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The New 2021 Miles & More Points – Back to FREQUENT Flying?

In an evening session with German aviation experts and frequent travelers in Frankfurt, Lufthansa today revealed their new Miles & More status points system, which will become effective at the beginning of 2021. It is quite a simplification, which is not necessary all good or bad. Thus, I give you a brief overview in these posting and my personal opinion. There are a lot of minor difficulties and questions, which might not be relevant to understand the key concept.

 

What is Miles & More currently doing?

There are separate calculation systems for the status miles and the award miles. The status miles are majorly dependent on the booking class and the distance of the flight. If you for example bought a very cheap economy ticket, you will receive significantly less status miles than the person, who is sitting right next to you, but is traveling on a flex ticket. For the award miles, Lufthansa introduced a revenue-based system not too long ago for their own Miles & More Airlines only. I will skip it in here, as it is not going to change. It is also quite confusing as the system differs depending on the issuing airline.

 

How are the new Status Points calculated?

The first two key changes are:

  • There will be no more status miles, but Status Points. There are also Qualifying Points, which are Status Points earned for a Miles & More Airline operated flight (regardless of the issuing airline). These airlines are namely Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian, Eurowings, Brussels Airlines, LOT and Croatia Airlines. Adria Airlines is also part of the list, but currently not operating. If you for example fly Singapore Airlines, you will earn Status Points, but no Qualifying Points.
  • Any status is just valid for one full calendar year at least. The status will incept once you reached the target of status points
Status Points & Status Levels

The new system will become valid at the 1st January 2021. Any flight on that day and thereafter will be handled according to the new rules, regardless when the flight has been in fact booked.

You reach the status level when you meet all of the following criteria. Like nowadays, you have to fly Miles & More Airlines to become HON Circle member:

Status Level Status Points Qualifying Points
Frequent Traveler 160 80
Senator 480 240
HON Circle Member 1,500
Earning Status & Qualifying Points

The system to earn Status Points is extremely simplified in the new Miles & More world – the only criteria is the cabin class you are flying in and whether the flight is a continental or intercontinental one. There is still some confusion what an “Intercontinental” flight is, but initial thoughts that the IATA areas are the basis for it seem to be wrong.

Cabin Class Continental Intercontinental
Economy 5 15
Premium Economy 5 20
Business Class 10 50
First Class 10 70

The calculation of points is still done by segment. If you fly economy from London to Frankfurt and transfer on to Vienna in Economy, you will receive 5 + 5 = 10 points. Lufthansa confirmed that Express Rail services will be included. The price or the booking class does not play any role in this calculation any more. There are also two key previous benefits, which are no longer available from 2021 onward: first of all, you could become Frequent Traveler by flying 30 segments with Miles & More airlines. This is no longer the case. However, if you fly 32 segments (32 * 5 Points = 160) with these carriers, you will become Frequent Traveler anyway, so that the effect is minor. One key change, however, is that there is no Executive Bonus any more. With that, Miles & More status customers in fact needed less miles to re-qualify for their respective status (or for a higher level) than non-status members.

 

What Does That Mean in Practice?

There are two key changes: first of all, you have to fly a certain amount of flights with Miles & More airlines. By that, Miles & More is definitely honoring your loyalty towards the franchises.  I feel that this is a very understandable step by the airline and their frequent traveler program. If you very frequently fly economy class, you may even become HON Circle member, which was impossible in the old system (which only counted Business Class and First Class flights for that).

Similar to British Airways Executive Club

British Airways has a very similar system, which gives a fixed amount of Tier Points in Premium Economy, Business and First, regardless of the fare. There is only some differentiation for Economy by booking class. However the weighting of the different cabin classes is very different between the Executive Club and Miles & More. Here is an example comparison, based on a flight from Europe (Frankfurt / London) to New York JFK. In brackets, the Tier Points / Status Points are normalized to the cheapest economy ticket as 1.00)

Cabin Class (to JFK) BA Executive Club New Miles & More
Economy (lowest) 20 (1.00) 15 (1.00)
Economy (low) 35 (1.75) 15 (1.00)
Economy (flex) 70 (3.50) 15 (1.00)
Premium Economy 90 (4.50) 20 (1.33)
Business Class 140 (7.00) 50 (3.33)
First Class 210 (10.5) 70 (4.67)

You see that the British Airways Executive club has a very different philosophy in their points system and honoring the more expansive booking and cabin classes significantly higher.  On the Miles & More side, you are definitely on the downside of the new system, when you are flying Premium Economy or First – these cabin classes are no comparably underrated. For example, when you flew as a status guest from Frankfurt to JFK in First, you earned 12,529 miles one-way, including Executive Bonus. Compared to 964 miles you earned in the cheapest economy class, this is 13 times more. As you see above, this difference is nowadays down to a factor 4.67.

Status which has been earned in 2020 will stay in 2021. Like today, the status will be given calendar year based. If you become Frequent traveller in June 2021, it will be valid from that point and for the whole year 2022. It will expire in February 2023 if you do not re-qualify. Soft Landing will stay in place (i.e. if you are Senator one year, you will be at least Frequent Traveler following one). Like today, each requalification leads to two (Senator) or four (HON Circle) e-Vouchers. However, of course, the requalification is working annually now.

 

The good news: Lifetime Status

There has always been the chance to become Lifetime Senator at Lufthansa. However, the airline never gave a transparent criteria for that and never confirmed that you have to be over 60 years old, been a Senator for ten years with an average of 100,000 status miles per year at least. With the new Miles & More points system, you officially have the change to become

  • Lifetime Frequent Traveler once you gathered 7,500 qualifying points
  • Lifetime Senator once you gathered 10,000 qualifying points and in addition had ten years of Senator status (not necessarily consecutive years).

There will be some sort of history of the qualifying points taken into account, likely by using the currently useless Status Star Points. The most likely conversion is that two current Status Star Points will convert into one lifetime qualifying point.

 

Is that fair? My Thoughts on the new Miles & More…

To me, the annual re-qualification and the downgrade of Premium Economy flights (which is my favored cabin class) will be tough. Nevertheless, I feel it is a fair system. I do like the Lufthansa Group, I promote them (despite the strikes currently) at colleagues and friends and like to travel Lufthansa / Eurowings also on shorter distances. I like the idea that my loyalty to the company is (at least in theory) rewarded. There is a value to select Lufthansa Group again – which was quite doubtful when you received some 150 status miles per leg for a flight to Helsinki which cost you 300 Euro. And of course, it is likely the easiest to reconcile system in the industry now.

Does the new system allow Mileage Running?

It will impact mileage running, definitely. I could imagine that for European mileage collectors, the rather short (and cheap) just intercontinental destinations like Egypt or Middle East become more attractive. Very long-haul flights may become less attractive. Business Class tariffs with opportunities to transfer will be even more in focus than today. This is very similar to the British Airways Executive table above, which does have other point systems for long and very long flights with a marginal impact. The frequent traveler community expected something much worse – I feel that overall, Lufthansa did a very wise and balanced job in here.

 

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