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Lufthansa vs Air France: Which to Choose?

Lufthansa vs Air France: Which to Choose?
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If you are trying to decide between Air France and Lufthansa for your next trip, you are in the right place.

Both airlines have a long history and are well known names, particularly in Europe. I’ve flown both over the years and generally enjoyed my experience.

As with many large airlines, they are more similar than not in MOST things. However, there are some important distinctions that might tip your decision.

Main Differences Between Air France and Lufthansa

These are the key differences I’ve identified between Air France and Lufthansa:

  • Fleet Size: As of 2023, Lufthansa has a fleet size of approximately 280 aircraft, while Air France has a fleet size of around 212 aircraft.
  • Network Coverage: Lufthansa serves over 210 destinations in 74 countries, while Air France serves 200 destinations in 94 countries.
  • Alliance Affiliations: Both airlines are part of the Star Alliance, but their subsidiary airlines may have different affiliations.
  • In-flight Services: Both airlines offer in-flight entertainment, meals, and beverages, but the specifics may vary. For example, Air France is known for serving French cuisine and wines on its flights.
  • Baggage Policy: The baggage allowance may vary based on the ticket class and destination. Lufthansa generally allows 1 piece of carry-on baggage and 1 piece of checked baggage for Economy class, while Air France allows 1 piece of carry-on and 1 accessory for Economy class.
  • Loyalty Programs: Lufthansa operates the Miles & More program, while Air France runs the Flying Blue program. Both offer benefits like priority boarding, extra baggage allowance, and lounge access, but the specifics and eligibility criteria differ slightly.
  • Subsidiary Airlines: Lufthansa’s subsidiary airlines include Swiss International Air Lines and Austrian Airlines, among others. Air France’s subsidiaries include Air France Hop and Transavia France.

Global Footprints: Destinations and Hubs

Lufthansa’s Global Reach

Lufthansa, with its primary hubs in Frankfurt and Munich, maintains an impressive network of more than 211 destinations worldwide. As a part of the Star Alliance, the airline offers around 5,200 weekly flights, ensuring a wide range of destination options for its passengers.

Air France’s Global Network

Air France, on the other hand, operates from its primary hubs in Paris and Amsterdam. As a member of the SkyTeam alliance, it provides an astounding 1,500 daily flights to 200 destinations across 116 countries. This extensive network gives Air France a slight edge in terms of the number of destinations served.

Winner: Air France

Credit Card Partnerships: Earning Potential and Perks

Lufthansa’s Credit Card Partnerships

Lufthansa’s Miles & More® World Elite Mastercard® offers a substantial earning potential with 2x miles per dollar on Lufthansa purchases and 1x miles on all other purchases.

Additionally, it provides perks like two complimentary Lufthansa business class lounge vouchers and an annual companion ticket. However, it lacks partnerships with flexible points programs, limiting your options to earn miles.

Air France’s Credit Card Partnerships

Air France’s KLM World Elite Mastercard® grants 3x miles on Air France purchases and 1.5x miles on all other purchases. The card also offers an impressive 5,000 miles on your card anniversary, provided you spend at least $50 each year.

Plus, Air France has strategic partnerships with multiple flexible points programs, amplifying your opportunities to earn miles.

Air France vs Lufthansa Credit Cards Compared

There’s lots of fine print (make sure to read yourself), but this is my high level take on how their branded credit cards compare:

Features Air France Credit Card Lufthansa Credit Card
Sign-up Bonus High bonus miles after initial spending Lower bonus miles after initial spending
Rewards Rate Higher rate on Air France purchases Lower rate on Lufthansa purchases
Annual Fee Lower annual fee Higher annual fee
Foreign Transaction Fee No foreign transaction fee Foreign transaction fee applied
Redemption Options More flexible redemption options Less flexible redemption options
Added Perks Extra benefits like priority boarding, etc. Fewer added perks
Partner Airlines More partner airlines for earning/redeeming Fewer partner airlines
APR Lower APR Higher APR
Late Payment Fee Lower late payment fee Higher late payment fee
Credit Needed Lower credit score needed for approval Higher credit score needed for approval

Winner: Air France

Loyalty Programs: Rewarding Your Loyalty

Lufthansa’s Loyalty Program

Lufthansa’s new loyalty program, set to be launched in 2024, promises a transparent point system and the potential for lifetime elite status. The program is designed to streamline the process of earning and redeeming rewards, making it more user-friendly for travelers.

