SWISS First Class is amazing, perhaps it’s my third favourite (after Etihad and Lufthansa), as the cabin is gorgeous, the food is delicious, and the flight attendants are among the nicest. On top of that, I just really love Switzerland and Swiss culture.
While SWISS First Class is amazing, you can only redeem Miles & More miles for it.. and you have to be a Senator or HON Circle Member with Miles & More. If you are a mid or top-tier elite with Miles & More, SWISS First Class is practically wide open and is easier to redeem miles for than Lufthansa First Class.
However, there is a work-around and you can fly SWISS First Class using ANY Star Alliance miles.. it just takes a bit of hope, patience, and creativity. So how do do you exactly fly SWISS First Class using any Star Alliance miles? You wait until Lufthansa is on strike.
It may sound hard.. but in theory, it’s easier than you think. Sure, you’re limited to the 15 – 25 days Lufthansa’s flight attendants or pilots are on strike, per year, but it is possible. So how do you predict if Lufthansa will be striking? It’s quite easy, actually, Lufthansa will usually announce a few days before if a strike is possible and then usually confirm if there will be a strike 1-2 days before departure. This is your moment. Once a strike is announced, it takes a few hours for them to cancel flights and since Lufthansa First Class is available for booking at most 14 days before departure, you’re golden. Lufthansa First Class is even easier to book 1-2 days before departure.
The key is to book the Lufthansa First Class flight after the strike is announced, but before the flight is cancelled. This may sound risky, but remember that you can cancel most award tickets within 24 hours for free (with Miles & More, MileagePlus, etc.)… so you technically have nothing to risk (Aeroplan award tickets and some others are an exception and may not be refundable before departure.. always check first).
So how do you know which flights will be affected by the strike? Lufthansa usually announces it (i.e. “all short-haul flights” or “all long-haul flights from Germany”, etc.) So if the flight you booked doesn’t get cancelled and you’re within 24 hours of booking, you should be able to cancel for free (if your frequent flyer programme allows it).
Lufthansa First Class flight cancelled? Great news! At this point you can check SWISS First Class inventory to see how many seats are available out of which cities and then call Lufthansa to rebook you. They might provide other options first, but you can easily “feed” them the segments you want. You will first have to get to the SWISS First departure city on another airline (if SWISS First isn’t available from your origin).
For example, my friend and I were scheduled to fly Lufthansa First Class two weeks ago from Mexico City to Munich to London. Both flights ended up being cancelled and I promptly called Lufthansa (after checking SWISS First availability), and told the Lufthansa agent to rebook us from Mexico City to Houston to Newark on United and from Newark to Zurich to London on SWISS.. all in First Class. Not only were we rebooked on SWISS, we were rebooked from an award to revenue ticket and ended up earning ~18k award and status miles.
It is important to note that even though you are on an award ticket, in case of irregular operations, your ticket should be treated as a normal, revenue ticket. That means agents have the power to rebook you on other flights even if award space is not available. Obviously revenue space and seats still have to be available for you to fly.
The key important message here is to use irregular operations situations to your advantage. Always be one step ahead of the agents and know what you want, it makes your and their life easier since they can get you rebooked and ticketed in a few minutes instead of proposing you other flight combinations.
In our case, Lufthansa agents told us we’d be stuck in Mexico City for three days since nothing else is available. Because I was able to verify which flights were available (through hub-cities), we departed Mexico City right on time and arrived in London a few hours later than scheduled… and we even ended up earning miles for it.
Now obviously this method of how to fly SWISS First Class using any Star Alliance miles might not always work.. but in the meantime while Lufthansa is still “negotiating” with flight attendants and pilots.. you might just be lucky and fly SWISS First.