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All airlines release award space 11 months out.
I’m not sure where that idea came from. Many flights never have any award space released, and flights that do have award space released have the space released at all different times from 11 months (or 11.5 months depending on the airline) before the flight to 24 hours.
One airline that has a unique pattern of releasing its Business Class award space between North America and Europe is Austrian Airlines: on Austrian’s five routes, it never releases Business Class space until three months before departure.
I flew Austrian’s 767 in Business Class between Vienna and Chicago in 2013. Check out the full trip report.
Austrian flies 767s and 777s to North America. Both feature the staggered fully flat beds pictured in this video.
Your feet go under the divider between seats in the row in front of you. The 767 features four Business Class beds in all rows in a 1-2-1 configuration. The 777 alternates 1-2-1, 2-2-2. Obviously use Seat Guru to pick a row with the 1-2-1 configuration if you are traveling alone on an Austrian 777.
The bed is very comfortable like most Business Class beds. Austrian tries to differentiate itself with an onboard chef in full costume.
And its antipasti cart.
I thought the food was good, but the portions were too small–the only time I’ve thought that during a multi-course meal in a premium cabin.
How can you get into this very good Business Class space? The easiest way is to pay 70,000 United miles one way in Business Class (on sale for 57,500 miles if you book by Saturday and travel in 2015.)
Award space in Business Class on Austrian’s routes follows a common pattern. Zero is available more than three months before departure. Within that three month window, some is available. (Economy space is available up to 11 months out. I see zero economy award space often in the summer months and great space for the fall and winter.)
There are 14 days in the next three months with Business Class award space (blue and green days) from Chicago to Vienna, and no space beyond May 18.
New York Area
Not all airlines release award space 11 months out. Austrian releases economy space 11 months out, but only releases Business Class space between Europe and North America three months out if it releases the space at all on a given flight. I’ve noticed this pattern for at least a year.
The most plentiful award space by far is on Austrian’s JFK and Newark to Vienna flights.
This could be good news for people looking for Business Class awards to Europe this summer, but based on the dearth of economy award space to Europe on Austrian flights over the summer, I don’t think Austrian will release much summer award space. (I hope I’m wrong.)