15 May 2019 UPDATE: United has resolved this issue.
The United Airlines award search tool is currently broken when it comes to first class awards on Lufthansa. At the moment, there is not a fix for it. See below for details.
Perhaps foreshadowing what is to come in the new era of MileagePlus, it appears that Lufthansa first and business class awards have been merged into the business class column on united.com. That creates a problem because if both business and first class awards are available, only business class will show. If first class is available, but not business class, the first class award (at the higher first class pricing) will show in the business class column.
Take a look:
In this example, Lufthansa has made both business and first class award space available for redemption with partners (the screenshot is from Aeroplan, but the space also shows up with ANA and Singapore Airlines as well) from Frankfurt to Chicago.
But on United, only business is available:
“First Saver Award” shows as “not available”.
In cases where only first class is available, like Munich to Boston, the first class (O-class) award shows up in the business column:
I figured this was a united.com error and I would still be able to book the space over the phone, but telephone agents were not able to see the missing first class space above (nor long sell it in).
Thus, there is no current workaround to the problem.
United’s Response: We Are Working On it
I reached out to United for comment and received the following response:
Our team is aware of the issue you described and we are are working urgently to resolve it.
You can bet I will be keeping the pressure on United.
For now, based on United’s response, let’s call this a temporary glitch. I think if United intended to remove first class awards on Lufthansa, it simply would have done so. That said, the doubt raised over this issue and the fact that Singapore Airlines space is still not bookable underscores what a credibility problem United IT has surrounding its website.