I’ve received several emails from readers over the past couple of days commenting about how bad Lufthansa first class award availability is, especially when booking 10+ months out.
Historically Lufthansa has hands down been the most generous airline in the world when it comes to releasing saver first class award space. Back in the good old days they had 16 seats in the first class cabin on 747s, and it wasn’t unusual to see eight or more award seats on many flights. At the very least they released two award seats per flight, and that’s if they were feeling stingy. This is exactly why United instituted Starnet blocking back in the day, because it was costing them far too much to pay Lufthansa for all those first class seats Mileage Plus members were taking up.
Then back in April they started only selling eight first class seats on the 747, given that they’re slowly reconfiguring their 747s with a new first class product, and in the process taking out half of the seats. In the meantime they’re blocking every other first class seat, making for some of the most expensive seat blocking of any airline.
Ever since they reduced the number of first class seats on the 747, availability across the board has gotten worse. Much worse. At first it wasn’t too bad, and they just made it near impossible to get first class award space on some 747 routes, like Los Angeles to Frankfurt. Then they started making it near impossible to get first class award seats on the A340-600 routes between Los Angeles/San Francisco and Munich.
And now they’ve just about completely eliminated first class award space 10+ months out. There’s no doubt that airlines don’t all release award seats as soon as the schedule opens up, though historically there were some routes that were gold mines when it comes to award availability, like Detroit to Frankfurt, Charlotte to Munich, etc.
For example, up until last month I saw two first class award seats on Charlotte to Munich for just about every single flight when the schedule opened. Now I just had a quick look at award space from Charlotte to Munich, and there’s not a single day with availability for all of next October. And I checked the actual availability, and not a single first class seat is sold.
Let me take it a step further — I don’t see a single first class award seat on any Lufthansa flight after September 1 of next year. Not a single seat (though admittedly I haven’t searched every date on every route, so there might be some counter examples, which I’d love to hear about).
So anyway, I’m just mentioning this because it’s a radical change in inventory management at Lufthansa. I have several clients that come to me year after year to book their European vacations 11 months out with tons of flexibility that have started to love Lufthansa. It’s sure hard to all of a sudden say “well, despite having over a month of flexibility and planning 11 months out, there’s not a single seat available.”
Though it kind of makes me wonder if they’re considering eliminating first class on many routes as opposed to just changing their approach towards award tickets.
Feel free to share your frustrations below. 😉