Reminder: Lufthansa only releases first class award space to partner airlines 14 days out

One of the most frequent questions I get via email involves Lufthansa first class. Years ago Lufthansa used to be the most generous airline when it comes to releasing first class award space. Back when they had 16 first class seats on the 747 it wasn’t uncommon to see at least half of them available for award tickets. However, now that they’ve shrunk their first class cabins to only offer eight first class seats on all aircraft types, and now that they’ve introduced a new first class product, they’re no longer so generous.

While Lufthansa Miles & More members have access to first class award space well in advance, Lufthansa now only releases first class award space to partner airlines at most 14 days out. That’s not to say that if they have first class seats for sale they’ll be available for awards at that point, but rather that this is the point at which they start releasing space.

How this fits into your travel plans

I realize I’m in a rather fortunate situation to be able to plan travel on a whim, so the 14 day rule doesn’t really impact me, since I’m just as happy to make travel plans last minute. Of course that’s not practical for most people with “day jobs,” as you get a set amount of time off, and you have to determine those dates in advance. So if you’re set on traveling somewhere, your best bet would be to book backup flights, and then change them within two weeks as first class award space opens up on Lufthansa. United is still somewhat generous when it comes to releasing first class award space, so you can always book them on the transatlantic flight, and then switch within two weeks of departure to Lufthansa. Alternatively you can book Lufthansa business class in advance, and then switch to first class within two weeks of departure.

How to predict whether Lufthansa will open up first class award space

Ultimately there’s no way to know for sure whether (and when) Lufthansa will release first class award space. Nonetheless there are some ways to make predictions. Given that there are only a total of eight seats in Lufthansa first class, you can always look up how full the flight is (since they display up to nine seats per cabin). For example, using ExpertFlyer I just looked up how many seats were left for sale on the Washington to Frankfurt flights on September 28, which is just over two weeks away:

Lufthansa only has two daily flights (the others are codeshare flights on United, which can be identified by the flight number starting with 9XXX). The first flight is “F8,” which means eight first class seats are for sale (in other words the cabin is completely empty), while the second flight is “F6,” meaning six first class seats are for sale. Both of these flights look really promising as far as award space opening up goes. If I had to guess I’d say the earlier flight will have award space open up at the two week mark, while space will open up on the later flight sometime between two weeks and departure.

To paint a slightly less optimistic picture, here are the flights from Los Angeles to Frankfurt, just over two weeks from departure:

As you can see, Lufthansa is only selling two first class seats on the earlier flight, and first class is sold out on the later flight. I wouldn’t expect to see any first class award space on either of these flights.

Finding Lufthansa first class award space

As I’ve mentioned before, United’s website does not accurately display Lufthansa first class award space. Asking my poodle about whether a given flight has Lufthansa first class award space is as useful as querying united.com.

So why isn’t the United website accurate?

  • It shows Lufthansa first class award space as being available more than 14 days out
  • It shows Lufthansa first class award space within 14 days of departure that isn’t actually available
  • It doesn’t show some Lufthansa first class award space that is available within 14 days

In other words, it’s completely and utterly useless. If you try to make a booking with any of the “phantom” space you’ll get an error message saying availability has changed.


Phantom Lufthansa first class award availability

The only accurate method for searching Lufthansa first class award space is the the ANA tool. You need to have a Mileage Club account in order to use it, though the space it displays is accurate. As you’ll see via the ANA tool, the above flight doesn’t have first class award space.


ANA tool accurately displays lack of availability

I should also mention that I haven’t found a pattern as to the time of day first class award space is released at the 14 day mark, so it’s not that much of a science, unfortunately.

Booking Lufthansa’s new first class

Lufthansa presently has several versions of their first class cabin.

All their Airbus 380s are equipped with the new first class product.


Airbus 380 first class

All their Boeing 747-8s are equipped with the new first class product as well.


Boeing 747-8 first class

Roughly half of Lufthansa’s Boeing 747-400s feature the new first class, though it’s a different version than what can be found on the Airbus 380 and Boeing 747-8, given that it features a seat and separate bed.


Boeing 747-400 new first class


Boeing 747-400 old first class

Roughly half of Lufthansa’s Airbus 330/340 aircraft feature the new first class (the same one found on the Airbus 380 and Boeing 747-8), and they’re all based in Munich. That means you have a great shot at new first class out of Munich on an Airbus 330/340, while you don’t out of Frankfurt.


Airbus 330/340 old first class

Aside from the above parameters there’s no way to know for sure whether you’ll have new first class in advance. However, you can make an educated guess based on this FlyerTalk thread. It lists the registration numbers of each reconfigured aircraft with links to the routes it has been flying, and if you study it for a bit you’ll see there are certain destinations that consistently get aircraft with new first class (like Osaka, Newark, and Shanghai on the 747-400, for example).

