Brussels Airlines award space is again bookable on united.com…the secret trick to dependable business class award space to Europe has been exposed.
Brussels Airlines space has played cat and mouse games on united.com over the last few years, appearing and disappearing before appearing again only to disappear again. Who knows how long it will be back this time, but this is important news for two reasons.
1. United reservation agents had been unable to see premium class space across the Atlantic
Brussels Airlines serves New York JFK and Washington Dulles from its hub in Brussels and though space was generous (bookable easily with Aeroplan or ANA), United phone agents could not see the space. Only through a process of long selling (detailed here in another context), could the space be confirmed and finding agents competent enough to long sell was not an easy process. This problem has now been solved.
2. Excellent winter/spring 2016 award space in business class
If you are looking to travel to Europe next winter or spring, Brussels Airlines space out of both JFK and IAD is quite generous. Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursdays seems to be the best day to travel out of JFK and Saturday/Sunday/Monday out of IAD (Dulles is not a daily flight).
United and Brussels both serve BRU from IAD (and United services BRU from EWR as well) so who is better? Both offer lie-flat seating in business class with Brussels offering a business class seat similar to Austrian Airlines, Aer Lingus, and select Delta aircraft. These seats are often referred to as coffin seats because feet room can be very tight. I personally prefer the UA seats to Brussels, but Brussels has single seats which may be preferred if you are traveling solo. Food is much better on Brussels and I found servcice to be oustanding on Brussels as well, though I have a lot more test cases on United.
Remember that United charges less for its own flights, so business class is 57.5K one-way on United while 70K on Brussels to anywhere in Europe. Both Brussels and United are 45K miles each on Aeorplan to western Europe and neither carriers have fuel surcharges (both UA and SN do if you book with ANA or Singapore).
The bad news is this space is going to get scooped up quickly and then won’t be back, just like every other carrier that has been added to united.com. But if you are in the mood to book 2016 travel now, be sure to check out SN for transatlantic, intra-Europe, and Africa travel.