Most airlines frequent flyer programs have issued a moratorium when it comes to the expiry of miles during the current pandemic but not so Lufthansa and their Miles&More program, causing millions to expire due to lack of flight options.
This business as usual policy has caused massive problems for people who have Miles&More miles expiring in their accounts and especially those who were forced to cancel mileage tickets booked with already expired miles.
Miles&More is one of the few programs that still let their miles expire and while it’s not a rarity most airlines have issued generous extensions to their miles expiry dates. Lufthansa has decided to extend the status tiers of their members and made it easier this year to obtain status by counting credit card spend towards elite status, yet no solution for the miles.
We have received multiple complaints (such as this reader question a few weeks ago) from people who see themselves confronted with the situation that their frequent flyer miles expire, yet there are very few options for many of them.
Lufthansa seems to have also plugged the loophole of allowing to re-use cancelled mileage awards booked with previously expired miles. It used to be possible to cancel these awards for the usual US$50/50 EUR fee, have the miles redeposited and use them again before the end of the quarter but now Miles&More seem to expire them straight after the redeposit.
One of our readers commented on the previous piece and sent us a screenshot from this account:
As can be seen here Miles&More withdrew the miles right after they got redeposited without any chance to touch them again.
This leaves customers whose miles expire with even less options, here are some examples:
- Book a future ticket you’re likely able to use, maybe with a date change required but be prepared to lose your miles if this trip doesn’t materialize.
- Enroll for a Lufthansa co-branded credit card that keeps miles from expiring (available in some markets)
- Obtain Miles&More elite status which is rather difficult and nonsensical in this context since if you could fly then you’d just burn your miles that way
- Use the miles for a purchase in the Lufthansa Worldshop, their online shopping portal or by ordering a gift card. This isn’t great value but better than nothing
- Making a charitable donation with the miles
Miles&More has an FAQ section on their website about what to do with the status and miles during these challenging times but left out talking about the issue of likely not being able to use miles for flights altogether.
Mind you, it’s possible to leave Germany and go for vacations and/or business trips. Many of my friends are doing just that but I can also understand that many don’t feel comfortable doing that right now. Lufthansa should accommodate that sentiment which is also pushed by the government. Of course M&M has members in other countries too and they might have it even more difficult to use their miles so the best solution here would be a blanket extension.
It’s actually quite shameful that Lufthansa Miles&More is totally ignoring the fact that many miles are expiring, simply saying “you can use your miles at home” for some merchandise redemptions which is a rather horrible ratio for the value of your miles.
While other frequent flyer programs is extending the mileage expiration for their members or have abandoned the practice altogether Lufthansa Miles&More continues to let them expire as per the regular schedule.
Their Covid-19 related M&M “solutions” seem to be solely focuses on elite status of their members but not the actual award miles. Some airlines such as Singapore Airlines allow extending miles once for a reasonably modest fee, even under normal circumstances.
As a rule of thumb you have to make sure that you don’t bank too many miles with programs that have hard expiry that is difficult to circumvent. If you hold points with banking institutions for example from credit card spend it’s recommendable to not transfer them to an airline or hotel program that lets points expire until you have a specific use for them or the bonus offer is too good to pass up.