How to time the release of Lufthansa First Class award inventory for partner airlines

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Flying First Class on Lufthansa using United miles is probably one of the very best awards to Europe. In fact, I could even agree with those who argue Lufthansa First Class is one of the very best awards to Asia via Frankfurt/Munich, assuming you REALLY like to fly as I do.

Lufthansa First Class

A few days ago I stumbled across this flyertalk post where member, UnitedConnection, posted their analysis on when Lufthansa First Class award tickets are released to partner airlines. I had read that 15 days out is the general rule but I was curious to learn more specifics. The details were of particular interest to me as I was in the market for two first class tickets on Lufthansa using United miles, specifically wanting to lock in two seats together on the A380.

The poster reported that seats were released within 10 minutes of 5 PM EDT. I went to test their results using the ANA tool, the single best way to search for Star Alliance awards as United frequently shows phantom Lufthansa First Class availability.

First, I found an A380 flight with 7 seats available to do my experiment. Lufthansa First Class has 8 seats in total so when a flight is still selling 7 or 8 seats, I expect to see two seats come available for partner awards on most flights.

Lufthansa First Class

Looking closer, there were 7 seats left on this flight to be sold out of 8.

458EST

I performed the search on the ANA tool right near 500 PM EST.

Lufthansa First Class

Nothing happened. Hmmm. I waited an hour and tried again performing the search 5 minutes before to confirm the flights were still not available.

Lufthansa First Class

Then 3 minutes to 6 PM EST or UTC/GMT -5 hours, I re-searched and the flight popped up as available for two seats in Lufthansa First Class on the A380. Success!

Lufthansa First Class

I reran the experiment for Osaka and Nagoya, the other two Japanese cities Lufthansa serves and they all showed the availability exactly at the expected time window. Furthermore, I tried again over the next three days and the availability showed up as expected every day for all three flights. I am finding consistency in the release timing of Lufthansa First Class inventory to partner airlines.

For the dates I wanted to be on the A380 in First Class, the minute the availability showed up on the ANA tool, I was able to book two seats using United miles. This newly discovered information allowed me to be first in line when the tickets were released to partners.

The bottom line

While none of this is an exact science, I think it is safe to say 6PM EST (or UTC/GMT -5 hours) 15 days before your departure date is the absolute best time to search for Lufthansa First Class awards using partner airlines such as United miles. Furthermore, I believe you can better predict what is going to come available by seeing how many seats are left unsold prior to the release date. When 7 or 8 seats are open, there is a very good chance a pair of First Class seats will open up right at 6PM EST (or UTC/GMT -5 hours) 15 days out.

HT: UnitedConnection

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About alex

Alex loves to travel and does so a lot. Logging 100,000 flight miles each year over the past 4 years, Alex uses points and miles to power his passion. Alex is continuously striving to experience the far reaches of the globe. In his day job, Alex is a Management Consultant frequently on the road advising Technology organizations. I love thinking about, reading about, and talking about all things travel. Feel free to reach me at pmmalex@gmail.com

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Comments

  1. @KJ – You certainly can book online if the routing is relatively simple and will show up using United’s website. For a more complex routing such as mine, the booking engine would not so I needed to call in.

  2. While I understand the difference between EDT and EST, I had no idea people actually refer to Standard time even though we are currently in Daylight time!

  3. You’ve got your understanding slightly backward. 6pm EST is the same as 7pm EDT. EDT is ahead of EST. Convert it all to GMT if it helps. 6pm EST is GMT-5, 7pm EDT is GMT-4, or 23:00 GMT.

    Time zones and the modern uselessness plus mismatched dates of DST combine to be a real pain. That’s all there is to it. 🙂

  4. And, since I have a much larger balance in my US account, than my UA account, any idea if there is ANY chance of getting these seats with Dividend Miles?

  5. @ArizonaGuy – Thanks and good catch. I updated the post for clarity. Thinking through the time zones makes my head hurt.

    @Cory – SQ doesn’t release long haul First Class to its partners. I haven’t done any research on when they release coach awards but I know they give you more than 15 days notice.

  6. @SgFM – US Airways blocks Lufthansa First awards as a general policy though I know some agents have been known to bend the rules. Expect a headache trying to go that route though.

  7. It sounds like LH releases them at midnight German time, since there is a 6-hour time difference to Eastern time.

  8. Or to phrase differently, availability opens 14 days prior to the date of the flight, Germany time. The times you list correspond to midnight in Europe if I am not mistaken.

  9. I think it varies by route as well. SFO-FRA which is also served by A380 is only releasing seats 24-48hrs before departure. I have done quite some checking on that.

    Other LAX / SFO routes are also below one week now. SEA is still 2 weeks.

  10. I’ve found that you can also have luck 1 day before departure. Sometimes I book an award ticket in business and call the day before and first is available. I’ve had good luck with that on FRA to BKK routes and LAX to ICN route.

    US Air is really tough w/LH Awards, that’s who I book with. You have to ask the agent really nicely or call back a million times. Though I’ve found on the day before the flight they’re more likely to do it for you.

  11. I’m flying business 747-8 from FRA-LAX next summer. I have no status, you think its worth upgrading last minute for $75 per ticket and extra 17,500 miles??

  12. Any idea how early Business class seats are released.And How many they release typically. We are family of 4 looking for business class tickets next year. Planning to fly on LH to India using United miles.

  13. Great post.

    Did you try other routings or were they all FRA-Japan.

    I’m particularly interested in LAX-FRA.

  14. I am the OP of the post last summer and just ran into your blog. Interesting that you found it to be 6 PM. Guessing you were searching in during non-DST, and that one-hour difference is what made you have to wait until 6 PM. Right now it should be back to 5 PM EDT.

    How are you finding availability lately? I’m conducting another experiment session as I start looking for a trip coming up in a couple months and have been finding things are pretty tight. Not seeing seats more than a week out on the routes I am searching, and release timing is totally sporadic. Seems higher loads in the F cabin might be to blame. Shame because this trick was pretty fool-proof for a while.

  15. Very helpful information. As per your example, I began pinging the United website for LH availability 15 days out. Exactly at 4:00PM EDT first class space opened up for many flights from the US to Frankfurt and Munich.

  16. I don’t quite understand. So If I see it on Ana . How do I know the first class award seat is release to united member? Do I go back into united site to book online?

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