US Airways has some very nice award sweet spots (like this one), but using them as an award provider sure can be annoying. For one thing, you cannot search for partner award availability on their website. For another, they have award processing fees ($50). And yet another, and the most annoying of them all, is the blocking of Lufthansa award availability.
US Airways Blocking Lufthansa Awards
Lucky @ One Mile At A Time wrote about this last year (US Airways blocking Lufthansa awards) and how disruptive it is for travelers trying to book award travel with US Airways miles on partners like Lufthansa. Basically, US Airways has been blocking the ticketing of Lufthansa first class awards for a while now but just recently (last fall) began blocking a majority of Lufthansa business and economy awards as well. The part that makes it even more annoying is that you do not know about which flights/cabins are definitely blocked without calling in. Typically, Wednesdays are the best for award availability with Tuesdays and Saturdays also sometimes showing up.
In my case, I had booked a ticket for May with US Airway miles flying to Europe from the US. I had availability on a Wednesday so ticketed it. The problem was a huge schedule change that forced me to leave many hours earlier and left me in the airport for a while. So, I took advantage of it to change to some other flights that had opened up as well as change some of my European routing. I searched United’s website for the award availability (United shows a great amount of Star Alliance award availability and is the easiest way to see what is out there) and found exactly what I was looking for. The next step was to call US Airways for my changes.
This goes back to one of those annoyances with US Airways. Instead of being able to make my changes online, I had to call in and speak with a representative. So, I did my homework and lined up all my new flights after verifying availability. I had a new, preferred departure on a Thursday that was using Lufthansa but also had a backup in case that didn’t work. Sure enough, the Lufthansa flights showed no availability (in business or in coach). That made me go to the backup plan of booking with Austrian Airlines instead. That’s not all bad since I have never flown their business product on a transatlantic flight. Flight change #1 – done!
The tough part came with my desired changes on my European departure. My plan had been to stick with my original flight to Frankfurt and then fly to Frankfurt before heading to Seoul to take advantage of Asiana’s better business class product. I didn’t think I would have a problem with Lufthansa on an inter-European flight. Now mind you, there are 8 business award seats showing as available for the Frankfurt to London flight. Yet, US Airways had them blocked so that it was even showing zero seats in coach. C’mon, really? Blocking these short flights like that? Just dumb and throws a real wrench in the system when trying to hop around Europe on an award ticket (since Lufthansa has such a huge presence). So, thanks to US Airways, I’m stuck with the older Asiana business class. Oh well, at least it is business class, so who am I to complain, right? 🙂
How about you? What days have you been able to successfully book US Airways award tickets on Lufthansa flights?