Stacking sweet spots with Miles & More

Last week, we found out that Barclays has increased the offer on the Lufthansa Miles & More credit card to an all-time high of up to 75,000 mile. Getting the full bonus requires $20,000 spend in the first year, which is really steep — yet this card has piqued my interest. While most blog posts about the offer (including mine) highlighted Mileage Bargains, that’s not actually why I find this offer intriguing. The Miles & More award chart has some intriguing sweet spots, particularly for those who also have Citi ThankYou points and can stack sweet spots to put together a cool trip.

Lufthansa Miles & More sweet spots without stacking

Before we look at stacking sweet spots with other currencies for some really epic deals, It is worth mentioning that there are a couple of good sweet spots for North American travelers that don’t rely on piecing together multiple award tickets. Here’s a look at their award chart.

Those rates are for round trip travel. Here are some awards that stand out to me:

North America to Australia / New Zealand / Oceania: 71K each way in business class

Kangaroo Lazing in the Afternoon

United Mileage Plus charges 90K each way; Aeroplan charges 80K each way. Lufthansa Miles & More charges just 71K each way between North America and the land Down Under. The catch? Lufthansa does not allow transiting a third region for this price (they have a separate 3-region award that’s worth a separate discussion on another day). Since you can’t transit a third region for 71K miles, that means you’ll need to take a flight that goes directly from North America to Australia / New Zealand / Oceania.

Those who have searched for flights to the region know that Air New Zealand never opens business class award space and United isn’t much more generous with theirs. Enter Air Canada. They fly directly from Vancouver to Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane and they are adding seasonal service to Auckland this December. If you plan in advance, availability isn’t impossible to find on non-peak days of the week. For example, here’s a look at availability for 2 passengers in business class from Vancouver to Sydney (nonstop only) in May and June 2020.

Keep in mind that this is winter in Australia, but average May high temps are still 68º and in June it’s 63º. If that’s too chilly for you, hop a flight up to Cairns, where averages during those months are 81º and 79º, respectively.

North America to the Far East: 71K each way in business class

 

Lufthansa actually charges the same rate (71K one way in business class) from North America to the Far East as well as to Central Asia or Southeast Asia — but since you can not transit a third region, the “Far East” gives you the most partner options. Partners flying direct from North America to this region include: Air China, Air Canada, ANA, Asiana, EVA Air, and United. Keep in mind that Lufthansa does pass on some surcharges, but if JuicyMiles has the correct rates loaded, they don’t look like much in some instances.

For reference, United charges 80K on the same route. Air Canada charges 75K but also over $160 in surcharges. American only charges 70K, though Lufthansa gives you access to more partners.

Stacking sweet spots

Where I think Lufthansa Miles & More gets really interesting though is in the ability to stack sweet spots with other programs, specifically with Turkish Miles & Smiles if you don’t mind positioning to Hawaii (who would?).

Hawaii to the Far East or Australia / New Zealand / Oceania for 35K each way in business class

Hawaii has suddenly become a really interesting point from which to hunt for sweet spots since it is now possible to position to Hawaii so cheaply. At 7.5K miles from the mainland US in economy class or 12.5K miles if you find business class space (keep in mind that there must be United saver availability to book with partner miles), one could transfer Citi ThankYou points to Turkish Airlines to position to Hawaii and stack with a couple of major Lufthansa Miles & More sweet spots.

Lufthansa charges just 35K miles in business class from Hawaii to either the Far East (they list that region as China (Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan), Japan, and South Korea) or to Australia, New Zealand or Oceania (which includes a lot of pacific islands).

The Far East gives you a fair number of options since United, ANA, and Asiana all fly between Hawaii and Far East destinations (Air China ends its Honolulu service this year, though you can of course fly United or ANA to Japan and then connect to Air China to Chinese destinations). Even with a number of options potentially available, award space can be hard to find (but it’s not impossible).

While award space in business class on Air New Zealand is no more plentiful from Hawaii than it is from Los Angeles, you may find some business class space to the pacific islands served by United.

The advantage here in stacking awards is the ability to potentially fly from North America to Asia for a total of 47.5K one-way in business class with a stopover in Hawaii.

