a glass of wine on a table in an airplane

Three words: caviar, private terminal, Porsche…

When Starwood Preferred Guest merged into Marriott Rewards, there was huge panic. What if Marriott got rid of the Starwood points transfers to airlines?! They didn’t. Marriott Rewards kept the lucrative airline transfer opportunities in tact, allowing Marriott Rewards customers to convert hotel points into airline miles at will. Why did people care so much, you may wonder? Because the Starwood, and now Marriott Rewards programs give access to airlines loyalty programs which no others do, and some of them are insanely lucrative. Like, 50,000 points for one of the best first class seats in the world. Here’s how to turn 120,000 Marriott Rewards points into 50,000 brilliant airline miles, to enjoy Lufthansa first class…

a glass of wine on a tray in a planeAbout Lufthansa First Class

It’s amazing. The seat and bed are more comfortable than any picture does justice, the ground experience in Frankfurt is outstanding and you just feel like royalty. Lufthansa First Class in a word, is refinement. It’s not the most bling bling, nor is it the most private, but it feels incredibly exclusive and refined and is just such a neat thing to do with points. With this awesome points redemption, you can start in Europe, or anywhere in the US or Mexico. Even West Coast works for the same points. Here’s a video which explains the finer points…

Big Time Workaround

To be clear: if you had Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Points, those have now converted at a ratio of 1:3 into Marriott Rewards. So if you had 40,000 SPG Points, you’ll now have 120,000 Marriott Points. However many Marriott Points you have, for every 60,000 you transfer, you get 25,000 airline miles. Stick with that round number. It’s a lot easier than explaining the finesse. By transferring your Marriott Rewards Points to points with Asiana, a Korean airline, you’re able to unlock amazing points rates for flights on Lufthansa. Just 50,000 Asiana miles (120,000 Marriott Points) is enough for one way first class between the US and Europe, in either direction.

Asiana Club

Asiana is a leading Korean airline, which has fended off the temptation to devalue its points, by not making them very accessible. Without flying a lot, one of the only ways to create Asiana Club points is by transferring Marriott Rewards Points. For that reason, you’ll need just 50,000 points for a one way flight in first class, rather than a whopping 110,000 on United or most other major airlines. That’s quite a big savings. There are caveats, and a major one is the timing for all these things to work their magic.

a white airplane in the skyCrazy Timings

Before you go transferring all your points out of Marriott, there are things to keep in mind. For starters, Lufthansa generally only releases first class seat using points to other airlines like Asiana around three weeks prior to travel. There are exceptions, but that’s generally what you’re working with. Next, it can take 10 days for points to move from Marriott Rewards to Asiana, so it’s not like you can just find availability and transfer points over immediately. Basically: you need to invest in this. You need to transfer points over, knowing you’ll need to be flexible. For this kind of value, it’s worth it.

Transfer And Search

Once you’ve committed, you’re in. You’ll want to transfer your 120,000 Marriott Rewards points as a whole parcel, or as two separate 60,000 point pieces. For every 60,000 Marriott Rewards Points you transfer, you receive a bonus of 15,000 Marriott Points. That extra 15,000 is what brings you 25,000 airline miles for every 60,000 Marriott Points, and thus the 50,000 needed. See, it’s all too confusing. Just transfer in groups of 60,000 or 120,000, after creating an Asiana Club account, to bring you to 50,000 Asiana Points. Wait for all the points to fall into place, and then start using United.com, yes another airline, to look up Lufthansa First Class seats using points. You just press “book with miles” on the United website, and search for flights operated by Lufthansa, which have “saver” availability in first class. They’ll appear as 110,000 points, but ignore the rates, just find the availability.

Call Asiana To Book

You took hotel points from Marriott, turned them into airline miles with a Korean Airline called Asiana, then you searched a U.S. based airline website (United.com) to find seats on a German airline called Lufthansa, to fly on Lufthansa, after booking with the Korean Airline. If that ish’ isn’t convoluted, what is? But anyway, you’re now here. When you find a seat via United.com, you can call Asiana Club to book your seat. Feed them the date and the Lufthansa flight number. You’ll incur taxes and fees around $250, but you can get that back in caviar and champagne alone. Enjoy.


Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

  1. Great article and recommendation. However, I am focused on redeeming my Marriott points this year for the top Starwood hotels (e.g. St Regis, Luxury Collection, etc.) which are currently priced as Cat 7 (60k points/night). In 2019, these hotels will increase to Cat 8 (85k-100k/night).

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *