Review of Miles&More, the frequent flyer program of Lufthansa

Friday newsletters always feature luxury travel conteststipsseries, or news.

Today (May 11, 2018): Review of Miles&More, the frequent flyer program of Lufthansa (pros & cons).

Miles&More is the frequent flyer program used by the airlines of the Lufthansa group (Lufthansa, SWISS, Brussels Airlines, Austrian Airlines, and Eurowings) as well as by a few other carriers such as LOT Polish Airlines, Adria Airways, Croatia Airlines, Luxair, and Condor. The program was launched in 1993 and is now the largest frequent flyer loyalty scheme in Europe with more than 30 million members. Passengers earn miles on all Star Alliance airlines as well as several other airlines and non-airline partners. The program has introduced several devaluations over the past years (hence why it is often nicknamed More&Less) and became revenue based in March 2018.

Miles&More features in my top 10 list of the best frequent flyer programs to join in 2018.

What is your opinion about Miles&More? Leave a comment below.

In this overview, I explain the Miles&More program and how to benefit from it:

  1. Miles&More elite levels
  2. How to earn Miles&More miles in the air
  3. How the earn Miles&More miles on the ground
  4. How to spend Miles&More miles (and travel for free)
  5. Best and worst Miles&More redemptions
  6. Pros & things I like about Miles&More
  7. Cons & things I don’t like about Miles&More
  8. Poll: what’s the world’s best frequent flyer program?


1. MILES&MORE ELITE LEVELS

There are three elite levels that you can work your way up to in the Miles&More loyalty program. Frequent Traveller is the first level; Senator the second level; and HON Circle Member is the top-level. Each level has benefits and as you move from Frequent Traveller to Senator and finally HON Circle Member, these benefits become more valuable. Membership level is determined by either the number of miles you earn or the number of flights you take during a calendar year.

  • Frequent Traveller status is reached after 35,000 status miles or 30 scheduled flights with Star Alliance airlines in one calendar year. Frequent Traveller equates to Star Alliance Silver status and gives you the following benefits:
    • Up to 50% more award miles and 25% more status miles
    • Award miles do not expire
    • Priority (Business Class) check-in
    • Additional free luggage allowance
    • Access to an exclusive reservation service
    • Access to Star Alliance Business Class lounges
  • Senator status is reached after 100,000 status miles with Star Alliance airlines in one calendar year. Frequent Traveller equates to Star Alliance Gold status and gives you the following benefits:
    • Up to 50% more award miles and 25% more status miles
    • Award miles do not expire
    • Priority (First Class) check-in and baggage drop-off
    • Additional free luggage allowance
    • Access to an exclusive reservation service
    • Access to Senator and Star Gold Class lounges
    • Two upgrade vouchers on attainment of status and every time status is extended
    • Booking guarantee up to 48 hours before departure
    • Priority baggage handling
    • Improved flight award booking availability
    • Companion award  (50% off regular miles) when flying airlines of the Lufthansa Group
    • Senator Premium Award (150% of regular miles) as long as seats are available
  • HON Circle Member status is reached after 600,000 (!!) HON Circle miles in two consecutive calendar years (the current and preceding year) and gives you the following benefits:
    • Up to 50% more award miles and 25% more status miles
    • Award miles do not expire
    • Priority (First Class) check-in and baggage drop-off
    • Additional free luggage allowance
    • Access to an exclusive reservation service
    • Access to Star Alliance First Class lounges
    • Access to Lufthansa’s exclusive First Class Terminal in Frankfurt
    • Six upgrade vouchers on attainment of status and every time status is extended
    • Booking guarantee up to 24 hours before departure
    • Priority baggage handling
    • Improved flight award booking availability
    • Companion award (50% off regular miles) when flying airlines of the Lufthansa Group
    • Senator Premium Award (150% of regular miles) as long as seats are available
    • Limousine and transfer service
    • Personal assistance
    • Senator partner card for spouse or partner


2. EARNING MILES&MORE MILES IN THE AIR

There are two different types of miles that you can earn with Miles&More:

  • Status miles determine your status
  • Award redeemable miles can be exchanged for a variety of rewards

Status miles can be earned on flights operated by the Lufthansa Group and its Star Alliance partner. The only purpose of these miles is to determine your eligibility for Miles&More elite status during a given calendar year (cf supra). The status miles you collect during a calendar year become invalid the next year (except for HON Circle Membership, which is determined on the miles flown over a two year period) and cannot be redeemed for any sort of rewards. For flights within Europe, fixed mileage amounts apply to the individual booking classes. For worldwide flights the booking class and the distance miles covered are the decisive factors. For example, the following number of elite qualifying miles is earned on Lufthansa operated flights (check here what you earn on flights operated by other airlines):

Award redeemable miles are earned in addition to status miles on flights operated by airlines of the Lufthansa Group, Star Alliance, and a few other airline partners. The more you spend, and the higher your elite status, the more award redeemable miles you will earn, which can be exchanged for a wide variety of great rewards (more on that below). Depending upon how you booked, there are two different ways that award miles are calculated: either according to the fare (for airlines of the Lufthansa group) or according to the distance flown and the booking class (for all other airlines).

