Lufthansa vs. Air France: Which Airline Is Better?

With a better credit card and a larger network, Air France is the clear choice between these two airlines.
Lee Huffman
By Lee Huffman 
Published
Edited by Meghan Coyle

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

When flying to Europe, you may be considering flights on Lufthansa or Air France. Both international airlines are well-respected in the industry and offer unique experiences for passengers.

From a complimentary glass of champagne on Air France long-haul flights to Lufthansa's first-class lounge rubber ducks, each airline offers special amenities. If you see flight options for both airlines, you may be wondering if you should choose Lufthansa versus Air France.

In this article, we'll compare Lufthansa versus Air France based on:

  • Available destinations.

  • Co-branded credit cards.

  • Loyalty programs.

  • Fees.

  • In-flight experience.

We compiled this information to help you decide which one, Lufthansa or Air France, is best for you.

Where they’re based and where they fly

Winner: Air France

When picking an airline, it's important that it travels to a wide variety of destinations so you can use them over and over again. Flying the same airline repeatedly allows you to earn frequent flyer miles for future flights and credits toward elite status. Air France is the winner with more destinations and flights aboard its own planes.

Lufthansa

The airline offers more than 205 destinations worldwide with 5,200 weekly flights scheduled for summer 2023. Its primary hubs are Frankfurt and Munich, but it flies all over the world with its partners as a founding member of Star Alliance.

Air France

Air France operates 1,500 daily flights to 312 destinations in 116 countries. It is a SkyTeam member, which enables customers to book flights with its partners to fly to destinations worldwide. The airline's primary hubs are in Paris and Amsterdam.

Travel credit card availability

Winner: Air France

Having an airline's credit card enables travelers to earn extra miles and receive additional perks when flying on the airline.

When it comes to Air France versus Lufthansa, Air France has the more appealing travel credit card options with higher earning power and better cardholder perks.

Plus, it is a transfer partner of the multiple flexible points programs. This allows you to earn miles multiple ways, even if you don't have the airline's co-branded card.

Lufthansa

Barclaycard Miles & More® World Elite Mastercard®
NerdWallet rating 

The Lufthansa Miles & More® World Elite Mastercard® earns 2x miles per dollar on Lufthansa purchases and 1x miles on everything else, and cardholders can convert up to 25,000 miles into elite status miles at a 5:1 ratio.

For its $59 annual fee, it also includes two complimentary Lufthansa business class lounge vouchers and a companion ticket each year.

And don’t forget the welcome bonus:

Earn 60,000 award miles if you spend $3,000 in purchases and pay the annual fee, both within the first 90 days.

The downside is Lufthansa does not partner with any flexible points programs to convert points into its miles.

Air France

Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard® cardholders receive 3x miles on Air France purchases and 1.5x miles everywhere else. In exchange for the card's $89 annual fee, you'll receive 5,000 miles on your card anniversary as long as you spend at least $50 each year.

It, too, has a welcome bonus:

Get 50,000 Bonus Miles after you make $2,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening.

Plus, you'll receive 60 XP toward elite status upon approval of your card application. Members can transfer points to Air France KLM Flying Blue from a number of programs, including:

Airline loyalty programs

Winner: Air France-KLM Flying Blue

Travelers earn miles for future flights based on their paid tickets, credit card usage and other activities with partners.

Additionally, they can achieve elite status by hitting certain milestones within the program. Ideally, a loyalty program is simple and straightforward to encourage members to earn and redeem miles on a regular basis.

Lufthansa is in the process of simplifying its loyalty program, and the changes won't be implemented until January 2024. Air France currently has a better program that rewards travelers for their loyalty and makes it easy to redeem miles.

Lufthansa

Lufthansa is in the process of launching a new loyalty program that was announced in 2019.

The new program is scheduled for release in January 2024 offering a transparent point system and the ability to earn lifetime elite status. Changes are intended to eliminate complicated program components to make it easier for travelers to earn and redeem rewards in the future.

