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Lufthansa has started to display flights from Los Angeles <-> Frankfurt as being operated by a fancy new 747-8, starting December 10, 2012. I’ve talked a little about Lufthansa’s 747-8s before–see Get on an A380, 787 Dreamliner, and New 747-8 on one United Award–and I love them for a few reasons.

First, it’s in the beautiful, iconic 747 line. Second, it is a brand new plane, so it has those improvements like bigger bins, bigger windows, LED lighting, and better fuel mileage. Third, it is Lufthansa’s only plane with fully flat business class seats, and the 747-8 has twelve extra business class seats compared to Lufthansa’s 747-400 configuration. Fourth, all 747-8s feature Lufthansa’s new First Class product. See Lufthansa’s promotional page for the 747-8.

First Class in the nose

For all those reasons, I was very excited to see Lufthansa displaying the 747-8 as the aircraft on daily Los Angeles <-> Frankfurt flights starting December 10, 2012.

LH 456 departs Frankfurt (FRA) at 10:00 AM and arrives in Los Angeles (LAX) at 12:40 PM, an 11:40 flight.

LH 457 departs Los Angeles (LAX) at 2:50 PM and arrives in Frankfurt (FRA) at 10:45 AM the next day, a 10:55 flight.

To search for award space for these flights with your United, US Airways, Aeroplan, Singapore, or other Star Alliance miles, head over to united.com.

On the home screen, select your cities, dates, number of passengers, and make sure to select Award Travel and Nonstop Flights Only.

If you select a date that has award space in any cabin on the 747-8, then that space will be displayed as well as a two month color-coded calendar of award space. But if you select a date with no award space, you’ll get this message.

In this case, scroll to the bottom of the results, and change your date. (For an idea what dates are open, keep reading.) Be sure to check Nonstop Flights Only again.

Once you find a date that has space in any cabin, you should get a two-month color-coded calendar of availability on the direct flight. The method I’ve outlined is the only way to get the calendar to show just the direct flight, which is crucial to quickly determining its availability.

As the key to the left of the calendar says, yellow means there is economy space only, blue means there is premium space only, and green means there is both economy and premium space.

In this case, premium space will mean business class, not first class. Why? As I said in The Poorly Kept Secret of Lufthansa First Class Availability, Lufthansa releases first class seats to partners only about two weeks out. As of October 29, here is the complete availability for 747-8 space between Los Angeles and Frankfurt. (December-January is above.)

As you can see, economy (yellow) space is pretty good throughout the spring, but non-existent during the summer. There are a few stray business-class seats available over the summer.

United hasn’t updated its system to reflect the changed aircraft, still listing an old 747-400.

I wouldn’t worry about that. If Lufthansa says it will be a 747-8, that is the definitive word. (I didn’t say “final word” because aircraft is subject to change.)

Booking tips

If you want to be on the Los Angeles <-> Frankfurt flights, search for that segment as outlined in this article. On days with availability, do your full search. If using United miles,, book online. If using US Airways miles, note the flight dates, times, and numbers and call 800-622-1015 to book.

Or scrap all the work and have Tahsir and me handle it for you through our Award Booking Service.

First Class

Hopefully Lufthansa will release First Class seats on the 747-8 flights to/from Los Angeles, so that we can enjoy the new First Class product. Currently Lufthansa releases First Class seats to United two weeks out, meaning you need to book last minute or make a last minute change.

Booking within 21 days and changing within 21 days incurs a $75 per ticket fee that is reduced or eliminated with status. Lufthansa does release some First Class seats on the IAD-FRA route also served by a 747-8, so I am hopeful that starting in late November, Lufthansa First Class will be bookable from the west coast to Germany and beyond.

Recap

Lufthansa will start flying a 747-8 between Los Angeles and Frankfurt on December 10, 2012. This is an improvement over the 747-400 currently on the route. Business class is fully flat, First Class is the new product, and there are more beds upfront.

Head over to united.com to find your perfect award.

(Hat Tip Lufthansa Flyer via One Mile at a Time)

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