Why can’t I book Lufthansa first class award space through US Airways, even within two weeks of departure?

While Lufthansa does release first class award space to partner airlines within two weeks of departure, the exception is US Airways, since they block all Lufthansa first class award space. I guess with the number of US Airways Dividend Miles bookings in Lufthansa first class in the past, it was costing US Airways way too much money, and as a result they’ve entirely blocked Lufthansa first class on all routes. Now, you can try to get an agent to manually request the seats which in theory should make them available, though US Airways agents have specifically been told not to do this, so it can take some serious persistence.

What happened to Swiss first class award space?

Going back a few years, Swiss was just as generous about releasing first class award space as Lufthansa. I often remember seeing flights that were “F8 O8″ (meaning there were eight first class seats for sale, and all first class seats were available for awards). Then virtually overnight Swiss cut all their first class award space to the US in advance for their partner airlines and only started releasing it about 2-3 days out. It’s worth noting that they continued to release first class award space on other routes heading east, including to Tokyo, Hong Kong, Bangkok, India, and the Middle East. Unfortunately as of a couple of months ago they seem to have completely stopped releasing first class award space to partner airlines, which is a real shame since they have a great product.


Swiss Airbus 330 new first class

Anyway, hopefully this answers some common questions about Lufthansa and Swiss first class. If you have any other questions about it, ask away below and I’ll do my best to answer.

Comments

  1. maxwell says

    What’s up with Swiss business class release schedule? I can NEVER find any out of Bos yet LH has a fair amount of award travel avaialble.

  2. lucky says

    @ maxwell — Unfortunately Swiss doesn’t reliably release business class award space to the US either. They’ll occassionally release it in advance on their routes from Geneva to New York and Zurich to Montreal, though other than that it seems to typically be a few days out at most, if at all.

  3. Adam says

    Hi Lucky. Same question about LH business class to USA. Is it reliably released on any schedule, and do any of your ExpertFlyer guidelines apply to it?

  4. bluto says

    I was able to get LH F using US Airways miles back in June/July but it took me a LOT of calls. It was frustrating. I did not realize that they had been told not to manually do this. I had assumed I kept finding agents who didn’t know what they were doing.

  5. Steven says

    This post brings up an obvious question: what, then, is the most reliable way to find front-of-the-plane space from North America to Europe if you need to book earlier than a few days out?

  6. lucky says

    @ Adam — Lufthansa is pretty good about releasing business class space in advance, though it doesn’t seem to follow and schedule (in other words, it’s not like they release two seats on every flight 11 months out, for example). They also release more space closer to departure, though not as reliably as they do in first class.

  7. lucky says

    @ Bluto — Happy you got it eventually. It’s more that the clueless agents do it since they don’t know they’re not supposed to.

  8. lucky says

    @ Steven — Well the single most reliable transatlantic product for award space is Britsh Airways. Unfortunately they impose huge fuel surcharges which makes it a bit less interesting. That being said, American and United are reasonably good about releasing first class space as well. There are lots more transatlantic options in business class than first class.

  9. Tao says

    When you said booking backup flights with UA and switch to LH when their first class seats open up, you have to pay a change fee to switch carrier, right?

  10. lucky says

    @ Tao — That’s correct. Through United the change fee is $75 for a non-elite, $50 for Premier Silver, $25 for Premier Gold, and there’s no fee for Premier Platinum and Premier 1K members.

  11. Tao says

    @ lucky – then I have a better idea, book into coach or business if any seat is available on the LH flight you are looking for. When the first class open up, just call to change it. There shouldn’t be a fee if you were charged first class miles for the award when you booked the flight.

  12. lucky says

    @ Tao — Nowadays with United’s award rule they’re actually *supposed* to charge the different for upgrading, even to the cabin you paid for. Also keep in mind you can’t pay the first class mileage unless you have at least one segment in international first class.

  13. Steve says

    @Tao, but then you risk paying first class miles to fly coach on LH! In Lucky’s UA scenario, worst case scenario is that you end up in UA F.

  14. NYinSF says

    Sorry, I just want to clarify the change situation.
    One option is to book a UA first award and then change it, for a fee, to LH first.

    The other option is to book coach or business on Lufthansa and then change it when first opens up.

    In the second scenario, does one just book coach/business for coach/business miles and then pay a fee plus the difference in miles to change to first?

  15. lucky says

    @ NYinSF — In the second scenario you would indeed pay the mileage difference plus the change fee, so I don’t see any advantage to doing that.