Additionally, members will automatically receive additional benefits as they reach milestones based on their annual flights.

Air France

Flying Blue is the combined loyalty program for Air France and KLM. The loyalty program makes it easy to redeem miles to book award tickets and offers a "miles & cash" option where you can pay up to 25% of your ticket with cash.

Flying Blue also offers monthly promo award flights where you can save up to 50% off award flights. There are four levels of elite status travelers can achieve based on their flights, credit card use and partner activities.

Fewer extra fees

Winner: Air France

Airlines often charge fees when booking a flight with an agent, for checking luggage and other aspects of traveling.

When selecting an airline, you want one that does not charge a lot of extra fees that can increase the cost of your flight. Air France is our choice for fewer fees since it waives fees for telephone booking and online changes or refunds.

Lufthansa

Like many airlines, Lufthansa charges fees for many services when interacting with employees or making changes to flights. In some cases, rebooking or refunds are not allowed on lower-level tickets.

If you need to cancel or change your flight, you may have fees ranging from $250 to $1,000 per passenger plus any difference in fare. On the plus side, all passengers get at least one checked bag for free, even economy class tickets.

Air France

Air France waives many fees for booking, making changes or canceling flights when they're made online or at airport kiosks. However, fees may apply on the day of departure or over the phone.

Most passengers get at least one checked bag for free. However, economy passengers may be charged on some flights. Travelers can save 20% on excess baggage fees by purchasing allowances online ahead of their flights.

In-flight experience

Winner: Tie

Both airlines offer premier travel experiences on the ground and in the air. Whether you're flying Economy or upgrading to first class, you can't go wrong when choosing between Lufthansa versus Air France.

Lufthansa

Travelers on Lufthansa have four classes of service: economy, Premium Economy Plus, business class and first class.

Economy class passengers receive complimentary meals, drinks and on-board entertainment with seats measuring over 16 inches wide (40 cm).

First class travelers enjoy access to personal assistants, first class lounges and limousine service from the lounge to the plane. Onboard, you'll dine on culinary delights and fine wines from lie-flat seats that adjust to your comfort level.

The airline is launching an overhaul of its in-flight service known as Lufthansa Allegra. This redesign reimagines the in-flight experience from scratch with maximum privacy in mind.

Air France

Air France offers four levels of seats, ranging from economy to La Premiere First Class. Economy class seats differ slightly based on which region you're traveling to, but all economy passengers have access to onboard entertainment and Wi-Fi.

In select cities, first class passengers traveling in La Premiere receive complimentary premium driver service to the airport, a private check-in lounge and a chauffeured ride to the aircraft.

Onboard, you'll enjoy personalized staff service plus culinary meals in your private suite offering hotel-standard comfort.

Is Lufthansa better than Air France?

In the competition of Lufthansa versus Air France, there’s a clear winner: Air France.

While both airlines are part of alliances, Air France flies to more destinations with more daily flights. Each airline has its own credit card, but the Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard® has higher earning power and only Air France partners with other cards for points transfers.

Lufthansa is in the process of streamlining its loyalty program, which illustrates how convoluted its current program is. Both airlines have high-end experiences at the airport and in-flight experiences, but Air France also has lower fees in common situations.

Overall, these two international airlines offer very different pros and cons. Air France is our choice between Lufthansa versus Air France. However, the best one for you depends on where you live, where you want to fly and your travel preferences.

(Top photo courtesy of Air France)


How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2024, including those best for:

Travel Cards from Our Partners
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1x-5x

5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.

Points

Intro offer

60,000

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Points
Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Freedom Unlimited®
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1.5%-6.5%

Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year). After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Cashback

Intro offer

$300

Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
4.7
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

2x-5x

Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.

Miles

Intro offer

75,000

Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

Miles
See more travel cards
Get more smart money moves – straight to your inbox
Sign up and we’ll send you Nerdy articles about the money topics that matter most to you along with other ways to help you get more from your money.