United Unable to Book Lufthansa First Class Award Tickets, Should Be Temporary

United MileagePlus has had issues booking awards on several Star Alliance partners this year, some of which have been resolved.

A new one that’s arisen is an inability to book Lufthansa first class awards. United and other Star Alliance partners don’t usually have access to Lufthansa first class award space until within two weeks of travel anyway, and Lufthansa has been tighter with releasing that space until even closer to travel than that lately. However once they do, programs like Air Canada Aeroplan, Singapore Airlines Krisflyer, and ANA Mileage Club can see the award space — but United right now cannot.

Dan’s Deals speculates that this is intentional on United’s part.

  • They’ve intentionally blocked space they did not want to pay for in the past, but that was before Continental Airlines management took over and ended the practice. (Frequent flyers referred to this old technique as ‘Starnet blocking’ while internally it was referred to as ‘throttling’.)

  • United has intentionally removed space from its website to reduce bookings on a partner. They did that with Singapore Airlines at one point.

However they’re in a joint venture across the Atlantic with Lufthansa. There’s not a whole lot of Lufthansa first class award space anyway. And they’ve had technical issues making bookings with other partners. So the probabilities suggested this was a glitch rather than something intentional.

Indeed United tells me that they are ‘aware of the issue’ and they are ‘urgently working to resolve it.’ It would be nice to post a note to this effect, so members aren’t searching and calling in frustration in the meantime.

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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  1. @ Gary — Too bad I don’t need to redeem for LH F for travel in the next 15 days. Having UA (and usually Avianca) access blocked should make it easier for others to redeem!

  2. It looks like they’re blocking Copa. I can see the award seats I need when I go to other Star Alliance partners.

  3. I am so glad I spent 110k UA miles on LH F on the A380 last summer. I suspected another devaluation or outright elimination of LH’s F cabin and/or the A380 would be coming within a couple years.

    When LH closes the First Class Terminal in FRA we will hear the bloggers’ screams of pain even with our speakers turned all the way down.

  4. I’m thinking it is a glitch but a welcome one for UA. LH F makes Polaris look like dining in a hospital cafeteria.

  5. Oh no. How am I going to be able to carry on without the ability to book Lufthansa first class. Quelle horreur

  6. A data point to share: Last week I noticed this problem and curiously I saw a “Business Saver” award on LH402 from FRA to EWR for 110,000 United miles. I thought that was strange. I clicked on it and sure enough it was a first class “O” seat. It seems that where there are no saver award seats in business, but there is “O” space, the space will show up under business saver. Hard to test this as there is usually business saver space available if there is space in first.

  7. UA has gone to literally the worst of the big 3. As a former 1K for many years, I am more than happy only using them when it suits me (which is rare), the service still sucks and this proves they are not worth the hassle. Wake up De Nada and Scotch Kirby, you took an widely known albatross and made it worse as one of the worst in the industry. Great work UA board by keeping these clowns ruining ERRRRR running your airline.

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