Backpackers Tokyo

Saver award space has all but dried up lately, with even last-minute seats no longer available. Even so, you may still be able to use married segment fare logic to find saver award space that would not be available otherwise.

How I Was Able To Secure Saver Award Space Via Married Segment Availability

I have Award Expert clients who live in Austin, Texas. They wanted to go to Vienna this autumn and are just getting started now with booking. With flights running full and airlines optimistic about loads in the coming months, almost all saver space has been held back, even on flights which are currently lightly booked. Even in late September, the traditional shoulder season, it is virtually impossible to find saver space.

I’ve offered a primer on married segments before, which remains accurate. You might wish to start here if you are unfamiliar with the concept.

Put simply, when two or more segments are married it means you can book the flights together, but not separately. Married segments exist to control fares and award seat allocations between an origin and destination.

Read More: A Primer On Married Segments

Here’s the practical example. Lufthansa has a new Austin (AUS) – Frankfurt (FRA) flight. There was no award space on it in business class when simply searching from AUS to FRA. That makes sense, because Lufthansa figures it can charge a premium for this nonstop space and is thus holding back the release of such space to its partners.

Even searching one-stop space from Austin to Vienna with a connection in Frankfurt yielded no saver space in business class.

But with a second stop, in Graz, Austria (GRZ), suddenly the longhaul AUS-FRA flight could be booked in saver business class using United miles. Even AUS-FRA-GRZ was not available–all three segments were required.

Frankly, I thought it might be phantom space. It showed up on united.com, but not on Aeroplan or LifeMiles. I called United to attempt to book it before transferring over miles from Chase Ultimate Rewards to United and sure enough, the space confirmed.

The extra stop in Graz is annoying, but 77K miles for a nonstop from Austin to Frankfurt in business class is a superb deal, particularly during this time of very limited award space.

Theoretically, the clients could just step off the plane in Frankfurt and purchase a nonstop ticket to Vienna if they were not checking bags (this is known as throw-away or hidden city ticketing), but they will fly the itinerary as booked.

How To Find And Book Married Segment Space

There’s no easy way to look for this space and since routing cannot be customized any longer on united.com. You must still search from your origin to destination. If you don’t see it on united.com, you won’t be able to book it. Aeroplan agents, for what it is worth, could not see this space, though I think the issue is that united.com simply displays more options than Aeroplan or LifeMiles.

Thus, searching for this space will be a trial and error process. You can sort results by “business class lowest” and keep an eye out for saver space. Securing saver space is worth the extra stop, in my opinion.

CONCLUSION

Airlines are holding back saver space like never before. While that limits advance booking options, you may still be successful in finding space using married segment availability.

Have you had luck booking saver award travel using married segment fare logic?

image: Lufthansa