  16. says

    You mention at the end that LX has recently “completely stopped releasing first class award space to partner airlines.” Can you expand on that more? Do you mean that they don’t offer any space on any route even 1-2 days before departure? Or do you mean that they have placed similarly heavy restrictions on east-bound flights as they previously had on flights to/from the US?

  17. MV says

    Thank you for this post. Now if the airlines would update their redemption charts indicating the 14 day rule! Wishful thinking?

  18. Tao says

    @lucky – I don’t see how ppl would not book at least one segment of first class if their goal was to book first class on LH. So unless that person never thought of this through, I’d say this is not a problem. On the other hand, UA’s “rules” are really not clear and open to interpretation on whether it’s free to change the cabin, so I think a few phone calls with different agents should solve the problem and make the free change of cabins work.

  19. lucky says

    @ MV — Since it’s not a formal, published rule I doubt we’ll see that anytime soon, unfortunately. And it’s always subject to change, I guess. :)

  20. Vik says

    Lucky, I’m planning to go to asia later this year, using my US Airway miles to fly at the front of the plane. Would I be correct in assuming that I’m more than likely going to be ‘stuck’ flying a combination of United, Air China and Asiana due to the lack of availability of other carriers? I can probably book within 2 weeks or pay the change fee, in order to get a better product.

    Thanks

  21. lucky says

    @ Tao — Except you need to book a segment in three cabin first class. If you just book two cabin first class you would be charged the business class price, which wouldn’t be helpful in securing first class. For most people it’s impractical to book a three cabin first class flight that’s NOT the transatlantic flight, no?

  22. lucky says

    @ Vik — If you’re using US Airways miles the first challenge will be the Starnet blocking. That being said, I’d highly recommend Air China via LAX (as they have a brand new product) or Asiana via ORD (as they have a new first class product on that route as well). Both are excellent products.

  23. Tao says

    @lucky, you are right. I guess it’s only practical when three-cabin flights are part of the person’s itinerary. And it’s really not that bad to pay the $75 change fee using UA first as backup.

  24. Antonio says

    Swiss still offers award space on intra-Europe flights, including Business Class. Just no long-haul.

  25. lucky says

    @ Antonio — Right, and they even offer some longhaul business class award space. Just not first class space anymore.

  26. MKM says

    Lucky,

    You still running into a lot of clueless agents at US Airways?

    Also, while we’re on the subject of F award space, when does CX release award space on their JFK/SFO/LAX-HKG flights?

  27. lucky says

    @ MKM — Clueless in what way?

    As far as Cathay Pacific goes, they tend to release space 11 months out and then again close to departure.

  28. Chas says

    @Lucky- I’ve found a bit more of a pattern than you as far as time of day goes for LH F space. On a recent BOS-FRA-NRT-FRA-BOS award, I actually took the time to collect a ton of data (pinged ANA tool several times a day for ~6 weeks looking at several flights, and kept detailed track of the results). In my limited study, 5 PM EDT was very often, though not always, the time of reckoning. More about my results here:

    http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/miles-more-lufthansa-austrian-swiss-other-partners/1341328-f-award-seats-lh-partner-ffps-9.html#post18876882

  29. MKM says

    Lucky,

    Oh right, I forget there’s an entire range of cluelessness with US Airways agents (geography, MPM limit, routing rules, etc). I was referring to the manual sell restriction – are there still a lot of agents who don’t know about it?

  30. lucky says

    @ Chas — Interesting data point, I’ll be sure to watch out for that now. I’ve never tracked it that closely.

  31. lucky says

    @ MKM — It definitely takes some work, but there are some US Airways agents still willing to do manual sells.

  32. Sergey says

    Lucky, how do you overcame the problem with LH F using US Air miles? If I am not mistaken you often use usair miles – like your recent trip to Bali and flew LH F fra- iad

  33. lucky says

    @ Sergey — You can try to request a “manual sell” which in theory would allow the agents to grab the space.

  34. Steelsnow says

    I’ll follow up for FM, do you *really* have a poodle, and how in the world do you care for it with all of the trips you roll on? How many loyality programs does it belong to?

  35. Dax says

    Interesting article.

    I have various accounts with UA, AA, and US miles. Are there any top-level airlines left that will still accept those points for First Class travel without requiring me to jump through hoops or stalker call the staff or wait until the last possible moment to sneak aboard like a points based stowaway?

  36. lucky says

    @ Lantean — Hey, they’ve gotta start somewhere! At least they’re consistent, unlike other airlines that randomly rotate aircraft.

  37. lucky says

    @ Dax — Yes, most airlines! Cathay Pacific, Etihad, Emirates (if you have JAL miles), Singapore (if you have KrisFlyer miles), Thai, Asiana, etc.

