Mileage Run For Lufthansa’s Uber-Exclusive HON Circle Status

Filed Under: Lufthansa

Earlier I wrote about the significant changes being made to the Lufthansa Miles & More program as of 2021. On balance the changes aren’t that negative, and in particular I’m surprised that the program isn’t increasingly geared towards full fare passengers, which otherwise seems to be the trend.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the new program is that there will be opportunities to earn Lufthansa’s highly coveted HON Circle status for less than ever before.

Do I suggest people mileage run from scratch to earn the status? Absolutely not. But I find this opportunity intriguing nonetheless.

What Is Lufthansa HON Circle Status?

Lufthansa HON Circle is probably the world’s most exclusive elite tier with published requirements. Earning HON Circle status currently requires 600,000 elite qualifying miles every two years. Not only that, but only miles earned in paid first and business class on select airlines qualify.

The single biggest benefit of HON Circle status is that you get access to the incredible Lufthansa and Swiss first class lounges whenever you fly with Lufthansa, even if you’re flying domestically in economy.

Enjoy the SWISS First Class Lounge Zurich as a HON Circle member

As a kid my goal in life was to become a HON Circle member and then move into the Lufthansa First Class Terminal basically full time. 😉 In the meantime I have different goals, though I still enjoy visiting Lufthansa’s lounges as much as ever…

Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt

Other than that, the benefits of HON Circle are pretty weak — a 25% mileage bonus, six eVouchers per year (it takes one to two vouchers per upgrade), Senator status for a spouse, and more.

HON Circle Will Be Cheaper Than Ever To Earn

Historically there really was no way to earn HON Circle status for cheap. Of course some people paid more than others. For example, with the current criteria you’d need to fly 200,000 miles per year in discounted business class to earn HON Circle status. That’s a lot.

Well, when program changes are made you always see some opportunities disappear, while you see other opportunities introduced. With the new program you need 1,500 qualifying points to earn HON Circle.

As a reminder, with the new program you earn the following number of qualifying points:

  • In economy you’ll earn 5 points for continental and 15 points for intercontinental
  • In premium economy you’ll earn 5 points for continental and 20 points for intercontinental
  • In business class you’ll earn 10 points continental and 50 points for intercontinental
  • In first class you’ll earn 10 points for continental and 70 points for intercontinental

There’s one particularly intriguing opportunity here.

An intercontinental business class ticket earns 50 qualifying points in each direction, meaning you’d need to fly 15 roundtrip intercontinental flights in business class to earn HON Circle status. That would cost tens of thousands of dollars… or so you’d think.

Be driven to your plane as a HON Circle member

With the distinction being based on continents rather than short haul vs. long haul, this opens up some great opportunities. North Africa is known for having cheap fares, and technically a flight between Europe and North Africa is intercontinental.

As an example, you could book the following from Dublin to Algiers, and you’d earn 120 qualifying points roundtrip (10 qualifying points for the flight within Europe, and 50 qualifying points for the flight between Europe and Africa):

That means you’re paying less than $5 per qualifying point. HON Circle requires 1,500 qualifying points, meaning that you could earn HON Circle status for under $7,500.

That’s just one random example available right now. I’m sure there are much better opportunities out there, and I bet during a sale you could earn qualifying points for under $4 each.

But I do find it interesting that HON Circle status will be cheaper than ever to earn, for those willing to mileage run.

This Probably Isn’t Worth It, Though…

Let me point out that I’m not in any way suggesting people should book 12 of these back-to-back to earn HON Circle status. These are all flights operated by planes with intra-Europe business class, so unnecessarily taking dozens of flights on these planes sounds borderline miserable.

I find this more interesting in theory than in practice.

Nonetheless I would guess that starting in 2021 we’ll see lots of end of the year trips to North Africa, whether someone is looking to earn Senator status, or wants to take an extra trip or two to earn HON Circle status.

