Being a relatively recent convert to Star Alliance, I was aware of the fact that when using miles for rewards, not all programmes are created equally.
Over at oneworld, nearly every carrier has access to each others award inventory. A business class redemption on British Airways is open to Qantas members, to American, to Royal Jordanian members equally. Each airline group does not prioritise its own.
However over at Star Alliance, things are quite different, with two major members restricting availability to the wider alliance.
Miles and More is the frequent flier programme for the Lufthansa Group (Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian, Eurowings, Brussels Airlines, LOT) and provides better availability to Miles and More members than it does to the rest of Star Alliance. In addition, outside of two weeks to departure, First Class can only be booked by Miles and More members. Further, Swiss First Class is restricted to Senators and HON Circle members only.
Singapore Airlines does something very similar. Business class awards on the A380 and 777-300ER aircraft (basically anything long-haul) are restricted to it’s own members. First class is embargoed entirely to the rest of Star Alliance and their brand new suites product on the A380 isn’t bookable using miles at all.
So I was doing some searching online and noticed something interesting – Miles and More seems to have excellent availability for business class redemptions on Singapore Airlines. In some cases even better than Singapore Airlines “saver” inventory.
Example 1 – Singapore to Sydney
This is where I started noticing this. First off, lets look at what United Airlines shows for a random date in February.
As you can see, economy only availability.
Next, I checked ANA.
Again, we’re seeing economy only. I also looked at Avianca LifeMiles, although I believe that there are specific restrictions with that programme booking on Singapore Airlines.
However it did show the same consistent picture that United and ANA did. Next, I looked at what Singapore Airlines are offering their own members in Business Class.
There’s an extra flight there, and all are available at both the saver and standard redemptions levels.
Finally, I checked Miles and More. That offered me fewer flights, but had availability in Business Class.
Example 2 – London to Singapore
London to Singapore is a long route, and pretty premium heavy. Redemptions can be hard to come by so again, as a baseline, looked at what United Airlines were offering for a random date in February.
As I expected, on the 15th February, they’re only offering economy awards. Next, lets see what Singapore Airlines is offering its own members.
There’s one flight, the SQ305, the same one that United has only economy availability for, but it’s offering only a Standard award i.e. one that uses a substantially larger number of miles.
Finally, I looked at Miles and More.
Interestingly, this was showing business class availability at Lufthansa’s “standard” rate, which is actually around half that of the “standard” Singapore Airlines rate.
I was intrigued so next I looked at trans-pacific flights, which are notoriously hard to find decent redemptions on.
Example 3 – Singapore to Los Angeles
I must confess, I didn’t bother looking at United.com to see if it had availability here, so went straight to the Singapore Airlines website to look for a random date in April.
Again, we’re seeing “standard” availability on the SQ12 and the SQ8.
Cross referencing this against Miles and More, we see this.
Transpacific flights, in business class for “only” 67,000 miles using Miles and More miles.
It seems that Miles and More members have access to Business Class Singapore Airlines redemptions at the “standard” rate – this can be up to half what they charge their own members.
However, the only caveat I would add to this, is that I have not yet purchased one of these flights. If someone does want to try, and let me know in the comments if it does actually work, I’d be very grateful!
For those that remember BMI’s Diamond Club, back in the day, they also had significant access to Singapore Airlines business class inventory. Perhaps the Lufthansa Group has continued that agreement, but due to the fact it’s not been bookable online, it’s never been remarked on?
Either way it appears that an excellent use for Miles and More redemptions is using them against Singapore Airlines business class.