Vmany passengers of Lufthansa and its subsidiaries have had to remain on the ground in the past two years – and have not been able to collect any miles. In order for frequent flyers to retain their status, Europe’s airline group with the highest turnover has so far been accommodating. And this year, too, there will be further discounts for Miles & More members.
The new regulations apply to passengers of Lufthansa, SWISS, Austrian Airlines, Eurowings, Eurowings Discover and Brussels Airlines, as well as to customers of partner airlines such as Edelweiss Air, Air Dolomiti, Lufthansa Private Jet, Croatia Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines and Luxair. Miles expert Alexander Koenig from the answers exactly what flight passengers should pay attention to Frequent flyer advice First Class & More.
WORLD: How do you rate the Miles & More goodwill regulations for 2022?
Alexander Koenig: In my opinion they are very fair. In the first half of the year, there are double status and HON Circle miles on all flights with the Lufthansa Group. In addition, Lufthansa has extended all status levels that would have expired at the end of February 2022 by one year and credited loyal customers with e-vouchers for upgrades.
For the second quarter of 2022, Miles & More customers will receive an additional 2,000 HON Circle miles or status miles for each intercontinental flight segment. It has rarely been cheaper to achieve Senator frequent flyer status.
WORLD: United Airlines lowers status barriers by 40 percent; Delta Airlines combines status years 2021 and 2022; Air France/KLM award a status mile bonus. Against this background, where does Miles & More stand?
Koenig: As far as the goodwill rules are concerned, Lufthansa is in the average range of what the other airlines mentioned offer their customers. Air France and KLM have also extended the status and are giving a 50 percent status point bonus – this is comparable to Miles & More.
WORLD: Last year, passengers without frequent flyer status were credited with double status miles on all Lufthansa Group flights, which means it was twice as easy to achieve Lufthansa frequent flyer status. Is that also possible in 2022?
Koenig: Thanks to the goodwill regulations plus other promotions, this will be possible in the first half of 2022.
WORLD: As important as private customers are, business customers are the far more profitable segment for the big airlines. Internally, Lufthansa expects that the number of business trips will never be as high as in the pre-Corona times; various studies assume a decline of between 30 and 50 percent. That is why there are considerations of expanding Premium Economy at the expense of Business Class. Wouldn’t that be the beginning of the end for frequent flyer programs?
Koenig: I have to answer the question in two parts. Point 1: Yes, the number of business travelers is currently falling worldwide, but this is unlikely to last forever. However, there is another trend, namely that many business travelers are switching from Business Class to Premium Economy. The Lufthansa subsidiary SWISS is therefore currently introducing a Premium Economy. Of course, business class will continue to exist, Corona has increased the desire for more distance and privacy. That said, there are no plans to downsize business class.
Point 2: Nobody will shake the frequent flyer programs, if only because of the customer loyalty. De facto, Lufthansa’s premium economy has been promoted for years through high status mileage credits at Miles & More. And private customers are primarily enticed by constant mileage promotions.
WORLD: Can you be more specific?
Koenig: Now, in March, there is one of the biggest mileage campaigns ever: You can spend 275,000 Lufthansa Miles & More award miles for 4680 euros with additional status benefits, for example at hotels and with airport lounge access via the partner ASMALLWORLD (asmallworld.com/miles/de) acquire.
This corresponds to using Miles & More mileage bargains (meilenschnaeppchen.de) for example five times Business Class to North America or to South Africa. In other words, for 4680 euros you get miles for five business class tickets worth up to 15,000 euros.
WORLD: It’s all the more annoying when you can’t get into the airport lounge with a cheap business class ticket and frequent flyer status in your pocket, because the lounges in Bremen, Dresden, Cologne/Bonn, Leipzig and Nuremberg are no longer operated by Lufthansa , but operated by third parties.
Koenig: This is indeed annoying. But in Cologne/Bonn you still have access with a Lufthansa status. In other cases, frequent flyers often use the so-called Priority Pass for lounge access, which is sometimes also included with credit cards.
WORLD: So why a frequent flyer status at all?
Koenig: Because empty terminals or even empty flights are actually already a thing of the past. My expectation for 2022 is that there will be a travel boom like never before in the second half of the year. Some flights are already very full because smaller aircraft are used and also with lower frequencies.
WORLD: Isn’t the number of people refusing to fly steadily growing for reasons of climate protection?
Koenig: That’s true, but not to a large extent. There are just as many people who will now fly more because there is simply a need to catch up. In 2019, when the climate debate was a big topic in the media, air traffic in Germany still increased. Without the Corona crisis, growth would probably have reached new records in 2020 and 2021.
And when the pandemic is over, the airline industry is guaranteed to pick up speed quickly. Against this background, a frequent flyer status is still recommended – for fast check-in, more baggage allowance, preferred baggage handling and free lounge access; Incidentally, there are still Lufthansa lounges at the major airports.
WORLD: Last year, when flying was still heavily regulated, you could earn up to 30,000 status miles with Miles & More by spending with your credit card. Is something similar planned for 2022?
Koenig: No, unfortunately not. This year there should only be the option, which was common before the start of the Corona crisis, whereby up to 25,000 award miles generated by Miles & More credit card transactions can be converted into up to 5,000 Lufthansa status miles.
WORLD: According to surveys, Germans mainly want to travel long-distance in the post-Corona period, so the last question is: which airline offers particularly cheap upgrades?
Koenig: Upgrades are not the best way to fly cheap business or first class. At Miles & More, for example, mileage upgrades are usually quite expensive or tied to certain booking classes. It is better if you book cheap business class flights. With our team, we check all departure locations in Europe every day for the best deals. For example, for someone who actually wants to depart from Düsseldorf, a flight from Amsterdam can be up to 50 percent cheaper.
Alexander Koenig is the founder of the frequent flyer consultancy First Class & More. The economist previously worked as a consultant at McKinsey & Co. and the Boston Consulting Group.