Lufthansa revamps its Miles&More loyalty program

After many others including Air France-KLM with Flying Blue and United with Mileage Plus recently, Lufthansa has just announced an overhaul of its Mileage&More loyalty program.

The promise (strangely enough already heard elsewhere for the same type of operation…): to make the program simpler and more understandable and to reward customers who fly with Lufthansa more than with partners.

Let’s review the changes that will take effect on January 1, 2021

Points instead of status miles

Until now, and as has long been the norm, Lufthansa has used two types of miles in its frequent flyer program.

  • Status miles that allow you to progress through the statuses of the loyalty program (Frequent Traveler, Senator, HON Circle).
  • Award miles that could be used to purchase airline tickets or other non-airline benefits.

From now on, while award miles will remain in effect, status miles will be replaced by points, and points will be earned based on class of travel and whether the flight is “continental” or “inter-continental” rather than on actual distance and class of travel.

The scale is as follows:

ContinentalIntercontinental
Economy5 pts15 pts
Premium Economy5 pts20 pts
Business10 pts50 pts
First10 pts70 pts

And the points required for each status level are:

Required points
Frequent Traveler160
Senator480
HON Circle1500

I didn’t do a thorough calculation, but based on a quick estimate that is only worth what it is based on my flights this year, Senator status seems a little harder to get than it used to. To be verified.

A few remarks now.

One may be surprised to see that in continental the gap is small between the two “eco” classes and the “front” classes and moreover that the eco credit like the premium eco and the business like the first. From a “European” point of view, this may seem logical given the length of the flights. But this scale also applies, for example, to a New York-Los Angeles flight on United, which is a continental flight. Passengers doing a lot of segments in the US will be penalized by this new scale andis surprising to see that Lufthansa has not learned the lesson of the redesign of Flying Blue, which also considers such a flight as “domestic” in the same way as a Paris-Marseille in the allocation of XP, which has earned it much criticism from passengers.

The difference between the points gained in long haul is not significant enough for my taste between business and First.

On the other hand, the good news is that the booking class is no longer taken into account for the statuses and therefore you earn as much on a “discount” fare as on a full fare in the same travel class.

The last notable point is the notion of intercontinental flight, where, for example, Flying Blue distinguishes between domestic, medium-haul and 3 categories of long-haul flights depending on the distance. An interesting nuance for the “smart guys” who understand that for a Western European, a flight to North Africa is intercontinental. A Porto-Casablanca on TAP is intercontinental too!

In the end, the approach is logical and in the same way that we found the similar move by Flying Blue to be intelligent, we find that it makes sense (knowing that Miles&More became “revenue based” last year).

Why ?

You will earn bonus miles that allow you to buy tickets (among other things) depending on what you spend, and you will earn statuses depending on your loyalty. This makes it possible to put face to face “currencies” that are consistent with each other. It is more fair and logical.

But that’s not all: Miles&More introduces the distinction between “points” and “qualifying points”.

Points and qualifying points

One of the promises of this “new” program was to better reward loyal passengers, by this I mean passengers who fly on one of the Lufthansa Group airlines, i.e. Lufthansa, Swiss, Brussels Airlines, Austrian, Eurowings as well as those who have adopted Miles&More as their frequent flyer program (LOT, Croatia Airlines, Adria Airways, Luxair, Air Dolomiti).

Specifically, points earned by flying on these airlines will be “qualifying points” while points earned on other Star Alliance member airlines will be “single” points.

Achieving status will therefore not only depend on reaching a certain number of points, but also on a quota of qualifying points, i.e. flights made on a Lufthansa Group airline or using Miles&More.

Namely:

Required pointsQualifying points required
Frequent Traveler16050% (80 points)
Senator48050% (240 points)
HON Circle1500100% (1500 points)

The goal? Not ending with status passengers who hardly fly on Lufthansa and the group’s airlines but Star Alliance airlines who find themselves, when flying with a Star Alliance airline, with the same advantages as loyal passengers who fly most of their flights with Lufthansa and co.

