Something weird is going on with Lufthansa first class award availability for partner airlines

There’s some weird stuff going on with Lufthansa first class award availability for partner airlines, but for the life of me I can’t make sense of it. If you’ve tried to book Lufthansa first class using miles from partner airlines you’ll know that you can snag Lufthansa first class award space at most 15 days out. They simply don’t make awards available to their partner airlines further out than that. Now what complicates this a bit is that United’s website has the tendency to show some “phantom” first class award space, whereby the website shows first class award space when it’s not actually available. So when you go to book you either get an error message saying that availability has changed, or the segment books but then shows as “waitlisted.”

Anyway, reader Heather left a comment earlier today on this post saying that she managed to book a Lufthansa first class award using United miles more than 15 days out. I followed up with her via email and it does in fact seem to be the case (not that I was doubting her, but this is so unusual that I figured I’d follow up).

The interesting thing is that the award space doesn’t show up on the ANA website or elsewhere.

So I started searching award space on the ANA website which is the single most accurate place to search Lufthansa first class award space, but they don’t seem to show the space. However, they show some Lufthansa first class award space more than 15 days out, but that space doesn’t show up on united.com. So far I’ve only been able to find first class award space from Montreal to Munich, and I’ve searched a good number of routes.

Lufthansa_First_Class_Award

So I have no clue what’s going on here, but let’s mark this as “developing.” It seems some Lufthansa first class award space is available using United miles more than 15 days out, while it doesn’t show as available with other airlines. Conversely, some Lufthansa first class award space is available using Aeroplan/ANA/AviancaTaca miles, yet doesn’t show available on the United website (though it may very well be bookable by phone).

So I’m curious if anyone else has found any Lufthansa first class award space on the United website more than 15 days out that they’ve actually been able to book?

Comments

  1. I found BOS-FRA via MUC (11/15) and FRA-BOS via MUC (11/30) and in both cases, the BOS-MUC-BOS segments were in F. But when I made MUC my destination instead, F is not available.

  2. I wish. I was originally booked on United Global First on my EWR-FRA flight on the way to CNX in Jan 2014, but they swapped planes and now I’m in BusinessFirst. Would love it if somehow Lufthansa opened up first earlier than 15 days.

  3. Ben,

    I was able to get seats within 15 days of travel on united.com when ANA web site showed nothing available, I even got two seats! Very weird. I hope I am mistaken but I think UA 1k gets some hidden seats from regular member, again I could be mistaken…

  4. 1. YUL-MUC gets reduced to 5x weekly later this month. It is a pretty low yielding flight.

    2. Back when LX first pulled F award space from the transatlantic market, it was still possible to get YUL-ZRH. Again, something no doubt to do with expectations of paid F ex-YUL.

    3. BOS has historically been a low F yielding market as well, and LH does do married segment inventory with award space but also possible that it’s phantom space until someone tries to book it — Aeroplan shows, for instance the FRA-MUC-BOS 11/30 flight with MUC-BOS in F. (But who cares about MUC-BOS unless you’re connecting from a flight that’ll arrive at an apron position…)

    When LH pulls F out of some of its cabins I’d expect YUL to be one of the routes that loses first class. I’d also expect CLT to lose F as well, though if US exits Star I wouldn’t be surprised to see that FLIGHT go away entirely.

  5. Maybe something to do with more frequently overbooking first – and getting a better handle of how to massage that before 30 days?

  6. Hey guys, Heather here. I was poking around United to see what J was available. Honestly, I was looking for dates/times to mirror the tix I booked for my parents on AZ using Skymiles. I was shocked when I saw the availability (11/8 JFK-MXP via MUC and 11/20 and FCO-JFK via FRA…this last leg is in J but there were other connections available in F just not at the right times). I didn’t have enough miles in my acct so I transferred some UR points. I held the reservation. It took about 10 minutes to clear but I confirmed “purchase” and received a ticket and seat assignments. YAY!

  7. I’ve been finding availability on First for the DTW -FRA route for a while. I could never understand why people say it’s 15 days. I chalked it up to no one flying First that route. Who knows.

  8. I was booking a complex itinerary on the phone with United and had a leg on an LH 747-8 in first that was about 21 days out. The rep said it didn’t exist so I went online and just booked that leg. Sure enough, it ticketed. So, I called back and expanded that one-way into the complex booking I wanted.

  9. @ sarah — Could you give an example of a date where you see it? Not seeing anything further out…

  10. Anyone ever manage LH F using SQ miles? I have an SQ A380 trip booked SIN-FRA-JFK but my ultimate destination is IAD so I had to tack on a UA flight JFK-IAD. It would make my life a bit easier to switch to the LH FRA-IAD flight instead. But I wonder if that’s even possible.

  11. How do these flight show up on Expert Flyer? Just curious if setting a flight alert there would alert you to them or not.

