Analyzing Lufthansa First Class award space can make your head spin - Points Miles and Martinis


I like sharing specific details about acquiring Lufthansa First Class award seats as partner awards because frankly it is really easy. I put together a Lufthansa First Class toolkit here. People generally shy away from Lufthansa First Class because you cannot lock in a trip before 15 days out. That being said, you can almost guarantee you will find something within the two week window to get you from the US to Europe and beyond. I have no qualms scheduling vacation with no tickets in hand and seeing what Lufthansa deals out. For the third time this year, I got exactly what I wanted, two seats on the Denver 747 flight, by waiting up until the last minute to book.

In the Lufthansa First Class toolkit, I shared a bit how you can predict what flight will open up seats. Generally speaking, you want to look for flights selling a lot of seats on non-premium routes. As I have learned this week from helping a friend get seats out of DC this week, you can’t always count on this method as the logic can make your head spin.

I was monitoring Kayak to see which Thursday and Friday flights out of DC this week may open up a seat or two. The two flights that interested me are IAD-MUC on a A330 guaranteed to have new first class and IAD-FRA on the 747-8i also guaranteed to have the new cabin. They wanted the 747-8i because it is awesome but I let them know the A330 route is really good and more likely to open up as I have taken it three times and this flight almost always releases space when there is a lot of unsold inventory. The 747-8i route on the other hand is the more premium route and generally releases very little space if any leaving the US so don’t hold your breath.

My kayak results showed 7 out of 8 open seats on the less premium IAD- MUC route.

LH 1st MUC

The more premium IAD-FRA showed 6 out of 8 open seats.

LH 1st FRA

From this prediction I would anticipate 2 seats would open on the IAD-MUC route and 0 or maybe 1 would show up on the IAD-FRA route.  I told my friends to be ready to leave Thursday night.

As we are within two days of both flights I took a look at the last minute availability. I was quite shocked to find 0 seats on the less premium IAD-MUC route with 7 unsold seats.

MUC ANA

Even more perplexing was that there were 3 award seats available on the more premium IAD-FRA route. 747-8i it is!

FRA ANA

The key takeaway

There is definitely a pattern to which seats Lufthansa releases but the formula is surely complex and does not always follow simple logic. I would suggest readers who want that Lufthansa First Class experience to take a look at the inventory levels to predict which flights will open but stay flexible because the analysis may make your head spin.

  • Michael said,

    I’m hoping to catch LAX-CDG on LH in F on Oct 2 or Oct 3 (via a stop in Germany). How can I predict if those flights will open up?

  • JD said,

    I was playing the 1st class roulette in March. I saw MUC-SFO was still selling 7 seats two weeks out, but not releasing any award seats… same thing one week out… same a few days before the flight… then a friend reminded me they might just overbook J, and in fact you could see the seatmap there was pretty much full and still they were selling 7 seats in business class.

    Good thing I had FRA-SEA-SFO in backup (although the 7 hours layover sucked).

  • Jeremy said,

    I was fortunate to get LH F from FRA-IAD last week and shared my tale on FT: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/21106537-post1303.html. I think the key to look at is whether or not the lower classes are still selling fares. Expertflyer showed a good amount of Y and J fares being sold as well as the F seats so I had a good feeling it’d open, but what was crazy is that the flight ended up being full! So hard to predict for sure, but seeing seats being sold in F and A buckets as well as in business and economy buckets is a good sign I think.

  • Ary said,

    I have a question. I have booked the IAD to MUN already in business class for 50,000 bonus miles each for two tickets. Actually, the flight is from IND to IAD to MUN to Madrid in business. My question is can i call United 15 days before and change the itinerary if two spots open in first up by giving an extra 17,500 miles? Is this allowed?

  • Ary said,

    As a follow up, my flight is on October 15 leaving IAD at 10:00 pm. Using your method, Kayak shows 6 First class seats available.

  • alex said,

    @Ary – Yes, but you will incur a 100 USD change fee (changes within 21 days of travel) if you do not have United status. Still worth it in my opinion. Unscientifically I’d say you have about a 25% chance of two seats opening up on that route. Good luck!

  • Ary said,

    Alex, thanks for the reply. Do i need to do the search on the United portal first to direct them, or can i just call United directly and ask them if they have availability? Also, if this fails, are you aware if the IAD to MUN has the new business class product or is it old business class?

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