Booking One More Lufthansa First Class Flight Before the United Devaluation

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Earlier this week I briefly mentioned that I have a trip on United miles to Europe coming up in early February (I traded the Olympics in Russia for a shorter trip with a friend to Europe), and I had hopes to being able to switch from my current itinerary to one that includes a Lufthansa First Class segment from the US to Germany, as paying for this flight using United miles will get a ton more expensive starting on February 1st.  It will go from 67,500 miles each way to 110,000 miles each way after the award chart changes!  It is pricey for me now, but will be insanely pricey starting in a week.

However, even though I want to fly in that cabin, as you likely know if you have ever tried to do this yourself, Lufthansa First Class flights are not that easy to find using United miles.  They often don’t release first class space to partners like United until two weeks before the flight, and even then it is far from guaranteed that it will happen.  They also have some planes with a very nice first class product, and some that still have an older first class product that I’m sure is nice, but if I’m spending extra miles to fly in first, I want the newer and nicer first class.


Lufthansa First Class

I have flown Lufthansa in first class once before and had a great and relaxing flight.  I had hoped to do it one more time before it gets super pricey via United, but didn’t think it was realistically going to happen.  However, today I was able to find a way to make it happen on my upcoming trip to Europe.  I’ll share some of the methods I used to make it happen in case you are trying to squeeze in one more Lufthansa first class trip as well, plus several of the steps are useful when searching for any product or route, not just Lufthansa.

  • Start looking for availability about two weeks out.  I start looking for first class availability about 14-15 days before my outbound flight as that is usually the earliest that Lufthansa first class availability to partners might be available.  I searched on, but also cross-referenced that with other Star Alliance search engines such as ANA or LifeMiles since United sometimes shows some “phantom” Lufthansa availability that isn’t really there.

Lufthansa First Availability

  • Don’t let the computer do all the thinking.  Don’t just put in your origin and final destination and expect the computer to find every possible routing.  It will only show a fraction of what you can really do.  If you are hunting for Lufthansa F availability (or any specific route/carrier for that matter), you are better off searching segment by segment and then piecing it all together in the end.  You may have to book over the phone if you are trying to force routing that the computer doesn’t present on its own, but that is a small price to pay to get exactly what you want.
  • Be familiar with the routes Lufthansa flies and search each one of them.  If you aren’t going to let the computer do all the thinking, then that means that you need to be doing it.  I searched virtually all of the US-Europe routes that Lufthansa flies, even though it would be most convenient for me to be on the Houston – Frankfurt flight.  However, limiting myself to that one flight on that one day would dramatically lessen my chance of success.  One Mile at a Time is really the “King of Lufthansa First”, so I utilized his post on “How to Predict Lufthansa First Class Availability” where he ranks the available routes in terms of how hard they often are to get.  By manually searching those routes (for example searching ORD-FRA or BOS-MUC or DFW-FRA instead of my whole trip at once, I was able to find availability on a couple routes for my needed date.  Then I wanted to narrow it down to which ones were supposed to have the new first class product.
  • Search for which flights have the new first class product by using this tool on the Lufthansa site I saw that the DFW – FRA segment I found is supposed to have the new first class seats, so because of that and the favorable flight time for my needs, I went with this segment.  Though of course aircraft substitution could rear its head and it could ultimately have the old seats. 
  • Find the surrounding segments.  I then had to make sure that I could find award segments with availability from Houston to Dallas and then from Frankfurt onto my final destination.  That was pretty easy in my case, and the schedule should give me plenty of time to get a complimentary massage at the Centurion Lounge in DFW between my flightsHey, if you’re going to do a fancy flight, do it all the way!

Complimentary massage in the Amex Centurion Lounge at DFW

  • Keep looking.  I’m not done yet.  I’m happy with my schedule as it since it isn’t rushed, gives me time both at the Centurion Lounge in DFW and the Lufthansa First Class Lounge (though not Terminal, I think) in Frankfurt, and gets me where I want to eventually be in Europe in amazing comfort.  However, flying on the Lufthansa A380 in first directly from Houston to Frankfurt would save me some time, and I’d gladly trade my visit to the Centurion Lounge in DFW for some extra hours back at home.  I see that flight is still showing F-6 according to my search on and directly on Lufthansa’s site (which means they are still selling six of the eight first class seats), so I haven’t given up that the flight may become available on United miles.  However, it has to open up by January 31st or I won’t be able to afford it.

