Redeem LifeMiles For Lufthansa First Class Once Again!

As long time blog readers will know, I love Lufthansa first class. I actually haven’t flown it that much over the past few years. I suppose you could say that I traded in Cathay Pacific and Lufthansa first class for Emirates and Etihad first class.

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One of the reasons I haven’t flown Lufthansa first class much is because it has become considerably more difficult to book on miles. Lufthansa makes first class awards bookable through partner airlines at most 15 days before departure, and even then there aren’t many great values. For travel between the US and Europe:

Avianca’s LifeMiles program seems like a good option in theory, though for well over a year LifeMiles has been blocking virtually all Lufthansa first class award space.

They’re not the first airline to do that, as back in the day United MileagePlus and US Airways Dividend Miles both did the same at one point or another. That may partly have to do with the fact that Lufthansa seems to have somewhat higher award reimbursement rates than other airlines.

Anyway, the good news is that Lufthansa first class awards are once again bookable using LifeMiles.

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The LifeMiles program seems to have access to the same Lufthansa first class award space as other programs, including Air Canada Aeroplan, United MileagePlus, etc.

The space is bookable directly on the LifeMiles website.

Lufthansa-First-Awards-1

This is fantastic news, and for many will increase the value of LifeMiles. As a reminder, LifeMiles charges 87,000 miles one-way between the US and Europe in first class, though you can also fly Lufthansa between the US and other regions using LifeMiles, assuming the connection time is fairly short. Rather ridiculously, LifeMiles doesn’t allow mixed cabin awards, meaning you can’t mix first & business class on a single award (which is bad news for intra-Europe connections).

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Keep in mind that LifeMiles frequently sells miles with huge bonuses, often of 100% or more. For example, at the moment they’re offering up to a 140% bonus on purchased miles, which brings down the cost of purchased miles to ~1.375 cents each.

Bottom line

This is exciting news. While it’s possible that LifeMiles having access to Lufthansa first class availability is a glitch, personally I think it’s intentional. LifeMiles has clearly been struggling with mileage sales lately, as they keep increasing the bonuses they’re offering, and are also devaluing their award chart for travel on their own flights, but not for travel on partner airlines (which is rare if an airline is doing well selling miles).

In my opinion this once again makes LifeMiles the best program for booking Lufthansa first class.

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Do you plan on redeeming LifeMiles for travel in Lufthansa first class?

(Tip of the hat to imverge)

Comments

  1. 87,000 miles for US-Europe is pretty expensive IMO, even if it is LH F.
    Also, as you said the biggest problem is the no mixed cabin rule, so unless you are flying to FRA or MUC, it hardly matters whether LH F is available with Lifemiles.
    Personally, I’m not buying Lifemiles for this.

  2. What I find frustrating is not once when Lifemiles was having a sale did I read in your blog or Gary’s blog that buying them with the bonuses was a good deal, and now Gary just posted this very same story and told his reading how he stocked up on miles…

  3. Why can’t I shake this feeling that I’m being manipulated? They’ve had trouble selling miles all year – as the realities of same class of service needing to be available and certain carriers being blocked – have strained the utility of Lifemiles. In Hailmary like fashion – they drive per miles costs down to $0.013 per mile. A cynic would say perhaps sales have been poor – because now – with just 24 hours to go for this biggest sale of the year – suddenly the elusive LH F class cabin opens up. Suspicious – yes. A good value – yes. Do I pull the trigger – my brain tells me I should pass. 24 hours to go…..

  4. Lifemiles are only useful if you are going to FRA or MUC. As per your post

    “Rather ridiculously, LifeMiles doesn’t allow mixed cabin awards, meaning you can’t mix first & business class on a single award (which is bad news for intra-Europe connections).”