Air France’s Loyalty Program

Air France’s Flying Blue program, shared with KLM, offers a straightforward process to redeem miles and provides the “miles & cash” option to pay up to 25% of your ticket with cash. The program also boasts monthly promo award flights, offering up to 50% off on award flights, and four levels of elite status based on flights, credit card usage, and partner activities.

Air France vs Lufthansa Loyalty Programs Compared

In summary, here’s my high level assessment of the key advantages of each airline’s loyalty program:

Features Air France (Flying Blue) Lufthansa (Miles & More)
Enrollment Free Free
Miles Earning Earn miles on flights, hotels, car rentals, and shopping Earn miles on flights, hotels, car rentals, and shopping
Miles Validity Miles do not expire as long as the account is active Miles expire after 36 months if not used, unless the user is a frequent traveler or higher status
Tier Levels Ivory, Silver, Gold, Platinum Member, Frequent Traveller, Senator, HON Circle
Tier Benefits Priority check-in, extra baggage, seat selection, lounge access (higher tiers) Priority check-in, extra baggage, lounge access, upgrades (higher tiers)
Partner Airlines SkyTeam Alliance members Star Alliance members
Special Promotions Regular promotional offers for earning extra miles Less frequent promotional offers
Ease of Attaining Status Lower threshold to attain status compared to Lufthansa Higher threshold to attain status
Family Miles Pooling Available for up to 5 family members Not available
Use of Miles Flights, upgrades, shopping, experiences Flights, upgrades, shopping, hotel stays, car rentals
Customer Service Generally positive reviews Mixed reviews

Winner: Air France-KLM Flying Blue

Additional Charges: Keeping Your Budget in Check

Lufthansa’s Extra Fees

Lufthansa charges for a variety of services, including changes to flights, with fees ranging from $250 to $1,000 per passenger, in addition to any fare difference. However, all passengers are entitled to at least one free checked bag.

Air France’s Extra Fees

Air France waives many fees associated with booking, changes, or flight cancellations when made online or at airport kiosks. While some charges may apply over the phone or on the day of departure, passengers can save 20% on excess baggage fees by purchasing allowances online ahead of their flights.

Winner: Air France

In-flight Experience: Comfort and Service in the Skies

Lufthansa’s In-Flight Experience

Lufthansa offers four classes of service: economy, Premium Economy Plus, business class, and first class. With complimentary meals, drinks, and on-board entertainment for all passengers, the airline ensures a pleasant journey. First-class passengers enjoy additional luxuries, such as access to personal assistants, first-class lounges, and limousine service.

lufthansa food

Air France’s In-Flight Experience

Air France, too, provides four levels of seating, ranging from economy to La Premiere First Class. All passengers have access to onboard entertainment and Wi-Fi, while those in La Premiere enjoy personalized service, culinary meals, and a private suite for the ultimate comfort.

Winner: Tie

Other Air France Competitors

Here are some of Air France’s top competitors. These are worth checking out as they tend to overlap routes and compete on fares.

  1. American Airlines: As one of the largest airlines globally, American Airlines offers flights to many of the same destinations as Air France.
  2. British Airways: British Airways is a significant competitor, especially for flights to and from Europe and the UK.
  3. Lufthansa: This German airline is a major competitor in the European market, offering similar routes to Air France.
  4. Delta Airlines: Delta is a significant player in the international market, often competing with Air France for similar routes.
  5. Emirates: Emirates is known for its extensive network and often serves many of the same international destinations as Air France.
  6. KLM: Although KLM and Air France are part of the same group, they often compete on similar routes, especially within Europe.

Our editorial team has also compared Air France to a few other top competitors:

Other Lufthansa Competitors

Lufthansa shares similar competitors, but some nuances:

  1. British Airways: Known for its extensive global route network, including many of the same destinations as Lufthansa.
  2. American Airlines: It serves many of the same transatlantic routes as Lufthansa, making it a significant competitor.
  3. Emirates: Competes with Lufthansa on several Asian and Middle Eastern routes.
  4. KLM: As another European carrier, KLM services many of the same routes as Lufthansa.
  5. Swiss International Air Lines: Being part of the Lufthansa Group, they share similar destinations but still compete on various levels.
  6. Turkish Airlines: It has a comprehensive network in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas, overlapping with Lufthansa’s routes.

Similarly, here are some Lufthansa comparisons we’ve completed so far:

Final Verdict: Air France or Lufthansa?

In the face-off between Lufthansa and Air France, Air France is the slight (but distinct) winner in my book due to its wider network of destinations, superior credit card partnerships, and a more straightforward loyalty program.

However, the choice between the two ultimately depends on your personal preferences and travel requirements.