At What Time Does Lufthansa Open First Class Award Availability?

This won’t come as a surprise to anyone, but Lufthansa is my favorite airline on which to cross the Atlantic in first class.

First class award options are limited with European airlines

In reality the options are pretty limited, especially among European airlines with first class:

  • Air France only makes first class award seats available to elite members of their own program at the “flex” level
  • British Airways makes first class award seats available to members (and members of partner programs) way in advance, but there are hefty carrier imposed surcharges, and the product isn’t that great
  • Lufthansa makes first class award seats available to members of their own program in advance, and to members of partner frequent flyer programs at most 15 days out
  • Swiss only makes first class award seats available to elite members of their own program

As a result, Lufthansa is usually my go-to option for first class awards between the US and Europe, given that I’m pretty good at predicting when they’ll open award seats, and given that I consider their product to be significantly better than British Airways’.


Lufthansa A340 first class cabin

I usually book Lufthansa first class through Aeroplan or LifeMiles

Generally I book through either LifeMiles or Aeroplan:

  • LifeMiles charges 87,000 miles one-way between the US and Europe with no carrier imposed surcharges (you can transfer these points from Citi, or LifeMiles often sells miles at a discount)
  • Aeroplan charges 70,000-80,000 miles one-way between the US and Europe, with carrier imposed surcharges typically totaling under $400 in each direction (you can transfer these points from Amex)

While my first pick is always to book through LifeMiles, the program can’t book more complex awards, so when I’m booking a multi-segment itinerary (especially one that includes connections on other airlines), I book through Aeroplan.


Lufthansa First Class Lounge Munich

At what time does Lufthansa open first class award seats?

Award space with Lufthansa doesn’t always open 15 days out, but rather opens at most 15 days out. So for some routes you may very well see a seat become available a couple of weeks out, while other times seats may only open a couple of days out.

I’ve been watching award availability like a hawk the past few days, since I’m taking a trip with my dad to Europe, and award availability almost didn’t pan out quite the way I had expected. There was quite a bit at stake, including positioning flights, a non-refundable hotel reservation, etc. So while I thought one more seat would open, I had to be sure that no one else would beat me to it.

Since award availability on Lufthansa’s premium routes can be quite competitive, I was monitoring availability even more closely than usual. I also set ExpertFlyer alerts (they will email and text you when an award seat opens on select airlines), but there’s always a delay to that, and I wanted to be as quick as I could.

That’s why I figured it made sense to share a data point. While it can be tough to predict how many days in advance Lufthansa will release seats for a particular flight, it generally seems like on a given day Lufthansa releases first class award seats around 10PM CEST (that’s 1PM PT and 4PM ET).

That’s not to say that this is the only time that award seats are released. Sometimes seats are released at other times when someone cancels, or for whatever other reason. However, for the routes I’ve been closely monitoring, seats have consistently opened up at exactly 10PM CEST.

Given that award seats on premium routes to LAX, MIA, SFO, etc., often disappear within minutes or hours, I figure it’s useful to know that.

Does anyone have a different experience in terms of the time at which Lufthansa first class award seats generally open?

Comments

  1. No significant data Alex but over a few weeks I often checked around midday CT and saw updated availability on CX on the qantas website. Midnight in Hk approx?

  2. I was trying to book a last min flight home on LH a few weeks back from AMS to SFO so I did the same thing constantly checking a week or so before needing to fly home on award availability. 10pm local Amsterdam time was when those seats that get released a day before the flight opened up so same data as you Luck.

  3. Great post ! I was able to get first seats! Upgrade from biz from Munich to Bos about 10 days out a couple years ago ! Worked out great ! Hoping for the same Bos to Frankfurt next April ! Would it make sense to just transfer some miles to Lufthansa? If they release first to their members ?