Bottom Line

While this doesn’t necessarily have huge practical implications, it’s always fun to see the new opportunities made available by program changes. I’m sure this wasn’t fully Lufthansa’s intention, but then again, when you make big changes there are always going to be some great opportunities.

(Tip of the hat to YHBU)

  1. Back before LH devalued P and Z earning HON wasn’t that expensive. I qualified twice and didn’t spend much more than you’d need next year to be UA 1K. Just lots of heavily discounted C long haul flights, plus various discounted C and Y European flight. And the plus side is that all those were actual real business travel plus the occasional getaway, not mileage runs. Oh those were the days. At least I can easily make SEN starting 2021 when my 1K expires with a similar pattern (just a bit less) as above now.

  2. As a European, instead of flying useless flights for some status that is barely worth 7.5K and actually only gives a somewhat good a la carte dining experience. I can fly around Europe every 2 weeks with KLM/Air France, dine at 3* Michelin restaurants which is way more exclusive than a Lufthansa/ Swiss lounge. All while acquiring FlyingBlue Gold status, which then gives me access to book an award ticket for the most exclusive First Class Experience; La Première.

  3. I predict LH will further refine and define ‘intercontinental’ to exclude some routes in Northern Africa and the Caucasus/Middle East. Basically anywhere they would fly with European style Biz Class.

    Probably By using the same criteria they use to decide that these routes are competitive with Euro Biz Class.

  4. Are you btw aware of Finnair (AY) Platinum Lumo status? It requires ridiculous 450000 points per year out of which 300000 has to be AY metal. No requirement for biz-class, though. Finnair PR told that “few” Platinum Lumo members indeed exist, and some of them are actually flying more than typical cabin crew does.

  5. CDG – TLV via ZRH with LX is a fantastic route for this: decent pricing and they fly ZRH – TLV with 777-300ER with long haul hardware (including F seats) on certain days

  6. I’m always intrigued by HON Circle, but I’m just gonna have to be content with my newly acquired Senator status, simply because being DEN based, I just don’t spend enough time in LH hubs to make it worthwhile, given that there are no partner perks for HON Circle that I don’t already get as Senator.

  7. Ben, this is why your blog is the best. This is a classic, old-school Lucky post right here. Totally unreasonable and crazy, but fantastic and inspiring.

  8. Ben, unfortunately this won’t work. Lufthansa has published their definition of continents and they defined Algeria and Morocco to be part of Europe…
    Maybe you can find something similar with Cairo?

  9. One of the great perks of HON Circle Status is that you’re being picked up by a limousine directly on the tarmac. Considering the many times you have to take the bus in FRA or ZRH on intra-Europe flights, that’s probably even more of a benefit to the average busy executive and HON Circle member than the F Lounge is.

  10. I.m HON since a decade and love this website. Helas I believe that fine tuning from M&M will arrive soon defining P Z D C A F with points. These postings will inspire them sadly. They can t do it immediatly as they sold us the simplicity ticket…. Also wonder what s the problem to stop status star. It honoured long term loyalty and was an easy calculator of it for lifetime status….

  11. ”… technically a flight between Europe and North Africa is intercontinental.”

    In the far-off days when Heathrow had just three terminals: 1 was domestic, 2 was European, and 3 was intercontinental. Flights to North Africa left from 2, but it caught me out the first time I had such a flight and had assumed I should go to 3.

    Airline geography often follows its own rules.

  12. I wonder if someone was lucky/crazy enough to get 10 round-trips with that BSL-KWI/RUH promo/mistake for ~350 EUR rt … 😉

  13. In addition to what you wrote, I see a lot of people going with Egypt-air or Ethiopian towards Asia from Germany. So you can do DUS-MUC-CAI-CAN return in C, which will earn you 220 points return, more than half of LH metal. You will be stuck in miserable CAI for a layover and have to live without wine on your way to China, but given that some of those deals show up for less than 2000EUR (like I had in 2018), a very good way to easily get your SEN…

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