The answer to your question is complicated, but it basically comes down to t
his. If you travel in PAID premium cabins, you should accrue to British Midl
and’s frequent flyer program. The reason is because with the exception of Si
ngapore Airlines and South African, they offer 300 percent for F, 200 percen
t for C, and 100 percent for even discounted Y on UA.
Moreover, once you get to Gold Status, which the first year takes 83,000 mil
es and 55,000 miles each subsequent year – see the post below (bearing in mi
nd that first counts for 3 and business counts for 2), they turn all of your
status miles into redeemables. So you get 625% for paid F, 425% for paid C
once you cross that threshold.
They also offer one way awards and cash and miles. And the redeemable mile l
evels are similar to UA.
In contrast, Miles and More has the same 300% for F and 200% for C, but the
redemption levels are FAR higher. And Lufthansa has this absolutely ridiculo
us rule called the “Three Region Award” which no one on Flyertalk ever discu
sses for some reason. Here’s what it means: if you want to fly JFK-DXB, the
only way to do that on LH metal is to transit in either FRA or MUC. But sinc
e you step foot in Europe, even on a connection, instead of it being a 180k
in F for USA-Middle East, it is 240k. Even though on LH metal, there is no w
ay to avoid transiting Europe. This is borderline deceitful.
The only time Miles and More is a good idea for anyone is if they are HON. H
ON is the best frequent flyer status of any program on any airline in the wo
rld, and comes with the single best benefit of any program – guaranteed Y an
d C award space at regular redemption levels if any revenue seats are open.
This coupled with the best customer service on the planet, and arguably the
best lounges in the world (arguably), make HON a good pick.
But if you are not going to make HON, don’t pick LH, pick BMI.
This leads us to UA. UA is the best choice if you fly on discount economy fa
res. Here you’d get generous mileage bonuses even at the equivalent of CO Go
ld. Also, you get Economy Plus Access on United. Also, if you can make 1K, y
ou get up to 8 CR1s (North American upgrades on any paid fare except governm
ent) and 6 SWUs (international upgrades from almost any fare except for the
bargain basement fares) which are the most generous upgrade certificates in
the airline kingdom (along with AA VIPs). The last thing is the Starnet bloc
king (i.e. certain seats on certain carriers are blocked for UA mileage rede
mption even if they are open for redemption using any other carrier). The St
arnet blocking is just ridiculous because there is no notice, and we live in
a society predicated on notice.
So, to summarize: if paid premium, then BMI. If paid economy, then UA. If ex
clusively LH for 100k in first for two years, then LH.
Oh and if you pick BMI, you get free RCC at the gold level. With UA, you don
‘t, so that’s about $400 a year depending on status level.
Oh, and if LH buys BMI, this analysis goes out the window 🙂
Hope this helps.