Cheap First and Business class tickets

 photo by mike boudreaux 

The Idea

  • Lifemiles is the frequent flyer program of Avianca, a Star Alliance member. It runs quarterly promotions where miles are sold at a 100% bonus, bringing down the cost to 1.65 US cents per mile
  • This provides an arbitrage opportunity whereby it is cheaper to buy the miles and redeem a first/business class ticket as opposed to buying the ticket itself
  • In order to participate in this promotion, your account must be open before the promotion is announced. Open an account here
  • Lifemiles has several drawbacks- it doesn’t allow mixed cabin redemptions, it has some issues regarding phantom availability and changing/cancelling tickets can entail long wait times (EDIT: mixed cabin redemptions now allowed)

The Details


You’ve probably never heard of Lifemiles or Avianca, for that matter. But it’s the single best way of getting huge discounts on first and business class Star Alliance tickets and one of the loopholes I mentioned in the introduction to this site.

Lifemiles is the FFP of a small South American airline known as Avianca. Lifemiles normally sells miles at US$30 per 1,000 miles, but 4 times a year they would have a promotion with a 100% bonus on purchased miles, thereby reducing the cost to US$15 per 1,000 miles. The going rate for a one way business class ticket from Singapore to North America was 65,000 miles. Plus, Lifemiles didn’t tack on fuel surcharges, so you could be looking at a one-way business class ticket from Singapore to San Jose on ANA for 65,000 * 0.015 (cost of buying those miles) +  46.01 (taxes) = US$1,021.

Let’s pause to think about that for a while. US$1K for a one-way business class ticket is unheard of. Heck, if you were so inclined you might find it difficult to get an economy revenue ticket for that amount of money. And yet, Lifemiles was opening up this sort of opportunity to anyone who was aware of it. I’ve had some amazing redemptions with Lifemiles- business class on EVA from Singapore to San Francisco, first class on SQ from Singapore to Mumbai, business class on ANA from Tokyo  to New York…

What was even better was that Lifemiles didn’t classify some zones correctly. Guam, for instance, is technically a territory of the United States, but is located wayyyyyyy West of the USA. The closest US state to Guam is Hawaii, 3,950 miles away.  Guam is closer to Japan, and to get to Guam you typically need to take a stopover in Tokyo. What this meant, however, was that from Lifemile’s point of view, someone flying from New York to Guam was taking an internal domestic flight, which priced out at 25,000 miles for business class (or US$375). Yup, this meant that you could book a one-way ticket to Guam, get off the plane in Tokyo and not fly the last leg, thereby flying from New York to Tokyo, on business class, for US$375.

As with all good things, that had to end. Guam was eventually recategorised correctly (though there still remain other airports which have not been zoned in their “correct” region), and in 2014 Lifemiles both increased the cost of buying miles by 10% and devalued their award chart. The extent of devaluation varied, but that same business class Singapore to San Jose ticket I mentioned earlier would now cost 78,000 miles, up from 65,000 before.  The total cost would be 78,000 * 0.0165 + 46.01 =US$1,333 (versus US$5,075 if you bought a revenue ticket)

Has this reduced the value of Lifemiles as a tool for travel hacking? Yes. Has this made Lifemiles useless? Definitely not. A 30% increase in the cost of an award ticket stings, but it’s still a lot cheaper than buying commercially.

How to use it

You can purchase a maximum of 150,000 miles per calendar year. Transactions will process as airline-coded, so combine this with your DBS Amex Altitude card and get 4.5 miles per S$1!

So, how do you get in on this? The thing about the quarterly sales events that Lifemiles has is that you need to have a Lifemiles account that was active before they announced the sale in order to buy miles with the bonus included. That is, if they announce the sale on 1st June and your account was opened on 1st June, you’re not eligible to take part.

