The Best Ways to Book Lufthansa First Class

Sep 18, 2017

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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here: The Business Platinum Card® from American Express,Chase Sapphire Reserve

When you fly Lufthansa first class, regardless of the equipment you fly, you’re going to get a consistent, luxurious experience that has yet to disappoint our readers. Due to the ground services in Munich or Frankfurt, the hard product, service, wine and cuisine, Lufthansa first class quickly becomes a goal for many points and miles enthusiasts. Today, I’ll go through several frequent flyer programs you should consider for booking a Lufthansa first-class flight using points and miles.

Lufthansa’s been removing first class capacity on many routes and aircraft due to fewer customers willing to pay cash for the premium international cabin. Throughout the year, many routes switch the aircraft type, meaning you need to ensure the route you want to fly — on the dates you want to travel — will have first class. To be absolutely sure you’ll be able to book first class, always look to fly an A380 or 747-8, which all have first class, compared to some A330s and A340s which do not have first.

Lufthansa’s A330 first class.

Lufthansa is a member of the Star Alliance, making several loyalty programs within the alliance the best way to book a ticket. Let’s go through the best programs to use and how many miles first class will cost on several routes.

Air Canada Aeroplan

You can pad your Aeroplan account by transferring points from American Express or SPG, or by redeeming Marriott points for a flight and hotel package. You can also sign up for the TD Aeroplan Visa Signature Card, which is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 25,000 miles after you spend $1,000 within the first three billing cycles.

While Aeroplan charges a low level of miles for several Lufthansa first routes, it does impose significant fuel surcharges. Here are the best routes for booking Lufthansa first using Aeroplan miles:

Route Miles Required (One-Way) Fuel Surcharges
US/Canada – Germany 70,000 ~$500
Indian Subcontinent – Germany 87,500 ~$280
Middle East – Germany 60,000 ~$210

Asiana Club

Korea-based Asiana Airlines has a fantastic first-class product of its own, but it’s more tempting to use Asiana Club miles on Star Alliance premium cabin redemptions given how few miles are required. Earn Asiana miles by transferring from SPG or picking up the Asiana Club Visa Signature Card, which is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 30,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days.

A few notes on booking Lufthansa first with Asiana:

  • The award chart is absolutely stellar, but the fuel surcharges on flights leaving North America are high.
  • You must book Asiana award tickets at least three days before departure, meaning your window to book Lufthansa first is 11 days with Asiana — since Lufthansa opens up first-class award space to partners just 14 days before departure.
  • You may transit via a third region on one ticket, but there must be a published fare between your origin and destination and you cannot exceed IATA’s Maximum Permitted Mileage (MPM).
  • You have to call Asiana to book a partner flight, and if you want to do anything more complicated than a straight one-way or round-trip, phone calls can be challenging — with inexperienced agents who speak less-than-fluent English.

Here are the best routes for using Asiana miles to book Lufthansa first class:

Route Miles Required (One-Way) Fuel Surcharges
Brazil – Germany 80,000  ~$40
North Asia – Germany 80,000  ~$150
Southeast Asia – Germany 75,000 ~$150
Southwest Asia – Germany 70,000  ~$150
US, Canada or Mexico – Germany 50,000  ~$550
Middle East – Germany 40,000  ~$100
USA – Middle East (via Germany) 80,000  ~$750

Avianca Lifemiles

We recently covered everything you need to know about Avianca Lifemiles, in addition to sharing some hidden gems of the program, including Lufthansa first. You can earn Lifemiles via the Banco Popular co-branded credit cards, transfers from SPG and Marriott and via the frequent buy miles bonuses the program offers.

Lifemiles is great because it doesn’t pass on any fuel surcharges for Lufthansa first-class tickets. However, it sometimes seems that Lifemiles is blocked from seeing all the Lufthansa first availability that other airlines have access to. Oftentimes, when United and Aeroplan have access to Lufthansa first, Lifemiles does not. Even if you call in and can bear a phone conversation with Lifemiles, the agents cannot see it. There is a consensus among many points and miles enthusiasts that Lufthansa purposely blocks Lifemiles from seeing its inventory because of how few miles it charges and no fuel surcharges imposed.

Here are the best routes book Lufthansa first with Lifemiles:

Route Miles Required (One-Way) Fuel Surcharges
North America – Germany 87,000  ~$25
Middle East – Germany 69,000  ~$40
Central Asia – Germany 60,000 ~$65

Other Options

If you have an abundance of United miles or Chase Ultimate Rewards, you can always book Lufthansa first class with no fuel surcharges, albeit at higher mileage rates. One-way from the US to Germany will set you back 110,000 miles and because you can only book within 14 days of departure, you’ll always have to pay the United $75 close-in ticketing fee unless you have Premier Platinum or Premier 1K status.

If you have the the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, you can always redeem Ultimate Rewards points at 1.5 cents apiece through the Ultimate Rewards travel center if you find a good Lufthansa first-class fare. And if you have The Business Platinum Card® from American Express and plenty of Membership Rewards points, you could use the card’s pay with points feature to get a 35% rebate (still 50% for newer cardholders until a year from the date of card issue). Because the airline will treat these bookings as paid fares, you can earn big miles when you credit the first-class flight to any of the Star Alliance programs mentioned above.

The Membership Rewards points I earn with this card put Lufthansa first-class redemptions within reach.
TPG in Lufthansa first class.

Using the above programs, you’re never going to be able to book Lufthansa first class more than 14 days out from departure. While availability is usually pretty good within those last two weeks, it means your luxurious flight is always going to be a last-minute affair. On a final note, Lufthansa’s own Miles & More program charges more miles and more fuel surcharges than the above programs. Ironically, I’d never look to Lufthansa’s own program to book first-class flights on its metal.

Bottom Line

Asiana Club and Avianca Lifemiles are the best programs to target if you want to fly Lufthansa first. While Asiana charges fewer miles on most routes, Avianca is my initial strategy to book Lufthansa first. The program doesn’t pass on surcharges, and awards are bookable online, without the tedious phone calls Asiana requires. If you have a ton of American Express Membership Rewards points, look to transfer points to Aeroplan and book Lufthansa first class on a route not originating or ending in North America to avoid the highest fuel surcharges.

How have you booked Lufthansa first class?

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