  38. Jorge says

    Ben

    Sorry for the question but , Can you then book LH business class using USairways miles?
    Can you do it in advance?

  39. David says

    Any chance of a post looking at award availability for a program’s own members, such as SQ KrisFlyer and LH M&M? How much better is it, and is it worthwhile? Like 2 F awards on a flight? Are there other programs like this?

    I might have to work harder to earn more AX MRs and SPG pts. (instead of AA, UA and UR pts.)

  40. Bill says

    If you book a United F connecting flight and Lufthansa F nonstop opens up, is it still just the change fee you mentioned earlier?

  41. lucky says

    @ David — Great idea, thanks for the suggestion! Post coming on it shortly.

    @ Will — They have access to the same inventory as United.

    @ Bill — Yes.

  42. Larry says

    Ben, I need two seats in biz to Germany in March, with fairly tight dates. I wanted SWISS as it appears LH has no fully-flat seats on the ORD route, nor even JFK from what I can tell. LX though seems to have a very comfy seat, and I know they use a 333 on that route, maybe even from ORD. I set up a Nexus search but from what you just posted, it seems that’s a pointless approach if they don’t release seats until 14 days out. That’s way too close to travel time for my tastes– too close to risk not getting any seat. What’s my best strategy? I have 210K United miles to work with.

  43. erndog says

    Hey Lucky -

    Assume you get a ‘clueless’ US agent to do a manual sell on LH for a seat in First, and it’s14 days out from your departure.

    Say 7 days go by, and you decide to change the date of the LH flight to go out another 6 days later (and assuming the First availability is there).

    Being that you were already booked in First on LH using US miles, would the date change require another manual sell or just a change fee as the First class space was already ticketed using the US miles?

  44. lucky says

    @ Larry — Unfortunately Swiss doesn’t really release much business class award space out of Chicago, so you’re going to want to try a different approach. Even 14 days out Swiss doesn’t really release business class award space. If you want a flat bed you’re better off booking United business class on a 767 or 747, where you’ll be guaranteed a flat bed. Then you can always switch to Lufthansa first class closer to departure if it opens up.

  45. Larry says

    Thanks, that’s great info. I didn’t think UA had lie-flats on any routes out of ORD. What is the additional miles requirement to step up to LH in F? I’m a non-elite so that can’t help if I’m hoping to move up.

  46. Katie says

    I love this post! I am hoping to fly LH F again this year on short notice during a slow period at work. This answers a lot of questions for me. :)

  47. lucky says

    @ Larry — The good news is that a majority of United’s flights to Europe out of Chicago feature fully flat beds. An upgrade from business class to first class would cost 17,500 miles per person per direction.

  48. Larry says

    So how can I tell which version they’ll fly on a given flight? I only recall seeing the basic info… that’s why I thought I needed to go LX to get a fully-flat bed. Is it a codeshare thing?

  49. Jeremy says

    Thanks for the post. Waiting for availability to open up on LH F is my strategy. Currently have a ORD-FRA(LH C)-FRA-BKK(TG F) award booked for 70,000 miles in May. I will be keeping an on space to open up for two seats.

    Also it appears you need to have ANA miles in your account to search partner awards. “We cannot accept your request for booking Partner Flight Awards since there are not enough miles in your account.”

  50. beachfan says

    @Lucky

    Thanks for another great post. Do you think your LAX results were typical? (I.E., LAX is always a tough F ticket on LH).

  51. lucky says

    @ Larry — All of United’s 767s and 747s feature fully flat seats in business class, so if you book one of those you’ll have a flat bed. A majority of United’s 777s also have flat seats, and you can compare the seatmaps to those on SeatGuru to figure out which do (though keep in mind aircraft swaps can always happen).

  52. lucky says

    @ beachfan — Sadly yes. LAX and SFO are the two toughest destinations for award tickets on Lufthansa. That’s not to say it’s impossible, but it’s much rarer than other destinations.

  53. says

    Had no problem getting F seat for early October out of ORD from Mileageplus…….took a long sell request but was stunned when agent came back saying “got one”.

  54. ikonos says

    @Lucky To fly from SEA/YVR – BKK on *A what is the best routing and airlines you would chose for flying in F?

  55. lucky says

    @ ikonos — If you don’t mind going the long way, I’d do SEA/YVR-FRA-BKK, with SEA/YVR-FRA on Lufthansa and FRA-BKK on Thai (especially next year if it’s on the Airbus 380).

