Cheap Europe Flights with Lufthansa’s New Surprise Option

May 20, 2016

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We’re all familiar with the idea of staying in a hotel we didn’t choose thanks to Hotwire. But, what if your destination itself was unknown when you booked your flight?

This week, Lufthansa is making that idea a reality by launching Lufthansa Surprise — a new program that lets you book a flight to a surprise destination.

Choose from one of nine destination categories to see the possible destinations.
Choose from one of nine categories to see the possible destinations.

Don’t worry, you do get some say in the matter. You can choose from a list of “travel topics.” Each travel category lists 7-12 cities as possible destinations.

The categories and possible destinations are:

  • Nature: Gdansk, Stockholm, Geneva, Helsinki, Zurich, Rostock-Laage, Larnaca, Copenhagen, Oslo, Gothenburg
  • Sun & Sand: Izmir, Bilbao, Triest, Naples, Gdansk, Genoa, Ancona, Stockholm, Nice, Marseille
  • Bromance: Amsterdam, Manchester, Hamburg, Dublin, Warsaw, Belgrade, Prague, Poznan, Lviv, Krakow, Sarajevo
  • Cities: Berlin, Rome, Dublin, Lisbon, Madrid, Warsaw, Bucharest, Brussels, Budapest, Zagreb, Belgrade, Athens
  • Sightseeing & Culture: Paris, Vienna, Warsaw, Basel, Poznan, Dresden, Lviv, Krakow, Sibiu, Wroclaw, Toulouse
  • Gourmet cuisine: Milan, Paris, Hamburg, Madrid, Brussels, Lyon, Graz
  • Partying: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Milan, Turin, Dublin, Lisbon, Madrid, Birmingham, Prague, Lyon
  • Romance: Barcelona, Rome, Paris, Vienna, Lisbon, Budapest, Prague, Pisa
  • Shopping: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Manchester, Rome, Milan, Paris, Hamburg, Vienna, Turin

Each category starts currently starts at either €89 or €99.

Lufthansa Surprise lets you select specific or a range of dates.
Lufthansa Surprise lets you select specific or a range of dates.

Once you select a category, you select your dates on the next page. You can book anywhere from 1 to 42 days in advance and choose either specific dates or a range of dates. Be careful of your selection though; if you leave the search terms too broad, you could be stuck with a ticket anytime in the date range. Since there’s currently no price benefit to traveling on unknown dates, I’d suggest checking availability on specific dates.

If you’re adamantly against one or more of the possible destinations, you can veto them by un-checking the box next to the city — but you might face an increase in price for reducing the options. You’re allowed to eliminate all but two options if you wish, but the final choice is still Lufthansa’s.

For now, the only departure cities are Munich and Frankfurt.
Currently, the only departure airports are Frankfurt and Munich.

Some other notes to keep in mind:

  • These are mileage-accruing flights. You have a choice of 25 different programs for your flight credit, including United, but be sure to note your fare class as some fares may not earn miles with certain programs.
  • The fare includes one carry-on bag of up to 18 lbs.
  • No changes or refunds are allowed.

For now, Lufthansa Surprise is only available from the airline’s hubs in Frankfurt and Munich. We can hope that Lufthansa will expand this program to include other departure cities — including the US airports Lufthansa serves. Until then, you’ll have to utilize this new program on your next trip to Germany.

Bottom Line

While the current version of Lufthansa Surprise isn’t going to be useful to most US-based travelers, we applaud Lufthansa for launching a unique way to book flights. Hopefully Lufthansa will expand this program to include departures from its US airports. In an industry that often plays copycat, it’s always possible that US-based carriers will launch similar programs to give travelers a cheap option for last-minute (and surprise) getaways.

Featured image of Marseille, France courtesy of Shutterstock.

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