Less Lufthansa Transatlantic Business Class Award Space?

Reader Skudu left the following comment on the “Ask Lucky” page of the blog last night:

Lucky, DID you notice Lufthansa stopped releasing any business class seats on any route 6 months out? For any route i tried business class sets are available only till Sept end…. This just happened 2 days back?? FYI i used United.com to search award space

Over the years Lufthansa has greatly reduced the amount of premium cabin award space they’ve been releasing. It started with first class several years ago. Going back five or six years, Lufthansa first class was probably the single most readily available first class award product in the world. They used to have 16 first class seats on the 747, and it wasn’t unusual to see 8-10 of them available for award tickets. Nowadays they only release first class award space to partner airlines at most 15 days out.

Lufthansa-747-First-Class
Lufthansa 747-400 old first class

As far as partner business class award availability goes, there’s no doubt over the years it has been on a downward spiral. That being said, they hadn’t outright eliminated it yet or added any consistent restrictions. Until now.

It appears as if Skudu is correct, unfortunately, and Lufthansa isn’t releasing any business class award space to partner airlines on any transatlantic route from October onwards.

At first I assumed it was a united.com glitch, though I also verified with ANA, and the availability seems to match as far as I can tell.

I pulled up the nonstop award availability on some of the Lufthansa routes that historically have the most business class award space, and am seeing nothing (in the below calendar, a date marked in green means there’s business and economy class award space, while a date in yellow means there’s just economy award space).

Here’s award availability from September onwards between Detroit and Frankfurt:

Detroit-Frankfurt-1
Detroit-Frankfurt-2
Detroit-Frankfurt-3

Here’s award availability from September onwards between Atlanta and Frankfurt:

Atlanta-Frankfurt-1
Atlanta-Frankfurt-2
Atlanta-Frankfurt-3

Here’s award availability from September onwards between Charlotte and Munich:

Charlotte-Munich-1
Charlotte-Munich-2
Charlotte-Munich-3

Here’s to hoping this is just temporary and not a permanent change. So lets mark this as “developing” for now…

Comments

  1. Do not see swiss air they were released the furthest out around 11? months in advance ,anyway they were released way b4 LH

    If this is the way it is going to be, Delta change and now UA — the question will be — who is worth less.
    almost like going back 30 years ago when had to “work” at getting an award ticket , but at least then when had the miles ,space was not a problem

  2. I’ve been looking for an award seat to the US with Lufthansa but I haven’t found a single one for the whole fall. United are also very stingy with releasing award seats across the atlantic.

  3. I think that they are thinking that by the Winter schedule 14-15 they will have their “exclusive, state of the art, footsie, climb-over business class” on their 343’s and want to maintain the exclusivity.
    I pulled up a sample ATL-FRA where availability was showing. I had two choices:
    ATL-SFO-FRA on UA, or ATL-YYZ-FRA on AC….
    SFO? You’ve got to be kidding me…. at least the website showed all possibilities.

  4. Andrew– I don’t think its due to pre-devaluation bookings.

    I had been checking on flights for August and always saw a nice green calendar with a pair of business seat available almost every day on some sort of flight I could manage.

    Then 2 days ago that drastically changed. Everything disappeared for the entire month, including most UA space and even LH economy seats.

    Coincidentally this happened when people started finding $1500 business fares to Europe on LH. Coincidentally this is happened just as US and JJ departed Star Alliance. So maybe there’s a chance the loss of all those US/JJ flights threw the award algorithm into a tailspin and it really is a glitch. I’m not counting on that, but hopeful it will change soon.

  5. Do you think this is more likely to be nothing being released past September or they aren’t releasing anything until 6 months out (ie, at the beginning of May, they’ll load in October’s).

  6. @ Harry — Are you talking about transatlantic flights for Swiss as well? If so, they were really, *really* stingy with releasing space for a long time now, so don’t think that’s much of a change.

  7. @ Random — For transatlantic flights it has been a couple of years since I’ve seen Swiss business class award space with any regularity.

