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Award flights are now bookable through May 2014 with most of your miles. Not all award travel needs to be booked 11 months in advance, but for certain flights, you want to be looking as far out as possible.

One type of flight to think about booking now for May 2014 or next month for June 2014 is a west-coast-to-Europe flight.

Why book these now? What does space look like for May 2014 on key routes?

If you’ve ever traveled from the west coast to Europe, you know that snagging a direct flight instead of connecting on the east coast is the dream. Not only does the east-coast connection introduce possible misconnects, it adds a lot of time. Direct routes from the west coast to Europe do not fly over the east coast. They fly over Canada and Greenland.

And on the way home, you want to clear immigration at your home airport, so Global Entry saves maximum time.

But because everyone would prefer direct flights and a lot of west coasters want to go to Europe, there isn’t much award space on the flights. Airlines know that they can sell west-coast-to-Europe flights, so they don’t release the space. And what little space is released is snapped up by the first west coaster who sees it.

That’s why although booking to Europe 11 months out is not always required–I just wrote that there is still space for this summer–booking from the west coast to Europe as early as possible is a good idea.

I took a look at west-coast-to-Europe routes across all three alliances to see the picture for May 2014.

San Francisco to Frankfurt on the Star Alliance

Now is a great time to book your San Francisco to Frankfurt flight on United and Lufthansa with Star Alliance miles.

There are a few days with space on the outbound in business and first class in May.

Yellow days have economy space; green days have space in economy and one or more premium cabins.

The return options for May 2014 had far more space on the direct flights.

Lots more green

I didn’t see any business class space on the Lufthansa A380 in either direction. That space and first class space will probably open up if you wait until less than two weeks before departure.

Los Angeles to London on American Airlines

I’ve talked before about how Los Angeles to London on American’s new 777-300ER is a gold mine of space. For May 2014 that’s true in economy and class and business class, which features fully flat beds.

The outbound has space in business class on most days.

LAX-LHR, blue days have award space

The return also has business class space most days.

Remember when you’re flying with American Airlines miles that you want to avoid British Airways flights because of their fuel surcharges.

Los Angeles to Paris on Air France

Delta doesn’t have any direct flights from the west coast to Europe. Delta miles can be used on Air France, KLM, and Alitalia flights from the west coast to Europe, but award space is very sparse on these flights for people with Delta miles.

I found two Saturdays in May 2014 with Los Angeles to Rome award space in business class on Alitalia, and I found one day with business class space on an Air France A380 from Los Angeles to Paris.

Delta miles are far better to Asia and Australia from the west coast.

Recap

If you want to fly directly from the west coast to Europe, you should be on the lookout for the scarce space as far in advance as possible. United and Lufthansa open award space for people using Star Alliance miles, and American opens award space on its LAX to London route. Delta and its partners offer the odd seat too.

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