US Airways updates their award chart to confirm that Lufthansa first class redemptions are no longer possible

US Airways has made several aesthetic tweaks to their award chart over the past couple of months, which scares me. The fact that they made aesthetic changes to their award chart suggests they’re thinking about it, which isn’t a good thing since there’s only one direction award prices are headed.

Last month I noticed that the footnotes of their award chart were updated to say that redemptions aren’t available in Singapore Airlines premium cabins on aircraft featuring their new product, which makes sense since Singapore Airlines doesn’t release this space to their partner airlines.

However, in the past day or so they’ve added a further footnote to their award chart as follows:

Beginning January 1, 2013, award redemption in Lufthansa first class cabin is unavailable

For a very long time US Airways has been blocking Lufthansa first class award space to differing degrees. A few years ago they started blocking Lufthansa transatlantic award space, though for the past year or so I’ve found that they’ve been blocking all Lufthansa first class award space.

However, I’ve still been able to with some regularity get that space through a “manual sell.” So it’s just that the space doesn’t show up if the agents search, but if they manually request the flight number, date, and fare code, the space will come back as confirmed after they place the passenger information in the record (of course this requires finding an agent willing to do that).

So I’m not sure what this footnote really means. I would guess it just means “business as usual,” and they’ve added that footnote to manage peoples’ expectations. I suspect nothing has changed on the back end of their system so that agents physically aren’t able to book Lufthansa first class anymore. Perhaps another memo was sent out to agents not to book Lufthansa first class, though I question how many of them read those memos.

This is a logical enough clarification, though it’ll be interesting to see if there’s more to it, given the firm date of January 1 that they’ve put in there.

Comments

  1. Ken says

    I tried booking LH F space for next week, one agent tried to long sell in the O bucket but only got business, three other agents were very firm and refused to long sell at all.he fact that one agent tried and was not able to get the space (which was the case in September) worries me. Another issue was that although I saw Swiss space available none of the Agents were able to book it. I had to settle for TG F (A380)and ANA F, not too bad, but still I think times of cheap US Airways award travel are over. Maybe time to switch to UA? Mind you, I am living in Australia so have no lucrative cc sign up bonuses etc, only discount buying gets me the miles (for which US was great).

  2. lucky says

    @ Ken — Keep in mind that agents often aren’t actually doing it right when they do a manual sell. There are several ways for them to look up space, and they could have just been trying a method without a long sell.

    Also keep in mind that Swiss doesn’t release any first class award space other than to Miles & More, so in that case it’s not US Airways blocking. The space that shows on Expert Flyer is Miles & More award space.

  3. Ken says

    @lucky, thanks for the info on Swiss, was not aware of that. The first agent trying LH F award booking did mention longsell herself, but not sure if she did it properly, I guess time will tell, please let us know your experience when you next book it and succeed (or not succeed).

  4. lucky says

    @ Ken — Out of curiosity were you making a new reservation or changing an existing one? If you were making a new reservation had you given the agent the passenger names and dates of birth yet when you tried the manual sell?

  5. Ken says

    @lucky: Indeed a new reservation and the agent wrote down my flights at first and when it came to her typing in the LH flight in the system, I mentioned it might not appear to be available but to please request space in “O” bucket to which she replied “oohh, I’ll try to long sell it” which made me think she knew what she was doing….. Flight did not come back confirmed. The other agents just said “we cannot request space if we cannot see it” and I could not convince them to try.

  6. Ken says

    sorry forgot to answer: She did ask straight away if it was a reservation for me and had all my details.

  7. says

    Nooo! Having long held the dream of visiting the First Class Terminal, I guess I’ll have to figure out a way to earn a few hundred thousand Miles and More miles. Ideas?

  8. says

    Do LH First award bookings cost US more than First bookings on UA or TG (for example)? I’m trying to understand why US does this.

  9. AdamH says

    This really sort of defeats the purpose of an alliance/partnership. Can’t wait for them to go join OW with AA merger. Just don’t give Jeff too many ideas for UA on the way out. I wonder how much different a CX F tix costs AA with the way OW is currently setup? It will be interesting to see if those last.

  10. Daniel M says

    Lucky:
    You said SQ doesn’t release “premium cabin” space to partner airlines.

    However, I have booked countless intra-Asia SQ biz tickets using UA miles in the last few years.

    Perhaps you were only referring to trans-Pacific or to 1st class? Or only to when using US miles?

  11. lucky says

    @ Ken — I could be wrong, though it doesn’t sound like the agent did this correctly. I got a manual sell just two days ago without issue. Basically in order to get a manual well a reservation first has to be made (with a confirmation number and all, which usually takes a while). They make the reservation with the segment waitlisted, and once it’s confirmed the segment comes back as “HK,” which stands for “holding confirmed.” So if I were a betting man I’d say the agent just pretended to do one to be polite. I could be wrong though!

  12. lucky says

    @ Andyandy — Or just use United miles which are easy to earn with co-branded Chase credit cards.

  13. says

    I am afraid I do not understand the meaning of the term “long sell”. I googled it without success. Can you either explain or show me where to go to see where it is explained. Thank you.

  14. lucky says

    @ JetAway — Who knows. Back in the day Lufthansa used to release a TON of first class award space, so I can understand the cost being more than US Airways wanted to pay, due to the number of redemptions they had to pay for. But why they do it nowadays I’m not sure. It could be that they’re being charged more, or that they simply don’t realize that Lufthansa has greatly restricted first class award space, so it wouldn’t cost them as much.

  15. lucky says

    @ AdamH — Agreed!

    @ Daniel M — Sorry, I wasn’t specific enough. I meant flights featuring the new first and business class products, which is virtually all of their longhaul flights.

    @ Susan — US Airways blocks Lufthansa first class out of their booking engine, so a “long sell” is a way an agent can try to get around it. Basically instead of just taking the availability given to them, the agent specifically inputs the flight number, date, fare code, and route in a different keypad, and the space either comes back as “waitlisted” or “confirmed.”

  16. says

    That stinks, but it does make my decisions for the rest of the year easier. I am curious to hear if you are able to still get bookings as time goes on, though.

  17. Pablo says

    LOL, I was thinking the same thing. “Though I question how many of them read those memos.”

  18. Stephen says

    @Lucky The wife and I have a US Airways roundtrip award reservation IAD-FRA on LH 747-8 in business in May. Hoping to get a long sell to O when the 2 week window opens, from your experience is it easier to get a long sell on an existing reservation in business or a new reservation all together?

  19. lucky says

    @ Stephen — You couldn’t do it on an existing reservation in this case because you’re ticketed for a business class award. If you’re changing the class of service (assuming you didn’t pay for a first class award) you have to cancel your current tickets and start from scratch.

  20. Jenny says

    So, has anyone managed a long sell recently? We booked TXL-FRA-DXB-BKK-TYO-BKK-FRA-TXL in business, with the BKK-FRA leg in first. I purposely left a 5h gap in FRA, hoping to upgrade the LH leg to F 2 weeks out. As the trip is coming up, is there any chance of getting the long sell or it a no go?

  21. lucky says

    @ Jenny — It’s definitely not impossible. Not easy, but there are still agents out there that will do it.

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