We always strongly advise against spending your miles on economy award flights. This is mainly due to the fact that the fuel surcharge is usually so high that a normal economy ticket would cost almost as much. However, there are a few situations where such an economy award ticket could be useful, e.g. if the miles will soon expire and are not sufficient for a business class flight. If this is the case, an early bird ticket is probably the best option for Miles&More.
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What is an Early Bird Ticket?
An early bird ticket is available for non-stop flights with Lufthansa, SWISS, and Austrian. These flights must be booked at least 30 days in advance and a minimum stay of 4 days (or a Sunday) applies. You pay around half (or even less) of the miles that you would otherwise need, but the ticket can neither be canceled nor rebooked.
How Many Miles Does the Ticket Cost?
There are only 4 categories: 17,000, 20,000, 30,000, and 40,000 miles. All domestic flights cost 17,000 miles. If you fly within Europe, the flights will cost 20,000 miles. For intercontinental flights, the destinations are divided as follows:
|Frankfurt||Amman, Baku, Boston, Delhi, Dubai, Cairo, Montreal, Mumbai, Nairobi, New York, Tehran, and Tel Aviv|
|Munich||Boston, Charlotte, New York, and Tel Aviv|
|Vienna||Amman, Cairo, New York, Tehran, and Tel Aviv|
|Zurich||Boston, Dar es Salaam, Delhi, Dubai, Cairo, Montreal, Mumbai, Muskat, Nairobi, New York, and Tel Aviv|
|Frankfurt||Atlanta, Austin, Bangkok, Chicago, Dallas, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Male, Mauritius, Mexico City, Miami, Orlando, Beijing, Philadelphia, Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco, Saõ Paulo, Shanghai, Singapore, Tampa, Toronto, and Washington|
|Munich||Bangkok, Chicago, Delhi, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Montreal, San Francisco, Saõ Paulo, Singapore, and Washington|
|Vienna||Bangkok, Chicago, Los Angeles, Malé, Miami, Montreal, Beijing, Shanghai, and Washington|
|Zurich||With SWISS: Chicago, Johannesburg, Los Angeles, Miami, Beijing, San Francisco, Shanghai, and Singapore|
With Edelweiss: Colombo, Havanna, Malé, Mauritius, Mahe, and Tampa
|Frankfurt||Bogotá, Buenos Aires, Cancún, Johannesburg, Cape Town, San Diego, San José, and Tokyo|
|Munich||Miami, Nanjing, Beijing, Qingdao, Shanghai, Shenyang, and Tokyo|
|Vienna||Cape Town, Mauritius, and Tokyo|
|Zurich||With SWISS: Bangkok, Hong Kong, Saõ Paulo, and Tokyo|
With Edelweiss: Cape Town, Cancun, Denver, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Orlando, San Diego, Ho Chi Min, San José
When is Such a Ticket Worthwhile?
Most of the time, an economy class award ticket is not worthwhile because of the high surcharges. However, there are a few exceptions where it might be worth taking a look at:
When it has to be a Nonstop Flight on an Expensive Date
If you really want to fly non-stop, it can make sense to book an early bird ticket on days when non-stop flights are very expensive. This can save a lot of money. Here’s an example:
You want to fly from Frankfurt to Rio de Janeiro, and Lufthansa would like you to pay more than €1,700 on the date in Economy Class!
Since the early bird tickets have very good availability, you could book one in such a situation:
With just 30,000 miles you’d save about €1,225 on that date – a huge discount! However, if you are a bit flexible when it comes to the flight selection, you could also fly on that day, e.g. with Tap for €498. So – even cheaper and without spending miles:
In this case, we would of course rather recommend booking with TAP. But if you are really completely inflexible and don’t want to leave at around 18:00, but really only at 22:00 because of important appointments, you can save a lot of money with Early Bird.
Within Europe (on Expensive Routes)
Within Europe, an early bird ticket is more often useful, especially on expensive routes such as to Iceland. Let’s take that as an example:
If we want to take a 4-hour flight from Frankfurt to Iceland, it often costs around €300 – regardless of the airline. However, if you book an early bird ticket, things look a bit different:
So if you pay 20,000 miles (instead of the usual 35,000 miles), you’ll save around €200, i.e. about one cent per mile – that’s not that bad at all.
If the Miles Expire Anyway
At Miles&More, award flights are actually only worthwhile from Business Class onwards. Nevertheless, that’s of no use if you don’t have enough miles for a business class flight. So if you have around 30,000 miles that are about to expire, you can at least save some money, even if it’s not a lot. Here’s an example:
We want to go from Frankfurt to Hong Kong. The cheapest flight, regardless of the airline, costs €699:
If we take the Early Bird Ticket, we pay 30,000 miles + €500 instead:
This will save us around €200. 30,000 miles for a saving of €200 is not an optimal use of the miles, but if they expire soon anyway, and you really want to fly that flight, you can at least save those €200. Without the Early Bird, the same award ticket would cost 80,000 miles (+ fees).
Unfortunately, there are hardly any use cases where the Early Bird Ticket is really worthwhile. As always with Miles&More, the surcharges are so extremely high that a paid economy class ticket, especially if it doesn’t necessarily have to be a Lufthansa flight, is often even cheaper. However, if you are in one of the few situations in which you want or need an economy award ticket, you really save a lot of miles by using these early bird tickets.