  8. I was looking for FRA-NYC in business on LH in early October. Been following it a while and they consistently released seats 5 months out on this route. So I was just about to snag one for when I needed. Then come April 1st, everything disappeared. Now it looks like exactly 3 months out. So guess I have to wait again. Sigh…

  9. @ Daniel — Could go either way, it’s anyone’s guess. I’m hoping it’s not a sixth month rule and that for whatever reason they’re just not releasing space further out yet, and that this will change.

  10. Sorry, FRA-NYC was released six months out previously, not five.

    It never seemed to release seats exactly at six months though – it always seemed like they’d be released a week at a time about six months out.

    I’m guessing this is the new norm.

  11. Maybe the only way to get LH premium cabin space at all will be Miles & More. I hope not, but that wouldn’t totally shock me.

  12. I have this question related to business class on LH on TA flight.

    Is there a trick or a glitch that UA agents can’t see the seat availability on their systems while I can. I am looking at MCT-FRA-PHL for 3 business pax and as per united website, the seats are available but when I made a call to change our original itinerary, I was told she (and he, second time) can’t seem to find 3 seats on FRA-PHL leg. What makes this very interesting is that when I am trying to search segment by segment, I can’t find 3 seats on FRA-PHL leg while MCT-FRA-PHL search turned up fine. anyway I need to make them see this itinerary?

    I have asked this question on FT and were told it is because of married segments but how do you go about explaining this to UA agents. I tried asking them to search MCT-PHL (instead of segment by segment) but still no luck.

    Thanks.

  13. @ ali — Yeah, married segments are a real issue, and I’m afraid there’s no way to get around it. If that segment doesn’t show space alone then there’s no way you can change an itinerary to add it, unfortunately. Sorry!

  14. Congrats everyone! Now Emirates joins the list of zero “F” through Feb 2015 and very, very, very limited “C” class as well.

  15. Lucky,

    It is not just transatlantic.
    I had been seeing at least 2 or 3 seats every week (Tue-Fri) from FRA to Indian cities. This was true as of last week, and usually it would 179 days before. Suddenly, they all vanished — including those in August and September where the calendar was “Green” on all of the Tuesday through Fridays. This is what surprises me.

    Can you find out what is going on? I had booked before the devaluation, with the intention of changing later (I have to fly in November). So I was checking regularly, and things were OK until last week.

  16. Noose keeps tightening. Could it be clearer that LH doesn’t want riff raff like stupid 25 year old bloggers?

  17. They’re tired of having to give away their money makers. Tens of millions of miles out there with far, far too many of those miles gathered through somewhat nefarious chanels relative to miles genuinely “earned” through revenue generating flights didn’t help the situation.
    Add to that so many posts on how to “trick the system” is more or less another nail in the coffin too. It’s one thing to take advantage of the system – not saying I agree with that at all – but to plaster “how to do iit” on various blogs is a sign of sheer stupidity. But then they’ve “been there, done that” so in the end it’s of no consequence to whomever they might be.

  18. Yup, looks like the party’s over. Too much abuse of the system and too much occupying their true money making by non-rev flyers who only had the miles collecting coins and churning credit cards over and over and over and over and ……
    That’s the reason Swiss denies all but their very best paying customers from first class. They’d rather fly with unoccupied seats up front than give it away in exchange for miles from somene who’s probably never paid for a ticket, premium or otherwise. And that’s from a former colleague based in Switzerland. And since LX and LH are one family, it doesn’t surprise.

  19. @CT

    What do you mean abuse? So airlines allow you to collect points on credit cards, but will now only allow you to use them on economy class? I don’t think so. It must be something else. Lets hope its just temporary.

  20. When I was looking for our European trip this fall, I was able to find LH J seats without much problem, but I wanted to spend my UA miles so choose PHX-ORD-FRA on UA in GF. We both wanted windows and the J seats on LH wont give us this.

  21. I’ve been wondering if airline consolidation will lead to the end of alliances. As a big airline can do well on its own, it will be less willing to share benefits, awards, and cash with partners. Locking up premium space is one of the first things I thought might happen and LH/LX are sort of doing that already.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *