Updated June 3: The Asiana miles showed up today, meaning the transfer took 14 days. My last transfer in September 2014 took 17 days. In the interim, I’ve decided not to book Lufthansa First Class from Europe to the United States in June, but the Asiana award chart is so good that I don’t mind have 60,000 points on hand. That’s almost enough for Business Class one way USA to Argentina (35k) + First Class USA to Hawaii (27.5k).
You can book Lufthansa First Class for 50,000 Asiana Club miles–40,000 Starpoints–one way. This is Asiana’s award chart from the mainland United States for roundtrip awards. One ways are half price:
There are a lot of STEALS on the chart. This post will focus on Europe for 40,000 miles one way in Business Class and 50,000 miles one way in First Class. How good of a deal is this?
- United charges 57,500 to 70,000 miles one way in Business Class to Europe
- United charges 80,000 miles one way for its First Class and 110,000 for Lufthansa First Class.
Even with the mild fuel surcharges on Asiana awards of Lufthansa flights, these are great deals. And if you want to avoid fuel surcharges, book United flights with Asiana miles.
Test #1: Lufthansa First Class
I wanted to call Asiana and price out awards to see whether I could get agents to follow the award chart and to see what the taxes and fuel surcharges would be.
I’m considering flying Tallinn, Estonia to Washington, DC next month, so I took a look at that routing though there’s nothing special about it.
Lufthansa First Class would be awesome to get into the Lufthansa First Class Terminal again, and to enjoy the luxury onboard.
First I found this award space on two Lufthansa flights.
In case you’re not adept at reading united.com (which is where I searched because Asiana should have access to all Star Alliance space found on united.com):
- There is award space in Business Class from Tallinn to Frankfurt
- There is award space in Business and First Class from Frankfurt to Washington DC
I noted the date, flight number, and cabin of the award space. I called Asiana and these are the prices I got:
- For Business Class on both flights (what United is charging 70,000 miles for), Asiana charges 40,000 miles + $311.44.
- For Business Class on the short hop and First Class on the long one (what United is charging 110,000 miles for), Asiana charges 50,000 miles + $311.44.
- Drop the short hop altogether. For just Lufthansa First Class from Frankfurt to Washington DC, Asiana charges 50,000 miles + $348.34.
A few notes:
- I can’t quite figure out how they got that amount of dollars though each agent was consistent.
- One agent priced Business + First at 75,000 miles, but two priced it at the 50,000 price quoted above.
- Taxes and fuel surcharges vary by country and route, so fewer flights actually can actually result in higher charges.
1. The Dollar Amount
I would expect Lufthansa to collect the taxes and fuel surcharges of an equivalent paid ticket. Here’s the equivalent paid ticket to Tallinn to Frankfurt to Washington DC in Business and First Class.
That’s 223.37 euros ($248) of taxes and fuel surcharges. Asiana wanted $311. I don’t know why.
2. Differing Miles Prices
I called Asiana a few times, and I got different miles prices. Two out of three agents priced the short hop in Business plus longhaul in First Class at 50,000 miles total. One said 75,000 total. When pressed she explained that it was because I had the shorthaul Business Class segment, which was another 25,000 miles on the Asiana chart. Her computer was adding inta-Europe Business (25k) to Europe-to-USA First (50k.)
I believe she was wrong and that Asiana agents should price your Lufthansa First Class award, even if there is an intra-Europe segment, at 50,000 total miles.
The agent who said 75,000 miles said the computer had priced it like that. That might be because I had first priced Business/Business with her and then switched to Business/First and for that reason the computer saw my trip as two awards.
Bottom line: please report if a connecting segment in Europe drives up your miles price in the comments, but I don’t believe it will happen.
3. Taxes and Fuel Surcharges Vary
The dollar price went up by dropping the Tallinn to Frankfurt segment. That’s just because airlines price fuel surcharges by origin/destination city pair and taxes and vary by country.
Play around with your country of origin if the taxes and fees are very important to you.
Test #2: United Premium Cabins
Asiana doesn’t collect fuel surcharges on United award flights. I tested that out by pricing out this itinerary on the same route.
I tested out:
- Lufthansa Business Class TLL-FRA + United Business Class FRA-IAD (57.5k United miles above)
- Lufthansa Business Class TLL-FRA + United First Class FRA-IAD (80k United miles above)
The agents all priced them at:
- 40,000 Asiana Miles + $133.71 for the all Business Class award
- 50,000 Asiana Miles + $133.71 for the mostly First Class award
The short Lufthansa flight had slight fuel surcharges plus the rest is taxes. Overall, these are steals.
Asiana is a member of Star Alliance. You can book any of these partners with Asiana miles.
Almost all of these are searchable on united.com very quickly, so that’s where to search. Here’s how. When you find award space in the Saver column, note the date, cabin, and flight number.
You will pay a different number of miles and dollars than the amount shown on united.com.
Booking, or pricing out awards is a bit of a hassle. You have to call Asiana at 800-227-4262 from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM Pacific Time Monday through Friday.
First you need to talk to reservations and have them piece together and price the award. Then you are transferred to Asiana Club to pay.
When the phone connects, hit 2-5-# to get to reservations. You need an Asiana Club account. If you have zero miles, just tell the agent you want to know the price in miles and taxes and fees before transferring points to Asiana Club. There is occasionally a language barrier, but you can usually get done what you need to.
Asiana can only ticket departures that are more than 72 hours in the future.
Pay your award taxes with the Citi Prestige® Card. The first $250 in award taxes, airfare, or airline fees per calendar year are refunded to you as a statement credit. If you’ve already maxed out the statement credit, you will still earn 3x ThankYou Points on the award taxes and fees.
Getting Asiana Miles
SPG Starpoints transfer 1:1 to Asiana miles with the customary 5,000 bonus miles for every 20,000 points transferred. At that rate:
- 35,000 Starpoints transfer to 40,000 Asiana miles
- 40,000 Starpoints transfer to 50,000 Asiana miles
Unfortunately, in my experience, SPG points take 14-17 days to show up in my Asiana account.
The bonus on the SPG card is 25,000 Starpoints, and the minimum spending requirement just dropped to $3,000 in three months.
It’s a bit of a hassle to book Asiana Club tickets and tough to get the miles, but you can’t argue with 40,000 miles + $131 for United flat bed Business Class to Europe or 50,000 miles + $311 for Lufthansa First Class.