Swiss First Class Awards Showing Wide Open on United Website: Phantom or Real?

Swiss first class awards are a unicorn, and people go to sort of crazy lengths for it.

All Swiss routes are showing wide open award availability, it’s definitely not all bookable.

Here’s an award calendar from United for Boston – Zurich:

Much of the first class space out there isn’t actually bookable.

Generally speaking you’ll find that you can get all the way to submitting payment and then will error out.

My take:

  • If you can find the space at Aeroplan’s website then it’s likely real.
  • Swiss doesn’t intend to offer Swiss first redemptions to partners, these are only intended for elite members of the Miles & More frequent flyer program. That was a change made January 2014.
  • I’m in meetings and haven’t been able to scour for space that’s real. It did open up to partners briefly back in June so could happen again.

You may want to play with this and see if you can find space, but I wouldn’t transfer points into United to do it (other than setting up a reservation by phone and then making the instant transfer) since so much of what you see at right now isn’t real.

Similarly I wouldn’t transfer points to Aeroplan from Membership Rewards until a real reservation has been created. That transfer is instant as well.

Please do share here if you find actual bookable award space.

(HT: Meir W.)

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, 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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  1. Have been looking at this for a few hours, but haven’t found a single date with first space on Aeroplan, so I’m guessing phantom space 🙁

  2. Also is showing lots of phantom space in Swiss biz. Like United shows ZRH-LAX wide open on many dates in the summer but it appears to be phantom space checking it on lifemiles and aeroplan.

  3. You’re seriously going to put BOS-ZRH as a screenshot but say its from IAD-ZRH when LX doesn’t even operate that route? Wow.. lying to readers.

  4. Swiss air business class is not great either. Austrian air business somewhat better, not great.

  5. @Mark. I’ve been reading his site for a while and I’ve never seen him lie.

    Oh, then is see right above my reply he’s saying it was a typo. So chill with the name calling.

    I have a friend who thought he found one of these unicorns and was all excited. Nope, a phantom. He’s waiting to see it they open it up like you said, I emailed him your post.


  6. This really is too bad. I’ve been trying to book a Swiss flight from Rome to JFK or EWR (Bus class) since early January. As others have mentioned all of this availability is “phantom” space. It’s so annoying and time consuming calling United to confirm.

    I ended up booking a TAP flight, the only thing I could confirm for a November departure.

  7. I attempted to book the Swiss Air flight online. Transferred 140,000 points to United from Chase Ultimate Rewards and then got rejected. Immediately called United (it was 1am) and all I got was “I’m sorry” but there was nothing they could do. The next day I called and got a wonderful employee. She couldn’t believe what happened and went to great lengths to solve the problem, which she did to my satisfaction. This was done 1/11 and yet the flights still show as available. Sounds like a scam to get points into United account.

  8. @Howard it’s not a scam, it’s a data error, I haven’t checked this but my hunch would be that United is showing availability for the wrong point of sale (i.e. they’re displaying availability to Miles & More members, people in Swiss’ own frequent flyer program). Regardless, definitely an error and not something they’re trying to be deceitful about. “never attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence”

  9. Jeff, Data errors can be fixed. It’s been a month now and those flights still show up. If you are not aware of the problem (and why should we be aware) then you will follow instructions and transfer points. The last page then tells you, you lose.

  10. I booked 4 J one way at saver level rewards for July from EWR to PRG.

    Ticketed and confirmed via Swiss app. And double checked ticket numbers.

  11. United is still showing plenty of Business Class availability on Swiss but when I tried to get seats they still give an error message! Is United aware of the problem?

  12. Well I finally got Business on Swiss through United Mileage Plus. 70k each way with modest tax/fee.
    Seat selection on Swiss is funky though. They assigned me 2 seats in row 5 near the Lav and won’t let me change on their website. I’ll just call and get disappointed.

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