Lufthansa has a fantastic new First Class product and flying on the A380 with the extra spacious cabin and lower noise level than other planes is an added level of luxury.
The good news is that Lufthansa DOES release seats to partners but the bad news it's really tricky to find seats with the given availability.
Lufthansa has the following routes using the A380 (all from Frankfurt):
– San Francisco (seasonal in summer)
– Miami (seasonal in winter)
– Johannesburg (seems permanent now, not seasonal anymore)
About 18 months ago Lufthansa began to restrict First Class inventory to partners to the last 2 weeks before departure. Additionally the A380 was initially off-limits and only available to Senators in the Lufthansa's program Miles & More.
Miles & More members still can book most First Class cabins 365 days in advance whereas partners can't access any First Class inventory before the two weeks mark.
For some time now though A380 First Class space is available to partners.
In my observations Lufthansa used to release First Class A380 seats about 72 hours before departure. A seat would appear and disappear about 24 hours later. That happened to almost any flight. This pattern still applies to some routes though not universally anymore.
A good way to gauge the likeliness of a release is to check the First Class fare class inventory for the day using flightstats.com.
High numbers indicate a higher likeliness of a release. Numbers <3 predict a small chance of a release.
I just checked the next 2 weeks for all routes and here are my observations:
-Tokyo flights see a lot of inventory being released – often a full 2 weeks in advance, if you like to try LH's product this is your best bet by far. It's also a nice long 12 hour trip to experience the full product in detail
– San Francisco flights used to be released 72hrs before departure like clockwork but that's not true anymore, rarely see any seat available ever
– Miami does not currently operate with an A380, so I did not check
– Houston flights only started in August 2012 and I have seen few days with seats being released ever
– Johannesburg flights have some days with F availability in the next 2 weeks, it's fall in South Africa and tourism is pretty limited until October, so demand may be pretty small
– Beijing flights barely have any availability even in Business or Economy, this might be due to spring in China as a preferred travel time, the midst of the winter in Beijing might be better for finding flights
– Singapore flights do release seats within 72hrs but fare class checks indicate that it's indeed a pretty full flight usually so expect no miracles here
Generally use United miles if you try to fly LH first class. United has the best partner access (i.e. USAirways can't book Lufthansa F anymore) and charges only $75 in change fees.
Find the best flight you are willing to accept and book this flight in advance whenever you plans firm up. Then 14 days before check daily (preferable after 6 PM EST) every day and in the morning if seats have opened up. If so call United immediately and change your ticket.
Image courtesy of upgrd.com