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How to book LH F awards? when available? issues? {Archive}

How to book LH F awards? when available? issues? {Archive}

Old Oct 11, 13, 7:27 pm
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How to book LH F awards? when available? issues? {Archive}

For the past 3 years I have been flying to Asia, twice a year, for medical relief work. During that time I’ve booked a lot of LH F awards using my UA miles. This guide actually started as a how-to for my colleagues and I figured I could help some FT’ers along the way. DISCLAIMER: This info is solely based on my personal experience and in no way meant to be definitive. There are so many other great resources that I used along the way (links below), but in the end this how I got it to work for me. Hope it helps!

-Know the timings. It is widely understood that LH releases F awards to UA at around 15.00pst within 14 days of departure. I myself have only ever found bookable awards within T-10 days.

-Know inventory status. This is key. As long as there are available F seats there’s a chance they’ll open up for UA MP redemption. Use EF, kayak, or the LH site to determine how many actual seats are available in the F cabin. Use this info when you’re more than T-14 days to determine what is likely to open up for awards redemption. If a flight is showing F8 or F7 you are almost guaranteed that one seat will open up at some point (T-14 through T-0). From my experience, if a flight shows F7-F4 it will open up around T-7 days, anything less than F4 will open up between T-3 to T-0. If you’re looking to book 2 seats look for at least F6.

-Know the routes. Most people reading this post will be interested in ex-USA new LH F awards to Europe. Use the LH NEW PRODUCT TOOL to determine if the route you want has the new F product. At the time of posting (10/2013) the new LH F product is flying out of IAD, ORD, EWR, SFO, LAX, JFK, IAH, MIA to FRA and SFO, BOS, ORD, LAX, YUL, JFK, EWR, and CLT to MUC. International new F product can be found on FRA to DXB, DEL, NRT, HKG, KUL, BKK, SIN, PVG, PEK and select ex-MUC routes. Find other direct LH routes using the LH ROUTE MAP or Flight Mapper

-Some routes are more likely to open up than others. Here’s the bad news, in my opinion, finding a LH F award seat out of LAX, SFO, or MIA is almost impossible. JFK, ORD, EWR, IAD and (surprisingly) IAH are a little easier. And, if you just want to fly the new LH F product keep an eye on CLT-MUC, in my experience this routing is usually wide open. Generally speaking, F awards into MUC are a little easier to come by. Check out the links below to get more info on which routes out of the US have the best availability. As for international routings, I’ve found FRA-DEL, DXB and NRT to be pretty consistent. I have also had success booking FRA-SIN, BKK/KUL.

-Use the ANA tool less. Im going to get a lot of flak over this one, and the truth is the ANA site is still the MOST accurate solution to determine if there is a bookable LH F award. However, in my experience there is a ton of value in keeping an eye on the UA site, specifically I have found that the UA site is really good at predicting upcoming bookable LH F awards. In most cases, phantom segments eventually become bookable. Assuming you have checked the inventory and its greater than F4, it should become bookable (over the phone) within a couple days of showing up on the UA site as phantom. And that same award will not show up on the ANA site right away.

-Book over the phone. A common question is: “Should I try and book this online or over the phone?” The answer is: it depends, but probably over the phone. If you are only looking to score one segment (ie your entire itin is JKF-FRA) you could definitely book it online, and if it’s a phantom award (which it probably will be) the transaction will not go through but you will be waitlisted and be first in line when it does become bookable. If you have a ticketed itin and want to change to include a LH F segment, this is best done over the phone when it becomes bookable. If you try and make the change online (and it’s a phantom award) you will lose whatever segment you had and run the risk of the award never becoming bookable. Others have booked the phantom award as a separate itin online, which turns into a waitlist, and then if it does become bookable the strategy is to cancel the waitlisted segment and hope that it is quickly put back into active inventory to merge it with your original routing.

-Phantom awards open at 21.10pst. So this is going to be the most hit or miss piece of advice. While I have found it true that ANA will show LH F awards around 15.00pst, it is also my experience that the same award will be bookable over the phone with UA the night before between 21.00pst and 21.30pst. This is more of a recent revelation for me, but for the past year I have been calling UA to check the status of phantom awards on the UA site and have consistently been able to book phantom awards between that time frame. Even more recently, I was looking to switch my LH F FRA-DXB itin with a FRA-KUL routing, which was showing F available on the UA site but turned out to be phantom. I called back at 21.10pst and initially the agent told me there was no availability, she quickly followed up with “Wait a minute, my system is refreshing. Can I put you on hold.”…brief hold… “Yes, we have a first class seat available.” She went on to confirm that their system consistently reboots sometime after 2100pst. Again, this is totally anecdotal so take it with a grain of salt. But it has been working for me recently.

-Be 1k (or at least PP). Easier said than done, I know. But, not dealing with change/cancellation fees makes the whole thing way more straightforward.

-Be flexible. Anytime I was able to give myself a 1-week departure window I was always able to find at least one LH F segment, and many times I found a second connecting segment.

I hope this helps. See you at the FCT!

PM&M-LH F Toolkit

PM&M-How to Time LH F Awards

MMS-Award Availability on LH

FT-F Award Seats

FT-Anyone Booked LH F Awards Recently?

------------------------------------------------------------

2014 Update

So the 2014 United deval has come and gone and I’ve flown on 5 LH F legs this year (2 were pre-deval 60K bookings), so what’s changed?

Well, luckily, im not sure much if anything has changed. Yes, that F seat is going to cost you 120K o/w now. But outside spending more miles most of my booking strategy has stayed the same in 2014.

