The Lufthansa Mile & More Mastercard from Barclays is offering a 50,000 mile sign-up bonus through June 30, 2014 and one of the best uses of these points for U.S. and Canadian residents is to book award travel on United Airlines to Hawaii.
Lufthana’s award chart is not great, but it has a few sweet spots. The problem is that booking most Star Alliance partners incurs heavy fuel surcharges which severely limit the value of the miles. Even booking United metal on intercontinental flights incurs stiff fuel surcharges (unlike booking United flights with Aeroplan miles), but there are no fuel surcharges on United domestic U.S. flights.
Further, Lufthana’s North America to Hawaii zone is sweet spot within a sweet spot at 20K miles one-way for economy class and 35K miles one-way for business/first class. With no fuel surcharge, you are looking at $5 out-of-pocket for round-trip direct flights from the mainland to Hawaii and back.
The Lufthansa Mileage Calculator is a handy tool
With the current 50K sign-up bonus, after meeting the $5,000 minimum spend requirement you will have enough points for one-way in business class and one-way in economy class to Hawaii. With summer tickets running $1500+ for economy class, using points makes a lot of sense. Award space is sparse, but it is there if you are bit flexible–I just booked a family of four to Hawaii and back in June using Lufthansa points.
United serves Hawaii from each of its hubs and runs internationally-configured widebodies with lie-flat seats in BusinessFirst out of Newark and Washington. If you can find award seats out of these cities, you’ll still pay the same price as if you had begun on the west coast and can enjoy a lie-flat bed on a flight that is significantly longer than flying from the East Coast to Western Europe.
Lufthansa Miles & More has a very limited online booking engine that only shows flights on the following Lufthansa Group carriers:
- Adria Airways
- Austrian Airlines
- Brussels Airlines
- Croatia Airlines
- LOT Polish Airlines
- Swiss International Air Lines
That does not help you booking United flights, so you have to search for award space on those flights in a different place. The best location is on united.com, where United’s month-long search calendar makes it easy to identify when space is available. Make sure you are logged out if you hold elite status or a United-branded credit card because that may result in additional award space (XN,IN class) shown that will not be bookable by Lufthansa.
Voila! Though it costs 40K miles on United to book Washington Dulles to Honolulu in BusinessFirst, you can book it over the phone with Miles & More for only 35K points.
One note–if you just use the sign-up bonus to book one-way in business and one-way in economy, you will have to book the trip as two one-ways. If you book as a r/t, Lufthansa will charge the r/t price for the highest cabin, in this case business class, which is 70K r/t.
The Lufthansa Service Center is only open from 8am to 8pm ET Monday-Friday and can be reached at 800.581.6400. The agents are not the sharpest (the call center is actually just a half hour from my California residence, which doesn’t speak well of LA…but that’s neither here nor there), but by spoon-feeding them the flights you want, it should not take too long to book and there are no telephone or close-in processing fees. If you need to call on the weekend or after hours, you can call any one of their worldwide call centers (which also have limited hours), but the Australia office is open seven days a week.
Not a bad deal considering the cost of the discounted business class ticket on the same flight above is nearly $1900–
- Earn 20,000 award miles after your first purchases or balance transfer
- Earn an additional 30,000 award miles when you spend $5,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening
- Earn 2 award miles per $1 on ticket purchases directly from Miles & More airline partners and 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases
- Cardholders receive a companion ticket after first use of the account and annually after each account anniversary
- No Foreign transaction fees on purchases made outside the U.S.
- Redeem miles for flight awards and upgrades on Star Alliance and partner airlines
- $79 Annual Fee