Score Lufthansa first class for 20,000 points and $991 with new LifeMiles promotion

Nov 13, 2019

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Avianca’s LifeMiles program may not be known by many travelers, but it’s a great way of scoring Star Alliance awards for cheap. Between reasonable redemption rates, easy ways to accumulate miles and no fuel surcharges, it’s the best way to score incredible rewards — like Lufthansa first class.

And if you’re interested in these amazing redemptions, now’s a great time to take action, even if you don’t have enough LifeMiles or transferable points in your account to take advantage of these great redemptions. That’s because now through Nov. 20, you’ll get 115% bonus miles when transferring Avianca LifeMiles to friends and family, and that lets those in “multi-player mode” to score LifeMiles awards for far fewer points and a reasonable amount of cash.

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Transferring miles costs $15 per 1,000 miles transferred, so if you have existing LifeMiles — or have points you can transfer from a transferable program — you’ll effectively be able to mint LifeMiles for just 1.3 cents per mile.

Related: Everything you need to know about Avianca LifeMiles

How does this work? Let’s step through the process to show how it can be an excellent opportunity to score some fantastic premium-cabin redemptions, even if you’ve never heard of LifeMiles before now.

First, the basics. LifeMiles is a transfer partner of:

So, even if you don’t have LifeMiles, you can get some quickly just by transferring from one of these programs. In addition, LifeMiles has a miles + cash booking option that allows you to purchase as much as 57% of the miles you need during the process of booking at a rate as low as 1.5 cents per mile.

Combine these elements with this transfer promotion and LifeMiles’ reasonable redemption rates (plus low taxes and fees), and that means right now you can book:

  • Business class one-way from U.S. to Europe: 14,000 Amex or Citi points + $736 total out-of-pocket
  • First class one-way to Europe: 20,000 Amex or Citi points + $991 total out-of-pocket

Business class to Europe

Here’s an example of how this can work in practice. Say you want to fly business class to Europe. LifeMiles charges 63,000 per person for the one-way business-class flight.

Related: Review of Lufthansa business class New York to Frankfurt on the 747-8

Start by transferring 14,000 Amex Membership Rewards or Citi ThankYou Points to one traveler’s LifeMiles account. Transfers between accounts must be in increments of 1,000. Luckily, you’ll have exactly 14,000 miles to transfer to the other person’s account, paying $210 to get 16,099 bonus miles.

That gives you a total of 30,099 LifeMiles, which is still 32,901 miles short of the miles needed. However, you can book the award using the LifeMiles + Money option to buy the remaining 33,000 miles for $495 at a rate of 1.5 cents per mile:

In total, you’ll spend 14,000 Amex or Citi points plus a $210 transfer cost to produce another 16,099 miles plus $495 for 33,000 miles through LifeMiles+Money and $31 in taxes/fees, for a total of $736 out of pocket to purchase a one-way business-class flight to Europe.

Let’s run through the same redemption starting with different numbers of Amex or Citi points transferred:

Business class U.S.-Europe Miles Cost Miles Cost Miles Cost
Amex or Citi points transferred 14,000 15,000 16,000
Miles transferred from account #1 14,000 15,000 16,000
Transfer bonus 16,100 $210 17,250 $225 18,400 $240
Total LifeMiles in account #2 30,100 32,250 34,400
LifeMiles + cash purchase 33,000 $495 31,000 $465 29,000 $435
Redemption amount 63,000 $31 63,000 $31 63,000 $31
Total out-of-pocket $736 $721 $706


The upper deck of a Lufthansa 747-8, configured in a 2-2 business-class layout (Photo by JT Genter/TPG)
The upper deck of a Lufthansa 747-8, configured in a 2-2 business-class layout. (Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy.)

Lufthansa first class to Europe

Now let’s run through the same example — but in first class. Avianca LifeMiles are especially valuable to use for booking Lufthansa First Class, as the program doesn’t pass along the pricey Lufthansa carrier surcharges. LifeMiles charges 87,000 miles for one-way first-class awards between the U.S. and Europe, and taxes and fees only add around $31 per person.

Related: 6 tips for booking Lufthansa first-class awards

To get started, you’ll want to transfer 20,000 Amex or Citi points to one account. By then transferring these 20,000 LifeMiles to another account, you’ll effectively purchase 23,000 more miles for $300:

Next, head to LifeMiles and book a one-way Lufthansa first-class ticket for $691 plus the 43,000 LifeMiles you’ve generated so far. All in, you’ll pay 20,000 ThankYou points plus $991 for a first-class award ticket to Europe.

Other options include:

First class U.S.-Europe Miles Cost Miles Cost Miles Cost Miles Cost
Amex or Citi points transferred 18,000 19,000 20,000 21,000
Miles transferred from account #1 18,000 19,000 20,000 21,000
Transfer bonus 20,700 $270 21,850 $285 23,000 $300 24,150 $315
Total LifeMiles in account #2 38,700 40,850 43,000 45,150
LifeMiles + cash purchase 49,000 $735 47,000 $705 44,000 $660 42,000 $630
Redemption amount 87,000 $31 87,000 $31 87,000 $31 87,000 $31
Total out-of-pocket $1,036 $1,021 $991 $976


(Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.)

Related: Want to book Lufthansa first class? Focus on these routes

Bottom line

LifeMiles is a program many beginner and intermediate mileage collectors may have never heard of and/or are afraid to start using. Considering the complexities of the program in the past, that’s completely fair.

However, LifeMiles’ online booking system has improved, and the program offers truly excellent redemption options, both for mileage cost and out-of-pocket cost. The system still definitely has its quirks and can be frustrating to use at times, but it’s certainly worth considering if you’re looking to book excellent awards.

If buying LifeMiles at 1.3 cents per mile sounds good, don’t forget that you can also mine LifeMiles for as little as 1.35 cents per mile through “Club LifeMiles”.

Featured photo of Lufthansa First Class by Julian Mark Kheel/The Points Guy.

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