The Lufthansa Miles & More award chart seem to be perfectly engineered. It’s almost impossible to find great value redemptions in the Miles & More award chart. I redeemed last year with Ethiopian Airlines from Tel Aviv to Addis for 15,000 miles and ~$100 and have been looking through the award chart when flying from Western Africa to Dubai for the same price in miles.
But I found something much more interesting Central Asia to Hawaii is priced at 35,000 miles one-way in Business Class on Miles & More. That’s more than 50% less than most competing award charts!
Star Alliance member Asiana has been adding flights to Almaty (ALA) and Tashkent (TAS) over the years. Now that Kazakhstan has devalued their currency the frequency of the ALA flight has dropped but TAS is still flown to 3x a week. Turkish Airlines also flies to both cities (of course) but the routing via Istanbul to the US and onwards is very difficult to get an agent to price (see below).
Asiana also flies direct from Seoul (ICN) to Honolulu (HNL) or you can connect with United, ANA or Air China from Seoul. Asiana also has been reducing fuel surcharges left and right recently. Miles & More does charge every penny of fuel surcharge usually (with a few exceptions).
Now how can you book this flight?
I first looked up flight using the ANA award tool after I struggled to find results on United.com. I searched segment by segment and eventually found availability for the connection with a layover in Seoul both on Asiana.
Note that you can fly both ways – you can start in Honolulu or in Central Asia. However
Once I had my flights I called the US call center and the agent would not even let me read my flight list – he immediately told me that I can’t book such a flight as this is a 3 region award and I would not have enough miles. I mentioned the award chart and he plainly said it’s wrong.
I did not give up and called the German call center (you can speak English or German with them). The agent was friendly and listened but he said right away that there is “no miles redemption allowed” for this route. I asked why and he mentioned ‘no availability’. I explained that I found availability in the ANA tool and he said he sees the same thing but no redemption is possible. Basta!
I said good bye and called agent number 3 in Germany again. The agent would say that this routing would not be possible since I would need to fly via Istanbul and Los Angeles and that this would be 95,000 miles one-way in Business.
Now I almost gave up but note the inconsistent (read random) reasons given by the agents? A few days later I called the UK Miles & More service center and read my flights to the agent again. She immediately priced it and gave me a quote of 35,000 miles and GBP 106 in taxes and fees. Seconds later my ticket was issued 🙂
To return to the mainland I opted for a cheap redemption of Virgin Atlantic miles on Virgin America for just 12,500 miles.
What do we learn from this?
Miles and More miles can be very valuable. I redeemed them for the 17,000 miles deal in Business the United Airlines classy transcon, for 17.5k to the Caribbean and Colombia (in Economy) and now for this lovely flight of almost ~8,000 miles in Business Class.
Also it pays to call outstation service centers for your redemption. They often lack the attitude (US call center agents seem especially bossy) and they can make things happen (if the computer lets them).