I am lucky to be able to make all of these changes to my trip for free due to my elite status with United, but even if I didn’t have status, I would have likely paid the change fee to grab these flights before February 1st.  I’m in a unique position of having a trip that lets me just squeak in before the United devaluation, and since I am flying solo and meeting up with a friend in Europe, I only needed to find one first class seat available.  Basically, I think it would have been crazy to not to put in the extra effort/miles to make this flight happen.

I’m looking forward not only to the trip itself (more on that later), but the process of getting there and back.  A big thumbs up to pre-devaluation United miles for making it happen, as this is something I would absolutely never be able to afford if I had to pay cash!  Were you able to squeak in any United bookings before the impending award chart change?

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  1. Assuming that in Frankfurt you’re going to be connecting to another Lufthansa (or Lufthansa group airline) flight then you will have access to the First Class Terminal.

    You’ll have to go through passport control, down to the ground floor/baggage claim level and exit the terminal, turn to the left and walk all the way to the end of the temrinal and past where the taxis wait before being dispatched to the terminal for passenger pickup, and then keep walking to the First Class Terminal.

    But an arriving Lufthansa first class passenger who is connecting to another Lufthansa, Swiss, etc. flight is welcome to use the First Class Terminal (and thus will get the car ride to the plane even for your intra-European flight).

    • Gary, I’m currently scheduled to connect to SAS so my understanding is you can use FC lounge in that case, but not FC terminal, I think….

  2. @mommypoints – that’s correct then, first class lounge with your arriving boarding pass but not first class terminal.

    @Joanna – I’m not mommypoints (by a long shot!) but I’d say Lufthansa with new business class seats > United BusinessFirst > Lufthansa with old business class seats.

    • Gary, thanks for confirming what I thought. Also, I agree with Gary on the seat ranking….especially now as United will be more affordable going forward than LH so might as well grab LH now.

  3. United agents have been inconsistent with charging a change fee when upgrading classes on the same route. I recently upgraded an economy seat to business seat when it opened up on Thai and the agent didn’t charge the $50 fee for a silver member to change.

  4. Hi MP, we watched a few US Open matches together after meeting at the SPG tent and as I told you then I read your blog everyday and you are amazing! I have a trip booked using United Miles in April. I took advantage of the routing rules and added a nice Hawaii leg for August (staying at the Maui Hyatt following in your MP footsteps!). My trip is JFK-CDG LH business (vendome for 5 nights!), then AMS-JFK LH JFK- Maui United metal. This is a 27th anniversary trip and I want to make it as amazing and go in first class. Is there anything I can do to get seats in first under current prices when I don’t leave until April? I am certainly happy with business class but I’ve heard LH isn’t great while first is off the charts!
    thanks for your help!

  5. David, that has been my experience as well, but I would just assume a change of class, routing, or carrier will trigger a change fee (closer in than 21 days) and then be pleasantly surprised if it doesn’t.
    Smay, yes I remember! I think you will love the Andaz in Maui and great job with the Hawaii add on. This particular ticket of mine has a Vancouver add on. 😉 The short answer to your question is not really. The longer answer is, an outside shot, but it really is an outside shot of everything working perfectly when you have limited date flexibility. Read MileValue’s post for the outside shot. I also will be at some of the places you mention in April, so maybe our paths will cross again.
    Paul, I hear ya. I don’t have United, but I do feel that their searches have generally gotten harder, not easier.

  6. Not necessarily limited to Lufthansa, but if you search ITA segment by segment and then call in, is there a way to ensure that you will get a “Saver” (or equivalent) cost in miles?

    • Miles, I search at the saver level using sites like United, so that is all I am really searching for and calling in about.

  7. @mommypoints – thank you so much for your advice! I am one of the sad “butt in the seat” mileage travelers who just discovered the credit card bonus world (thanks to the blogs!) and just booked a round trip (with a stopover) ORD-FRA-ICN-FRA-ORD on LH first and Asiana suites. What is the flexibility with the dates? Do I have to continuously be on the lookout for the dates that I need (I booked for Feb, but need o travel in the fall)? Can I change the length of the stopover? Can I change the time elapsed between the departure and return dates? Thanks in advance for your assistance!

  8. TG A380 F nicer than LH? I’ve flown both in the past 30 days and couldn’t disagree more strongly.

    TG is fine in F–don’t get me wrong. Even if you call TG/LH hard product a draw (which I wouldn’t), LH knocks it out of the park with the soft product (TG is famously inadequate).

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