  • For bookings made through a Lufthansa Group airline booking channel: the fare in euros (ticket price + surcharges levied by the Miles & More partner airline) forms the basis of the calculation: the number of award miles = fare x factor. The fares in a foreign currency are converted to euros at the precise time of booking. The exact number of award miles is dependent upon your frequent flyer status and the operating airline:
    • If you are a Miles & More member, but not a Frequent Traveller, Senator or HON Circle Member, miles are always multiplied by a factor of 4.
    • For Miles&More members with frequent flyer status, the criterion is which airline operates the flight.  If the flight is operated by Lufthansa, SWISS, Austrian Airlines, United Airlines, Air Canada, LOT Polish Airlines, Croatia Airlines, Adria Airways or Air Dolomiti, the factor is 6; for Eurowings and Brussels Airlines and for all other Miles & More partner airlines, the factor is 5.
  • For booking channels belonging to airlines that are not part of the Lufthansa Group airline: the number of award miles you earn is calculated according to distance flown and booking class:
    • Award miles on European flights = flat rate according to booking class.
    • Award miles on intercontinental flights = booking class x distance flown.

Miles&More is a great frequent flyer program because it allows you to earn (and also spend) miles with a lot of partner airlines. Status and award miles can be earned on all 27 airlines of Star Alliance which all enjoy high-flying reputations for quality service. These carriers include:

  • Aegean Airlines
  • Air Canada
  • Air China
  • Air India
  • Air New Zealand
  • All Nippon Airways
  • Asiana Airlines
  • Austrian Airlines
  • Avianca/TACA Airlines
  • Brussels Airlines
  • Copa Airlines
  • Croatia Airlines
  • EgyptAir
  • Ethiopian Airlines
  • EVA Air
  • LOT Polish Airlines
  • Lufthansa
  • SAS
  • Shenzhen Airlines
  • Singapore Airlines
  • South African Airways
  • Swiss International Air Lines
  • TAP Portugal
  • Thai Airways International
  • Turkish Airlines
  • United Airlines

In addition, award redeemable miles (but not status miles) can also be earned by traveling on several non-SkyTeam alliance airlines with whom Miles&More partners. These airlines include:

  • Air Astana
  • Air Malta
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Condor
  • LATAM

3. EARNING MILES&MORE MILES ON THE GROUND

The possibilities to earn award redeemable miles and boost your account are endless within the Miles& More program, even when not flying, by making use of its many partners:

  • Each time you stay in a hotel which partners with Miles&More, you can earn miles. Miles& More partners with almost all big hotel chains, and a stay at a hotel will mostly earn you around 500 to 1000 miles (at least 250 award miles per stay or 1-2 award miles per Euro spent). All you need to do is present your Miles&More membership number at check-in. In addition, you can also book hotels online via the Miles&More website with a choice from more than 300,000 hotels worldwide from three stars and up, and this can rack up your account since you will earn at least 1000 miles for every overnight stay.
  • Several hotel loyalty programs allow you to convert your hotel points into Miles&More miles. These programs include Best Western Rewards, Hilton Honors, World of Hyatt, IHG Rewards Club, Marriott Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guests (you can read my reviews with pros and cons of most of these hotel loyalty programs here). Starwood Preferred Guest – the loyalty program of Starwood Hotels – has the best conversion program as it allows you to convert Starpoints to Miles&More award redeemable miles on a 1:1 basis, including a 5000 conversion bonus when you convert 20,000 Starpoints.
  • Miles&More members earn award redeemable miles every time they rent a car with one of the major car rental companies, including Alamo, Herz, Avis, Budget, Sixt, Driving Blue, Thrifty, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and Europcar. The exact number of miles you earn for a car rental depends on the company and ranges from 50 to 500 miles per day. Miles&More offers often promos where you’ll earn bonus miles when renting a car.
  • Online shopping is a great way to earn Miles&More miles. In the Lufthansa WorldShop you find a large selection of products, such as suitcases, bags and rucksacks for every occasion and travel accessories bearing the ‘Lufthansa crane’ logo, as well as digital cameras and jewellery. For every euro you spend in the WorldShop you will be credited with one award mile. And if you pay with your Lufthansa Miles & More credit card (more on that below), you will earn 3 miles for every euro you spend.
  • Members earn 1 award redeemable miles for every Euro spent on tax-free shopping onboard a Lufthansa flight. The miles you earn will be credited to your account automatically after the flight. You can make your purchases conveniently with Miles & More award miles, pay in euros or combine both payment methods via ‘mixed payment’. With the Pre-flight Shopping Service, you can even conveniently pre-order the complete Lufthansa in-flight shopping range with exclusive product collections and special editions online for your flight. This is possible up to two days before take-off.
  • Besides Lufthansa’s online shopping portal WorldShop and the Pre-flight Shopping Service, the program partners with several other shopping partners to boost your account, such as the Bayern Munich souvenir shop, Anson’s (Germany’s biggest menswear), and Blacksocks (which sells socks, underwear and shirts). For a list of all shopping possibilities, click here.
  • Members earn award redeemable miles when they subcrsibe for one or more of over 300 newspapers & magazines. In addition, they enjoy a discount on in-store prices. The number of miles you earn depends on the newspaper or magazine (find here all information).
  • Miles&More members also earn miles when they book an excursion via GetYourGuide, the world’s largest online booking platform for tours, attractions and activities. Here you have a selection from over 30,800 activities and adventures all over the world, from tasting delicious tapas in Spain to experience the colourful coral reefs of Queensland while snorkelling. For every booking with GetYourGuide you earn four miles on every Euro you spend.
  • Miles&More partners with kreuzfahrten.de. With about 650 ships sailing worldwide and 200,000 cruises, kreuzfahrten.de is one of the most comprehensive cruise websites in the world. You will receive one award mile for every euro you spend on booking a cruise.
  • One of the fastest ways to earn Miles&More miles is by using a Miles&More co-branded credit card. These credit cards also offer a considerable amount of bonus miles upon your first purchase. For example, currently, a Master card is available to USA customers, that can earn them 20,000 award miles after a first purchase and payment of the annual fee, then an additional 30,000 award miles after a spent of $5,000 USD on purchases in the first 90 days, one award miles per $1 USD spent on all other purchases, two complimentary Lufthansa Business Lounge vouchers and a companion ticket after each account anniversary.

4. SPENDING MILES&MORE MILES

The best way to spend your Miles&More miles is to redeem your miles for free flights on airlines of the Lufthansa Group (Lufthansa, SWISS, Brussels Airlines, Austrian Airlines, and Eurowings) or one of its (Star Alliance) partner airlines to more than 1,000 destinations worldwide. The number of miles you’ll need depends on your destination, travel class and the flexibility of your travel dates. Currently, there are four different types of award tickets.

  • Mileage Bargains are a special selection of destinations that are offered for a reduced number of miles and that can be booked as early as three months ahead of the travel period. You can save between 20 and 50% on the miles you would normally need for a Classic Award. Make sure to check the Mileage Bargains regularly, because the list of destinations is updated every month and availability is limited.
  • Regular Awards are flight tickets that can be booked for flights with Lufthansa and any of their airline partners to all destinations in exchange for award miles. You can find the required number of miles in the Miles&More online calculator. Of course, you’ll spend fewer miles for an Economy Class ticket than for a ticket in Business Class. It is possible to combine several flights and airline partners on the same ticket provided that the transfer time between the flights is shorter than 24 hours. Regular Awards may be cancelled or modified for a fee of € 50.
  • Fly Smart Awards can be booked online between a maximum of two weeks and a minimum of two working days before departure. This can save you up to 50% of the award miles normally needed for a flight award. In the case of bookings made (tickets issued) for return flights within Europe, you save 15,000 award miles (20,000 instead of 35,000 award miles). Fly Smart flight awards in Economy and Business Class can only be booked online, and Business Class Fly Smart Awards are only avialable for flights within Europe.
  • The Star Alliance Round the World Flight Award makes it possible to fly the whole way round the globe. A Round the World Flight Award ticket includes one Atlantic and one Pacific crossing with a maximum of ten flight segments (maximum of nine connecting flights). There must be an interval of at least ten days between the start of the first intercontinental flight and the start of the last intercontinental flight, and a maximum of seven stopovers is allowed. This flight award can only be booked on the phone, and wil cost you 180,000 miles For Economy class, 325,000 miles for Business Class, and 480,000 miles for First Class.

