A Posh British Christmas – Part 2: Planning to Get Home

A few weeks ago, I shared my plans to go to England in style this Christmas by using some Delta SkyMiles for a fun redemption on Virgin Atlantic. When I wrote that post, however, I didn’t yet have a plan to get home. That’s changed now!

Star Alliance is the Way to Go

For my return flight, I looked towards Star Alliance for options. Star Alliance is comprised of 27 member airlines, including United, Air Canada & Lufthansa. They offer a good variety of ways to cross the Atlantic and generally have pretty good availability.

There are a variety of point currencies that can be used to book Star Alliance flights, two of the most notable being Air Canda Aeroplan miles and Avianca LifeMiles, both of which are transfer partners with American Express.

The two programs have their pros and cons, but generally Aeroplan offers lower mileage rates for business class but more taxes and fees, and vice versa for LifeMiles.

The Holy Grail: Lufthansa First Class

There are several highly sought after redemptions in the points and miles world; badges of honor if you will for those who have flown them. Singapore Suites is an example, as is Garuda First Class. But one of the more accessible and reasonable options is Lufthansa First Class.

Caviar? Sure thing! A dedicated first class terminal? Absolutely. Porsche car transfer from terminal to aircraft? You better believe it!

Hoping this is me!

If available, Lufthansa First Class is a relatively cheap mileage redemption using Aeroplan or LifeMiles. With LifeMiles, a one way from Europe to North America will run 87,000 miles and as low as $30 in taxes and surcharges. Aeroplan charge slightly less miles at 70,000 for a one-way flight, but their taxes are higher, somewhere around $400-$700 depending on the route and origin.

The main reason it is hard to book Lufthansa First Class is that space is only opened up about 14 days prior to departure. This makes it tough to plan around, and without flexibility it can be elusive to book. As a result, one needs a backup plan to ensure they can get home!

A Backup Plan

For my Lufthansa First backup plan, I decided to go with Aeroplan for my redemption as they have markedly better customer service and its relatively easy to change flight plans ($100 per change). I got to work looking for a workable routing from LHR to MSP, and ended up with a pretty good itinerary, currently in business class:

The above routing cost 55,000 Aeroplan miles and $731 CAD ($550 USD) in taxes and fees. That’s a painful expense, but considering the one-way cash fare for this route would tip north of $5,000 its a relative bargain!

I transferred 44,000 of those miles from American Express, and the other 11,000 were acquired by converting Hong Kong Airlines ‘Fortune Wings Club’ miles that we earned on our mistake fare to Hong Kong earlier this year.

Air Canada has a nice business class cabin on the 787, so if I am unlucky finding Lufthansa F space I will still have a comfortable ride home. But I’m really hoping to find an itinerary something like this, which I spotted today for a flight tomorrow:

My dream Lufthansa First class routing from LHR-FRA-ORD-MSP in first class!

The good news is that flights can be changed up until two hours prior to departure with Aeroplan, so you can bet I will be watching the availability like a hawk over Christmas! Wish me luck!

What questions do you have about Lufthansa First Class, Aeroplan, or mileage redemptions? Leave a comment below!