Old Jan 31, 08, 10:33 am
  #1  
PHL
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: PHL, NYC
Programs: AA Platinum, DL Silver, UA Silver, MR LT Platinum Premier
Posts: 8,270
Booking Report - Star Alliance Award using US points on LH

Since we have a lot of trip reports, I think we should also have booking reports when it comes to complex award reservations and our experiences. Here's mine, and it's mostly positive.

I wanted to be in Europe during a specific set of dates this Summer. I need to fly into BRU and return from MUC. Being in PHL, I have some latitude on point of origin and return, so I can drive to EWR, JFK or even as far as IAD if required.

My goal was to do a First Class trip to Brussels, stop over in Munich and return home. So, XXX-BRU-MUC-XXX.

Using the KVS tool (which interfaces directly with the ANA *A Booking engine), I was able to search many possible combinations quickly. I could never have done this on the phone with an agent. Unfortunately for many non FT'ers, this is the only way they know how to request *A awards and as a result they miss out on many other possibilities. Knowledge truly is power.

Using the KVS tool, I started with the obvious. I checked PHL to many European gateways. In fact, every single one that US serves. I figured I'd rather have the nonstop in and out of my own city if possible. But it wasn't. Nothing. Not even coach. Lufthansa, the only other Star Carrier serving Europe from PHL didn't have anything either on their one daily A340 flight.

So I expanded the search to IAD, EWR and JFK. UA had 777 F availability IAD-BRU, but there was no connection option from PHL-IAD (TransStates didn't release coach award seats). If driving was my only option, then I'd do that because the UA First Suites are very nice. But I wanted to also check EWR/JFK.

Lo and behold, they had good availability to FRA. They also had availability to DUS and MUC. I can connect from FRA easily to BRU. So, I found availability on a LH 747-400 First Class, connecting to domestic F(Biz) LH to BRU. From the reviews I've read, LH F service is outstanding, although some complain that the F seats on the 747 can be lacking some privacy when you want to sleep since there are no singles and no real divider between you and your seat mate. Since I'm traveling solo, I'll probably have to make a new friend. Their long haul Airbuses have 1x2x1 config in First, but I don't really have that option on my routing. On the plus side, the 747 First class is all on the upper deck and I scored the exit row seat 83A in both directions. I'll have some additional space due to the shelf next to me along the window.

My next step was to obtain a domestic BRU-MUC flight. The agent had to do some checking on what kinds of routings are allowed on the *A Awards. She came back and was able to book it, in biz, on the flight I wanted.

Last challenge was getting from MUC back to EWR or JFK. Did you know that JFK and EWR are no longer co-cities for award [email protected] That limits the flexibility a little bit. LH flies MUC to JFK and EWR both nonstop. And on Airbuses, no less (good for the single traveler who wants his own seat). But since my trip originates in EWR, it must end there. I can't fly back to JFK. The EWR flight gets back at around 630pm and the JFK one gets back much earlier. So I opted to fly earlier from MUC to FRA and pick up the connection to EWR that gets in at 340pm. I really wanted to be in my house in time for dinner....

But there was another reason behind my desire for a FRA connection. The world renouned Lufthansa First Class Terminal! Without elaborating (since that link tells it all), this is one reason to soak your feet in FRA if flying LH First.

From there I'll head back to EWR, again on a LH 747-400. Should be a sweet, daytime ride.

Dealing with the USAirways reservations folks was always very good. I initially held one reservation, then checked some more options and called again to make a change. Then I made some more tweaks and called a final time. Every time the agent I dealt with was very courteous, professional and didn't sound as if they were based in some far off land. I was rarely put on hold to "check" something, as they had the info at their fingertips. So, I have to give them a for assisting me in my booking.

I'll post a trip report in the LH forum when it's all said and done.
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