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Update July 1, 2014:
The current offer on the Premier Miles & More® World MasterCard® is 20,000 miles after first purchase and payment of $79 annual fee.
- Earn 20,000 award miles after your first purchase or balance transfer
- Earn up to 15,000 award miles with balance transfers (1 mile per $1 transferred) within 30 days of account opening
- Earn 2 award miles per $1 on ticket purchases directly from Miles & More integrated airline partners
- Earn 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases
- Annual Companion Ticket after first purchase
- No foreign transaction fees on purchases made outside the U.S.
- Redeem miles for flight awards and upgrades on Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, SWISS, Star Alliance airlines and other partners
- $79 Annual Fee, waived for SEN and HON Circle Members
The Premier Miles & More® World MasterCard® is now offering 50,000 bonus Lufthansa miles after spending $5k in the first three months. That means you’ll have 55,000 Lufthansa miles after meeting the minimum spending requirement.
The Miles & More award chart has a number of sweet spots to get maximum value for those 55,000 miles.
Three sweet spots I want to highlight today are to and from Hawaii.
Between Hawaii and the United States mainland:
- Economy (on United flights): 20k miles each way
- First Class (on United two-cabin flights): 35k miles each way
Between Hawaii and Central Asia/Far East:
- Economy (on United, ANA, Asiana, and Air China flights): 20k miles each way
- Business: 35k miles each way
- First: 62,500 miles each way
Between Hawaii and New Zealand/Australia/Oceania:
- Economy (on United and Air New Zealand flights): 20k miles each way
- Business: 35k miles each way
These are great prices for awards if you live in Hawaii. But even if you don’t live in Hawaii, these cheap awards to and from Hawaii allow for a free or almost free stopover in Hawaii as part of a larger trip. Who wouldn’t want to combine some time in Hawaii with some time in Asia or Australia or New Zealand as a way to break up the long transpacific flights?
- How can anyone, no matter where they live, take advantage of these great award prices to and from Hawaii on Lufthansa’s chart?
- How good is United’s First Class product to Hawaii?
- What are the fuel surcharges on these routes?
When I look at Lufthansa’s award chart, I instinctively compare it to United’s award chart, since both are Star Alliance members and both mileage programs have access to basically the exact same award space. (There are a few notable exceptions.)
Mainland to Hawaii
Between the mainland and Hawaii, United charges more miles than Lufthansa for the exact same flights.
United charges 22,500 miles each way in economy and 40,000 miles each way in first class on its own flights when Saver award space is available.
Lufthansa has access to all of United’s Saver award space and charges fewer miles: 20,000 miles each way in economy and 35,000 in first.
Both airlines will collect $2.50 in taxes per segment.
Advantage: Lufthansa Miles
Tip: If you are booking United First Class from the mainland to Hawaii, try to book a plane with flat beds in First Class. These fly all the flights between Honolulu and Newark and Washington DC and occasionally on other routes. Click View Seats to see if a flight you’re considering has flat beds.
Hawaii to Asia and Australia
Lufthansa awards from Hawaii to Asia and Australia require fewer miles than United awards on the same flights.
Lufthansa charges 20k/35k/62.5k miles each way in economy/business/first to Far East, Central Asia, Australia, New Zealand, or Oceania from Hawaii. Check out Lufthansa’s region definitions here.
United charges 25k to 35k miles each way in economy to those regions. United charges 40k to 60k miles each way in business. United charges 62,500 to 80k miles each way in first class.
Lufthansa awards are as cheap or cheaper than United awards in all cabins on all transpacific routes.
But United only collects government taxes on all these awards regardless of partners flown. Lufthansa collects government taxes plus fuel surcharges on all transpacific partners with two exceptions.
Exception 1: As noted in the previous section, Lufthansa awards that are simply United flights between the mainland United States and Hawaii have no fuel surcharges.
Exception 2: Air China’s flight between Honolulu and Beijing has $139 in fuel surcharges. Lufthansa collects only a $4 fuel surcharge on the flight.
I priced out the following awards by calling the Miles & More Service Center at 800-581-6400 between 8 AM and 8 PM ET.
All the awards are one way and have $2.50 in government taxes. The rest is a fuel surcharge. In all cases, the fuel surcharge matches the surcharge on a paid ticket except on the Air China flight mentioned above.
- Honolulu to Tokyo (United economy): 20k Lufthansa miles + $187.5
- Honolulu to Tokyo (United First): 62.5k Lufthansa miles + $187.5
- Honolulu to Tokyo (ANA economy): 20k Lufthansa miles + $190.5
- Honolulu to Seoul (Asiana economy): 20k Lufthansa miles + $153.4
- Honolulu to Seoul (Asiana Business): 35k Lufthansa miles + $153.4
- Honolulu to Beijing (Air China economy): 20k Lufthansa miles + $6.5
- Honolulu to Guam (United economy): 20k Lufthansa miles + $343.5
- Honolulu to Guam (United Business): 35k Lufthansa miles + $343.5
- Honolulu to Auckland (Air New Zealand economy): could not find any award space
The best deals are the Air China flight and Asiana flight. I would probably not pay 62,500 Lufthansa miles for the United flight to Tokyo in First Class. I’d much rather pay 35k miles for the same flight in lie flat Business Class.
Putting It Together
Imagine you live in Houston and want to go to Beijing. You have a few options with Star Alliance miles for a one way award.
Option 1: United miles directly to Beijing
You can book a United award like Houston to San Francisco to Beijing with no stopovers for 35,000 United miles + $5.
Option 2: United miles with a stop in Honolulu
If you wanted to break up the flying, you could route through Honolulu. On a one way United award, you get no free stopovers, so the stop would make the award cost 50,000 United miles + $5. (22.5k to Honolulu and 27.5k to Beijing)
Option 3: Lufthansa miles directly to Beijing
You can book a Lufthansa award like Houston to San Francisco to Beijing with no stopovers for 40,000 miles + $9, assuming you fly Air China on the transpacific leg instead of United, which would incur higher fuel surcharges.
Option 4: Lufthansa miles with a stop in Honolulu
This is the option I’ve been hinting at.
If you wanted to break up the flying, you could route through Honolulu. On a one way Lufthansa award, you get no free stopovers, but breaking the award into two awards doesn’t make it more expensive in this case.
A stop in Honolulu of any length would still make the awards cost 40,000 miles + $9 total. (20k to Honolulu + 20k to Beijing)
For some people, this will be the most exciting and highest-value option.
Because Lufthansa charges 20k miles to Hawaii and 20k miles from Hawaii to Asia and Australia, the combined price of the two awards is the same 40k miles that a direct flight would cost. That means you can get a “free stopover” in Hawaii on Lufthansa awards from the mainland to Asia and Australia on economy awards.
Even in business class, the “stopover” is nearly free. Lufthansa charges 35k miles from the mainland to Hawaii and 35k more miles to Asia in business class. That’s 70k miles, only 3k more than the 67k needed for a direct award to Asia.
Lufthansa has some incredible value awards to and from Hawaii.
Even folks who live on the mainland can take advantage by flying to Hawaii, enjoying the sun there, and then continuing to Asia or Australia on a second Lufthansa award.
The Premier Miles & More® World MasterCard® is now offering 50,000 bonus Lufthansa miles after spending $5k in the first three months. That means you’ll have 55,000 Lufthansa miles after meeting the minimum spending requirement. Make those 55,000 miles go farthest by exploiting sweet spots on the Lufthansa award chart.