MMTIP: Load Factor Based Upgrades (LFB)

a seat with a screen on it
AA 767 Business Class

We may receive a commission when you use our links. Monkey Miles is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as and CardRatings. This relationship may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. Monkey Miles is also a Senior Advisor to Bilt Rewards. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit to learn more Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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

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

Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

a blue credit card with blue lines and white text

Learn More

Affiliate LInk

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® is a great starter card that earns Premium Ultimate Rewards that can be transferred into over a dozen partners many of which are US based including Hyatt, Southwest, United, IHG, and Marriott.

Welcome Offer

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. 

Annual Fee


Points Earned

Transferrable Chase Ultimate Rewards

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
    • That’s $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠
  • 5x on all travel purchased through Chase Travel℠
  • 3x on dining, including eligible delivery services for takeout & dining out
  • 3x on select streaming services
  • 3x on online grocery purchases
    • (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs)
  • $50 Annual Chase Travel Hotel Credit via Chase Travel℠
    • The begins immediately for new cardmembers and after your account anniversary for existing cardmembers
  • 2x on all other travel
  • 10% Anniversary Bonus
    • Every year you keep the card, your total spend will yield a 10% points bonus. If you spend $10k in a year, you’ll get 1k bonus points
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred continues to redeem at 1.25c in the Chase Travel℠ and the slew of other benefits remain in tact including Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver ( primary ), purchase protections, etc.
  • Points are transferrable to 14 Ultimate Rewards partners
  • Redeem in Chase Travel℠ for 1.25 cents per point
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Suite of Travel and Purchase Coverage
    • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver is my favorite
  • Get complimentary access to DashPass which unlocks $0 delivery fees and lower service fees for a minimum of one year when you activate by December 31, 2024
  • $95 Annual Fee

We keep an up to date spreadsheet that lists the best ever offers: You can find that spreadsheet here.

Historically 80k is a very, very good offer and hit in both 2022 and 2023. In 2021, we saw the offer hit an all time high of 100k. Who knows if that will ever come back.

Main Cast: 

Cards that earn flexible points and should be used on the bulk of your purchases.

Supporting Cast:

Cards that earn fixed points in the currency of the airline/hotel and can not be transferred at attractive rates. These cards yield benefits that make it worth keeping, but not necessarily worth putting a lot of your everyday spend on. 

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® is exceptional starter card and offers transferrable Ultimate Rewards, and pairs well with other Chase cards.

If you carry this card alongside Chase’s cashback cards like the Chase Freedom Flex®  and Chase Freedom Unlimited® or the business versions: Ink Business Cash® , Ink Business Unlimited® you can combine the points into Preferred account and transfer into hotel and airline partners

Annual fee is quite low at $95 a year + you get a 10% anniversary bonus on points + $50 hotel credit in Chase travel.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  • […] 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?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.