Lufthansa First Class Award Space Available.. But Not When You Look in the Usual Places

Last week I wrote that neither United.com nor the ANA website have been completely reliable for searching Star Alliance awards.

As a result, I’ve found Air Canada’s Aeroplan website to be the most useful tool when searching for award space on Star Alliance partner airlines.

There are three websites that show most awards on Star Alliance partner airlines. I describe this in What Websites Should You Use to Search for Award Availability?

  • United. They don’t show all partners, partners even come and go, but they do show many.
  • Aeroplan. Shows all partners, my go-to site for checking award space. It suggests many routings and is fast and responsive in my opinion.
  • ANA. Historically this is the most accurate site for checking award space but it hasn’t been completely accurate in recent months.

As a general matter, award space on one Star Alliance airline should be available to all Star Alliance airlines. There are some exceptions. Lufthansa and Swiss make more award space available to their own members than they do to partner airlines. The same is true for Singapore Airlines. And Avianca’s LifeMiles can’t see otherwise-available Lufthansa first class award space (they used to see award space no other Star airline could, I believe they had issues with their ‘point of sale’ meaning they were booking award space meant for Miles & More members only).

That said there have been an increasing number of discrepancies. Yesterday a reader told me about United saver award space that could not be booked by Aeroplan.

And today Nima writes,

[S]earching for LH 434 from Munich to Chicago on Saturday, October 17th reveals:

Aeroplan: No first class space
ANA: No first class space
United: First class space available and bookable!

Note that this is of course within 2 weeks of travel, the traditional time you start to see Lufthansa first class award space becoming available to partner airlines.

And indeed, Nima is correct. The space is not available via ANA:

And it does not show available on the Aeroplan website either.

But it does show up as bookable at United.com (and it does not error out, either, it is indeed bookable).

What this means is that you should:

  1. Search all available data sources when looking for award space.
  2. If it’s available on any source, try to book it with the miles you have to work with.
  3. If it isn’t available on your mileage program’s website, call them.
  4. If you don’t get them to see the space, hang up and call back. Believe them after three or four tries.

That’s not a perfect solution, but it’s my approach when there are discrepancies like this.

Sometimes it’s a technical glitch with the website. Sometimes it’s an IT issue (and relatedly, timing). Sometimes it’s a mystery. But presently there’s not a perfect syncing up of space that should be available the same way to different Star Alliance airlines. And that means more work for us.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. So I need a 1st Class LH FRA- IAD 747-8i on July 12 to complete my 34 hour B-Day next year. Starting out CX HGK- FRA

    I thought w/out Miles & More, I had to wait until 14 days out. I’ve been looking at UA for 14 days out & seeing availability.

    Is there a way that other airlines have award space sooner than 14 days, or are we still just looking 14 days out? ✈️

  2. @Bill n DC – I am not sure I understand the question. In general we don’t see airlines with access to award space in Lufthansa first more than 14 days out except for Lufthansa’s own Miles & More progam. Are you seeing otherwise?

  3. I’ve found that since United rolled out the new website (again) the award booking engine is not showing correct results. It also appears that there’s been a significant change — in the past I’ve found that I and R inventory were identical, but now the I inventory has been substantially restricted! I don’t know if this is new — Gary?

    OTOH, about 50% of the time when I call the 1K line I get an agent that is more than happy to take as much time as necessary to run queries for me, even when they spam multiple segments and months. I do prefer to put together my itineraries myself, but it’s a reasonable second choice.

  4. I’ve noticed this before … for whatever reason, UA seems to show LH space anywhere from 12-24 hours before other star partners with not unusual frequency.

  5. Gary, can you share your thoughts on this discrepancy? I see 2 seats on OZ on Sep 9 & 10 on the ANA website but not on Aeroplan or Lifemiles (United does not show availability this far out).

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