Look, I’ve booked hundreds of award tickets for myself and for people but what happened last week still blows my mind at how incredible, yet truly interesting the mileage world is. Let me explain…
As mentioned in the trip report intro, I wanted to redeem 62.5k AMEX points for Lufthansa First Class from Seattle to Kraków using Aeroplan miles. I knew I wanted to fly last weekend because university finished on Thursday and therefore I had no more obligations to stay in the U.S. About two weeks before my departure date, I began looking at availability for Lufthansa First Class to Europe (since they open award space to partner airlines about two weeks before departure).
I set up a few ExpertFlyer award availability alerts and eventually got some notifications that Lufthansa First Class award space opened up from Chicago to Frankfurt on the Boeing 747-8i. Lufthansa removed First Class service to Seattle and therefore I had to fly somewhere from Seattle first via United and then fly Lufthansa First Class to Europe.
So early last week (Monday), I was notified Chicago – Frankfurt – Kraków on Lufthansa had award space in First and Business Class, however the morning United flight from Seattle – Chicago still didn’t have award space. I figured that I still had some other options and would wait a bit more to see if that flight would open up. Sure enough, on Thursday morning I get an alert saying that the United flight has availability. Awesome!
So I check the United website for availability and all of the flights that I want are available! Yay! Time to call Aeroplan! As I was on the phone with Aeroplan I logged onto their website and did a search just to ensure the United website wasn’t displaying phantom space (award space that isn’t really there). To my disappointment they were, and the Lufthansa flight was F3 (meaning that there were still 3 First Class seats left for sale) and no more award seats. Basically by the time the United flight from Seattle to Chicago opened up, the Lufthansa flight in First Class from Chicago to Frankfurt didn’t have availability.
I was about to hang up on the phone (I called them because I booked a later itinerary leaving early this week as a back-up in case First Class award space didn’t open up earlier, and wanted to change it to the flights that showed up). As I was going to hang up, an agent answered the phone.
I explained that I wanted to switch my itinerary to the same exact flights but leaving earlier, the agent typed on the computer for a bit and informed me basically what I had known: the Lufthansa flight doesn’t have availability in First Class. So at this point I was about to thank him and hang up, however I just said to him “I see award space on that flight in First Class on the Aeroplan website”. I honestly don’t know why I said that but I did and he said “ohh… interesting let me see”.
I mean obviously that wasn’t going to work, Aeroplan can’t open up space in Lufthansa First Class. The agent came back five minutes later and said that that flight definitely doesn’t have space but he would try one more thing if I wanted. I agreed and he placed me on hold for another ten minutes at which point he came back and said:
“Mr. Żmuda, are you still there? I was able to get that flight back and the availability, shall I simply change the date now?”
I was speechless and didn’t really know what to say for a few seconds. I mean this was a first for me… however I was still very skeptical as to if this itinerary would ticket correctly since ANA, Aeroplan, nor ExpertFlyer were showing space (though United was showing phantom space).
I paid the small change fee and within a few hours I got an email saying the ticket had been re-issued and sure enough it showed the new flights. United and Lufthansa were able to confirm (by phone) that the ticket has been re-issued and the flights are confirmed. At this point I was still in denial and didn’t really want to believe what had happened. Did Aeroplan just make a Christmas miracle? I mean what the hell?
I honestly didn’t know if I should be happy about this or if I should wait and see if any issues happen while trying to check-in. I’ve definitely learned to not get overly excited about something until I’ve got the boarding passes in my hand and the ticket has been properly issued. I figured I would call it a day and check-in tomorrow and see what happens.
The next day I was able to check-in on United.com without a problem and get my boarding passes for all three flights. Seattle – Chicago in United First, Chicago – Frankfurt in Lufthansa First, and Frankfurt – Kraków in Lufthansa Business. I mean at this point surely everything has to be alright and confirmed if I have the boarding passes in my hand?
I still was thinking to myself that once I get to Chicago they wouldn’t let me board or something, but if I’ve got a confirmed itinerary and boarding passes they can’t deny me boarding for this reason.
All in all, I flew all of the flights as expected and I’m still kind of in shock that somehow Aeroplan opened award space in Lufthansa First Class. No one was showing award space on that flight and there were just three seats left for sale – clearly none of them meant to be award seats. If you’re wondering, the cabin was full by the time the door closed. About an hour before departure it was still showing as F1 and by boarding time it was F0 and I could see a HON Circle Member being upgraded.
So… thank you Aeroplan for your Christmas gift to me?! Some things still blow my mind in the mileage world…