For those who have been following my tweets, I traveled last week on an open-ended journey that started with a sudden desire to fly in Lufthansa’s first class cabin for the first time. After a nice 12-hour layover in Frankfurt to experience Lufthansa’s impressive First Class Terminal and lounges, I continued on to Berlin for 2 nights and then booked a spontaneous ticket to Marrakesh, Morocco for a few nights, before returning home via Frankfurt in Singapore Suites class (surprise availability!).
I realized it’s been a while since I’ve traveled on an “aspirational” first-class trip, and I wanted to rekindle my desire to travel spontaneously, like I have in the past. In mid-November, I saw that Lufthansa availability was looking pretty good from my home airport, Newark. The best thing about the EWR-FRA Lufthansa flight is that it’s operated by the airline’s 747-8i, which my fellow AVGeek peers deem as a pretty awesome way to fly. I mean, look how pretty she is:
Booking the Award
I normally tend to book Star Alliance awards with United miles, but the 110K-miles price tag for a one-way first class award was not looking too tempting for me. Instead, I decided to explore other options, and ultimately decided to redeem 62,500 Air Canada Aeroplan miles. You could also book a round-trip award for 125,000 miles, plus include a free one-way award in the US. Since I wanted a flexible return, I only booked a one-way award.
Air Canada is a transfer partner of the American Express Membership Rewards program. I transferred points from my Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN, and they showed up in my Aeroplan account instantly. Other Membership Rewards cards include The Platinum Card® from American Express, The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN, and the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express.
It’s also worth mentioning that there’s currently an awesome transfer bonus going on December 21 with Aeroplan where you can earn up to a 40,000 mile bonus. Also keep in mind that the program is set to slightly devalue on December 15, so you might want to lock-in some awards at the current pricing before that date (the change fee is only 90 CAD). Of course, you can always book a spontaneous trip like I did too (Lufthansa generally opens up award space to partners within 14 days of travel).
To really take advantage of the current transfer bonus, consider transferring Starwood points from the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express. Both cards come with a sign-up bonus of 25,000 points after meeting the minimum spend requirement.
Starpoints transfer to Aeroplan miles at a 1:1 ratio; and for every 20,000 points transferred you’ll get 5,000 bonus miles. As an example, if you transfer 50,000 Starpoints over, you’ll receive a 10,000 miles from the transfer bonus on top of the 10,000 miles you’d receive for transferring in increments of 20K. 50,000 Starpoints would generate 70,000 Aeroplan miles.
The only killer with booking with Air Canada was that I had to pay close to $500 in fuel surcharges for my ticket (!!!), plus since I wanted a longer layover to enjoy the lounges I had to call-in my award and I couldn’t get out of paying the 25 CAD phone booking fee.
Sure the high cost of fuel surcharges is a turn-off, but I’d personally rather pay a bit more in fees while saving nearly half of the amount of miles. Plus, for a flight that regularly prices out at around $12,000, $500 doesn’t sound too bad after all.
Other options for booking Lufthansa first class awards include:
- Air Canada Aeroplan: 62,500 miles + fuel surcharges (going up to 70,000 miles on December 15, 2015)
- Singapore KrisFlyer: 80,000 miles + fuel surcharges
- United MileagePlus: 110,000 miles
- LifeMiles (new): 87,000 miles one-way between the US and Europe.
As far of the flight and experience as a whole, it was out of this world! Stay tuned for a full trip report in a bit. Feel free to follow me on Instagram for some sneak-preview shots.