Skip to content

Lufthansa postpones loyalty program changes until 2022 amid pandemic

May 27, 2020
9 min read
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

UPDATE, Nov. 15: This article was originally published with errors due to a misinterpretation of the program's new requirements. It has been updated accordingly.

The Lufthansa Miles & More program has seen some notable changes over the last year, including increased award rates and the removal of hotel transfer options. Last year, we learned about an additional update coming down the road: how you'll earn elite status. The coronavirus pandemic delayed those changes, however.

On May 27, Lufthansa announced that it would postpone the changes to its frequent flyer program for a year. This means that the current regulations will continue to apply until Dec. 31, 2021, and that the new system (detailed below) will then begin on January 1, 2022.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

There's a lot to unpack here, so let's dive in.

New elite qualification criteria

The first major change in the new program is a shift in the metric used to qualify for elite status each year. In the past, there were several different numbers that played a role in both elite qualification and additional perks, including status miles, HON Circle miles, select miles and Status Stars points. Under the new program, there will be just two (related) metrics:

  • Points: These will be earned on participating Miles & More carriers (including Lufthansa, SWISS, Austrian and Brussels Airlines) as well as all Star Alliance partners.
  • Qualifying points: These will be earned solely on participating Miles & More carriers (Lufthansa, SWISS, Austrian, Brussels Airlines, Eurowings, LOT Polish Airlines, Croatia Airlines, Adria Airways, Luxair and Air Dolomiti).

Starting in 2022, in order to earn elite status in the Miles & More program, you must reach both metrics, per the following chart:

MetricFrequent Traveller statusSenator statusHON Circle status
Points160480N/A
Qualifying points802401,500

In other words, you must earn at least half of the total points required for the given status level as qualifying points. If, for example, you earn 160 points solely on United-operated flights, you won't enjoy the perks of Frequent Traveller status. However, if you earn 80 points on United and 80 on Lufthansa, you would reach that tier.

These points will also be used to determine a member's eligibility for added perks once they've gone beyond the threshold for a given status level. For example, Senator members will get 2 eVouchers (valid for one-class upgrades) when they reach 700 qualifying points, and they'll earn 15,000 award miles at 1,000 qualifying points.

Finally, it's worth noting that all qualifying points on Miles & More airlines will now count toward HON Circle status — including economy and premium economy tickets. The current program only allows business- and first-class flights to count toward that top-tier level.

Earning points

All tickets in a given class of service will now earn the same number of points or qualifying points. (Photo by Emily McNutt/The Points Guy.)

Of course, these numbers mean nothing without considering how many points you'll actually earn on flights, and here, I think the updates deliver on the program's marketing behind them ("easy to understand allowing more transparency"). Under the current system, there are many factors that determine how many miles you'd earn toward status, including the airline, type of trip (domestic European, international European and other worldwide flights), and fare class purchased.

Put simply, it's complicated. Flights within Europe earn fixed rates, while other international flights earn status miles based on the distance flown using a multiplier for individual fare classes that could range from 0.25x to 3x.

Under the new system, it's notably simpler. You'll earn points based solely on two factors: the class of service you book and whether the flight is within a continent or between two continents. Here are the number of points you'd earn per segment:

Type of flightEconomyPremium economyBusiness classFirst class
Continental551010
Intercontinental15205070

What's especially interesting here is that there will no longer be any differentiation between lower-fare tickets and higher-fare tickets in a single class of service. Regardless of whether you book a Lufthansa flight in K class (the lowest economy bucket) or Y (the highest economy bucket), you'll earn the same number of points. The current system offers 3-5x more miles for Y than T.

In many ways, this new earning scheme bucks the trend of shifting toward more revenue-based qualification for elite status. An economy ticket is an economy ticket is an economy ticket — regardless of the price you've paid.

Status validity

Perks like lounge access will only be valid for a single calendar year starting in 2022 (Photo by Daniel Ross/The Points Guy.)

Another notable change to the program is how long your status will last. If you reach elite status under the current version, you'd enjoy those perks for at least two calendar years. That's being consolidated into a single calendar year starting in 2022 — a move that matches how most U.S. airlines award status. Note that this single-year change also applies to qualifying for status. HON Circle currently gives you two years to qualify, but starting in 2022, that too will consolidate down to a single year.

Just note that all status earned up through Dec. 31, 2020 will still have a two-year period of validity. However, any status earned on the basis of points or qualifying points in the new system will only last a year.

Lifetime status

The final major shift in the Miles & More program is the creation of formal, lifetime elite status. In the current program, you'll earn Status Stars points as you earn and maintain elite status, essentially recognizing your long-term loyalty to the program. On Dec. 31, 2020, these will be converted to into qualifying points at a 2:1 ratio. You can then earn lifetime status by fulfilling the following criteria:

  • Frequent Traveller Lifetime: 7,500 qualifying points
  • Senator Lifetime: 10,000 qualifying points plus at least 10 full calendar years of Senator or HON Circle membership

However, the program is making sure that anyone who's already shown an extended loyalty to Miles & More is recognized. Members who have already earned four or five Status Stars will be awarded Senator Lifetime status at the start of 2022, while those who had earned three Status Stars will be awarded Frequent Traveller Lifetime status at that time.

What about the rest of the Miles & More program?

These changes are the only ones that will take effect in 2022. You'll still earn redeemable miles (which the program terms "award miles") in the exact same way you currently do, and there are no further adjustments to the program's award charts.

Our take

On the surface, these changes seem like a positive, as things will be simplified from the current version. However, whether you'll come out ahead or behind depends on your typical travel patterns. Travelers who frequently book other Star Alliance airlines that aren't a part of the Miles & More program will almost certainly find it harder to earn status, but surprisingly enough, those who typically book inexpensive fare classes on airlines like Lufthansa or Austrian Airlines may actually come out ahead.

Here's an example. Let's say that you regularly fly in the most discounted economy fare classes on Lufthansa-operated flights within Europe. Under the current program, you earn 125 status miles for each of these flights — whether they're domestic or short-haul international — so a round-trip itinerary would earn 250 status miles. You'd need to fly 140 of these round-trip flights to reach Frequent Traveller status and a whopping 400 to reach Senator status. In the new program, you'd earn 10 qualifying points per round-trip flight, putting Frequent Traveller and Senator status within reach after just 16 and 48 round-trips (respectively).

This also appears to extend to longer-haul travel. Let's say that you frequently fly from Frankfurt to Washington-Dulles in paid Lufthansa business class. You'd currently earn 4,081 status miles for each one-way flight in the most inexpensive business-class fare, meaning that you'd earn Frequent Traveller status after nine one-way flights or Senator status after 25 one-way flights. Under the new program, each one of these one-way flights would earn you 50 points and 50 qualifying points, so you'd need just five or ten one-way flights to reach these respective tiers of elite status.

Bottom line

The Miles & More program has typically had some complicated metrics for earning elite status and additional perks, so I must give them credit for the fact that this is being simplified. It's also great to learn of these changes more than a year ahead of time — as opposed to other carriers that have offered just a few months' notice.

However, whether or not these changes are positive depends on your typical travel patterns, so I encourage you to dive into the details on this page for additional information. As coronavirus restrictions relax in the coming months, you may find yourself looking for another program come 2022.

Featured image by picture alliance via Getty Image

TPG featured card

Best Marriott card for Business Owners
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 6X points
6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
2X2x points on all other eligible purchases.

Intro offer

Earn 100,000 points75,000 points
Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

Annual Fee

$125

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best Marriott card for Business Owners
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
2X2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

    Earn 100,000 points
    75,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $125
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees