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Dream of flying to or from Europe in Lufthansa business class or first class? You’re in luck. There are many other ways to book Lufthansa First Class with points, scoring a Lufthansa First class award is much easier than say Emirates or Etihad, both in terms of price and availability.
In fact, it’s one of the easier airlines to book a premium cabin and especially first class with points. However, Lufthansa is unique in the sense that most first class experiences require you to book many many months in advance, but with Lufthansa, it’s the opposite.
Generally speaking, Lufthansa does not release award space to partners until 7-14 days before the flight, so you’ll need to be flexible with a last-minute booking and perhaps have another refundable flight with points booked in case space doesn’t open up.
Lufthansa First Class – Wait till 2-3 weeks out
If you ask your points and miles agent when is the best time to book an award with points, they will usually tell you “as far out as possible” sometimes 6, 7 even 9 months in advance. However, like all rules there are exceptions. To book Lufthansa with points, especially first class, you may need to wait until relatively close to your departure date.
This is true regardless of what Star alliance points and miles program you plan on using for your Lufthansa flight (with the exception of Miles and More) Lufthansa doesn’t typically release premium cabin space and especially first class availability to its partner airlines until 2 to 3 weeks out, though this rule isn’t set in stone. For example for my Lufthansa first class flight from Mexico City to Frankfurt, I managed to book it 6 weeks out.
Also, Lufthansa releases much more premium cabin award space on its “Miles and More” program (which it shares with Swissair) much earlier than it does for other programs. However, for most readers, it’s a bit of a moot point as virtually no credit card programs convert to Miles and More and the points are somewhat hard to earn. Let’s dive in and I’ll show you how to book Lufthansa with miles including the coveted Lufthansa first class which takes a little bit more skill.
ExpertFlyer – A needed tool to book Lufthansa with miles
Since Lufthansa waits 2-3 weeks out to release premium award space, especially for first class, ExpertFlyer.com really comes in handy. You can make a free account and then search for partner award space on Lufthansa for the dates and routes you’re looking for. Then you can set an “alert” so if space opens up you’ll be notified via email.
If you set alerts for a few different routes and dates, the chance are heavily in your favor something will open up at least a few weeks out. However, this is not a guarantee, so if you are going to book Lufthansa with points or Lufthansa with miles it should be on a holiday trip where you can be flexible, not an important business trip where you must have specific routes and dates.
Then again, this is true for most award bookings with points but is particularly true when booking Lufthansa First class and premium cabin on other Star Alliance miles programs as they have a tendency to wait till the last minute to open up space.
Note: Please keep in mind just because ExpertFlyer shows a saver award spot open up doesn’t necessarily mean the points program you’re planning on booking with has availability. This is especially true for Air Canada / Aeroplan. Always call in before transferring points to confirm.
Speculative transfers to book Lufthansa with points are not the worst idea.
Sometimes this means if your credit card program is doing a transfer bonus to a Star Alliance carrier, especially Avianca Lifemiles, and you don’t see space for the date range you want, you may want to speculatively transfer the required miles in, and then wait.
This is usually a really bad idea, but with Lufthansa, if you’re flexible by at least 2-3 days or willing to take a positioning flight to a nearby city, most likely some space will open up a few days out. I actually took this risk when Brex and Capital One were running a 25% transfer bonus to Avianca Lifemiles. I knew space would most likely up so I speculatively transferred the miles in and it worked out. I put an alert on ExpertFlyer for various dates.
So what are the best airline programs to book Lufthansa with points?
In my opinion, Avianca Lifemiles provides the best option, ANA also has really good deals if you can find space and booking roundtrip. Lifemiles frequently runs fantastic sales where you can get points as cheap as 1.2c each and has many USA transfer partners (Brex, Bilt, Citi, and Amex just to name a few)
United MileagePlus and Aeroplan also allow you to book any cabin on Lufthansa including Lufthansa first class if there is space, but usually Lifemiles or ANA will provide a better deal.
Of course, Lufthansa has its own program “Miles & More” that has much more premium cabin space inventory, especially first class inventory. However, since it has very few USA transfer partners (only Marriott) and not many transfer partners in general, it’s not really relevant to most readers. Let’s go through the programs one by one.
Avianca Lifemiles (The best way to book Lufthansa with Points)
This is how I managed to book Lufhansa with points when I flew Lufthansa first class and if you fly Lufthansa first class using Amex, Capital One, Citi, Brex or Bilt miles its probably how you will book Lufthansa business or first class as well.
Lifemiles frequently runs 35-35% transfer bonuses from any of the credit card programs above. Usually speculatively transferring to an airline is risky, but in this case if you’re set on flying Lufthansa business or first class I’d say it’s not the worst idea.
Most likely, space will open up a week or two out, and if you don’t manage to use those points they’ll still be banked into a really good program. Lifemiles can be used to book any star alliance carrier including their own metal Avianca, Copa Airlines, Lufthansa, United, and even some nonalliance partners like Aeromexico and Gol.
There are a bunch of other ways to book Lufthansa First Class with points that you can read about in this article we wrote.
United MileagePlus (Not a bad to book Lufthansa with Miles)
Booking Lufthansa First Class with United Mileageplus points is extremely easy. You simply transfer the points in if you need to and do a search with miles on their website, no need to call in. However, they don’t always usually provide the best value. This same segment that cost 94k points with Lifemiles was clocking in at 133k United MileagePlus miles. I toyed around with some other segments such as Europe to Asia and it seemed across the board Lifemiles was 30% cheaper than United MileagePlus.