  56. ikonos says

    @Lucky That is the routing I thought too. You wouldn’t consider NH, LX and Asiana? How about using Krisflyer miles on Singapore? Thanks

  57. lucky says

    @ ikonos — Well all are great products, but none would really be “maximizing” the award. I guess you could do YVR/SEA-FRA-ICN-BKK with FRA-ICN-BKK on Asiana, though I would go with the Thai option if you can get the A380. Singapore sounds tempting in theory, though you’d have to book a positioning flight.

  58. Paul says

    Last week I was only able to redeem 2 out of 3 seats on Lufthansa O class KUL-BKK using MileagePlus. It seems like they only release 2 seats to partner, is that true? The third passenger ended up in biz class. All of these are for Feb 2013 flight date. Will there be a chance to get another O class seat near departure date? Thanks!

  59. Paul says

    My route is KUL-SEA, details are KUL-BKK on LH, BKK-NRT on Thai, and NRT-SEA on ANA. Would you agree this would ‘maximize’ my MileagePlus redemption on F?

  60. lucky says

    @ Paul — There’s not a rule whereby they only release two seats, so they could open up more closer to departure. That being said, you’re saying you snagged Lufthansa first class more than 14 days out for a flight? Are you sure you’re in “O” class?

    Also, are you in first or business class from NRT to SEA?

  61. Paul says

    @Lucky, confirmed 2 out of 3 are “O” on both LH and Thai, “I” on ANA. The other passenger is “O” only on Thai. I even chose 1A and 1D on LH. Yes, these are all for Feb 2013.

  62. lucky says

    @ Paul — You’re absolutely right, that seems to be the only route on which they release first class award space in advance — too bad it’s so short! I’d try and aim for a three cabin plane between Asia and the US if you can (since you’re paying the first class price), but other than that looks great!

  63. Paul says

    @Lucky, thanks for the confirmation. I would love to fly “O” all the way between Asia and the US, however I could not find one route that is all in “O” on non-US airlines. Plus “O” on A380 Thai is my main attraction. Would you do “O” on UA876 or “I” on NH1078? I heard “I” on ANA is ‘comparable’ to “O” on UA, true?

  64. lucky says

    @ Paul — While first class on United isn’t great, I’d still choose first class on them over business class on ANA. There’s quite a bit more personal space, which for me is a big part of what differentiates first class from business class.

  65. Kent says

    Ben I’ve looked on expert flyer for a trip to Italy next year and found a couple of award seats in “O” out of LA. My question to you united.com doesn’t show those seats, does Swiss release those seats to United or US Airways and could I use my miles for those seats. Also would United charge me a fee to book those seats via phone vs. doing it online.

  66. lucky says

    @ Kent — ExpertFlyer displays Swiss award availability that Miles & More members have access to. This isn’t bookable via any of their partners, as Swiss doesn’t release any first class award space to partner airlines anymore. Sorry.

  67. Dax says

    @Lucky…

    Thanks for the reply. I’m slowly building up balances with UA, AA, US, and UR. I’ve mainly used my miles to secure the occasional last minute domestic flight from time to time. Since I live in the middle of the country I don’t really worry too much about class of service for domestic flights. If I know when and where I’ll be flying far enough in advance I simply purchase a revenue ticket like anyone else.

    However, your blog has pushed me to start thinking more about points based international travel. Unfortunately I do not yet have any MM miles for LH flights or JL/AK miles for EK flights or KF miles for SQ. Nor do I know of any easy way to obtain such miles quickly.

    I would like to confirm that (in your view) EY, TG, and OZ can be considered legitimate top-end rivals of similar quality and service as LH, SQ, CX, and EK? How about UR > KE?

  68. lucky says

    @ Dax — Well kudos on working to build those balances. Yes, I’d say Etihad, Thai, and Asiana are in the same “top” league as Lufthansa, Singapore, Cathay, Emirates, etc.

  69. HoKo says

    Ok this is gonna be a long one:

    @Lucky @ikonos Not sure what dates you are looking at but TG currently operates a 77W they leased from 9W on the BKK-FRA route. Fairly nice suites in F (although TG has allowed them to get a bit run down and the food was disappointing).

    @Lucky Could you explain how alliances work in terms of contractual obligations to provide reciprocal FF benefits. Specifically, I just don’t really understand how LX can single-handedly decide “eh, we don’t feel like allowing any of our partners to book award seats on our flights anymore.” I assume LX customers still have full access to star alliance member flights so it seems like LX is getting to have their cake and eat it too.

    @Lucky Suggestion for a post (or series of posts): It would be immensely helpful if you had a post that basically looked something like this (I assume it would be written from the perspective of a typical N.America FF so you’d assume ppl would be using UA/US for *A, AA for OW, and DL for ST):

    Trying to go to Asia?
    Best Option on *A in J:
    Best Option on *A in F:
    Best Option on OneWorld in J:
    Best Option on OneWorld in F:
    Best Option on SkyTeam in J:
    Best Option on SkyTeam in F:

    Trying to go to Europe?
    Best Option on *A in J:
    Best Option on *A in F:
    Best Option on OneWorld in J:
    Best Option on OneWorld in F:
    Best Option on SkyTeam in J:
    Best Option on SkyTeam in F:

    Of course you could also include sections for South America, Africa, Australia and/or specific popular destinations such as Mauritius or the Seychelles.

    I realize this sort of post has a lot of complexities such as how do you define “best.” Should you have one section for best product period and one product for best product that you can realistically find seats on. Should it take into account whether or not YQ is assessed, hard product vs soft product, etc…but I’m sure you have a pretty good feel for these questions already.

    It would be a lot of work but reading through the (78) comments of this blog post alone it is pretty clear that you already have most of the knowledge, it’s just a matter of putting pen to paper and getting it all in one easy to read place (and then updating it since these things change frequently). I’d have to think you or Gary are probably some of the best qualified to opine on this due to the sheer volume of miles you redeem every month/year.

    I would be happy to provide a reader perspective and help you craft the post as much as possible if you want.

  70. HoKo says

    ETA: Re-reading my post I realized you can scratch the request for Best option on SkyTeam F if we’re assuming you’re booking with DL #SkypesoFail

  71. lucky says

    @ HoKo — Fantastic suggestion, thanks! I’ll get working on this shortly and will try to figure out the best way to craft such a series. Definitely expect it over the next few weeks, as I think it would be pretty useful.

    As far as what Swiss is doing goes, unfortunately I don’t think it violates any rules. They still release some business class space and plenty of coach space. Keep in mind many Star Alliance carriers don’t even have a first class cabin. While it’s certainly not within the spirit of alliance, unfortunately they’re far from the only airline playing games.

    Thanks again for the fantastic suggestion!

  72. HoKo says

    @Lucky No problem, glad to hear it was well received! Feel free to PM me on FT/MP or tw eet Haplo859 if you want someone to bounce ideas off of.

  73. Goosh says

    You should mention that the ANA tool only works up to 4 days before departure. This limits your ability to see last minute rewards. I have found that award nexus does not have this limitation even though I think it’s pulling info from ANA. I have no idea why this is. Maybe you know?

  74. lucky says

    @ Goosh — You can actually search up until the day of departure. Just enter the flight that’s closer to departure as the return portion of your trip. In order words if you want to search award space for Munich to Los Angeles for September 14, enter Los Angeles to Munich for September 13 and Munich to Los Angeles for September 14, and it should show up.

  75. Bob Law says

    Lucky, on days that the 747-8 is not operated on the FRA-IAD, and the 747-400 is, do you know if the 747-400 is more likely to be an upgraded aircraft? Thank you so much for your service.

  76. Bob Law says

    Sorry, one more question: if you were to fly from europe new Lufthansa first to east coast, then domestic to west coast or fly old Lufthansa first to west coast, which would you choose? I assume old first class because it’s a longer flight and the new product wouldn’t justify having to take a longer (and uncomfortable) domestic flight? Thank you again.

  77. says

    Which is the true worst case scenario if LH First doesn’t come available…getting “stuck” in LH Business or in United First?

    Thanks.

  78. lucky says

    @ Bob Law — They do seem to have a pretty good track record of running it to IAD, though it’s no guarantee.

    If it were me, I’d probably do new configuration from the east coast, simply because it’s so much better of a product. But you can’t go wrong either way.

    @ Joan — I’d rather do United first than Lufthansa business class.

  79. Bob Law says

    Thanks lucky. I’ve read through the quoted F thread above. Best way I’ve figured out how to predict how often new F shows up is to search past history for a particular flight number (for example 418) on flightradar24.com. What results is following URL: http://www.flightradar24.com/data/flights/LH418. Compare this list to the tail numbers for known new F 747-400 (744 they call it) on Lufthansa and it appears that for every day that it’s not 748, it has been new F for last 30 days or so. I think it is far more efficient to look up flightradar24.com for your particular proposed Lufthansa flight number and compare to first page of the FT thread you linked for known tail numbers rather than read through the whole FT thread. Hope that can help someone..

    Also, don’t trust United for description of aircraft as Tuesdays, Wednesdays are supposed to be 747-400 for FRA-IAD but it’s not necessarily the case. Expert Flyer seems to have more up-to-date info that presumably mirrors Lufthansa’s own site.

  80. RonC says

    @Lucky, I would only comment that LH does not release F awards to M&M members well in advance; even as a HON I have a hard time booking it in advance.

  81. Eugene says

    @Lucky

    Might want to check that LH F availability via UA over the next few months again :) nyc-muc/fra and reverse

  82. stacey says

    Lucky,
    Looking to fly Lufthansa LAX to FRA or MUC….business class available on each…with either or both have the ‘new’ business class product? And does the new business class feature lie flat or still angled flat?
    Thanks!

  83. lucky says

    @ Steve — Because US Airways systematically blocks ALL Lufthansa “O” (first class) space. They have access to all the same inventory as other Star Alliance partners, but have their system block the space.

  84. Bob Law says

    Hey Lucky, thank you again for all your help. With some luck and diligence, we hope to fly in first class on Lufthansa from frankfurt. If we stay at Sheraton Frankfurt airport with check in luggage, what do u suggest is the best way to get to the first class terminal? By your description it appears that a walk would be necessary but not sure if that is the best way to do it with check-ins. I am thinking that it might make sense to check in our luggage at main terminal then walk to first class terminal with only carry-ons. Thank you in advance as always.

  85. lucky says

    @ Bob Law — To get from the Sheraton to the FCT you have to take the walkway to the terminal and then walk along the outside roadway to the FCT. The entire walk is about 10 minutes, and on your way you pass first class check-in at the terminal either way.

    If you don’t have too much luggage I’d go all the way to the FCT as check-in is even faster there. Otherwise if you want to save carrying your luggage for an extra five minutes you can use first class check-in at the terminal, which is at the far end. From there it’s just a five minute walk on the roadway to the FCT. Good luck!

  86. Stephen W. says

    I am using US Airways Miles to book a Star Alliance trip using LH from IAD-FRA on the 747-8i. I am booking in I class and hoping for F class to open up, I have read about some people having success asking the US airways agents to long sell the “O” first class seats. Any advise on how to go about this?

  87. lucky says

    @ Stephen W. — Regarding US Airways’ Lufthansa Starnet blocking, it takes a lot of patience. Ultimately nothing has changed over the past two years, it’s still possible to get a manual sell with US Airways so they essentially request and confirm the space with Lufthansa, since it’s actually there.

    My strategy is to call and ask the agent if I can give them the flights I’d like to book (in the form of route, flight number, date, and class of service). When they can’t find the space on the flight I want, I ask if they wouldn’t mind trying to request the space.

    Usually they’ll respond with “well it won’t work, Lufthansa isn’t giving us the space.” At that point I say “well, would you mind trying, I’ve had the same issue lately and the space does come back HK when requested” (HK=hold confirmed=confirmed, FYI).

    Then they enter all the flight info (flight number, preferred cabin, etc.), and it almost always comes back confirmed.

    Again, lots of agents are unwilling to do so either because they don’t know how to or are told they’re not allowed to.

    Let me know if you have any other questions, and hopefully that works!

  88. BigA says

    How about Miles and More availability? I don’t have the card yet so just wondering if you would know if the availability is better with their own card (LX and LH).

    Thanks buddy love your site.

  89. BigA says

    Thanks a lot. Will apply soon. I assume they actually can get LX F too? Again thanks for everything folks!

  90. Kai says

    I’ve found a route which doesn’t seem to be affected by this 14 day restriction: BKK-KUL vv. It’s a tag on to/from FRA, and it’s only 2 hours but it seems to be fairly consistent with the refurbished 744s.

  91. Steve says

    Hi Lucky,

    I just found an open spot for IAD-FRA using the 747-8…

    A few days before the spot opens up, I’ve paid $75 to get my spot on the MCO-FRA flight… and also to book the FRA-CGK spots on TG…

    is it worth it to pay an additional $75 to get on to 747-8 vs 340-600

  92. Steve says

    @lucky… yes yes yes… did what you suggested… even managed to snag FRA-SIN instead of FRA-BKK!

    The flight back to CGK will be on first class vs Thai 2 class config as well.

    Thanks for the advice!

  93. Indy says

    @Lucky-Need your opinion: should i fly UA business DXB-IAH-ORD (domestic first) or take a cab for 90 min and fly LH business AUH-FRA connecting with UA First FRA-ORD? As an added wrinkle, if LH first opens on any leg of DXB-FRA-ORD, or AUH-FRA-ORD does that change the equation? Too many options, i’m not sure which way to go! Thanks!

  94. lucky says

    @ Indy — I’d go for the more direct routing on United in your shoes. You can at least get a decent amount of sleep that way. If you route through Frankfurt you’ll be woken up in the middle of the night, not to mention have to do Lufthansa’s angled flat business class.

    That being said, if Lufthansa first class opened up within 14 days of departure, I’d definitely go for that.

