Lufthansa First Class Award Availability and Booking Strategy
Avatar_160_hilary
Hilary Stockton
Google+

My Award Booking Service helps travelers book first class and business class with miles and points. As an independent affiliate of Cadence, I also have access to Virtuoso, Four Seasons Preferred Partner, Peninsula Hotels PenClub, Dorchester Diamond Club, Ritz-Carlton STARS, Starwood Luxury Privileges, Rocco Forte and other 5-star hotel partners, so I can book, for no extra cost, your perfect luxury hotel or luxury cruise with VIP amenities not available anywhere else. Become a client and upgrade your stay!

GOT A BLOG POST IDEA?
Have a travel question we haven't covered yet? Want to share your secrets for traveling well for less?

Lufthansa First Class Award Availability and Booking Strategy

 

A TravelSort reader writes: "Wondering if you would comment on my strategy for trying to book Lufthansa First Class. My strategy-book the Lufthansa flight that I'm trying to get a first class award on [in coach], using United miles. Then, beginning 15 days before [return date], start checking for first class availability to book the outbound flight [in first] and continue to check for first class availability for the return flight.

Concerns/questions:

1. Is there a certain time 15 days out when availability opens up, so I can be prepared to pounce on it?

2. I read your post about searching for award availability on ANA, first. Then should I book online or call United, since it may not even show up on United.com?

3. If I do find first class availability but on a different flight, does more than one change fee apply for changing both the date and the class of service? And if I change the outbound flight first, then later change the return, is that two change fees? 

4. Do you have recommendations for a better strategy? Should I purchase a refundable Lufthansa or United ticket as a backup?

Great questions, and probably relevant for many readers, since Lufthansa First booked with United MileagePlus miles remains one of the best value ways to get to Europe in comfort, without high fuel surcharges. Let me first recap the problem, then answer these questions and a few others I often receive, as a FAQ.

Lufthansa First Class Award Availability and Booking Strategy FAQ

What is the Deal with Lufthansa First Class Award Availability--Can It Be Booked in Advance?

Lufthansa First Class can only be booked in advance by Miles & More members, the frequent flyer program for the Lufthansa group, which includes SWISS and Austrian Airlines. If you're using United MileagePlus miles or Star Alliance partner miles, you'll only be able to book Lufthansa first class up to 15 days in advance.

 

Is There a Way to Predict How Many First Class Award Seats Lufthansa Will Release?

While there's no guarantee, flights that show "F8" indicating an empty First Class or only one or two First Class Seats booked ("F7" or "F6") are good bets. You can see this info using Award Nexus or a paid service such as Expert Flyer.

 

How Do I See True Lufthansa First Class Award Space Available to Star Alliance Partners?

Since United.com sometimes shows phantom availability (a Lufthansa first class award appears to be available, but isn't) and sometimes doesn't show award availability that is actually there, you should use ANA to verify true award availability. See How to Use ANA to Search for Star Alliance Award Space

 

When Does Lufthansa Release First Class Award Space to United and Star Alliance Partners?

The word on the street used to be 14 days in advance, but as I wrote in Lufthansa First Class Award Space Booked 15 Days in Advance, it's sometimes possible to book as early as 15 days out. Flyertalk member UnitedConnection says that he's found that Lufthansa releases some seats at 5pm ET 15 days prior to departure, typically in pairs, and that after that time, there was no discernable pattern to when additional seats were released.

 

Can I Book Lufthansa First Class with US Airways Dividend Miles?

No--for awhile, US Airways has been blocking Lufthansa first class award booking, and has now made that explicit in its award chart. See US Airways Award Chart Confirms: No Lufthansa First Class Awards.

 

Book on United.com or Call After Finding Lufthansa First Class Award Space on ANA?

If you've found availability on ANA, I would try to find and book it on United.com to avoid the $25 phone reservation fee (unless you're a United Global Services, Premier 1K or Premier Platinum member, for whom the fee is waived). In Advance Search, make sure to select "50" rather than "25" for results, so that you see more search results. If you can't find it on United.com however, I would call--$25 and even the change fee is a small price to pay for Lufthansa First Class, in my view.