  12. Interesting that you mention phantom space via the UA site. A couple months back I was searching for award space between Europe and Asia and found 2 F Class seats on ANA (NH). Because I was booking from two separate MileagePlus accounts, I opened up two browser windows to make simultaneous bookings for my wife and I. I was able to book hers, but mine kept giving me an error message. When I called UA, they told me that only Economy Class was available. After some back-and-forth, I was able to cancel my wife’s reservation, but never saw F Class inventory on ANA again….EVER!

  13. @ CFFrost — ExpertFlyer pulls Lufthansa first class award space from united.com, so it would show whatever United shows.

  14. Lucky: I have been able to book and ticket LH F with LH M&M miles on the LH website, but often when I call LH directly, they cannot see the award space. What is up it that, do you know?

  15. No LH F for IAH-FRA or IAH-PRG (via FRA) on United.com for mid-October through mid-November. ANA tool doesn’t show anything for IAH-FRA either.

  16. Just booked LH F YYZ to FRA on October 16 and MUC to YUL on October 20. EF didn’t send me an Alert but this site is almost as good 😉

    YQ hurts but still worth it for LH F!!

  17. @RakSiam, I believe it is possible to book LH F on SQ Miles for FRA-IAD but the cost will be different since it’s not on SQ metal (but on star alliance metal.)

  18. Thanks Joey. That makes sense. The discount was pretty sizable in terms of miles needed to book this itinerary, something like 93K for the suites class I think.

  19. I see JFK-MUC-VIE-MUC-EWR on 11/26-12/2 and the transatlantic segments are in F. seems bookable… but I didn’t go all the way thru the process.

  20. I had a weird experience yesterday booking LH F – UA showed 2 F seats ATL-FRA (yes, I know it’s normally 2 class, but they switched it out to 3-class for this weekend), while all other engines (AC, AV) showed only 1 seat. I managed to book, ticket and *verify* the 2 seats with LH using UA miles! So somehow UA had access to more inventory than AC or AV showed.

    Sadly, LH then swapped back to 2-class today and so there goes my F seats! But still, I found it odd that UA had greater apparent inventory.

  21. I was checking on flights 2 weeks ago and found ORD-DUS in LH first for mid December. It was also available on the ANA tool. Cant say if it would book as I decided to go with J on Aer Lingus.

  22. In looking to return from the NUE Do, I was offered saver F for NUE-DFW but a mixed cabin and only the MUC-CLT in F

    Didn’t take since too many stops but took booking as far as i could without buying.

  23. @joey Thanks for looking that up. It’s a o.w. award so I guess that would mean 19K more miles if it’s even possible to book such a think as a o.w.

  24. I know this isn’t recent, but a few months ago, I was able to book 4 first class tickets from YYZ-FRA 30 days out using United. Maybe they are doing some type of rolling release for certain cities at times?

  25. I was able to confirm 2 O class and 1 I class seat on LH BKK-KUL 5-6 months out as part of United redemption. I redeemed it back in Feb/Mar for this past Aug trip. Too bad, it was too short of a flight on new LH First configuration on B744.

  26. In all of this no one has mentioned “clear cache” at the end of each search, booking especially for more than one seat. Some airline database so search engines are so primitive while others will do their best to get more from you. You overcome this by clear cache and the other tip if you pay money for the ticket, search using a VPN or any other way you know to avoid geoblocking. This can save $$$$ in particular the pointy end and RTW in fact all forms of bookable travel. In fact you should be on VPN on the web.

  27. I’ve been searching for BOS-FRA-BLR and BOS-MUC-FRA-BLR and I see sporadic availability for November 23 and 24. But none of them align to my needs and had to pass.

  28. @ Paul — For what it’s worth that has always been possible. Lufthansa hasn’t blocked first class award space on the intra-Asia flights they operate at any point that I can remember.

  29. What’s the best way to search from US-FRA? The ANA availability is different from United. For instance, United shows JFK/BOS-MUC but ANA doesn’t.

  30. In followup to my previous post, searching on united from BOS-MUC yields no seats. But BOS-FRA does find the BOS-MUC in first. Strange

  31. @ Ted — ANA is traditionally the most accurate tool for searching space, and in the past space that was available on United’s website but not through ANA was typically just phantom space. But based on the weird stuff going on lately perhaps some of it is actually bookable?

  32. Hi: what you are seeing is the actual ‘O’ class inventory available on the LH flights, and not those redemption seats that they release to partners. It is, in fact, a reasonable indicator of what is likely to become available to partners 15 days out. If you really want to get irritated, one can also see ‘O’ class on Swiss! All a part of The Great Game

  33. I was able to book a CLT-MUC flight in LH F that was available on UA website but not on ANA… though do note it is within 14 days of departure. That being said, UA agents did not see the space…

  34. Was just able to book a MUC-IAD leg in LH F for about a month out. Only came up while searching VIE-IAD though. Maybe LH doesn’t have the same type of filters to block F awards on paired cities as they do on direct?

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