  95. says

    Hi Lucky, Thanks for your earlier input. I am going to go for it and try to get our business seats upgraded to F for our DFW-FRA-VCE-FCO flight which is booked using UA miles. Assuming I can find availability once I get in the 14 day window is it better to call or try to upgrade online? Thanks again for your help!

  96. lucky says

    @ Susan — It would probably be easiest to call. Good luck and let me know if you have any other questions!

  97. Nathaniel says

    Hi Lucky,
    I’ve been looking on UA and ANA for LH First award availability from IAD and BOS to FRA for Dec 31 (and a few other days just before that). Neither show direct LH flights existing (to say nothing of award availability) on these days. I thought they were 7 days per week. Even checked LH’s to see if I could book a ticket and the flights aren’t there either. I saw a notice that BOS-FRA was decreasing to 5 days per week in January, but didn’t seem to cover Dec for BOS or anything out of IAD. Any idea what I’m doing wrong?
    Thanks very much! If you don’t have time to answer, no problem.

  98. lucky says

    @ Nathaniel — Sometimes airlines don’t operate on holidays/slow days in anticipation of empty flights, and Lufthansa has trimmed much of their transatlantic schedule as a result. They’re not operating those flights on the 31st.

  99. leslie says

    Hello,
    I’m new to this. I have united miles as well as aa miles. I want to book flat bed from paris back to smf or sfo may of 2014. I try to search may 2013 but hardly any business/first class on united from paris back. What are my other options?

  100. lucky says

    @ leslie — If you want to book a flat bed product you’re best off booking United connecting in another European city, like Brussels or London, where they release quite a bit more award space.

  101. Michelle says

    Hi – I am flying to Ethiopia on April 12 and returning on the 20th. My flight has not been booked. The current flight I am looking into leaves from IAD to Frankfurt on United and then frankfurt to ADD on Lufthansa . I am a 1k with united and usually book economy and get automatic upgrades , most of the time. How does this work with international flights and with my flight to ADD on Lufthansa?
    Thanks

  102. lucky says

    @ Michelle — As a 1K you don’t get complimentary upgrades on international flights, though you do have six systemwide upgrades that can be used to confirm an upgrade if you book an eligible fare. You can also do a standby upgrade day of using a systemwide upgrade for travel on Lufthansa if you book at least a “V” fare.

  103. Michelle says

    @ Lucky thanks , Is the standby automatically done when I check in ? How to i make sure I have at least a V fare?

  104. lucky says

    @ Michelle — It’s done at the gate and you have to specifically present your systemwide upgrade (and have to get it printed in advance from United, as they require the paper one and not electronic one). When you book you can select a fare class, so make sure you’re choosing at least “V.”

  105. Michelle says

    @ Lucky – thank you . I travel all the time , but have so much to learn . You are welcome to email me am=ny tricks of the trade. I stay at marriott and fly united 95% of the time. The family and I are going to washington and alaska in July/august and Im trying to figure out a cost effective way for the four of us. Then we are going to tuscany in September the last trip this year is New Zealand for christmas . Any help would be greatly appreciated! I love your site and information. Thanks Again

  106. says

    Hi Lucky, You had inspired me to try for First class and I was able to get it for the outgoing leg on our upcoming trip this Sat. for DFW-FRA. I also pushed back our flight FRA-VCE (it is on LH) a couple of hours so that we could experience FCT. I just called to verify with LH that all was set on our flight (it is) and was trying to verify that we can access the FCT. She said that since we are arriving in First but continuing on in Business we were not eligible to enter the FCT. I explained that we would have been in F on that flight but it only has two cabins. She then said well maybe we could get into FCT but that while we actually waiting for our flight to VCE we would have to wait in the business lounge. What she was telling me was not the way I had understood it. Am I not understanding correctly?

  107. lucky says

    @ Susan — Your first class boarding pass can’t hurt, though if you show your connecting business class boarding pass even that should do the trick because it says “FCI” on it if you’re connecting (which stands for “First Class International,” I believe).

  108. Eric says

    Lucky, UA reservations is giving me a fit. It’s less than two weeks out from my departure on LH439 (DFW-FRA) departing 24 Feb and I’d previously booked two biz award seats. I recieved an EF alert when two first class seats opened up. I call up UA reservations and they tell me there is only 1 seat in First. I’ve even been able to do a dummy booking (new reservation) for the two first class seats. Any suggestions? I’ve called four times with zero progress.

  109. lucky says

    @ Eric — ExpertFlyer actually pulls their Star Alliance award space from united.com, and united.com often displays phantom Lufthansa first class award space. So unfortunately I suspect the space isn’t actually available and that it’s phantom space. You can verify by checking availability on the ANA website, which accurately displays Lufthansa first class award space.

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