On the heels of United’s dramatic devaluation that goes into effect February 1, many folks are seeing their United miles are no longer so great for booking partner awards (although they’re still non-crazy for booking partner awards in business class).
First class awards on partners are where the real changes come into play. A first class award, say Washington Dulles to Munich and back on Lufthansa, goes up from 135,000 miles to 220,000 miles.
And of course first class awards on Lufthansa have become really tough to get. A couple of years ago they were everywhere, now they’re usually only bookable within two weeks of travel. Lufthansa has reduced the number of first class seats it flies and have severely restricted the ability for partner frequent flyer programs to book those seats.
Since they’re tough to get, and about to get a whole lot more expensive, there’s a lot of excitement right now that Lufthansa’s newly-announced Toronto – Munch flight has outstanding availability in first class for next summer — most days even (as Lucky was first to write) — as many as four seats per flight. And it’s expected to be operated by an aircraft with Lufthansa’s new first class.
To me it’s a case of desperately wanting what you can’t have, for many the extra hop up to Toronto for a short transatlantic flight won’t be worth it. And Lufthansa first class in and out of Munich doesn’t get you the famed ‘First CLass Terminal’ just the very good first class lounge. Most importantly Munich first class passengers are only driven across the tarmac when arriving or departing from a non-gate position. So if your connecting flight beyond Munich leaves from a gate you will have to walk to that gate instead of getting driven there.
Nonetheless, if you’e interested in using your United (or other Star Alliance partner) miles for first class travel next summer, booking the Toronto – Munich flight right now while such great award space is open would be a good idea. Since Toronto is a hub of Star Alliance member Air Canada, it’s often reasonably doable to get a connecting flight to and from Toronto as part of your itinerary.
Shuttling through Toronto is another option for business class transatlantic travel as well, as the flight is wide open in business too and not just in first.
I’m not jumping on this myself, but no doubt many will.
If I was going to, the way I would play it is part of a first class award to Asia. Fly from your home airport to Toronto to Munich (Lufthansa First) to Bangkok (Thai First) and return. That’s 140,000 United miles, compared to 135,000 miles to fly just to Europe. Do a stopover in Europe in one direction.
Update: Apologies that I posted this with comments closed, not sure what caused the glitch but it has been fixed.