Miles & More, a frequent flyer program operated by Lufthansa and several other European carriers such as Austrian and Swiss, will be moving to a revenue-based award program on March 12. This means you will soon earn miles based on the cost of your ticket, not the distance that you fly. (HT to Harriet Baskas)
Many U.S. carriers have already moved to this model (with the exception of Alaska Airlines), as have some European carriers like Air France/KLM (which will make the move around the same time as Lufthansa).
Lufthansa even released a short video to explain that miles will depend on (1) how you book your flight, (2) the operating airline, (3) and your frequent flyer status level will also factor in determining your award miles. You can also use an interactive tool to determine your multiplying factor.
Interestingly, Lufthansa isn’t using several different multipliers at each status tier. There will only be three multipliers across all carriers in the Miles & More program, and all status tiers will have the same multiplier.
- If you have no status, you’ll earn 4 miles per euro.
- If you have Frequent Traveler, Senator, or HON Circle status, you’ll earn 6 miles per euro when you fly Lufthansa, SWISS, Austrian Airlines, United Airlines, Air Canada, LOT Polish Airlines, Croatia Airlines, Adria Airways, or Air Dolomiti.
- If you have Frequent Traveler, Senator, or HON Circle status, you’ll earn 5 miles per euro when you fly Brussels Airlines, Eurowings, and all other Miles & More partner airlines.
Worth noting: travel purchased now, before March 12, will continue to earn mileage credit under the current rules even if travel occurs after the new policy takes effect. The old system will also continue to apply if you purchased your ticket from another carrier outside the Lufthansa Group or through a package tour — one assumes because Lufthansa has no insight to the price of your ticket in these circumstances.
There’s no evidence I can find that Lufthansa will be changing the elite status tiers of Miles & More or changing the redemption process. These changes appear to affect only how miles are earned.
What a Lump of Coal
I generally consider revenue-based programs disadvantageous to the customer because it makes it more difficult to earn miles for a free flight. I also think it doesn’t make much economic sense. Lufthansa’s press release claims they will issue the same number of miles as before, so they aren’t saving money there.
That implies they’re trying to punish some customers to reward others. As if economy passengers are already earning boatloads of miles on cheap tickets. (These are likely infrequent flyers.) But it’s wrong to think that some customers are cheapskates who should be punished. Everyone on a plane — even those with low fares — plays a role in filling every seat so the flight can be profitable.
Never forget that airlines choose to offer low fares to match demand, reasoning that high fares would leave too many seats unsold. Most airlines even make it difficult to intentionally buy a more expensive fare on their website and default to the lowest price. It’s depressing to see airlines resort to issuing fewer miles, rather than trying to find creative ways to encourage customers to pay more for better service and comfort.