Besides redeeming them for free flights, there are several other ways to redeem your hard-earned Miles&More miles:

  • You can book your upgrade with miles to a higher service class online, directly at the check-in desk or via your local Miles & More Team. The number of miles needed to upgrade your next flight depends on the airline (operating carrier). You can find the mileage amounts and further information on upgrade awards from Star Alliance partners in the Star Alliance upgrade awards chart.
  • You can buy internet during your flight with your miles.  More than 100 of the Lufthansa long-haul aircraft have been equipped with WiFi, and the carrier is currently rolling out internet on its narrow body fleet. There are three distinct tariffs available to you for using Internet access:
    • HotSpot Pass Sky 1h: €9 or 3,000 miles
    • HotSpot Pass Sky 4h: €14 or 4,500 miles
    • HotSpot Pass Sky Full Flight (up to 24h): €17 or 5.500 miles
  • Miles&More members can spend their award miles on a hotel stay at over 300,000 properties, independent boutiques and all-inclusive resorts with Miles&More Hotels. How does it work? It’s easy: log in to your Miles&More account, select your destination and you will be offered thousands of hotels at great prices. If you use the payment option ‘Cash & Miles’, you can book your next holiday at discounted rates using your miles.
  • Car rentals can be booked using your Miles&More miles. All information about renting a car with your miles can be found here.
  • You cannot only earn miles with cruise holidays, but also redeem your miles for a free cruise with kreuzfahrten.de. You can choose your dream cruise from around 20,000 trips on around 650 ships and conveniently redeem award miles.
  • Members can spend their award miles for online shopping when they buy items from the online Lufthansa WorldShop.
  • Miles&More members can exchange their miles for newspapers, magazines, audiobooks, medicines, cosmetics, excursions, and tours. For a list of all shopping possibilities, click here.
  • Miles&More miles can also be used to purchase a gift card that can be used by yourself or a friend for a discount when making a purchase with one of the program’s several partners, such as Spotify, Ticketmaster and Ikea to name a few. You can find a list of all partners for which a gift card can be used here.
  • You can donate your miles to charities to make the world a better place and help people in need.

5. BEST AND WORST MILES&MORE REDEMPTIONS

The best way to spend your Miles&More miles is on the recurring mileage bargain promotions, which allow you to book heavily discounted award tickets to a different set of destinations each month.

In addition, Miles&More has a few sweet spots on its award chart:

  • You can fly from any departure point in Europe to Central Africa (e.g. Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda) for 20,000 miles in Economy Class or – even better – 35,000 miles in Business Class (one way).
  • The Lufthansa award chart defines Australia, New Zealand and Oceania as one region, meaning that one-way awards from Australia or New Zealand to, say, Fiji or Tahiti are up for grabs for 15,000 miles one-way in Economy Class or 22,500 Business Class.
  • You can fly from Hawaii to Central Asia, the Far East, Oceania, Australia or New Zealand for 20,000 miles in Economy Class or 35,000 miles in Business Class (one way). These are often flights of more than 8 hours and there are plenty of Star Alliance options from Hawaii to these regions, consider ANA or United from Hawaii to Japan; Asiana to Korea; Air China to China; Air New Zealand to New Zealand or Australia.


