Time to Redeem Those bmi Miles! First Class Awards Getting More Expensive…

bmi Diamond Club is increasing the cost of first class award redemptions by 25% effective May 1.

First Class award flights Miles only  Miles plus Cash 
Current  x 2 Miles x2      Cash x2
From 1 May 2009  x 2.5 Miles x2.5   Cash x2.5

In addition to charging 2.5 times the miles (instead of double) for first class compared to coach, whether for an all-miles or a cash and points award, they are also imposing a 10,000 mile surcharge each way for Lufthansa First Class.

It’s not 100% clear whether this applies to both all-miles itineraries or to cash and points itineraries as well. If the latter that would actually be an improvement, because currently cash and points awards cannot include Lufthansa First Class.

My assumption is that there’s too much availability in Lufthansa first, the it’s especially convenient for British-based bmi flyers, and that the first class redemptions on cash and points were just bleeding bmi’s bottom-line and so they closed off those redemptions. A 10,000-mile surcharge on those awards each way would at least mean bringing back Lufthansa first class redemptions on cash and points!

But it’s not as though the quality of Lufthansa First Class is 20,000 miles roundtrip better than other Star Alliance first class products, in fact other than Air China and the US-based airlines it’s probably towards the bottom of the pack among those carriers offering first class service.

The move to increase the number of miles for first class awards isn’t surprising, this program has just been too generous for too long, and the truly modest premium for first class awards made them too easy to redeem. Now business class awards will represent a better value for many.

The nice thing is that at least the change has been announced with a couple of months’ notice, so folks can get their redemptions in before the change.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. We stayed at both the Westin for a few days and the Sheraton for a few days. As a lowly Gold, the Westin upgraded us on a basic terrace view C+P reservation to a deluxe prime ocean view in the beach tower. The Sheraton upgraded us to a Partial Ocean View. Good upgrade experiences for Gold…

    That said, the Sheraton is by far my favorite of the two. The property is not as busy as the Westin, the rooms are higher quality, and the staff is much nicer. The Westin feels like a typical vacation resort, while the Sheraton adds a lot of charm. Can’t say enough good things about it….

  2. In answer to your question – no – you still can’t book Cash&Miles in 1st on LH and there are no plans to change that. (Confirmed on FlyerTalk this week).

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