What Is Lufthansa HON Circle Status?

What Is Lufthansa HON Circle Status?

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There can be lots of value to having airline elite status, though it goes without saying that not all elite status levels are created equal. In this post I wanted to take a closer look at Lufthansa’s HON Circle elite status, which might just be the world’s most exclusive airline elite tier with published qualification criteria.

Here in the United States, we have American Concierge Key, Delta 360, and United Global Services, but those are all invitation-only, with no published qualification requirements. Meanwhile Lufthansa HON Circle status has published requirements, it’s just a very hard status to earn. So let’s go over all those details.

How do you earn Lufthansa HON Circle status?

HON Circle is Lufthansa’s highest of three elite tiers, as it’s above Frequent Traveller and Senator status. While the status isn’t invitation-only, it’s probably tougher to earn than most status levels that are.

Lufthansa Miles & More elite status requirements

With the current program, you receive HON Circle status by earning 600,000 elite qualifying miles with Miles & More over the course of two consecutive calendar years. That’s a lot of flying, and there are even additional restrictions on top of that.

Only flights in first and business class qualify toward HON Circle status, and only miles earned on select airlines, including Lufthansa, SWISS, Austrian, Brussels, etc., qualify toward HON Circle status.

The good news is that Lufthansa offers accelerated mileage accrual for premium cabin travel. Below is Lufthansa’s mileage earning chart for long haul travel.

Lufthansa Miles & More mileage earning rates

In other words, to earn HON Circle status you’d have to fly an average of:

  • 100,000 miles per year in paid first class
  • 150,000 miles per year in full fare business class
  • 200,000 miles per year in discounted business class

That’s a good amount of expensive flying! At the same time, for a business traveler who can book full fare business class, it’s not necessarily actually that much flying. For example, a single monthly long haul full fare business class trip would just about get you to HON Circle. Still, that takes a lot of consistency.

Note that Lufthansa is expected to make major elite program changes as of 2024, whereby status can be earned based on qualifying points rather than elite miles. This could have some intriguing implications for those looking to mileage run.

Lufthansa HON Circle status is hard to earn

What are the benefits of Lufthansa HON Circle status?

Generally European frequent flyer programs aren’t as generous as US programs (though I suppose the gap is narrowing), so the benefits aren’t that huge on paper. The benefits of HON Circle status include:

  • A 25% mileage bonus
  • Six eVouchers (it takes one to two vouchers per upgrade, so this equates to three to six upgrades every two years)
  • Senator status for a spouse
  • A meet-and-greet service in Frankfurt and at all intercontinental destinations
  • An additional baggage allowance
  • First class check-in (though all Star Alliance Gold members get that)
  • The highest priority for operational upgrades, and also special treatment from the crew

Oh, and most importantly of all, HON Circle members always get access to the Lufthansa First Class Terminal, Lufthansa First Class Lounges, and SWISS First Class Lounge, regardless of what cabin they’re flying.

SWISS First Class Lounge Zurich

That’s such a cool benefit. If I were a HON Circle member I’d probably book cheap tickets between Frankfurt and Munich every weekend just so I could hang out in those lounges. Then again, if I were a HON Circle member I’d probably be so tired of those lounges that I wouldn’t want to visit them anymore. 😉

Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt

To me the First Class Lounge access is the biggest perk of this status, given how exceptional Lufthansa’s First Class Lounges are.

Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt

It’s especially cool if you’re Frankfurt based, since you’ll never have to use the actual terminal again. You can just be dropped off at the First Class Terminal, enjoy the lounge, and then be driven to the plane. What a perk!

HON Circle members get driven to the plane in Frankfurt

How many Lufthansa HON Circle members are there?

I have no clue. I’ve seen estimates that there are somewhere around 5,000 members, which probably sounds about right to me. In my experience there are typically anywhere from one to five per long haul flight. It all depends how premium the route is, the day of the week, etc.

Am I jealous of Lufthansa HON Circle members?

On one hand I’m super jealous of HON Circle members, since they get to use the Lufthansa First Class Terminal so often. On the other hand, I feel bad for how much time most HON Circle members spend in Lufthansa business class. I imagine a small minority of HON Circle members exclusively fly paid first class, but the number of people who are in a position to do that is limited.

Lufthansa business class

So instead most HON Circle members are spending most of their time in Lufthansa’s sub-par business class.

Sure, SWISS’ business class is a bit better, but ultimately these products still aren’t really competitive to the best out there. So it’s one thing if you work for a company with a corporate contract and flying Lufthansa business class is the only option, but if you have any flexibility, you’re giving up a better onboard experience by choosing to fly Lufthansa. I’d much rather fly business class on an airline with a better business class product and forgo the the first class ground experience, but that’s just me.

