Ok, so I am getting more and more annoyed at British Airways’ antics. First, the introduction of paid food on short-haul economy flights, followed by the stealthy removal of self-select seating, and now the incessant striking playing havoc with people’s travel plans. Sadly, their loyalty club is the one that offers the most opportunity to earn airmiles in the UK and fly business for less than economy. Maybe I should consider switching allegiance to the Lufthansa Miles and More program!
How do the other frequent flyer programs compare?
It is time to establish if there is an alternative UK frequent flyer program which can allow us to fly business class, without having to wait years for the privilege. I am going to be looking at a number of options over the coming months to see how they compare with the British Airways Executive Club. I’m starting off with Lufthansa Miles and More to consider how feasible it is to rack up sufficient points for two people to fly business.
Introducing Miles and More
Miles and More is Europe’s biggest frequent flyer program. Whilst it is technically the Lufthansa loyalty programme, as Lufthansa is part of Star Alliance, it allows you to earn points for flights on all Star Alliance airlines. This alliance includes some airline giants, such as Singapore Airlines, South African Airlines and Swiss. You can get a FREE infographic showing you which airlines are part of the alliance here.
Ways to earn
As many of you know, flying is not the way I earn the bulk of my points, but if you are lucky enough to be a frequent flyer, check out the mileage accrual rates for each airline.
Lufthansa awards a fixed mileage amount for European flights, with points based on distance for international flights. Not all flights qualify though so be sure to check before booking.
Likely miles: based on 2016 activity 1,810
Download the Miles and More App
Download the Miles and More App before 30th September and you will bag 500 Miles. I have just done it and it was super easy! Don’t forget to do it for your partner or spouse too!
Likely earnings: 1,000
Lufthansa Miles and More AMEX card
The Miles and More credit card is a disappointment compared to the British Airways Amex or Gold Amex, which offer sign up bonuses of 26,000 and 22,000 respectively if you use these referral links. The card offers a meagre 1,500 bonus points for signing up which is certainly not worth the effort of churning every six months.
The earnings rate is however attractive and matches that of the British Airways Amex at 1.5 points per £1 spent on the Amex. It also comes with a handy VISA which awards 1 point per £1 of spend. As an additional bonus, you get 2 points per £1 for the first six months on the AMEX.
The card carries no annual fee (compared to £195 for the British Airways Premium AMEX) and cardholders’ miles are protected from expiry. This means it doesn’t matter if it takes you four years to earn enough to fly business.
Assuming £2,000 of spend per month (including my business expenses) this would earn 43,500 points in the first year.
Likely earnings: 43,500
Although there are numerous shopping options for Miles and More customers, the two biggest sources of my shopping earnings in previous years (Avios and Topcashback) do not link to Miles and More. This means the shopping potential is seriously limited for those based in the UK. You can find the full shopping list here but I have indicated the best option for UK travel hackers below (pitiful I know!). Many of the other options are more geared to those living in Germany.
If you join Heathrow Rewards before the end of the year, you’ll receive 100 extra Heathrow Reward points. You can also earn a further 1,500 points when you spend £100 or more in a day at Heathrow. Now there is an incentive to do your Christmas shopping at the airport! You need to add promotion code MMAO17 when you register to qualify.
Each £1 earns 1 point which converts into 1 mile in increments of 250.
Likely earnings: 100
Miles and More has links with a number of hotel chains whereby you can earn miles. You simply need to set your preferences within the relevant hotel scheme to Miles and More and present your Miles and More card on check in. This may deny you the opportunity to earn points in the respective hotel’s reward program, so if you have a preferred chain, please check the terms first.
Hotels include H-Hotels, Best Western, Marriott, Aloft and many more and earnings varies between one to two miles per $ spent or a minimum of 500 points. Admittedly, this could be quite a lucrative way to rack up miles if you are willing to sacrifice rewards and potential tier status in the individual hotel reward schemes.
Sadly, neither Kaligo or Rocketmiles, which are two great earnings opportunities for AVIOS, link to Miles and More.
Likely earnings: 0
You can earn miles with a variety of car rental firms including Alamo, Avis and Sixt. You will earn upwards of 500 miles when you hire a car. The only downside is that you have to search prices from each company individually, so it is a painful process.
Likely earnings: 1,000
A not so whopping 45,600. Pretty shabby in comparison to that 332,000 AVIOS!
Business class redemptions
There is one slight sliver of hope however. Those of you who have flown business class with British Airways will know that those redemptions need a lot of points. Our recent flights to Seoul required 150,000 points plus a companion voucher.
Lufthansa on the other hand, offer regular business class deals. I’ve seen Europe to Beijing flights for as low as 40,000 and Europe to Chicago was 55,000 when I searched on the 21st August. Paying for two using miles clearly uses less than the cost of one flight with British Airways and looks considerably better value. Of course, the problem is accumulating enough points to be able to book the flights in the first place.
Although my possible earnings would be enough to grab that business class flight to Beijing, it is going to take me two years to book flights for two unless I fly solo.
Other Lufthansa Miles and More key facts
The British Airways Companion voucher is the passport to flying business for less than economy. Earn enough AVIOS for one to fly business, bag the companion voucher and then just pay taxes and fees for both. In addition, I can accumulate points from both my account and that of my husband’s to meet the AVIOS needed.
Miles and More offers a companion award but this only allows you to book an accompanying traveller for 50% less miles and you only qualify if you have achieved Hon or Senator status in the program. To qualify for these, you will need at least 100,000 status miles from flights, so no use if you are not a frequent flyer.
Miles and More also offers no household account option, so a couple needs to accumulate sufficient points in individual respective accounts to fly together. You can also accumulate them in one account and book flights for both but it is a little tricky if you already have vastly different balances in two accounts.
One last gripe I have with Lufthansa Miles and More is that the website is not great. When you wish to conduct certain activities like investigating redemption options, it bizarrely reverts to German. I find myself wondering if I am on the wrong site, and whilst I passed my GCSE German with flying colours, I hate using it and frankly cannot be bothered to translate.
So who is the winner?
Sadly, it is a slam dunk. British Airways wins by a mile, because of the flexibility of the household account, more ways to earn and the companion voucher. It is possible to earn business class flights with Lufthansa but it is likely to take a lot longer because there simply aren’t enough earning options in the UK. I am going to persevere with them but don’t think I will be ditching my primary earnings strategy just yet.