For all the talk in 2013 from LH, it really hasn’t gotten any “harder” to grab these seats as a UA MP customer. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a serious mission to undertake…patiently checking .bomb, ANA, EF and calling UA endlessly. And the value of that time invested has dropped significantly along with the deval.

Obviously the USA LH F “hotspots” have changed, (as of this Nov. 2014 update) YYZ and BOS are pretty wide open. But I’ve had luck this year with DEN, ORD, YVR, IAH, NYC, SEA and IAD (ICN and NRT internationally). In my opinion, it’s (still) nigh impossible to find LAX, MIA, and SFO (although there were reports of at least one SFO F seat showing on ANA earlier this fall).

As far timing goes, I have found a much smaller window of time that these seats are up for grabs. From my personal experience this year, it appears that much less is released T-2 through T-12. I have made most of my F bookings this year either right at the T-14 mark or within a couple days (sometime hours) of departing. But again this is purely anecdotal.

For what it’s worth I think that .bomb has gotten better at controlling phantom availability, but the issue definitely still exists…always check ANA.

Since starting this thread I’ve gotten a lot of PM’s, most want to know how EXACTLY I get these seats. There’s no secret or hidden trick, use the resources in this thread and I think the most important thing is to be flexible. I’m lucky that I usually have at least a week to play with, give yourself two and I’m positive you’ll find SOMETHING.

And if you just want to fly in a cool A380 F UA MP offers some great options with OZ and TG. But for ex-USA to EU, there really is only one choice, and it’s still possible, although it’ll cost you a little (a lot) bit more.

See you at FCT!!!!

Last edited by bumfluff; Dec 18, 14 at 3:47 pm Reason: Update
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Old Oct 11, 13, 8:43 pm
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Amazing guide, thanks OP!
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Old Oct 11, 13, 8:51 pm
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This is very helpful, I never thought of CLT to MUC had availability. That's good to know for my trip this December
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Old Oct 11, 13, 10:22 pm
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Extremely helpful. Thanks very much for putting this together.

I have one question, though re the term "phantom awards": I thought these were LH awards that UA indicated were available but in fact were not. But you describe them as awards that are actually available. I'm sure that I'm missing something here. Does "phantom awards" in fact refer to actual award availability?
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Old Oct 11, 13, 10:33 pm
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Fantastic!
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Old Oct 11, 13, 10:45 pm
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Thanks for sharing this useful information! I've bookmarked this thread.
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Old Oct 11, 13, 10:54 pm
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Originally Posted by Thunderroad View Post
I have one question, though re the term "phantom awards": I thought these were LH awards that UA indicated were available but in fact were not. But you describe them as awards that are actually available. I'm sure that I'm missing something here. Does "phantom awards" in fact refer to actual award availability?
Hey Thunderroad, you're absolutely right. "Phantom" awards refer to the unbookable segments that show as available on the UA site. You can, however, go through the booking process online for those phantom awards, but it wont actually complete the booking. You'll be placed on a wait list.

Beyond that, it's my opinion that (given sufficient inventory) most of the phantom awards will at some point become bookable. In my experience, the awards become bookable within a couple days of showing up on the UA site as phantom (all within the 14 day timeframe).

Hope that makes sense.
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Old Oct 12, 13, 4:08 am
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Great summary and links. Thanks. How will all this be affected by Lufthansa's rumored decision to limit first class awards to only its own top elites starting in 2014?
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Old Oct 12, 13, 8:44 am
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Originally Posted by eefor jfp
Great summary and links. Thanks. How will all this be affected by Lufthansa's rumored decision to limit first class awards to only its own top elites starting in 2014?
Obviously none of this would apply anymore.
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Old Oct 12, 13, 1:42 pm
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Great info OP.

Beginning Nov 1, 2013, DFW-FRA is showing new F.
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Old Oct 12, 13, 3:16 pm
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Originally Posted by aglp2k View Post
Great info OP.

Beginning Nov 1, 2013, DFW-FRA is showing new F.
You're right, but only for Nov.1 and other select dates. Check the rest of the month and you'll see its totally hit or miss (mostly miss). DFW is weird.
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Old Oct 12, 13, 3:39 pm
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Originally Posted by eefor jfp View Post
Great summary and links. Thanks. How will all this be affected by Lufthansa's rumored decision to limit first class awards to only its own top elites starting in 2014?
I know that this is the new policy for LX F, but haven't heard of the same for LH. Is this just speculation, or is there anything more?

Great summary, btw. Especially the part about phantom availability turning real.
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Old Oct 12, 13, 4:02 pm
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Useful info, thanks. Can we make it into a Wiki so people can modify/add?
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Old Oct 12, 13, 7:38 pm
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Originally Posted by bumfluff View Post
-Use the ANA tool less. Im going to get a lot of flak over this one, and the truth is the ANA site is still the MOST accurate solution to determine if there is a bookable LH F award. However, in my experience there is a ton of value in keeping an eye on the UA site, specifically I have found that the UA site is really good at predicting upcoming bookable LH F awards. In most cases, phantom segments eventually become bookable. Assuming you have checked the inventory and its greater than F4, it should become bookable (over the phone) within a couple days of showing up on the UA site as phantom. And that same award will not show up on the ANA site right away.
In my case i have been seeing availability on ANA site that either never showed up on UA site or showed up on UA a few days after I call in the booking.
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Old Oct 12, 13, 9:21 pm
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Ari
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This is precisely why LH is changing their *A inventory allocation methods.
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