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Lufthansa Awards Issue — Availability Online Unavailable by Phone
I am a Lufthansa newbie and need a reality check on what an awards booking agent (in the US) just told me, because it makes absolutely no sense to me.
I am trying to book 2 adult and 2 child business class one-way tickets from MUC to LAX in July. I would prefer to fly to SFO, but the m-and-m website showed no availability; but it showed availability for at least 4 biz seats MUC-LAX. I am using Miles and More points, not partner miles.
Because Lufthansa doesn’t permit you to book child awards online (at least “as” child awards with the associated discount), I called to book the itinerary. I was told that while there were plenty of seats available for booking online, there were no business class seats available to the agent for phone booking. I asked some follow-up questions, because it made no sense to me that the airline would have available reward seats but refuse to give them to you over the phone, and the agent assured me that this was the case. She said, quote, “This is what Lufthansa does. They make some reward seats only available online, for people who don’t want to call.” I said that I would much prefer not to call, but that because Lufthansa doesn’t permit child award bookings online, I had no choice. She agreed that that was true and suggested I call back next week because maybe more of the plentiful award seats on these flights would become available for phone booking.
Is this really true? Is this purely a resource issue where they don’t want to pay agents to handle these reservations and therefore incentivize online booking? (And if so, why not allow child award bookings online?)
This is pretty frustrating. There are plenty of available seats, I have the miles to cover them, but I can’t access the seats. What’s more, I had already booked an outgoing award flight from the US to LHR based in part on seeing the Lufthansa availability for the return I wanted.
Is there any work-around possible? (Unfortunately I don’t have enough miles — without transferring more from SPG, which I’d rather not do — to book 4 adult tix online and then try to change 2 to child tickets; if that is even an option.)
Well, that agent sounds crazy, so I would start by calling back and trying with a different agent.
There could be a variety of reasons for a discrepancy in inventory, however — whenever you hear anything that sounds that ridiculous, your first move should always be to call again (and sometimes a third time) so you have better data.
Thanks Tiffany. I called back and got a new agent . . . who told me the same thing. She did confirm (for what that’s worth) that I could book 4 adult tickets online and then call back and change two of them to child tickets — though I’d get hit with $120 in change fees to do so (and would have to first transfer SPG points to cover the initial miles, only to have them refunded as miles and more points that I will likely never use). Her primary advice, again, was to call back next week. Both agents thought it was quite likely that they would have more “by phone” availability on November 1.
This rule system still makes no sense to me. And my resource/incentives theory can’t be right (or is being executed poorly), since the second agent said that they advise members to call them a minimum of twice a week. So it’s not like they are removing the need for on-call agents; they are actively encouraging their use.
Hmmm, I wonder if there could be phantom space? I’ve not encountered that with M&M before, but it could happen.
So to clarify, I would ask if the agents are not seeing any seats? Or not seeing four? Or not seeing child seats? That might help in uncovering the root cause.
This is really frustrating, and I’m sorry you’re having to deal with it 🙁
[USER=1018]@shza[/USER] This would be really irritating. This is just a random thought but have you considered calling their German call center? I’m just thinking they might have someone with more authority at their home office to do something.
Thanks all. If I get the same response next week, I will try the German call center.
[USER=7]@Tiffany[/USER] — the agents were telling me that they could not see any availability.
Problem solved! With thanks to Gaurav, and to the folks on the flyertalk miles and more forum, it turns out that what shows online is the same as what is seen from the point-of-sale country — in this case, Germany. So I called the German miles-and-more number, mashed buttons until I got through the automated menu and to an agent (who spoke excellent English, thankfully), and he saw the same availability and booked us the four seats. He was not challenged at all by the fact that we were drawing from two separate accounts (mine and my wife’s), or that there were two discounted child fares. I was on and off the phone in under 20 minutes.
Awesome, glad it worked out!