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Early planners are looking to book their summer trips to Europe for 2014 right now, since award space is loaded 11 months in advance. Our Award Booking Service is currently handling a lot of these requests, and award space in premium cabins is awful at the moment.

But don’t despair, there is award space in business class to Europe for next summer.

Where can you find business class award space to Europe for next summer?

Generally the Star Alliance has better award space to Europe in business class, while I prefer American Airlines miles if booking a trip to Europe in economy class.

But right now, Star Alliance award space to Europe in business class is awful. And United, which generally offers good space on its own planes, is among the non-releasers of business class seats.

Here are some screen shots of award searches for two people next summer on select Star Alliance routes. The route is listed on the top left of each image. Green and blue shaded days on the calendar have premium cabin space. (You’ll note there are almost none of these.)

EWR-LHR (United): No premium space after April 24, 2014 currently.
LHR-EWR (United): The return does have premium award space in the summer.
JFK-FRA (Lufthansa): No premium award space in May or later. The same is seen on their other routes, for instance Atlanta to Frankfurt.
ORD-FRA (United and Lufthansa): No award space in late Spring or Summer.
EWR-LIS (United and TAP): Some business class award space, all on TAP as far as I can tell.
The TAP flights have the award space, not the United flights, which is unfortunate because United has a better product.
BOS-MUC (Lufthansa): No premium space next summer.

Not pictured, but no, or very limited, award space: US Airways routes from Philadelphia and LOT space to Poland.

American Airlines

By contrast, American Airlines is currently showing good award space in business class from Chicago and New York to London on flights operated by American Airlines. The good news is that these flights have no fuel surcharges. The bad news is that the seat is angled.

JFK-LHR (AA only): Calendar shows only AA flights, and the light blue days have business class award space.
LHR-JFK (AA only): The return also has good award space.
LAX-LHR (AA only): AA runs its best plane and best business class on this route, and there is almost no business class award space and no economy award space.
LHR-LAX (AA only): No business class award space next summer.
ORD-LHR (AA only): Good award space in business class.
LHR-ORD (AA only): Good award space in business class on the return also.

My Take

The award space picture is bleak if the best offering is American Airlines angled-lie-flat seats. United and Lufthansa are generally more generous with their award space, but they’re really holding back from the US to Europe. (United is releasing some space westbound.)

I think the best move is to wait until award space opens up, which it probably will. If you know you’ll be using United miles, you can book economy now and hope to make a change for a $100 fee per ticket to business or first class closer to departure. Or you can just set a flight alert on Expert Flyer now for the flights you want and be ready to pounce if and when seats open.

If the economy continues to rebound, that will put negative pressure on award seats as airlines sell more of their seats. But I don’t foresee months of not having any award seats available in business class to Europe, so let’s wait for the space to open and pounce.

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