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Lufthansa Sells Cheaper First-Class Seats, But There's a Catch

Lufthansa is offering its "top travel class at a more affordable price." The airline claims that travelers can save an average of 40 percent off regular first-class fares for long-haul flights. Sounds great—until you see the fine print.

The discounted fare requires a 60-day advance purchase and a minimum stay of six to 10 days, depending on destination and (limited) seat availability. Lufthansa is currently selling the discounted first-class fares only for round-trip travel originating in Germany, with no indication whether they will ever be available for trips originating in North America. And, when I checked, low-fare seats were available on one-stop connecting itineraries, not nonstops.

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I tested the route between Los Angeles and Frankfurt for travel in June. The price for first-class travel originating in Los Angeles is $9,612, nonstop; there's no discount option. The prices for trips originating in Frankfurt are a regular fare of 5,243 euros ($6,815) nonstop, and 3,596 euros ($4,674) discounted on connecting flights through Munich or New York.

For now, the sale doesn't work from North America, but don't be overly disappointed. You can buy a sale-priced "business basic" business-class round-trip from Los Angeles to Frankfurt for as low as $3,169; although seats are very scarce and, on my test, the return itinerary was via a connection to a United flight through London. It's not as opulent as first class, but transatlantic business class provides an extremely roomy set and great cabin service.

If you're willing to pay more than double the regular economy fare for a comfortable trip, however, rather than put up with the strict limitations and restrictions of Lufthansa's sale fares, plenty of consolidator fares are available for near half price in both business and first class.

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