However, if you have a big stash of United Mileageplus rewards or only have access to Chase Points (which doesn’t transfer to Lifemiles) this isn’t a bad redemption either. Also United charges a bit less for First Class awards directly to and from Frankfurt, for example at the time of this writing there was space from Chicago to Frankfurt in first for 95k miles. Certainly, anything less than 100k miles for a first class flight from the USA to Europe is not a bad deal at all. For business class you’ll want to be spending between 65-90k miles depending on the itinerary.
United Mileageplus Excursionist Perk
One great thing about United is if you book roundtrip or multi-leg you can get a “free” business class flight within Europe with the United Mileageplus Excursionist Perk. How to do this goes beyond the scope of this article but you can read about it in this Forbes article here. In my opinion though even with the “free” domestic flight, you’ll still find a much better deal with Lifemiles.
Air Canada / Aeroplan – Expensive Option but Possible
Redemption prices are somewhat similar to United Mileageplus and Avianca Lifemiles. However, extremely high copays and taxes ranging over $1,000USD per ticket make this one a poor option unless you have no other choice.
However, Air Canada does shine in one area. For shorter routes within Europe, aka “Euro business class” (middle seat blocked), or just short flights in general. If you are flying from one end of Europe to the other and would like a little more luxury. There are some solid deals with Aeroplan.
For example, check this flight Lisbon to Riga Latvia for 25k miles. For longer routes, you may want to avoid Aeroplan. Although taxes are lower than what they used to be, they are still quite high. In addition, availability is low. You can sometimes find USA to Europe or Europe to USA routes as cheap as 70-85k miles but usually with really bad routing, extra layovers, and oftentimes some of the shorter legs in economy.
2022 update: Air Canada has repurchased Aeroplan and completely redesigned its system. Their search console has become much more user-friendly. There are some deals, but the availability for partners is much less than other star alliance partners. Also, be aware with Air Canada lot of times when it says “First Class” actually a portion or even the majority of your flight may be in economy so always double check.
All Nippon Airways (ANA)
The cheapest way to book Lufthansa First Class would be a roundtrip purchase with ANA (All Nippon Airways) for around 160-180k points. Finding space would be a miracle. However, ANA partner rewards need to be roundtrip or multi-leg flying into and out of the same zone.
Since Lufthansa only opens first class space a few days out, this makes it a very difficult to get a reward to populate. Therefore the best option is to remain with Avianca Lifemiles. However, if you did manage to book Lufthansa first class round trip with ANA, you’d be able to book a free domestic flight in business or first class within the same zone.
United offers a similar proposition, though with slightly different terms. For business and economy class ANA may be a better option. Remember ANA transfers from American Express only, and transfers can take 3-7 business days to post, during which time the seat you were looking for may disappear.
Despite potentially good deals, if you’re not an advanced-level travel hacker, I’d probably steer clear of ANA. Its system is quite buggy and oftentimes you have to call. If you want to go the ANA route its probably best to contact an award booking service.
Singapore / Krisflyer
People trying to book Lufthansa First Class using Krisflyer points report that space doesn’t show up on their backend so you need to search for space on expertflyer or even the United search engine and then call in. Prices in points are somewhat high and taxes are high as well (though about 50% lower than the taxes and fees Aeroplan charges).
Still, if you have a stash of Krisflyer points this is not the worst option. You can supposedly book First Class online but availability is slim.
Lufthansa / Swissair “Miles and More” program
There are other ways to book Lufthansa First Class such as with their own Miles & More program (which they share with Swissair). However, this is not the best way to book Lufthansa with points.
First of all with the exception of Marriott Bonvoy, Lufthansa has no USA credit card transfer partners. Perhaps you are a Lufthansa frequent flyer so may have a large enough stash of points saved up. In such a case Lufthansa may be a good bet as their pricing is competitive and they release far more award space in advance to their own award program than to their star alliance partners.
There are also various promotions such as those with booking.com as well as various hotel partners where you can earn Lufthansa miles. However, it would be very difficult to accumulate enough miles on these promotions alone to have enough Lufthansa points to book Lufthansa First Class. Barclays has a Lufthansa credit card for the USA market that gives you a substantial welcome bonus, that you could combine with points you earned in others ways. Readers have reported that you cannot search for award space unless you have a substantial amount of points already in your account.
So What is the Best Way to Book Lufthansa Business Class with Points and Miles?
Overall Lifemiles is the best partner here since they transfer from Citi, Capital One, Brex, and Amex, have good prices, low taxes (only $100 compared to over $1,000 in taxes had I booked with Aeroplan) and frequent transfer bonuses. Lifemiles also has many sales selling points where they sell points as cheap as 1.4c a point from time to time, meaning this flight could have been purchased for ~$1,350 in cash, taking advantage of one of those sales. Personally I find Lifemiles incredibly easy to burn since Copa Airlines, United, Avianca, and Aeromexico are all airlines I frequently use, and they’re all bookable through Lifemiles.
By using a 25% transfer bonus I was able to book this $7,300 flight for 71k credit card pointonus s + $100, clocking in an an incredible 10c per point value! Even if I had not gotten a transfer bonus i’d still be getting about 7c per point value (anything above 2-3c per point is extremely solid). Of course whether this Lufthansa First Class flight is even worth $7,300 is another story.
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