The reality is that there are fewer and fewer international first class products out there as many airlines switch to a two cabin model, and those few first class products remaining are tougher than ever to redeem miles for. As a result, you’re often best off seeking out a great business class product when looking for award space.
Austrian business class
One of my favorite transatlantic business class products is Austrian business class. Their entire fleet now features their new fully flat business class product, but my favorite part of flying with them has to be their DO&CO catering and dedicated coffee menu. I’ve flown Austrian business class from Vienna to Tokyo Narita, and had a great flight.
Coffee on Austrian
The challenge with Austrian is that they tend to be pretty quirky with releasing award space. Sometimes they’re extremely generous and open up space on virtually every flight, while other times they seem to have no award space. I’ve received a ton of questions from people looking to redeem an award ticket on them for next summer, and noticing that they have virtually no award space.
I figured I’d post a quick update, because at the moment it seems like Austrian is loading business class award availability 90 days out, almost to the day. In looking at all their longhaul routes three months from now, a vast majority of flights have business class award space:
However, if you search a week (or two, or three, or four) later you’ll notice that not a single flight has award space. So it does seem that right now Austrian is making a pattern of releasing award space three months in advance. Hopefully this is something y’all can use to your advantage, because it can often otherwise be tough to snag premium cabin award space around the three month mark (most airlines release space either 11 months out or again much closer to departure, so it’s nice to have an airline releasing space in the “middle”).
As a reminder, Austrian’s longhaul destinations include Bangkok, Beijing, Chicago Delhi, Male, New York, Tokyo, Toronto, and Washington.
(Tip of the hat to Oscar)