A Points Collector’s Guide to Lufthansa Airlines

This Germany-based carrier connects tons of countries through its nearly 40 airline partners.
June CasagrandeFeb 2, 2021

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As Europe’s second-largest airline, Lufthansa and its subsidiaries own around 700 aircraft and partner with dozens of other airlines that can get you almost anywhere in the world — including in the well-regarded Lufthansa business class.

Here’s what a strategic points collector needs to know and understand about Lufthansa Airlines and its loyalty program, Miles & More.

About Lufthansa Airlines

Here’s a quick overview of a few key features of Lufthansa that are helpful for savvy points collectors to know.

  • Fare types: Lufthansa's travel classes are pretty standard — economy, premium economy, business class and first class. They also sell “Europe fares” for flights operated by Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines and SWISS within Europe. These fares offer three levels of economy-class fares (light, classic or flex) and are designed to allow customers to only pay for the services they want to use.

  • U.S. routes: Lufthansa flies into 20 U.S. airports that span the entire country. Beyond New York-JFK and Los Angeles (LAX), you can also fly Lufthansa from smaller cities like Tampa (TPA) and Charlotte (CLT).

  • Points currency and loyalty program: Members of Lufthansa’s Miles & More program collect miles, and the program offers many ways to earn and redeem them. As with most frequent flyer programs, Miles & More is free to join.

How to earn Lufthansa Miles & More miles

Earn by flying Lufthansa

Once you join Miles & More, you’ll earn points every time you fly Lufthansa — just supply your member number when you book and hop on your flight. But figuring out the number of miles you’ll earn for your flight in advance can be a little complicated.

Depending on how you booked, you might earn miles based on the amount you paid for your ticket or how far you flew and in what class of service. The easiest way to know how many miles you’ll earn is by using the animated calculator on Lufthansa’s website to answer a few questions about your flight. At the end, the website tells you the method Lufthansa will use to pay you miles.

Nerdy tip: If you book a flight on Lufthansa through Lufthansa’s own website, it will tell you how many miles you’ll earn for every euro you pay for your ticket. Then, you’ll have to calculate the total number of miles yourself.

Earn by flying partner airlines

You can also earn Lufthansa miles by flying any of its nearly 40 partner airlines, including all 26 Star Alliance members like United Airlines, ANA, Turkish Airlines, Air Canada, Singapore Airlines, Brussels Airlines and Egyptair.

To earn Lufthansa miles when flying a partner like United, for example, provide your Lufthansa Miles & More member number when you're booking. Lufthansa calls your member number a “service number.” This ID can be accessed via your digital service card in the Miles & More App.

If you forget to enter your Miles & More membership number when you book your partner flight, you can also show your digital service card during check-in at the airport to get credited with Lufthansa miles.

Earn by booking hotels and rental cars

If you want to earn Lufthansa miles through hotel stays, start at the Miles & More website. Select “Earn miles” then navigate to “Hotels.” There, you’ll see multiple ways to earn miles through lodging.

After being redirected to a booking engine, log in with your Lufthansa service number and enter your dates and destination. You'll then see the cost of different hotel rooms and how many Lufthansa miles you’ll earn if you book.

Nerdy tip: You’ll find the widest selection of miles-earning hotels by clicking through to Hotels & Cars by Points.

Some offers apply to specific hotel groups, like a chance to earn 2 miles per dollar at Holiday Inns or 1,500 miles when staying at Best Westerns.

Rental cars work the same way. Just browse the Earn Miles section of the Miles & More website to see all the ways to earn miles by renting cars.

Earn by spending on a Lufthansa Miles & More Credit Card

The fastest way to start building a stash of miles is with the Miles & More® World Elite Mastercard®, issued by Barclays. There’s a great welcome bonus: Earn 50,000 award miles if you spend $3,000 in purchases and paying the annual fee, both within the first 90 days. After that, you’ll earn 2 miles per dollar for every purchase from Lufthansa or affiliated airlines and 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases.

After your first purchase with the card, you’ll get a companion ticket that covers the price of airfare (less taxes and fees) for another person accompanying you on an economy class flight on Lufthansa. Then, every account anniversary, you’ll get two passes to Lufthansa Business Lounges, plus another companion ticket.

Other ways to earn

  • Download the Miles & More app: The first time you log in, you’ll get a welcome of 500 bonus miles

  • Earn miles with books & subscriptions: Get smarter and earn points when you subscribe to the Economist.

Notable ways miles can’t be earned

No other points or miles transfer to Lufthansa

A big drawback of the Lufthansa Miles & More program is that you can’t build up your points balance by converting points from other major programs into Lufthansa miles. This is a rare downside. Many other airlines partner with American Express, Chase or Citi — or with a hotel group like Marriott or Hilton — to let you convert their points into miles or vice versa. No such luck if you’re looking to convert points into Lufthansa miles.

You can’t buy Miles & More miles

With most airlines, if you have almost enough miles for a flight, you can just buy more. Not so with Lufthansa. So if you can’t fly enough, use a credit card enough or stay enough nights in hotels, you’re almost out of ways to get Lufthansa miles.

How to redeem Lufthansa miles

The number of Miles & More miles you need to book a flight depends on where you’re going and when.

Fly Lufthansa with miles

If you’re flying Lufthansa, you can see in advance how many miles you’ll need by using its handy award calculator.

Select “Spend miles” then enter your trip details.

You’ll then see how many miles you’ll need for the flight in economy, business or first class, one way or round trip. Scroll down a little farther and you’ll see how many miles you need to upgrade to business or first class.

Fly a partner airline

It’s even easier to use your Lufthansa miles to fly a partner airline, as Lufthansa publishes a chart showing exactly how many miles you need to get where you’re going.

For example, if you’re in North America and want to fly to India on one of Lufthansa’s partners, just follow the chart to see you’ll need 100,000 miles for a round trip in economy, 192,000 miles for the same route in business class or 302,000 in first class.

Use miles to pay fees for some European award flights

Fees, taxes and surcharges on otherwise “free” award flights are famously frustrating and sometimes expensive. Usually, there’s no way around them, but if you’re flying a Lufthansa award flight within Europe and have an extra 15,000 miles, you can use them instead of cash to pay all fees and surcharges. Just add 15,000 miles to the award price of your ticket and you’ll pay $0 out of pocket for the flight.

Because fees and taxes can vary, so can the value of this points redemption option. But when the out-of-pocket costs for your flight are high, this could be a welcome benefit.

Other ways to redeem miles

  • Hotel stays: At the Hotels & Cars by Points website, you can search for hotels all over the world that you can book with Lufthansa miles.

  • Rental cars: Also at the Hotels & Cars by Points website, search for rental cars you can pay for with miles.

  • Gift cards: Trade miles for gift cards from three dozen big-name merchants including Target, Walmart, Starbucks and Gap, with some starting at 3,000 Miles & More miles.

Lufthansa’s elite status program

Miles & More members can attain elite status at one of three levels, depending how much you fly the airline. The levels are:

  • Frequent Traveller: Accumulate 35,000 status miles or fly 30 segments in a year.

  • Senator: Accumulate 100,000 status miles in a calendar year.

  • HON Circle: Accumulate 600,000 HON Circle miles over the course of two years.

At every level, you enjoy perks like more miles earned for every qualifying flight, but more perks pile on as you climb the status ladder.

Frequent Traveller benefits

  • Business-class check-in.

  • Access to the Business Lounge.

  • Higher baggage allowance.

  • Miles don’t expire.

You’ll also earn higher waiting list priority, Star Alliance Silver Status and access to a service hotline.

Senator benefits

Senators enjoy all of the Frequent Traveller benefits plus:

  • First-class check-in.

  • Access to Senator Lounges and Star Alliance Gold Lounges.

  • Two upgrade vouchers.

Senators likewise have access to booking guarantees up to 48 hours before departure, mileage advances, Star Alliance Gold status, increased flight award availability and higher waiting list priority.

HON Circle benefits

HON Circle members will also get perks like:

  • First-class check-in.

  • Access to First Class Lounges and First Class Terminals.

  • Limousine transfer service.

  • Free Senator status for your spouse or partner.

  • Six upgrade vouchers.

Members also receive 50% reduction on flight awards for your companion, a 24-hour service line in selected markets, booking guarantees up to 24 hours before departure, the highest waiting-list priority and the best flight award availability.

The bottom line

Lufthansa’s Miles & More frequent flyer program is unique in several ways. The fact that you can’t get miles by transferring any other currency is rare and, for some travelers, renders the whole loyalty program useless. But if you travel Lufthansa or any of its nearly 40 partners regularly, signing up for Miles & More lets you earn miles redeemable for flights anywhere Lufthansa or its partners fly. You can also use the miles to pay for hotels, rental cars or even gift cards.

If you're deciding whether or not the loyalty program is right for you, look at the partner redemption chart to see how many miles you'll need to get where you want to go, or use the tool to look up long-haul flights in Lufthansa business or first class. Then, consider the ways you could earn enough miles by signing up for the credit card, flying, staying in hotels or renting cars. If your earning potential outweighs the cost of the flight in miles, joining this loyalty program can make a lot of sense.


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