MMTIP: Load Factor Based Upgrades (LFB)

a seat with a screen on it
AA 767 Business Class

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What is a Load Factor Based Upgrade?

Simply put, it’s when the airline discounts a seat because the cabin is undersold. In order to increased the “load” of the flight and cabin, they will discount the price of that premium seat.

  • Often times a Load Factor Based Upgrade (LFB) will be offered at the kiosk when you check in for your flight
  • You can ask if any LFBs are available at the ticket counter, lounge, and gate
  • Since airlines are focused on generating more revenue, it’s not unusual to see premium seats being offered as an LFB when the cabin is fairly empty

When are Load Factor Based Upgrades available

Typically the cabin has to be very undersold. Recently, Miles worked with a client flying from the UK to NY and helped secure a LFB upgrade over the phone. That cabin was about 50% sold and the price to upgrade was $500. Not a cheap amount of money, but comparing it to the price to upgrade with points and cash, it’s a deal

To/FromDiscount EconFull-Fare EconDiscount BusinessFull-Fare Business
North AmericaEurope/Middle East25k + $35015k25k + $55025k

How to ask for a Load Factor Based Upgrade

When you get to the ticket counter, lounge check-in, or lounge help desk ask if there are any Load Factor upgrades available. Specifically with American Airlines – if the agent does not know what you’re asking for, have them do this:

Access your PNR, Open Sable and hit Ctrl M

  • This should show the agent your PNR ( Passenger Name Record) which shows your fare bucket and it’s ability to even be upgraded
  • The second will allow the agent to access the load of the plane you’re flying on and whether an LFB is available.

Here’s a look at the expertflyer biz cabin on the 6/24 MAN-JFK flight operated by American and their new retrofit 767-300

expertflyer
11 of 28 seats are avail. It’s quite possible an LFB will be available.

Here’s what American Airlines lists as their LFB terms and conditions

Screen Shot 2016-06-19 at 12.12.38 PM

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5 Comments

  • […] That’s a Load Factor Based upgrade, at significantly reduced price. “A lot of the time, they won’t offer unless you ask,” says Zachary. Find out more how these work here. […]

  • Hak Ene December 30, 2016

    With the LFB upgrade, does American Airlines deduct miles in addition to the fee they charge?

    • Miles December 30, 2016

      Hey Hak – Thanks for reading! With LFB upgrades it’s just the price they quote you – no points. Good luck!

      • Hak Ene January 1, 2017

        Thank you for a great post and your reply to my earlier comment. My recent experience with getting an LFB upgrade has been surprising. My flight was operated by Amerian Airlines but the ticket was issued by British Airways as a code-share. Still, I was offered an LFB upgrade at the check-in desk. I paid a bit more than 400 US dollars for a Europe to USA LFB upgrade to business class and enjoyed my trip. More than two weeks later, I had 25000 points deducted from my American account associated with that upgrade. So, points were deducted on top of the fee I paid. Unusual, right? It must be unusual, too, to be offered an LFB upgrade on a flight marketed by a different airline.

        • Miles January 1, 2017

          Hey Hak – I would call AA about this…The LFB shouldn’t deduct points unless it was specifically marketed to you in that way. Unless you had previously requested a confirmable points + cash upgrade ( which sounds like may have happened) and space became avail and they booked you that way. LFB should only be the price they offer you at check-in. Was this by any chance on the 767?

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