To review, that’s because Turkish Airlines charges just 12.5K one-way for domestic Star Alliance business class award tickets. That means one could (theoretically) fly to Hawaii for 12.5K one-way in business class on United using Turkish Miles & Smiles (a 1:1 Citi transfer partner). Stop as many days as you want, then book a separate business class ticket to the Far East for 35K miles one-way in business class with Lufthansa Miles & More miles.

  • Fly mainland US to Hawaii for 12.5K one-way in business class, stop as long as you want (pending availability)
  • Fly Hawaii to Far East (China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Japan, or Korea) for 35K one way in business class

You do have to find saver award availability in both instances, which is particularly hard in business class between the mainland US and Hawaii (though not impossible — we have one reader who already booked & flew a family of 6 in lie-flat business class seats!). However, if you’re able to do it, that’s a total of 47.5K miles for one-way business class to the Far East with a stop in Hawaii for as long as you want (pending availability, of course).

But it gets even better: Lufthansa allows one stopover in each direction on a round trip award. If you book round trip award from Hawaii to the Far East, it would be 70K total in business class and you could have a stopover in each direction — potentially seeing 3 cities in Asia. If you’re stacking that with stops in Hawaii in each direction (since your flights to/from Hawaii would be separate awards with Turkish Miles & Smiles), you could plan a really epic trip with the welcome offer on the Lufthansa Miles & More card plus just 25K Citi ThankYou points (transferred to Turkish Miles & Smiles). See this post at Travel is Free for more on stopovers with Lufthansa Miles & More, including some pretty interesting examples.

It’s worth noting that Lufthansa isn’t the only airline with a sweet spot here: Virgin Atlantic charges just 35K each way for business class flights on Delta between Hawaii and Japan. For those interested in traveling just to Japan (without any stopovers / connections), that may be an even more intriguing deal because Virgin Atlantic is partners with each of the major transferable bank currencies (not including Capital One).

Economy class travelers: Stack to get to Asia / Australia / Oceania for just 27.5K miles

Economy class availability is always easier to find and some folks just want to stretch their mileage as far as possible. Economy class fliers should listen up: utilizing the same technique outlined above, one could fly in economy class from the mainland US to those same Far East / Australia / New Zealand / Oceania destinations for a total of 27.5K miles one way. Availability is much easier to come by, even for a family, and with stopovers this could be the best sweet spot out of the bunch for those comfortable enough in economy class.

Again, the stack here starts with Turkish Miles & Smiles: fly economy class on United to Hawaii for 7.5K with Turkish. Then use Lufthansa Miles & More to book, for example, Air New Zealand economy class from Honolulu to wherever you’d like in the region for 20K miles one way. That means one could potentially get to Australia with a stopover in Hawaii for a total of 27.5K miles one way. Those interested in pacific islands could make out really well here since Air New Zealand flies to places like American Samoa, the Cook Islands, Fiji, and Tonga to name a few (here’s a link to Wikipedia’s list of destinations for Air New Zealand). If you booked a round trip award, you could theoretically do this:

  • Fly from the US to Hawaii for 7.5K Turkish Miles & Smiles miles (stopover as long as you wish)
  • Fly from Hawaii to the pacific island of your choice (served by Air New Zealand) and back for 40K round trip with a stopover in Auckland…or potentially 2 stopovers if you can find them)
  • Stop in Hawaii again on the way home and then fly back to the mainland US for 7.5K Turkish Miles & Smiles miles.

In total, that trip would cost you 15K Citi ThankYou points (transferred to Turkish Miles & Smiles) and 40K Lufthansa Miles & More. That’s round trip. And you may just be able to find award space for an entire family.

Back to that Lufthansa Miles & More credit card welcome offer: once completing the minimum spending requirements, you would have at least 95,000 miles (75K from the bonus plus 20K based on $20K in purchases necessary to trigger the full bonus). That’s enough to cover two round trip tickets between Hawaii and Australia / New Zealand / Oceania (again, with a stopover in each direction).

Alternatively, pull off the same idea to the Far East: just 20K each way from Hawaii. In the Far East, it would be far easier to pull off one stopover in each direction and maybe an open jaw. I think you could do something like this:

Map from GCMap.com.

