Lufthansa First Class Award Space Wide Open from Montreal (and Vancouver)

Lufthansa generally does not release first class award seats more than 14 days prior to travel to members of its partner frequent flyer programs like United MileagePlus, Air Canada’s Aeroplan, or Avianca’s LifeMiles.

That makes it really hard to book. Most people make their award travel plans more than two weeks out, and even if you’re booking close to departure there’s also the return flight to worry about.

As a result, Lufthansa first class awards don’t really exist for most people anymore. Which is a shame, because Lufthansa has tons of flights from so many North American cities. And they offer one of the better products across the Atlantic, especially on the ground in Germany (to read about the incredible Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt, including photos and menus, see here, here, and here).

So it’s sort of surprising that they seem to be releasing 2 or more first class seats on both Vancouver – Munich and Montreal – Munich routes.

Space begins to trickle out over the summer and ramps up after that. Here’s a search for (2) first class awards, Montreal and Vancouver to Munich, in September:

The Vancouver flight is seasonal (end of March through October), so here’s a search just for Montreal – Munich in December:

These routes should all feature Lufthansa’s new first class.

Canada tends to be less of a premium market for paid first class. When Swiss first withdrew partner first class awards from the market they still allowed bookings on Montreal – Zurich. So perhaps it’s not really a surprise that if space opens up, it’s out of Canada.

US Airways has challenges ‘seeing’ available Lufthansa space, an issue that originally began with first class transatlantic awards only. So naturally these seats do not seem to be bookable with US Airways miles.

The simplest way to book these seats is with United or Aeroplan points:

  • United now gets 110,000 miles each way for partner first class awards. You can transfer Chase points to United.
  • Aeroplan gets 62,500 each way for first class awards to nearer Europe plus fuel surcharges. American Express points transfer to Aeroplan.

If you’re only going to fly Lufthansa’s first class in one direction, definitely try to make it a departure from Frankfurt back to Canada. That will get you access to the First Class Terminal — and the coveted Mercedes or Porsche drive across the tarmac to the plane.

I realize these flights depart Munich. But you can certainly fly Frankfurt – Munich – Montreal and as a same-day Lufthansa first class passenger, access the First Class Terminal in Frankfurt.

The Munich first class lounge also offers tarmac transfers — but only to and from flights which arrive or depart from a non-gate position. And transatlantic flights get gates.

On the other hand, if you land in Munich and connect to a regional flight, you may well have a regional flight departing from a bus gate and wind up getting a tarmac transfer.

Ready.. Set.. Go..

(HT: Canadian Kilometers)


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. I am flying this route in September, and was excited to see this post. However, I can’t replicate your findings. Plenty of Business Class (which I already had booked), but not first. What am I missing? Do you know if the Business Class is the new product out of Montreal?

  2. Thanks Gary. Any sense of whether they are opening up in the other direction? I’ve done a very quick search and haven’t found anything.

  3. @Steve – between December 7 – 13 (the random week I just checked) I see 2 F award seats 5 days. Bear in mind that in December the flight is 5 times per week 🙂

  4. @ Gary

    Is the FRA first class terminal / Tarmac experience only available from FRA on the return from Europe? I’m considering a one way trip from JFK to Beijing via Frankfurt all in Lufthansa first. Will replan otherwise

  5. I’m searching on United. I tried many of the days listed as available on your chart/screenshot. For example, I tried maybe 14 days in September, and a few in December…all nothing but Biz. Having had the pleasure of doing Lufthansa First 3 times recently, I’d very much like to do it again.

  6. Interesting…the F space shows on ANA, but not United! Now why on earth would UA make it harder to redeem for first class partner awards?! 🙂 Or could this legitimately be a database synch issue with UA?

  7. And Gary, thanks for all you do. I’ve gotten to travel the world like a rock star, help out friends in need, see amazing places and expand my world view. Just a few months ago I flew a friend to the Philippines to look for his missing parents after the typhoon (found them). This is a fun and rewarding hobby, and you have helped me a great deal.

  8. @Nick, thanks for your question. I checked both the United site and the awardnexus.com site, which is usually pretty reliable in searching various airlines’ award availability and which include a search for ANA.At At least for the narrow range of Sept. 20-23 I was searching, I came up with nothing in first for Munich-Vancouver.

  9. @Justin – you can do it if you were flying Lufthansa First through Europe to Asia, sure. But finding that availability more than 14 days out will be a challenge and here in this post I was talking just about transatlantic flights.

    If you do get Lufthansa first JFK – Frankfurt – Beijing, when you arrive Frankfurt you have to enter Germany, exit the main terminal, walk to your left past the line of taxis in their waiting area, up to the first class terminal.

  10. Thanks for the info. Regarding tarmac transfers – if I am connecting in MUC from an LH Intra-Europe regional flight to an LH first class flight, will a car pick me up at the regional flight remote stand?

  11. @Rob yes if you arrive at an apron position you’ll get a car pickup and transfer to the first class lounge in munich to await your first class departure

  12. Thanks ever so for the heads up, Gary. I was able to rebook my SFO-YUL-MUC-FRA-SZG to SFO-YVR-MUC-FRA-SZG as well as my return. Silly thing, but we now have a longer TATL flight which is much preferable to us. All flights are in September/October.

  13. Anyone booking these awards getting “waitlist” status when checking their reservation on lufthansa?

  14. It would be nice if this were visible on United.com so I could make the change there for myself.

    Sadly, I’m running into a number of phone agents who don’t believe award changes are possible without a reprice. This feels like very dangerous territory for my awards to be in, lest I get a dreaded note on my record locator.

  15. Hey Gary – Great post and hey, speaking of UA award search tools….just curious what your tool choice is these days for searching upgradable (miles+money) inventory? In a perfect world I’d love something that lays out available upgrades like Expert Flyer does on the AA side of things.

  16. hi,
    what is the change fee that everyone is getting? I had to pay 75 per person to change the date and departing airport. did i get ripped off?
    no change in award miles thankfully.
    i’m kickin myself for not checking grrrr

  17. Gary,out of curiosity, what are you using to display the award routes in the format you are showing above? Did you just copy and paste into a calendar or is there an award tool that shows availability so nicely? Thanks.

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