6. PROS & THINGS I LIKE ABOUT MILES&MORE
  • Being the largest frequent flyer program in Europe, Miles & More offers the widest range of flights to earn or redeem miles. This includes flights operated by the Lufthansa group  (Lufthansa, SWISS, Brussels Airlines, Austrian Airlines, and Eurowings) in addition to all Star Alliance partners (Aegean Airlines, Air Canada, Air China, Air India, Air New Zealand, All Nippon Airways, Asiana Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Avianca/TACA Airlines, Copa Airlines, Croatia Airlines, EgyptAir, Ethiopian Airlines, EVA Air, LOT Polish Airlines, SAS, Shenzhen Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, TAP Portugal, Thai Airways International, Turkish Airlines, and United Airlines). It means that you can earn and spend your miles with dozens of airlines to more than 1,000 destinations worwide.
  • The single best value of the Miles&More program is the montly release of Mileage Bargains, which allow you to book last-minute award redemptions on flights operated by the Lufthansa group for 25-50% off the required miles (and availability is usually very good). Make sure to check the Mileage Bargains regularly, because the list of destinations is updated every month and those tickets sell fast.
  • Elite status is valid for two calendar years (instead of the typical 1 year with most other airlines). Senator membership even comes with a soft landing.  So if you don’t manage to re-qualify for Senator status during those 2+ years, you’ll automatically receive an additional 2 years of Miles&More entry level status, Frequent Traveller. That’s a total of 4+ years of status.
  • When you envy an award ticket in Lufthansa’s First Class, you have the best chance to succeed in your mission when you are a member of the Miles&More program. Booking these awards is challenging when using miles with a Star Alliance partner since no space at all is released to other airlines until 15 days before departure. It’s much easier to book these tickets through Lufthansa’s own Miles & More program since there is not only more space in general but also earlier access, as much as 361 days before departure.
  • Miles&More offers a lot of credit card options, both to residents of continental Europe, the UK, and the USA. Miles don’t expire as long as you regularly use your credit card.
  • Miles & More offers mileage pooling and enables its members to earn award miles together. Up to two adults and up to five children can pool their award miles together and earn their desired awards more quickly. Miles earned together can be redeemed in equal measure by either adult for awards available in the Miles & More program, such as for flights or brand-new luggage from the Lufthansa WorldShop. This only applies for award miles. Status miles cannot be pooled.
  • Miles & More permits travelers to book two stopovers on any round trip award. This is among the most generous policies of any loyalty program and compares well with Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan. This feature can be useful to visit multiple cities for a tour of North America, Asia or Europe on a single award ticket, spending a few days or weeks in each city before continuing the trip.
  • Miles & More allows one way rewards.
  • Miles&More offers special flight awards for children. Infants (up to the age of two years) travel with you free of charge (exceptions are taxes, fees and surcharges which you have to pay), providing they do not occupy a seat. For children aged from two to eleven years of age (up to their 12th birthday), there is a 25% reduction in the number of miles required for a standard flight award. Children’s awards are only offered on flights operated by Adria Airways, Austrian Airlines, Air Dolomiti, Brussels Airlines, Croatia Airlines, Eurowings, Germanwings, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Luxair and SWISS. Children’s flight awards and bookings for infants can currently only be booked by telephone.
  • As a Senator or HON Circle Member, you do not need nearly as many miles to buy a flight award for your companion as a normal Miles & More member. This privilege is called the Companion Award and means that a companion can accompany you on your flight for 50% fewer miles. Fly Smart flight awards, mileage offers and child awards are excluded. Companion awards are only available on flights operated by Lufthansa, Luxair, SWISS, Austrian Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Croatia Airlines, Adria Airways and Eurowings. Where a Companion Award is used, the HON Circle Member or Senator cardholder and the companion must travel together and the booking must be made for both persons at the same time and in the same booking class.
  • Rather than relying on award availability, HON Circle members can book any seat that’s available for sale for 150% of the normal award cost. This privilige is called the Senator Premium Award.
  • SWISS offers one of the best First Class experiences of any airline, and the airline only releases First Class award space to Miles & More Senator and HON Circle members. Usually, award availability is great.
  • The Star Alliance Round the World Flight Award, making it possible to fly the whole way round the globe on miles. A Round the World Flight Award ticket includes one Atlantic and one Pacific crossing with a maximum of ten flight segments (maximum of nine connecting flights). There must be an interval of at least ten days between the start of the first intercontinental flight and the start of the last intercontinental flight, and a maximum of seven stopovers is allowed. This flight award can only be booked on the phone, and wil cost you 180,000 miles For Economy class, 325,000 miles for Business Class, and 480,000 miles for First Class.
  • Miles & More is unique in offering three-region awards, which allow you to visit any three regions for 100,000 miles in Economy Class or 185,000 miles in Business Class. They are a good substitute for people who want to travel a long distance but maybe aren’t interested in going around the world. Such complex tickets are normally very expensive and are one of the best ways to use frequent flyer miles. You can’t cross both the Atlantic and the Pacific ocean – if you do, then it turns into a ‘Round the World’ award (which costs more). For example, for a flight in Economy Class from North America via Europe to Asia, it would be 50,000 miles roundtrip from North America to Europe, and 80,000 miles from Europe to Southeast Asia, so 130,000 miles in total. But if you use the 3 region award chart, it is still only 100,000 miles

8. CONS & THINS I DON’T LIKE ABOUT MILES&MORE
  • The Miles&More program is known for exorbitant fuel surcharges and taxes on the award tickets, hence why some call it Miles&Less. For example, a roundtrip longhaul Business Class ticket will cost you around 500 euros in taxes in addition to the miles.
  • Contrary to most award programs, Miles&More does not allow you to purchase miles (that option was discontinued a few years ago)
  • Miles&More is a revenue based program, with members earning miles based on spent rather than distance flown.
  • Only Miles&More elite members can redeem miles for SWISS First Class. SWISS First Class award seats are not made available to Miles&More Frequent Traveller members nor to frequent flyer programs of partner airlines.
  • Unlimited flight upgrades are not available for elite level members. In addition, top elite members only receive two upgrade vouchers on attainment of status and every time status is extended, which is a poor policy compared to loyalty program of USA carriers.


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