Award Success: Last Minute Lufthansa First Class Frankfurt-Shanghai-Beijing For 115k United Mileage Plus Miles


In our regular series Award Success today we feature my recent redemption for Lufthansa First Class Frankfurt to Shanghai (and onward to Beijing) through United Mileage Plus.

I found myself having to purchase this ticket relatively last minute as my initial plans to spend Christmas and New Years in South Africa with family fell through.

Sometimes things develop literally last minute and then it’s good when you have a stack of miles which you’re able to utilize in order to secure your onward travel.

A couple days before my departure which I planned to have on DEC 24th the latest I found availability for Lufthansa First Class to Shanghai which is served by an Airbus A380 from Frankfurt.

At that point I wasn’t sure yet if I would be going to either Shanghai or Beijing so there was a great option available of adding a segment on Air China Business Class from Pudong to Capital Airport as well.

I wanted to keep my options open and in the end I was glad I did because I actually ended up going to Beijing on that day and also there was no direct flight available at the time I booked anyway. The award obviously cost the same no matter if I booked it to Shanghai, Beijing or even another destination in the particular region and you can always throw away the last segment if you need to.

Lufthansa has an extremely limited schedule over the Christmas holidays so the options ex Frankfurt were scarce. Business Class is only 40,000 United Miles less than First Class and considering I just redeemed a 150k miles Marriott Travel package a few weeks before I thought why not just go for First as long as it’s available. And that’s exactly what I did.


I find this pricing pretty reasonable. The close is booking fee is always a bit of a nuisance but since I’m United Silver through the Rewards Plus Partnership with Marriott this was reduced to $50 plus the actual airport taxes of 90,99 EUR. In Total I spent 138,16 EUR and 115,000 Mileage Plus Miles for this award.

A friend who also ended up booking the same flight paid roughly the same in Lufthansa Miles&More Miles by the way: 105k plus 319 EUR (only for Frankfurt-Shanghai).


Lufthansa First Class was certainly a nice way to hop over to Asia and the fact that I was able to book this great award last minute when seats were already very limited was really lucky. Lufthansa First Class is a little difficult to book but two weeks prior to departure they open the seats up to partner programs such as United Mileage Plus or Avianca Lifemiles.

If you book your award with Lufthansa Miles&More you can actually book up to a year (actually 330 days) in advance so this currency gives you more flexibility.

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  • jessie

    Quick question about the plane between PVG-PEK : how first class? three cabin plane between these two cities? Or two cabins but just called First/Economy (like QR)?

    • Gaijinsan

      There are some 3 class planes and some 2 class planes. Generally the front cabin of 2 class planes on domestic Air China are labeled First Class which causes problems when redeeming miles for business class international and a domestic connection. The few 3 class planes that fly the route however are no issue as business class correctly maps into business class.

      • I believe that this same applies for all Chinese airlines. The NA style biz is labeled as first for flights within China but business internationally.

        • Gaijinsan

          Correct, that seems to be the case still across the board. What is maddening is that Star Alliance partners charge the international first class mileage level for award travel if you include one of these 2 cabin plane segments on your ticket rather than business class mileage level. This sharp is a contrast to what happens in the US, you get charged business class for the international long haul and domestic first class is included for connections.

          • I know that United prices the intra-China CA O flights at the business class award prices. Was looking at these last week when I was booking flights to Lhasa for the CNY. Ended up paying for economy……

          • Gaijinsan

            Interesting, good to know. It must be a recent change within the past 2 years. They used to require First class mileage rates if you had a domestic First segment. Continental was the same before the merger.

          • Gaijinsan

            nteresting, good to know. It must be a recent change within the past 2 years. They used to require First class mileage rates if you had a domestic First segment. Continental was the same before the merger.