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US Airways left the Star Alliance for oneworld last month. In doing so, US Airways ditched Lufthansa, Germany’s largest airline, as a partner.

Lufthansa flies two routes to US Airways hubs:

  • Charlotte <-> Munich
  • Philadelphia <-> Frankfurt

With the end of the US Airways/Lufthansa partnership,* these routes could be in jeopardy, since Lufthansa will get less traffic fed into the flights from passengers connecting on US Airways domestic flights.

Whether these routes survive is not a question I’m qualified to analyze, but I did want to check their award space on the theory that if Lufthansa expected to sell fewer seats, they might open more seats for awards.

  • How is award space on Lufthansa’s two routes to US Airways hubs?
  • Why will the award space sometimes be hidden on united.com?
  • How can you book the award space?

I searched award space for the summer months for two passengers on united.com on these two Lufthansa routes:

  • Charlotte <-> Munich
  • Philadelphia <-> Frankfurt

There is no First Class space on either route this summer yet, which is unsurprising, since Lufthansa almost never releases First Class award space to partners more than 15 days before departure.

Days with economy award space for two passengers are yellow. Economy award space costs 30k United miles per direction per person.

Days with business class award space for two passengers are blue. Business class award space costs 70k United miles per direction per person.

Days with both economy and business class award space for two passengers are green.

Charlotte to Munich

Charlotte to Munich is an intriguing route as Munich is a really lovely city, especially in late September and early Oktober.

Economy award space is wide open in July, August, and September on the route. There are a handful of days with a pair of business class seats too, all on Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays.

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 2.48.57 AM Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 2.49.24 AM

The return picture is worse. July and the first half of August are barren, and business class award space is much rarer.

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 2.51.11 AM Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 2.51.30 AM

The bottom line on Charlotte to Munich is that you can take economy award trips this summer easily, and business class award trips are available if you are flexible.

Philadelphia to Frankfurt

Philadelphia to Frankfurt has a weird award space picture. For most of June and July, there’s no economy award space. Then for most of August and September, there is no business class award space.

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 2.53.00 AM Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 2.53.15 AM

The return shows a similar pattern, but with worse space overall.

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 2.55.38 AM Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 2.55.52 AM

Unfortunately the bottom line on both these routes is that while there is plenty of usable award space, they are far from gold mines.

Last Second Space

I also wanted to check both routes for award space this week. If fewer tickets are being sold, Lufthansa would have a lot of inventory to get rid of at the last minute, and in my experience, Lufthansa gets rid of inventory by making it available for Saver awards.

Both routes have a pair of First Class seats available today–how fast can you get to the airport?

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 2.58.58 AM

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 2.58.21 AM

Philadelphia to Frankfurt shows solid availability in premium cabins in the next two weeks.

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 2.58.15 AM

Charlotte to Munich shows no last second space beyond today.

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 2.58.52 AM

All the Space in This Post is Semi-Hidden on United.com

If you search for Charlotte to Munich or Philadelphia to Frankfurt, you’ll see the space in this post.

But if you search Los Angeles to Munich, you may not find a perfectly valid itinerary like Los Angeles to Houston to Charlotte to Munich that the MileValue Award Booking Service could find for you.

There are two problems.

  1. United.com doesn’t search every possible routing, just the “likely” ones that tend to go through United hubs, and Charlotte is not a United hub.
  2. Even if the itinerary shows up on united.com, the calendar at the top of the search results might not “see” the itinerary, which means you might not see it unless you click every day and scroll down through all the results on every day.

What’s the solution? Hire the MileValue Award Booking Service. Or search segment-by-segment starting with the transatlantic leg.

Recap

I was hoping that the end of the US Airways/Lufthansa partnership would mean great award space on Lufthansa’s routes to US Airways hubs. Unfortunately that generally is not the case, though both routes are viable options for trips to Europe this summer in economy and business class.

* Lufthansa, of course, claims that it plans to continue the Charlotte to Munich route. Even more interestingly, Lufthansa claims that code sharing will continue, with US Airways through the end of 2014, at least in Charlotte: “As part of its commitment to North Carolina, Lufthansa customers will continue to be able to connect beyond Charlotte on US Airways, despite that carrier’s switch from Star Alliance to oneworld. Customers may also connect on joint venture partner United. Additionally, Lufthansa passengers will still be granted access to US Airways’ lounges in Charlotte.” (Hat Tip Liane)


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