 

How Can I Tell if the Flight Will Have Lufthansa's New First Class?

You're guaranteed Lufthansa's new first class product (absent an equipment change) on the Airbus 380 and Boeing 747-8. You *may* get new first class on the Boeing 747-400, since some of them have been converted, but this is the interesting version with a separate seat and bed.

Some of the Airbus 330 (A333) and Airbus 340 (A343) planes also feature Lufthansa's new first class, and they all fly out of Munich, so if you're on one of them out of Frankfurt, you'll have old first class. 

See this Flyertalk post which is regularly updated with Lufthansa New First Class retrofit progress.

 

How Are the Award Change Fees Calculated, Are They Cumulative?

First, here's the United Award Fees Chart

What is sometimes confusing is whether the fees apply cumulatively--that is, if you're changing your award to a date within 21 days of departure, and you're also changing the airline and class of service, how many fees do you pay? The answer is: one $75 fee. That said, if you later call back to change the return, that's another $75 fee--it's transaction based, so if at all possible, you'll want to make all your changes at the same time. Of course, that's usually not possible with Lufthansa First Class unless it's a very short trip and availability is there for both your outbound and return, so...

 

Should I Book a Roundtrip or Two One Ways?

You might be thinking--well, why not just avoid the change fee on the return flight by waiting to book the return until I'm at the 15 day window? That is a strategy, but keep in mind that you could be asked for proof of onward travel, and that could cause problems when going through immigration/passport control. So you probably want to have some kind of backup flight.

The other issue is that you would be giving up a free United one way by not booking a roundtrip, since only United roundtrip awards allow a stopover and open jaw.


What Should I Use for My Backup Flights?

You could certainly use an expensive fully refundable ticket as your backup, especially if you're really focused on getting Lufthansa first class for your return flight, as you would then simply cancel the refundable ticket. In fact, you'd probably cancel it regardless and take an award flight in business or possibly a cheap nonrefundable ticket, since you wouldn't want to actually pay the high cost of the flexible ticket--it would just be in case immigration wants to see proof of onward travel.

I would instead recommend one of two things:

1. Book a United or other award you'd be willing to take, if worst comes to worst and you can't find Lufthansa first class availability; or

2. Use AMEX Membership Rewards points to book a backup, or even actual return, in Singapore First Class or Singapore Suites. Now, for U.S. to Europe flights Singapore only flies between JFK and Frankfurt, so that could require both a positioning flight and connection in Frankfurt assuming that's not your final destination, but the nice thing is that with the 15% online discount, Singapore First or Suites Class is 57,375 miles at the Saver Level, and a little over $200 in fees for First Class one way. AMEX Membership Rewards points transfer 1:1 to Singapore KrisFlyer, and if you cancel before flying and reinstate miles, it's just $30, which is a bargain compared to the $150 United award cancellation and reinstatement fee if you're a non-elite.

Having the flexibility to book backup flights such as this is one of the reasons I recommend that you Diversify Your Miles and Points.

 

This Is Taking Too Much Time!

Feel free to use our Award Booking Service - we even offer preferred pricing to those booking their hotels with us.

Have other questions or tips to share for finding award availability and booking Lufthansa First Class?

Related posts

Lufthansa First Class Award: Booked 15 Days in Advance

How to Deal with No More Lufthansa Advance First Class Availability

Lufthansa New First Class Review

Lufthansa's New Business Class Rollout and Routes

Airlines and Routes with First and Business Class Award Availability for Europe

10 Best International First Class Seats for Award Travel

 

Need Award Booking Help? Our fee is as low as $75 per ticket if you book your hotel through us.

If you enjoyed this, join 150,000+ readers: please follow TravelSort on Twitter or  like us on Facebook to be alerted to new posts. 

Become a TravelSort Client and Book Your Hotel with Virtuoso or Four Seasons Preferred VIP Amenities!

