Lufthansa has ended all transfers from hotel loyalty schemes into Miles & More.
A few days ago we reported that IHG Rewards Club had stopped all transfers to Miles & More. On Thursday, Lufthansa suspended all transfers between its Miles & More program and hotel loyalty schemes including Marriott Bonvoy, Radisson Rewards etc.
It is a big blow to Miles & More, which has also had to terminate transfers from a local shopping programme. It is unclear whether this is a temporary suspension or not.
It is related to the ongoing lawsuit against Miles & More in which a passenger is suing Lufthansa for €21,000 on the basis that his miles form an e-currency that he is entitled to withdraw as cash.
The Lufthansa defence is that Miles & More points have no cash value. However, this defence is undermined by the fact that you can buy Marriott, Hyatt, Radisson, Hilton and IHG points and immediately transfer them to Miles & More, so the transfers had to be stopped.
If you can, indirectly, buy Miles & More points then they clearly have a value, it is argued. This is not a new argument – Lufthansa stopped selling Miles & More miles directly a few years ago after similar issues arose – but this time it seems more serious.
Lufthansa is not licensed in Germany to issue ‘e-currency’, so any success in this court case is likely to have deep ramifications.
Not only is the withdrawal of transfers without notice, it is also backdated. According to a statement from Marriott Bonvoy:
“Points to miles transfers from member accounts that were made through May 20, 2019 and any transfers occurring after that date will be returned to the member’s account.”
Bad news for anyone who has already transferred points in the last couple of weeks.
It will be interesting to see how this story develops. Without the flexibility of earning via hotel loyalty schemes the program is significantly less valuable. Because Miles & More now has revenue based earning, the miles you get from flying can be very low indeed – a recent Flyertalk post said:
“I was just credited 18 miles for my business class flight from Geneva to Zurich ……”