    So I’m not sure how LifeMiles are the best miles for booking to Europe when you can only get to two cities in LH F on one award ticket. So to be fair, there is an additional cost to using LifeMiles when flying LH First to get to anywhere else in Europe (either by using more miles for a separate ticket, or buying it outright with cash) which needs to be taken into consideration when comparing MileagePlus and Aeroplan to LifeMiles.

  5. Am I the only ind finding discrepancy between LM and other currencies?

    For example, I’m seeing no F award on Dec2 FRA-SFO on LM. Yet a quick search on UA shows F open. I haven’t looked into this too much, so maybe phantom space on UA’s part

  6. @ Tony — Sorry, say what now? I’ve posted every single time LifeMiles has offered bonuses on the purchase of miles, and every single time I’ve had the same suggestion. It can make sense to take advantage of the offer with a specific use in mind, though everyone has to crunch the numbers for themselves.

    Did my advice somehow change, and I missed it?

  7. Their ability to sell miles would increase hugely if they allowed mixed class awards. Are they the only FF program in the world that doesnt allow this?!

  8. Lifemiles do allow Asia-Europe-N. America routing without extra miles, so 90,000 miles one way for LH F from North Asia to US seems like a fantastic way to use miles!

    Thanks for the news 😉

  9. @Lucky (and @Tony)… Yeah, Ill translate for Tony’s complaint, as I read the cry-baby hater whining on Gary’s site also. He’s upset that no-one told him explicitly to buy before the sale ended.

    Except…if he could read a little better, he’d know it hasn’t ended, its even better as now you can buy any amount at the great rate.

  10. @ Jonathan — Hmmm, it’s not always going to match, but in a vast majority of the searches I did space matched, so I do think it might just be a delay or otherwise phantom availability on the part of another airline.

  11. @ Franklyn — Totally agree, but I guess my point was mostly in terms of ease of earning the miles, given that they can easily be outright purchased, which is otherwise tough to do if trying to earn miles for Lufthansa first class.

  12. @ Mike — Hah, valid consideration, though I think you’re probably giving them too much credit. This sale isn’t actually *that* different than the other ones they’ve offered recently.

  13. 174K return from N. America to FRA and MUC (only) is expensive and you have to live in a gateway city or position to it and then position to wherever you’re going in Europe – pass.

  14. Okay Lucky, don’t read this comment 😉 — Is that picture LH First or Business Class!? No suite? No shower? No bar? — No Deal! 🙂

  15. “In my opinion this once again makes LifeMiles the best program for booking Lufthansa first class.”

    How about Miles & More?? Everyone has the ability to book >15 days out. Loads of availability for SEN and above, half-price First Class award tickets for companions traveling with you on the same flight, ability to request LH F award seats etc.

    I get that everyone can’t achieve SEN status, and M&M definitely has its drawbacks (let’s be real here!!!) but there’s no way LM is better for booking LH F than LH’s own program.

    I just booked LH F from SFO-MUC-LHR for two of us, works out to be great value with the companion award rate

  16. @AI

    You do realize that’s basically every airline right? Given that LH seems to have come to an agreement, it’s actually probably safer than most airlines on that issue.

  17. Got excited reading this as I sort of miss your Lufthansa First reviews!! Especially those empty cabin reviews with extra caviar and extra everything!!

  18. Hey Ben–I’d love to fly LH F for a trip to Europe next summer, would you suggest buying LifeMiles now and waiting to redeem? Or waiting to see if there’s another LifeMiles sale closer to my dates of travel? I know they have fairly frequent sales. I’m also assuming they only have access to LH F space 15 days out.

  19. Did someone actually find an award seat?

    I was looking at FRA – NRT in November and May. I was not able to find one First Class seat.

    Ray

  20. Ok. It’s just 15 days out. I forgot this rule.

    But still, there is no award seat within the next 15 days on this route. So it seems pretty risky to me to buy the miles now, when you don’t plan to use them within the next 15 days.

    Ray

  21. @ Ray — They fly to Tokyo Haneda and not Tokyo Narita, and I do see space there several days over the next couple of weeks.

  22. @ Bill — Since it’s going to be many months before you can redeem, I would wait for a future sale, personally, as a lot can change between now and then.

  23. @ flying_foxy — I should have clarified that by saying the best program in terms of ease of acquiring the miles. If you have Miles & More miles then of course they’re a great option, but they are really tough to earn. Aside from SPG, there’s nowhere from which you can transfer them.

  24. Can you transit through Europe to get to Asia? And can you do mixed carrier awards e.g. JFK-FRA on LH F, FRA-HND on NH F?

    Thanks.

  25. I think your advise is spot on. This is a good price for miles, and the benefit of being able to top up when booking is excellent. I also agree with so many of the other comments. The sad truth is lifemiles value now is really only about 1.3 ish cents. Sometimes you can make it work well (especially if you live in certain gateway cities where award availability is good) and you want to go to destinations that have good availability. The other big downside is how challenging it is to book on their website (errors, won’t process credit cards, doesn’t see all partners/routes) and finally the worst part of the program is no mixed awards.

    But all in all, pretty darn good if you can snag a LH F ticket to either Frankfurt or Munich for less then $2500 2 weeks before departure.

  26. How come there are no Singapore Award seats on UA Website when Singapore is part of the Star Alliance?
    I used to fly roundtrip first class SQ LAX-SIN-BANGKOK for 120000 miles ( those were the days).
    The airlines are only rewarding high priced tickets. I played the game well for 20 years and its the cc miles
    earned that devalued our redemption party.

    Ciao
    bob

  27. Hi there – I was looking at the Lifemiles site for booking a flight from SFO – SIN next year. It shows some availability on ANA in March 2016 for 198,000 miles round trip. I have had bought the miles and booked the ticket, but later wish to changed the date, does anyone know what is the change fee (assuming of course that the new dates have seat availability)? Is it like United where there is a USD$300 change fee?

  28. Anyone notice any change to the way LM is displaying availability? It could be phantom space on both AC/UA, but I see a few different flights that show up on those sites and not on LM, even if I filter with airline and/or departure time. Maybe this is limits to stuff 7d+ out as I do see a bit of space near in, but nowhere near the 14d out I see on other websites.

    Anyone experience similar issues or have any color?

  29. Lucky based on your rave reviews and TPG’s as well i did some mileage redemption gymnastics to fly LH F from Cape Town to LAX via Munich last week. I cancelled a very reasonably priced Emirates J class ticket which included free hotel in DXB during the overnight layover. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on this and whether its odd or in line with what you experienced

    1) CPT-MUC. Solid hard product and IFE and good champagne. The food was AWFUL!! so much so that i messaged LH’s social media customer response team. Indifferent service to the point i had to talk to the chief purser and she acknowledged that the main attendant serving F was a little to used to German passengers and the “German way” and needed to think more multiculturaly..seriously??

    2) MUC lounge. Exactly as expected based on your and TPG reviews. Food was better than inflight but can clearly see difference between LSG Skychefs vs. DO&CO.

    3) Disappointing that LH F passengers don’t get any hotel benefit for overnight layovers in MUC!

    4) Rented a Porsche 911 for 99 euros via the Lufthansa/Avis F class passengers offer…Highlight of the trip!

    5) MUC-LAX. Much much better service and warm staff. Food selection was somewhat better still surprised overall at how so so the quality is. Big disappointment again. IFE had many many more options than CPT leg even though it was an a340-600 as well

    In summary LH F has a great hard product and good wine/champagne to offer but thats about it. I don’t know if i would go out of my way to fly them again. I actually enjoyed BA F class a LOT more on the outbound of my trip..the food was fantastic even if the hard product was feeling a little tired on a 747-4..

  30. Hi, can the lifemiles only be redeemed for First Class flights or also for upgrades from Eco to Business in Star Alliance flights, in particular Lufthansa?

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