Lufthansa Miles & More Rewards for Beginners

This German-based airline offers some discounted award flights for booking early, last-minute and more.
Rand Shoaf
By Rand Shoaf 
Edited by June Casagrande

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As a member of the Star Alliance, Lufthansa Airlines’ Miles & More program works with partner airlines that allow you to redeem miles to fly almost anywhere in the world. Plus, Lufthansa’s first class cabin, which you can book with miles, is one of the most luxurious ways to fly from the U.S. to Europe.

But Miles & More has drawbacks. For one thing, miles are difficult to earn because they don't partner with Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou or any other major bank rewards program. The only way you can earn Lufthansa Miles & More miles is by flying the airline or its partners, or signing up for the Lufthansa Miles & More Credit Card.

This beginner's guide covers what you need to know about optimizing Lufthansa Miles & More rewards, including some of the best ways to use them for maximum value.

Lufthansa's airline transfer partners

Because Lufthansa is a member of Star Alliance, you can redeem Miles & More miles for flights on Lufthansa or any of more than two dozen Star Alliance partner airlines including carriers like:

  • Air China.

  • Air New Zealand.

  • ANA.

  • Avianca.

  • EgyptAir.

  • Singapore Airlines.

  • Swiss.

  • Thai Airways.

  • Turkish Airlines.

How to redeem your Lufthansa miles for flights

To find flights you can book with miles, log in to your account at Lufthansa’s Miles & More web page, navigate to "Spend Miles," then choose the "Flights" tab and enter your departure city, destination and dates.

The results page will show available flights on Lufthansa and partner airlines. Choose the best flight option by itinerary, price and cabin.

You can compare award flights within a seven-day time frame using the weekly calendar at the top of the results. If your travel dates are flexible, this can be a great way to make sure you are booking the cheapest flight option.

What to do if you have insufficient miles

One weakness of the Miles & More program is that it’s hard to search for award flights if you don’t have miles in your account. If you’re logged in to your account and go through the usual steps to search for an award flight, you’ll hit a dead end with a message that says you don’t have enough miles to book.

Get around this by logging out of your account, navigating to the "Spend Miles" page, then selecting the "Flights" tab. Enter your dates and destination to see prices for several months.

Click on the month to see the lowest prices for each day that month.

Then, click "Search Flights" and you’ll be prompted to log in to your account. This time, a page will load showing the results of the flight search you started.

Tips to calculate the value of your Miles & More miles

Miles & More tacks on high fuel surcharges to award flights for many routes. Paying hundreds of dollars in surcharges can defeat the purpose of redeeming miles, or at the very least cut into the value you get from your miles.

To see exactly how much value you’ll get redeeming Miles & More miles for your itinerary, use this formula:

(Price of flight in cash – taxes and fees for award flight) / price of flight in miles

For example, a recent search for a business class flight from Los Angeles to Vienna showed flights for 56,000 miles plus $675 in taxes and fees. The same flight paid with cash cost $3,229. That means you’re getting a value of about 4.6 cents per mile:

($3,229 – $675) / 56,000 = $0.0456

Top Miles & More sweet spots

Because you can use Miles & More miles on Star Alliance partner airlines, the options are seemingly unlimited as to where and how you can fly with your miles. You also have access to some of the best premium class cabins in the sky. Here are a few great ways to redeem Miles & More miles.

Fly Lufthansa first class to Europe

If you have been dreaming of flying in Lufthansa’s first class cabin, using Miles & More miles may just be the ticket. Lufthansa’s first class award seats are notoriously difficult to book using other Star Alliance airlines miles. Why? Because Lufthansa doesn’t release these first class seats for partner bookings until 15 days before departure.

However, with Miles & More, you can book Lufthansa first class awards up to 360 days before departure, giving you dibs on the most coveted seats.

You’ll need 91,000 miles to book a one-way first class flight from the U.S. to Europe, plus fuel surcharges that can exceed $800.

Fly United first class from New York City to California

For 20,000 Miles & More miles each way, you can fly from New York or New Jersey to San Francisco or Los Angeles on United’s Premium Service, which features a lie-flat seat. Although you’ll be flying in United’s first class cabin, this award is actually coded as a business class award when booked using Miles & More. The best part is that taxes and fees are normally under $50 on a one-way flight.

Save miles with discounted awards

Early bird flight awards

Miles & More offers several ways for you to book discounted award flights. Early Bird flight awards allow you to save up to 65% on select economy class awards at least 30 days in advance.

Last-minute awards

If last-minute travel is more your thing, you can still get up to 50% savings on select last-minute awards operated by Austrian Airlines, Lufthansa, SWISS, Eurowings, Brussels Airlines, Condor Airlines and LOT Polish Airlines.

Bargain awards

Another excellent way to stretch your miles is through Miles & More’s Mileage Bargain awards. The program offers routes with up to 50% savings on economy, premium economy and business class awards. You can fly bargain awards on Lufthansa, SWISS, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Eurowings and LOT Polish Airlines. These tickets are nonrefundable and have strict booking and travel restrictions, but when they match your travel plans, they're a great way to stretch your miles further.

The bottom line

Lufthansa’s Miles & More frequent flyer program offers some great flight redemption options, along with a number of drawbacks. High fees on award flights, complicated search tools and limited ways to earn miles mean this program isn’t for everyone. But if you can earn enough miles by flying or using a Lufthansa-branded credit card, some award flights, especially in business or first class, can deliver great value.

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 2023, including those best for:

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