Bottom line

Miles & More HON Circle status is one of the most exclusive status levels out there, as it requires 600,000 status miles every two years. While the perks aren’t that huge, access to first class lounges is a very nice benefit that especially nice if you’re based in Frankfurt, given the First Class Terminal. So the next time you’re on a flight with a HON Circle member, now you know just how much time they spend on the airline.

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  1. Jason Guest

    I think the most annoying thing to me is the 1.0 x on P fares.

  2. Wes Noorani Guest

    Both my dad and my granddad were honorary HON circle members. They actually gave it up though and switched to Emirates. I wish they had nominated me instead because I still fly LH!

  3. Hans Guest

    "A meet-and-greet service in Frankfurt and at all intercontinental destinations"
    Being HON from the first moment I have never expirienced this in FRA. At some Intercontinental stations that exists, but not everywhere. Sometimes helpful at arrival, but often useless.

  4. Alex Guest

    The most useful benefit of being a HON is the HON Circle Service line and the fact that they solve problems before you even know that there is one.
    During the ash cloud problem with the Icelandic volcano I needed to call the service line a few times and never had to wait more than a minute.
    On a flight Oslo-Munich-Los Angeles I received a fax on board my flight from Oslo to...

    The most useful benefit of being a HON is the HON Circle Service line and the fact that they solve problems before you even know that there is one.
    During the ash cloud problem with the Icelandic volcano I needed to call the service line a few times and never had to wait more than a minute.
    On a flight Oslo-Munich-Los Angeles I received a fax on board my flight from Oslo to Munich informing me about a technical issue with the aircraft flying from Munich to Los Angeles. I had been re-booked via Zürich. Upon arrival at Munich I was picked up at the aircraft door, driven to the flight to Zürich, the doors were closed and off we went. The flight from Munich to Los Angeles was in the end delayed by multiple hours.
    Now, that is service when you need it!

    1. Ed Guest

      That HC service does not exist anymore Alex.
      You will receive updates in your LH App. Nothing more. Same as any pax.
      Calling HC Hotline sometimes helps but often they are often useless.
      The OPS policy has changed. If the flight was delayed, HC Hotline would solve it for HC. Now nothing will be done unless the flight is cancelled.
      Eg Fra-Lhr morning flight delayed 5+ hours ‚rotation problem‘. Pls sit...

      That HC service does not exist anymore Alex.
      You will receive updates in your LH App. Nothing more. Same as any pax.
      Calling HC Hotline sometimes helps but often they are often useless.
      The OPS policy has changed. If the flight was delayed, HC Hotline would solve it for HC. Now nothing will be done unless the flight is cancelled.
      Eg Fra-Lhr morning flight delayed 5+ hours ‚rotation problem‘. Pls sit and watch the other planes fly to London!! Your LH220 C tkt & LH Hons is worthless.
      Naja - Schnitzel im FCL smeckt!!

  5. Benji Guest

    A couple of years ago I talked to a HON and he told me, they get also invitations for HON-partys, special HON-events and cultural events like concerts.

  6. Ben Guest

    A couple of years ago I talked to a HON and he told me, they get also invitations for HON-partys, special HON-events and cultural events like concerts.

  7. Ed Guest

    HON status is very much a ground based system of advantages. Fra, Muc, Zur are the real hubs with full service (quasi Vie, Gva, JFK plus a couple). It helps a lot especially with connections. A car will pick you up and take you direct to the next plane if necessary otherwise to the lounge. The FCLs are very good. Room for improvement but still pleasant after many visits. Otherwise one advantage is the forcing...

    HON status is very much a ground based system of advantages. Fra, Muc, Zur are the real hubs with full service (quasi Vie, Gva, JFK plus a couple). It helps a lot especially with connections. A car will pick you up and take you direct to the next plane if necessary otherwise to the lounge. The FCLs are very good. Room for improvement but still pleasant after many visits. Otherwise one advantage is the forcing of award space; LHG will give awards to HONS unless there are literally no seats left (not award seats.. ANY seats). In the air though, don’t expect much except a hello and first choice at the menu. LHG doesn’t have an upgrade culture so forget any ideas there. You will fly what you booked. If you fly regularly from or via Zur, Muc or esp Fra then HON makes sense, anywhere else not really.

  8. Eskimo Guest

    "So the next time you’re on a flight with a HON Circle member, now you know just how much time they spend on the airline"

    Not as much as you think.
    That's before they stop handing out HON to politicians. I believe they still hand them out to some celebrities or board members of large companies.

    I'd even suspect former USMNT coach Klinsmann had it, even a year after he got fired.

    1. Max Guest

      As far as I know, LH never handed out HON to anyone. They only give out SEN and used to do so for all MPs but do not do so anymore.

  9. Schlange Guest

    When I was an undergrad I worked LH Pax Svc in the states. HONs got as much special treatment as we could offer on departure (lounge escort, line jumping at TSA, reserved seating in our lounge, early boarding), but our service on arrival was limited (meet at the aircraft, grab their bags to wait for them after passport control) since CBP did not permit us to bring them through the crew lane and the US...

    When I was an undergrad I worked LH Pax Svc in the states. HONs got as much special treatment as we could offer on departure (lounge escort, line jumping at TSA, reserved seating in our lounge, early boarding), but our service on arrival was limited (meet at the aircraft, grab their bags to wait for them after passport control) since CBP did not permit us to bring them through the crew lane and the US doesn’t have a fast track. HONs also get baggage priority at the top level (HON Priority, Priority, non-Priority), though this is only consistently applied at M&M stations (e.g. connecting pax to YUL would get their bags first in the US, but not necessarily at YUL).

  10. Icarus Guest

    Air France and KLM have (Flying Blue) Ultimate.

    In addition Air France has Club 2000 ( originally just 2000 members) and Hippocampe, which I believe has only about 200 members, and it includes access to La Premiere Lounge at Charles de Gaulle Airport.

    1. pandion Guest

      SAS also has Pandion for 1 500 frequent fliers chosen by the CEO. Essentially means you need to be on an SK flight more than in your car, lol. You’re guranteed seats even if the flight is sold out, get a dedicated service team and always free food and drinks in economy.

  11. SMK77 Guest

    It’s time that OMAT stops promoting this dismal tragedy of an airline. I used to be a HON Circle many years and the airline pays zero to its top client these. It’s a 1-star airline and nothing more.

    1. Alex Guest

      I've been HON for more than 15 years and I totally disagree with your statement.

    2. Tom Guest

      I've also been HON for a few years now and I disagree as well. It does definitely make a difference onboard as well as on the ground. Although I do prefer flying in LX rather than LH, even in F. Product is much more consistent. Thankfully I flying mostly paid FCL and rarely JCL. If not I'd probably only fly LX or another airline altogether (not really a problem either, just first world problems).

      This...

      I've also been HON for a few years now and I disagree as well. It does definitely make a difference onboard as well as on the ground. Although I do prefer flying in LX rather than LH, even in F. Product is much more consistent. Thankfully I flying mostly paid FCL and rarely JCL. If not I'd probably only fly LX or another airline altogether (not really a problem either, just first world problems).

      This year so far, I've been invited to the Zurich Film Festival, the Montreux Jazz Festival (with 1-night stay at the Fairmont for free), as well as several CEO talks and events. They do take good care of HON members.

      Last week, I attended a private event in ZRH where we got news and updates for 2023 before the media as to changes that will happen soon with LX/LH. Met the CEO of LX as well as Global Head of M&M for LH Group. Seems that some positive changes are coming soon, I hope they do materialize.

  12. skimegheath Gold

    Flying first out of Frankfurt next weekend. Excited to use the First Class check in (nerd I know).

    1. Ed Guest

      Pls don’t use the FC check-in. Skip the airport entirely and head straight to the FC Terminal.
      (Your FC is with LH or LX right?)

  13. Klaus Guest

    Aja…and even arriving HON will get picked up by car if the aircraft is at a remote stand.

    1. Tom Guest

      Except in ZRH because they don't have enough cars/staff for HON pick ups. HON will just go in the J bus.

  14. Klaus Guest

    Well, there is also a real First Class check-in for actual First-Class-Passengers/HON that cannot be used by Star Gold

    1. SB Guest

      Where? I've never seen this. Definitely not outside the home markets.

    2. Max Guest

      The LH First Class Terminal in Frankfurt. Only access to LH First Class (incl. LX, AU) and HON.

    3. Tom Guest

      In outstations that have frequent HON travelers. NCE has separate check-in for HON/FCL vs. J/StarGold. SIN/BKK/HKG/NRT/SFO/LAX all have separate HON/FCL check in that cannot be used by Star Gold. Actually I've only seen 1 or 2 places where StarGold can check-in at FCL counters, which HONs don't use because they have separate HON/FCL lounge check-in - separate from "First Class" check in.

    4. Alex Guest

      Also at the Lufthansa First Class Check In at Munich which is reserved for HONs.

  15. Kevin Guest

    HON-Circle Member also receive (significant) additional Award availability

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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Ed Guest

Pls don’t use the FC check-in. Skip the airport entirely and head straight to the FC Terminal. (Your FC is with LH or LX right?)

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Max Guest

As far as I know, LH never handed out HON to anyone. They only give out SEN and used to do so for all MPs but do not do so anymore.

1
Max Guest

The LH First Class Terminal in Frankfurt. Only access to LH First Class (incl. LX, AU) and HON.

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