  4. I just got back from visiting Kiev and Warsaw. I flew there on Lufthansa First Class Airbus A340-600 from JFK to Kiev via Munich. Booked with Aeroplan miles. Kept checking once a day, 8 weeks out after hearing LifeMiles had access to first class earlier. Still nothing on Aeroplan. Two weeks before, I found a flight on Saturday (preferred Friday, but took what came) with a 11.5 hour layover. Since I made this trip only because I wanted to fly on Lufthansa first class I didn’t care. Booked it. Kept looking for a return trip on Sunday a week later but found nothing. I did grab a business class flight back on Lufthansa. Also very good. It was also only available 2 weeks out. Again only on Saturday. I guess Sunday is too popular. The 11.5 hour layover was fantastic. After eating a fantastic made to order breakfast, I grabbed a shower and a nap in the spa. Their first class lounge rules. After another made to order meal for lunch, steak and schnitzel, I enjoyed search the airport. They tried to say they were out of the highly south after duck, but after offering to pay for one (not really going to pay), they produced one. Gold with a black bill. I love it.

  5. Hey @Lucky, I followed your advice from a similar post and booked myself, my wife and our daughter on Lufthansa F just last week. Every day 15 days before our flight I checked at 4pm EST (10pm CEST) and sure enough one seat would open up around that time, sometimes it took 10 minutes to appear, and then another a few days later. Obviously I was closely monitoring the loads on the flight (JFK-FRA, the later departure) to see what LH would release.

    I did the same thing on the way back and it worked spot on. I was tempted to change from SK J to LH F but we were booked on CPH-EWR and decided to fly direct, esp with a young child.

    This is really really spot on. You’re a master as always 🙂

  6. is there a list anywhere where LH flies first class to North America? Seems like all the old “easy” flight no longer have a first class.

  7. Any ideas on BA F at the last min? Seems like there is no method to the madness… but curious on your thoughts.

  8. What about flight loads? The flight I’m watching is is at F3, and I need one more seat. Are they inclined to open another a day or two before departure?
    Timely post Lucky, and thanks.

  9. AA biz opens up at like 2:45 AM EST FWIW. I was watching some nonstops from PHL and I got the email alerts around then. When I woke up at 7 AM that day they were gone. I think European carriers would be better with time zone differences for people in the US.

  10. Good work, Ravi! You got a rare Iowa Hawkeyes LH Duck!

    I think I’m transfering SPG to LH and plan next RTW Doing ANA IAD – TOKYO THEN LH 747-8i Tokyo- FRA – IAD

  11. What site should we be using to check at 4 PM EST (10PM CEST) for availability? I’m planning on using Aeroplan miles to book and I know that’s generally a decent place to look for seats as UA often has phantom award space. Does that hold true for those of you that have successfully booked using the 4 PM rule?

  12. This might be a really stupid question, but how does one actually look up Lufthansa availability? Their website just tells me I don’t have enough miles to book, and I never see them show up on the United site either. I have the CSR, so I would be using United miles to book if I could.

  13. How bad is the YQ when booking with OZ (Asiana) miles? At 50k one way in F it seems like a good option on paper.

  14. Alex, and others, I was tracking CX closely for several weeks, the biggest pattern I found is that their systems update on Sunday, more towards the end of the day where I live (USA, central time zone), I don’t have an exact time, but I would say 6 PM ish

  15. @ schar — I was checking both Aeroplan and United websites, and both showed the space almost immediately.

  16. Is lifemiles for some reason not seeing availability in the EWR-FRA flight? Any suggestions of how to book it there?

  17. Is there any way to predict which departure airport would give you higher chance of availability? I know availability would be more scarce from LAX, SFO, JFK, but what about Detroit, Dallas Chicago, etc.? Which has consistently higher availability?

  18. @Ravi – your enthusiasm for spending 11.5 hours in a lounge is surely something. Did that once, and dreaded it in the end. I actually left the lounge for a few hours and headed to Frankfurt as it was simply too much time in a confined space for my likings…

  19. @T.

    T. I have found by far the best availability for LH first class out of ORD (gorgeous 747) and out of NYC, since they have 4 or 5 flights there daily (EWR, JFK to FRA as well as MUC)

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