One of our readers from Italy contacted us today asking what would be the most sensible way to use his Lufthansa Miles & More Miles where he holds Senator Status (Star Alliance Gold Level).
Holding this status level myself I promised to have a look at the current situation and provide some insight what might be the best option (you can access the Miles&More Award Chart here).
Now, for one thing he did not provide how high his mileage balance is at this time so let’s just assume (since Senator Status requires 100,000 status miles) that it is around this balance.
Initially our reader was looking to use his miles for a leisure intra-european flight, however he quickly found out that this was not making a lot of sense due to Lufthansa’s high fuel surcharges and the rather high airport taxes within Europe. As as example I was searching for a random roundtrip Frankfurt to Rome for the next weekend
Economy Class Promotion Ticket (No cancellation/No companion award): 7000 Miles + 159.10 EUR
Economy Class Regular Ticket (Changes/Refund possible for 50 EUR): 30,000 Miles + 159.10 EUR
Business Class Promotion Ticket (No cancellation/No companion award): 25,000 Miles + 167.77 EUR
Business Class Regular Ticker (Changes/Refund possible for 50 EUR): 45,000 Miles + 167.77 EUR
The same ticket in Economy Class is being sold straight away for 137,00 EUR from ltur.de, a german Last Minute Travel provider and this is almost always the case for these leisure destinations, especially over the weekend. It is rarely worth it to redeem miles for these trips.
If you are looking for intra european travel there are of course exceptions to this rule. Certain cities are considered expensive and high revenue for the airlines. Those include Brussels and Zurich as well as a few others. It’s almost impossible to find special deals for straight out purchase that do not include a weekend night. Last year I was able to redeem a such a one way flight
Brussels to Vienna, 2 Passengers using the Companion Award option for 22,500 Miles + 131,10 EUR
The regular purchase price would have been 470 EUR per passengers and I wasn’t very flexible here.
The Companion Award is a special redemption option on LH Group flights for Miles & More Senator and HON Circle members to redeem an award ticket for a second passenger traveling with you at a 50% discount on the mileage rate. The second person has to travel with you and the Tax/Fuel Surcharge applies in full!
Generally speaking and across the board of all airlines, the best way to redeem miles is for longhaul travel in First & Business Class. An example would be
Frankfurt – Los Angeles – Frankfurt in Lufthansa First Class, 170,000 miles + 630,80 EUR
Frankfurt – Johannesburg – Frankfurt in Lufthansa Business Class, 105,000 miles + 588,30 EUR
As you can see the surcharges for these Miles&More awards are quiet high. Most of it are not taxes but scam charges by the airline, camouflaged as Fuel Surcharges. Those surcharges originated in the times of high fuel prices and the airlines started to charge more and more of these fees. Since then, prices for fuel have dwindled downwards reacting to the cheap crude oil rates but most airlines have not reacted in significantly lowering those surcharges. One exception to that though is Singapore Airlines.
Some countries have limited or completely banned Fuel Surcharges by law. If you have the chance of starting your trip there it can significantly impact the value of your redemption as the only surcharge consists of actual government taxes that are in the two digits.
Countries that have banned Fuel Surcharges: Brazil, Philippines
Countries that have limited Fuel Surcharges: Hong Kong, Japan
One advantage is, that one can book one way flights with Miles & More at 50% of the round trip rate which allows to be more flexible with the routing.
An important feature to keep in mind is that as soon as the routing touches a third award zone in between origin and destination, the pricing for a so called 3-Region-Award will apply. Depending on what you are planning to do, this can be both a curse and a blessing.
3 Region Award Pricing
Business Class Roundtrip: 185,000 Miles / Business Class One Way: 92,500 Miles
First Class Roundtrip: 290,000 Miles / First Class One Way: 145,000 Miles
You would be able to do a nice trip on 2 Longhaul Sectors in First Class for 145,000 Miles and if you do that for example from Sao Paulo it would be possible to book something like this
Sao Paulo – Frankfurt – Tokyo, Lufthansa First Class 145,000 Miles + 62.90 EUR.
There is no absolute blueprint on how to use your miles, this all depends on your own requirements, circumstances and last but not least your mileage balance.
Rule of thumb should be that you should redeem only for tickets that are expensive and to make it an enjoyable, memorable experience for yourself. If you can redeem by using the Miles & More Companion Award for 50% off that makes it an even better deal.