Indeed, if this may seem incongruous for many passengers, not everyone takes the loyalty card of the airline they fly with the most. Sometimes another airline in the same alliance will make it much easier for you to achieve the same level of status as on “your” airline and that status will be recognized in the same way. You can fly almost all your flights on one airline and be a member of the program of a partner airline with which you don’t fly or fly very little but which gives you a status more easily.

This is now a common practice. British Airways, Qatar, United, Turkish, Aegean and others require 2 or 4 flights with them each year to validate your status in addition to the number of miles/points to be earned.

Air France-KLM uses the same practice but only for its Flying Blue Ultimate status, like Lufthansa until now for its HON Circle.

What is striking, however, is the level required, which is very important: 50% of the points must have been earned on a company in the group or using Miles&More and 100% for the HON Circle.

I must admit that I’m a bit surprised: Miles&More was not the most convenient program to have a “fast and cheap” status within Star Alliance, I would even say one of the hardest. I don’t think that there are passengers who “domicile” their account at Miles&More without flying on the airlines of the Lufthansa galaxy.

I don’t think that the aim of the maneuver is to exclude “smart guys” who are in any case only marginal cases but rather to discourage Miles&More members from going elsewhere (partner airlines) and send them a strong signal of recognition even if in reality it is only words and does not change much.

A status valid for one year only

Until now, the validity of the articles of association in Miles&More was two years. From now on, they will only be valid for one year.

Lifetime statuses

Like Air France, British Airways and others, Lufthansa is introducing lifetime status, at Frequent Traveller and Senator level, on the other hand, it doesn’t give any gift on the HON Circle, which is understandable because a customer, even with a lifetime status, must always have a carrot to incite him to remain loyal and consume.

Lifetime status will only be granted on qualifying points and will not take into account flights on partner airlines.

The number of qualifying points required for lifetime status is :

Qualifying points required
Lifetime Frequent Traveler 7 500
Lifetime Senator10,000 (+10 years of Senator or HON Circle status)

This represents roughly 46 years of Frequent Traveller status and 20 years of Senator status. Compare this to the 20 years of Gold equivalent required at British Airways for a Lifetime Gold (this is the highest status at BA while the Senator is no longer the highest status at Lufthansa) and…10 years of Platinum at Air France. And moreover, only flights on Lufthansa and co are counted, so the facts are even more difficult to reach.

I find the threshold for Frequent Traveler much too high for what it brings (no advantage on the alliance) and if the Senator status is an excellent status …. well it’s still too much for my taste. Here they do not reward the fact of keeping a status in the duration but to overconsume beyond the status.

As much as I am against the proliferation of high statuses and high statuses for life which in the end degrade the program, this is much too demanding

Bottom line

Miles&More is an excellent program, the Senator status brings solid benefits and what can I say about the HON Circle which is the status I would dream of having because it brings so many benefits and recognitions…but I will never have.

A good program must be exclusive. The old Miles&More was, the new one will be even more so without being justified to do so in such proportions and the introduction of lifetime statutes will not change anything given the difficulty to obtain them.

One thing is for sure, the members of the program who reach at least the Senator level will always have the recognition and benefits they deserve and we cannot say that Lufthansa is stingy with its good customers and maybe the price to pay to maintain this level is to make the program more exclusive. But at this point? However, we will wait and see if the fact that the booking classes are no longer taken into account “smoothes” all this

If all you need is lounge access and priority queuing, there is a much easier way to earn Star Alliance Gold status on a partner airline that will give you the same recognition on Lufthansa as the Senator.

Photo : Lufthansa Miles&More member card by Hadrian via Shutterstock

Bertrand Duperrin
Bertrand Duperrinhttp://www.duperrin.com
Compulsive traveler, present in the French #avgeek community since the late 2000s and passionate about (long) travel since his youth, Bertrand Duperrin co-founded Travel Guys with Olivier Delestre in March 2015.
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