  • |
  • Print
    print |
Related Articles
Square_first_class_to_europe_from_west_coast_with_frequent_flyer_miles-british_airways_first_class
7/31/2015
  How to Fly First Class to Europe with Alaska frequent flyer miles? TravelSort reader Barbara writes: "We have built up over $2.4 million frequent flyer miles in Alaska Air Mileage Plan. Now that we are able to start using them, we...
Square_herculaneum_photo_tour-mosaic_at_house_of_neptune_and_amphritite
7/30/2015
  This Herculaneum Photo tour post is part of a trip report featuring the Amalfi Coast, Tuscany, Florence, Rome, Singapore Suites, Air Berlin Business Class, and luxury hotel stays, dining and activities in Berlin and Italy.  For the prior posts,...
Comments
Picture?type=large John M. commented 25 Jan 2013
You're awesome at this. Great post, again!
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 25 Jan 2013
Thanks John, glad it was helpful!
Picture?type=large Unda D. commented 25 Mar 2013
Hi!! DO you know anything about ANA showing First class available but United saying it is only STANDARD award and not Saver? How do we know if what ANA ahows is standard or saver?
Leave a Comment
Comment
Facebook-logo
Get Free Email Blog Updates
Popular Articles
Square_best_frequent_flyer_programs_of_2015
5/14/2015
  What are the best frequent flyer programs of 2015, for U.S. based flyers who value great international first class and business class? Hint: NOT the ones in today's WSJ article "The Most Rewarding Rewards" by Scott McCartney, which again...
Square_bye_bye_cathay_pacific_first_class_with_aadvantage_miles
5/10/2015
  Cathay Pacific First Class award availability using AAdvantage and other oneworld partner miles may be dying. As most readers know, it's already become very difficult to book Cathay Pacific first class in advance using AAdvantage miles, especially if you're...
Square_75k_amex_business_gold_rewards_card_bonus_offer
5/18/2015
  Update: Unfortunately, AMEX has declared this to be a targeted offer, so chances are you are NOT eligible for this and won't be able to apply for it either online or over the phone--sorry. Looks like the best offer...
Square_which_travel_credit_cards_we_plan_to_apply_for
6/7/2015
Which travel credit cards are we planning to apply for now? We're nearing the end of the $20K minimum spend for our 150K AMEX Business Platinum targeted offer, so I'm now looking at which travel credit cards to apply for next....
Square_amex_platinum_airline_credit-200_to_400_off_an_american_airlines_ticket-american_airlines_gift_card
6/2/2015
  Maximizing the AMEX Platinum Airline Credit is one of my more popular posts, but it's been a couple years so I thought I'd provide a concrete example of taking $200-$400 off of an American Airlines ticket. How so? The...
Square_last_chance-_50k_citi_aadvantage_platinum_select_mastercard
5/1/2015
  Last chance to apply for the 50K Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard, as most links are now 30K. Use the preceding link (not my referral, Citi may change at any time). Here are the offer details: 50,000 AAdvantage miles...
Square_what_to_do_if_american_loses_your_aadvantage_award
5/19/2015
  Here's what to do if American Airlines loses your AAdvantage award. And yes, it does happen--it happened to me with a ticket I booked months ago, then finally got around to assigning seats for. This was for my own...
Square_6_reasons_delta_skymiles_amex_cards_aren't_worth_it
6/22/2015
Delta SkyMiles AMEX cards  aren't worth applying for. They're right up there with Capital One cards as some of the worst travel credit cards (see Capital One Venture Card: 5 Reasons It Isn't Worth It). When there are so many better travel...
Square_review-japan_airlines_business_class_seat_767-300
6/12/2015
  This JAL 767-300ER Business Class Review is part of a trip report including luxury resorts in Asia and the Maldives, such as Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru and Amantaka, as well as Etihad First Class and Emirates First Class. We were looking...
Square_business_class_to_europe_for_1500-2000_in_british_airways_club_world_
6/13/2015
  There are still U.S. to Europe roundtrip British Airways Business Class tickets in the $1500-$2000 range, thanks to the British Airways AARP discount and British Airways Visa discount for British Airways flights. Admittedly, there were cheaper tickets earlier this...