We’ve seen frequent flyer programs globally make significant changes over the past few years, and it looks like there’s no end in sight for this trend.
Last week Lufthansa sent a letter to Miles & More members informing them of changes being made to the frequent flyer program. Initially only a limited number of details were available, while now we have a full outline of the new program. So I wanted to update my original post to add a lot more information about how the new Miles & More program will work.
Lufthansa’s Letter To Miles & More Members
To start, let me share the letter that Lufthansa has sent to Miles & More members that describes these changes:
As our guest you are at the heart of our thoughts and actions. We want to make travelling as personal, simple and pleasant as possible for you, so every one of your journeys becomes a positive experience. That is our aspiration for our new, modern premium concept.
Our status programme only met this requirement to a limited extent in recent years. Your wishes for simplification also reached us more and more frequently. We have therefore set out to revise our frequent flyer programme for you. In future, you will not have to spend a lot of time figuring out rules or asking yourself how to achieve your status. You will be able to concentrate solely on what is important to you and enjoy your journey.
Today, we would like to take this opportunity to share the initial details about our frequent flyer programme with you. Here are the most important new features you can expect from January 2021:
- How to achieve status will become more transparent – a comprehensible points system will replace the status miles.
- Your trust in us will pay off – status will primarily be achieved through flights with our airlines.
- Loyalty will be rewarded – there will be lifetime Frequent Traveller and Senator status for loyalty over many years.
- The period of validity will be changed – your status will be active for at least one year in future.
- The structure will become clearer – we will say goodbye to complicated elements such as Status Stars.
These changes will apply to flights form 1 January 2021. You will find detailed information at www.miles-and-more.com/frequent-flyer
We look forward to travelling with you again soon.
There is some ridiculous spin in this letter — “you will not have to spend a lot of time figuring out rules or asking yourself how to achieve status,” but rather “you will be able to concentrate solely on what is important to you and enjoy your journey.”
The New Lufthansa Miles & More Program
As you can probably tell, the above doesn’t actually tell us much about what is changing. Fortunately Lufthansa has now published all of the details of the new program.
Lufthansa’s head of marketing has made two promises about the new program:
- It will be a lot easier for everyone
- Anyone flying with Lufthansa Group’s airlines will be rewarded more
Those sure are some promises…
Lufthansa Will Award Status Points Rather Than Miles
As of January 1, 2021, you’ll no longer earn status based on a multiplier of the distance flown, but rather you’ll earn status based on earning a certain number of points. Note that this doesn’t change how you earn award miles, but rather this only impacts earning status.
The points earned will vary based on the cabin you’re flying, and whether you’re flying a continental or intercontinental flight:
- 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
It’s quite surprising that the most discounted fare in a cabin will earn the same number of points as the most expensive fare.
Continental Vs. Intercontinental Flights
The definition of continental and intercontinental is as straightforward as you’d expect:
- A continental flight is a segment for which the arrival and departure airport are on the same continent
- An intercontinental flight is a segment for which the arrival and departure airport are on different continents
Points Vs. Qualifying Points
Under the new program, Miles & More will have both “points” and “qualifying points.”
If you’re flying one of the following airlines you’ll earn “qualifying points” (these are either Lufthansa Group airlines, or airlines that use Miles & More as their frequent flyer program):
- Austrian Airlines
- Brussels Airlines
- Air Dolomiti
- Croatia Airlines
- LOT Polish Airlines
Meanwhile travel on other airlines will just accrue points (and not “qualifying points”). While “regular” points can still count towards status, you need to earn a minimum number of qualifying points to earn status.
See, the program is so easy? 😉
New Miles & More Status Requirements
With the new program:
- Frequent Traveler status will require 160 points, and half of those need to be qualifying points
- Senator status will require 480 points, and half of those need to be qualifying points
- HON Circle status will require 1,500 points, all of which need to be qualifying points
One positive change is that historically you couldn’t earn HON Circle status based on travel in economy on Lufthansa. That won’t be the case going forward anymore, as economy travel will qualify.
Status Will Only Be Valid For A Year
Historically Lufthansa status has been valid for two years, though with the new program it will only be valid for one year. I’d say that’s a pretty big devaluation.
Note that if you earned status in 2020 it would still be valid for two years as per the old rules, so this rule will just apply to earning status going forward.
Lufthansa Introducing Lifetime Status
Lufthansa will be introducing lifetime status for the first time:
- Lifetime Frequent Traveler status can be achieved with 7,500 qualifying points
- Lifetime Senator status can be achieved with 10,000 qualifying points plus 10 years of Senator or HON Circle status
In both cases, only qualifying points will count towards lifetime status, so travel on most Star Alliance airlines wouldn’t qualify.
If you’ve been loyal to Miles & More up until now, you can earn lifetime status based on your past activity.
Status Stars points earned through December 31, 2020, will be converted into qualifying points at a 2:1 ratio in 2021.
Some people may be surprised to hear this, but I don’t actually think the new program is necessarily negative. Every program has pros and cons, and this of course represents a significant change.
I’d say it’s very bad news that status is now only valid for a year, while the good news is that lifetime status is being introduced.
Other than that, I’d say the changes aren’t necessarily bad. Of course everyone has different travel patterns and preferences.
What I’m surprised by with the new program is how good it is for those looking to get good value, rather than just those flying full fare tickets:
- The distinction between continental and intercontinental flights leaves a lot of opportunities
- The most discounted fare in a cabin counts the same towards status as the most expensive fare in a cabin
- It’s nice that travel in economy will count towards HON Circle status
Now that we have the full details, what do you make of these Lufthansa Miles & More changes?