper than the same award using United miles.

Other Options

Lufthansa miles, earned in the Lufthansa Miles & More program, can be used to book Lufthansa first class awards. The major advantage to using the Miles and More program to book Lufthansa first class itineraries is that space is available much further in advance than when using partner programs. Lufthansa charges 85,000 miles each way for a first class ticket to Europe. The major drawback to using Lufthansa miles is that the mileage cost is relatively high and hefty fuel surcharges are added to most award bookings, including all those that involve transatlantic flights.

Aeroplan, which is a transfer partner of the American Express Membership Rewards program, charges only 62,500 miles for one-way first class flights from the USA to “Europe Zone 1,” which includes Germany. Unfortunately, Aeroplan also levies significant fuel surcharges, which can total about $1,000 roundtrip.

ANA, which is also an AMEX transfer partner, uses a distance-based award chart. Roundtrip flights from the east coast to Germany in Lufthansa first class cost only 100,000 ANA miles. ANA does charge fuel surcharges, but I might seriously consider this option if it weren’t for the fact that ANA only allows roundtrip awards. Most people don’t want to book a flight departing to and returning from Europe within 15 days. However, if you have Membership Rewards to burn and want to take a short, spur of the moment trip, then ANA might be the program for you.

Singapore Airlines’ frequent flyer program is called Krisflyer. Krisflyer is a transfer partner of every major transferable points program. One- ay awards can be booked in Lufthansa first class for 80,000 Krisflyer miles. Fuel surcharges are imposed, but due to the ease of accumulating Krisflyer miles this might be the most accessible option for most people who want to book a flight in Lufthansa first class.

Recap

Lufthansa first class is a great product, is a convenient way to get to or from Europe, and allows passengers to access the exclusive First Class Terminal in Frankfurt.

After the United devaluation, LifeMiles were the best currency with which to book first class award flights on Lufthansa. Unfortunately, LifeMiles, in addition to making many other changes, has decided to block all Lufthansa first class awards. You can no longer use LifeMiles to book any itinerary involving Lufthansa first class.

Lufthansa’s Miles & More program gives the best access to Lufthansa first class flights, but it is costly both in mileage and fuel surcharges.

Aeroplan awards to Germany are relatively inexpensive in terms of miles required, but will have significant associated fuel surcharges. This is probably the best option for those with plenty of American Express points.

ANA, which also levies fuel surcharges, costs the fewest miles for a roundtrip itinerary departing from the East Coast. However, only round-trip awards can be booked.

Krisflyer miles can be transferred from Membership Rewards, Ultimate Rewards, ThankYou Points, and Starpoints, and the cost in miles for a one way itinerary in Lufthansa first class is not exorbitant. Krisflyer does have fuel surcharges, but due to the relative ease of acquiring these miles this may be the most easily attainable way to fly Lufthansa first class.



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6 COMMENTS

  1. LifeMiles is all sorts of messed up… there are so many trips their search engine is not showing… hopefully this will be fixed after they devalue. one can only hope.

  2. I know SQ website does not show partner awards. Do you think SQ has better access to Lufthansa award space than United or ANA?

  3. so are there any programs that dont impose YQ surcharges for LH F? a bit steep in terms of mileage would be ok as long as 1) they are easy to accumulate, cause of several transfer partners or affiliated CCs. or 2) mileage diff doesnt add upto the YQ levied with regards to how much you’d otherwise value those extra miles.

    for ex. if in the above scenario Aeroplan charges 62.5k miles and say $500 in fees. but there’s another program xyz that charges say 110k miles and these xyz miles have a value of of 0.8c that means you’d be spending an extra 47.5k miles which are worth or can be acquired for $380. so if you happened to have an abundance of xyz miles, that might be a better option.

    • United doesn’t collect fuel surcharges on LH F. It charges 110k each way. All other programs do collect fuel surcharges on LH F.

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