  • Washington DC to Honolulu (via ORD): 7.5K miles
  • Honolulu to Tokyo to Beijing (stopover in Tokyo on the outbound): 20K miles
  • Shanghai to Seoul to Honolulu (open jaw return with a stopover in Seoul): 20K miles
  • Honolulu to Washington DC (via ORD): 7.5K miles

Again, you’re looking at 40K Lufthansa Miles & More miles plus 15K Citi ThankYou points round trip for all of that.

Also worth noting here: Thai Miles & Smiles charges the same 40K round trip and is a Citi ThankYou transfer partner (though I’m not sure if they allow any stopovers).

Stack together for a mini round-the-world ticket

I’m sure one could do better than this, but a fun idea that came to mind was stacking together sweet spots from different currencies to do something like this for a little round-the-world ticket:

  1. Fly Newark to Zurich on Swiss Air in economy class for 16.5K LifeMiles (transferred from Membership Rewards or ThankYou points).
  2. Fly Thai business class from Zurich to Bangkok to Sydney for 52.5K Turkish Miles & Smiles (transferred from ThankYou points)
  3. Fly Air Canada business class (or a mix of Air Canada and United) from Sydney to Vancouver to Newark (maybe via ORD?) for 71K Lufthansa Miles & More miles.

In total, that’s 140K miles to get around the world, mostly in business class. If you have the Membership Rewards points to book that as an ANA round the world ticket, great. But if not, you could piece together a few currencies for a really cool trip.

Bottom line

Lufthansa Miles & More is what most would consider to be a niche program, and since there are no currencies that transfer to Miles & More at the moment (Lufthansa suspended transfers from Marriott months ago with no clear indication as to if or when they may come back), I understand why people may think of it that way. However, with the reach of Star Alliance and the ability to stack sweet spots from Hawaii with the Turkish sweet spot to Hawaii makes the increased Miles & More credit card much more interesting to me than it had previously been. I’m not sure I’ll get it as the timing isn’t right for me to be able to take advantage of the sweet spots, but for those who want to mix currencies for an epic trip I think it’s worth a look.

About Nick Reyes

Nick Reyes is a (fairly) regular guy with an animalistic passion for maximizing the value of miles and money to travel the world in comfort and style. There is little in life that he loves more than finding a fantastic deal and helping you shop smarter & harder to achieve your travel dreams.

More articles by Nick Reyes »

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docntx
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docntx

Are transfers to M&M from Marriott possible now?
There was a message they were frozen due to litigation.

CaveDweller
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CaveDweller

Nick
I hope this is around in Jan. for booking my Dec. SYD and Auckland trip ..Maybe TK will up their game or I bet cancel this deal .
Good post more places to use my 100k TY points .
CHEERs

JustSaying
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JustSaying

Back in May I was alerted that QA First was open from LAX-SYD and I snagged two one ways for 70k Alaska miles plus $40.60. Then another alert came a blog a couple weeks later that highlighted the new A350 that Fiji is going to fly between SYD-NAN-LAX. Since the post included the flight numbers to book I was able to use Alaska miles 55k and $101.93 per person to get home. So there is availability to Down Under. You just have to horde and pounce.

Larry
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Larry

The 40k faraway challenge really has been brilliant. Very entertaining and so much interesting stuff has come out of it like the Turkish 7.5k Hawaii trip option. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that it might be tough to rely on that being around for an unlimited amount of time. It’s starting to feel a bit unsustainable. My guess is that Turkish call centers have received more calls in the last few weeks than they’ve had in a years from those looking to book United. If Turkish were a niche program that did not have a big bank transfer partner maybe it would stay underground, but I worry that making plans for the future for 7.5k bookings might lead to disappointment.

Who knows. Inertia can be powerful and it has taken some programs years to scale back the outsized values, like the Club Carlson second night free or the British Airways 4k American domestic flights. But, eventually, they seem to come around.

rj123456
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rj123456

Can you have more than one Barclays Miles&More card simultaneously?

George
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George

Small error in the post – NZ flies to APW in (Western) Samoa, not American Samoa