The more astute of you will have surmised that this means you should open an account right this minute. And you’re right, do that here (

A few things to note about Lifemiles

  • Mixed Booking Classes: Lifemiles does not allow mixed booking classes. This removes some otherwise viable itineraries (eg I may want to fly SIN-BKK-NRT on first class, but since SIN-BKK does not have a first class product the highest class available to me on the entire itinerary is Business (notwithstanding the fact that BKK-NRT does have first class. This would not be an issue with other FFPS which allow mixed bookings, ie business from SIN-BKK and first from BKK-NRT) [EDIT: Mixed cabin bookings allowed effective 20 Jan 16!]
  • Phantom Availability: Lifemiles sometimes shows phantom availability, ie award space that isn’t really there. To avoid getting duped, click all the way to just before the final confirmation screen before deciding whether or not to buy miles (sometimes the transaction errors out halfway which means the space was phantom)
  • Lufthansa/SQ Blocking: Lufthansa has recently started blocking First class award space available to partner programs, Lifemiles included. You won’t be able to access SQ’s latest products through Lifemiles either. Note that this isn’t a limitation with Lifemiles per se, other FFPs would have the same issues trying to redeem these products
  • Changing/Cancelling Tickets: Lifemiles is great to use when everything goes according to plan. But when you need to make changes/cancel tickets that’s when the process can get a bit tricky. It actually costs less to cancel an award (US$50) than to make changes to it (US$150), so you’re actually better off cancelling and rebooking. They do have an English call centre but wait times may be long, and cancellation can only be done here. You’ll have to read off your entire billing address and credit card number to support staff, and the process can take anywhere between 20 to 60 minutes
  • Buying additional miles: Lifemiles only requires that you have 40% of the miles you need to make a redemption- the rest can be purchased during the final stage of the transaction. In other words, suppose I need 100,000 miles. So long as I have 40,000 in my account, I can buy the other 60,000 miles when booking. The more miles you buy, the lower the total cost- the first 1,000 miles is US$33 but that comes down to as low as US$15 when you buy more. Where this sweet spot kicks in varies depending on transaction, but in general to get the 1.5 cents per mile cost you should purchase between 45-55% of the miles needed at time of ticketing

I don’t recommend buying Lifemiles pre-emptively. What you should do is when a sales event is announced, go on the Lifemiles site and search their award booking tool to see if there’s any flights that meet your fancy. If there are, buy the miles (they’re deposited instantly) and confirm your booking.

That said, if you can make it work for you, Lifemiles is a great way to experience other Star Alliance products/routes for cheap

Me enjoying my ANA flight to New York
On my deeply discounted ANA business class flight to New York

57 thoughts on “Cheap First and Business class tickets”

  1. Hi,

    Great insight as I was just looking into LM a few weeks ago. I’m one of those idiots who actually pay for premium travel and consider SIN-JFK for 5k SGD okay/cheap.

    I signed up for LM and did a dummy booking for SIN-CDG vv.. A few issues.

    – availability is extremely scare.
    – your numbers don’t appear to add up. It says I need 78k X 2 miles = 156k miles.. so that should work out to be roughly 156 X 33 = 5148 USD ++…

    No sure how that is cheaper unless you’re seeing something I don’t.


    1. Hi Justin, thanks for reading! To answer your question, you’re buying at 2x the “right” price now. Lifemiles go on sale 4-5 times per year at a 50% discount. That is, instead of paying the regular 33 dollars for 1k miles, you pay 16.50 instead (used to be 15, though that possibility still exists on occasion when they do a 2.2x bonus). So you need to sign up for an account now and wait for the next sales event. As for availability, I agree it is a bit hit and miss, but as with all award availability timing is everything. If you can book more than 6 months out or closer than 2 weeks in you get better availability. Most of my best Lifemiles redemption were when I checked 5 days out. Not ideal, but given the potential discounts still worth it in my opinion!

  2. Hi Aaron,

    Do you mean life miles can only be used for other Star Alliance airlines but not SQ?

    Also I would need to buy the ticket using miles off AVIANCA website only or I can get it done at Star Alliance website?

    In addition:
    Do you have any suggestions for earning sky team miles?

    Thank you so much and I am very impressed with what you have written!

    1. Hi Fred- thanks for reading! To answer your qn, you CAN book sq tickets with lifemiles, but only selected routes. SQ does not let partner members access its latest first/business class products or its current gen long haul first/business class products. Suffice to say you will only be able to get their regional business class routes (inclined lie flat, not full flat). Examples are Seoul, tokyo, beijing, certain syd and mel flights. Once in a while you may get lucky but that will be the exception rather than the rule. Other star carriers may block their inventory on lifemiles, for example lh first used to be relatively easy to get but has now been restricted. However you can still get first/business on Thai, eva, ana, asiana and a lot of other good quality airlines

      You need to use the avianca site to redeem the miles you have bought. There is no star alliance site for redemption

      As for skyteam, unfortunately the opportunities are extremely limited in sg. I think AMEX partners with dynasty flyer, China airline’s loyalty program. They’re part of skyteam. That’s the only route I know of- but the conversion rates are terrible

  3. Hi MileLion,

    Thank you for sharing all of these wonderful information relevant from a local perspective.

    Citibank 10X Rewards card also offer 4 miles for $1 online spending.

    “Get 10X Rewards (or 4 Miles) for every S$1 spent on shoes, bags, clothes or departmental stores or online shopping websites”.

    Is this card not recommended over DBS? DBS charges a hefty annual fee for Krisflyer miles conversion which doesnt seem to be mentioned on your site.

    1. Hi Tabby- thanks so much for reading!

      Why I prefer the DBS Woman’s card over the Citibank rewards card is simple- DBS is much more generous with giving the 10X for online spend than Citibank. note that the citibank card says “online shopping”. So if you were to, say, buy flight tickets, Citibank rewards card would not give you 4 miles per dollar. DBS Woman’s card will. In all the non-shopping online transactions I’ve tested so far, eg buying movie tickets, buying airline tickets, paying on, paying for linkedin, DBS woman’s card gave me 4 miles per $1. So the range of transactions for which dbs woman’s gives the bonus to is much wider (remember though it’s still capped at S$2K spend per month, so if you’ve exhausted that and if you have amazon/other shopping things to buy online you can go with the rewards card (which is capped at S$12k spend per year for the bonus))

      Remember that DBS’s fee for krisflyer conversion is an ANNUAL fee- that is, you pay once and you can do unlimited conversions for that year. Since I’m fearing an impending KF devaluation (with them launching premium economy they’re sure to revise the award chart) I’m converting as soon as i get the minimum block of 5K DBS points (10K KF miles). So you are paying $42.60 but that’s for the whole year. I know the citibank fee is lower but from a liquidity point of view dbs gives a better deal.

      here’s a list of transactions that people have tested the 10x for with dbs and citibank-

      let me know if you still have questions!

    1. Last devaluation was in 2007. Which is why i say we are way overdue for one. details here-

      If I recall correctly, a one way business class ticket to London went from 60,000 to 80,000 miles, so that’s about a 33% devaluation. That said, they did allow one way redemptions at 50% the cost of return (used to be 70%) and they eventually opened up business and first class cabins on the 77W and A380s (can you believe there was a time when you could only redeem your KF miles for premium cabin seats on the OLD aircraft- eg spacebeds on the 747. that’s just ridiculous).

      I am 99% certain that when they release a new award chart to show premium economy redemption rates they will make business + first cost more. And they will have 2 upgrade rates now for full fare Y- 1 to upgrade to premium and 1 to upgrade to business. Guess how much that will cost

  4. “Since I’m fearing an impending KF devaluation (with them launching premium economy they’re sure to revise the award chart) I’m converting as soon as i get the minimum block of 5K DBS points (10K KF miles). ”

    Am I right to interpret that upon converting to miles, you would want to utilize the miles asap as well due to this devaluation.

    Otherwise, the urgency may not be there if one has no immediate plan to travel, because the devaluation is not as the bank level per se, example increase of points for the same miles redemption.

    Thinking about it, this treacherous scenario at both ends will be double whammy :S touch wood.

    1. correct- the devaluation threat is more on SQ side than on the bank. But once you transfer to KF you have 3 years to spend. That is a long, long time, and if you cannot accumulate enough miles in 3 years to plan at least 1 nice trip then you might want to consider cashback cards instead of miles (an average spend of 1,500 a month on cards over 3 years should be enough to get you a pair of one-way business class tickets on SQ, provided you use the right cards! (ie not put everything on one card- use the Pref Platinum AMEX for dining, DBS woman’s for online spending etc)).

      Banks are much less likely to devalue, but the possibility can never be ruled out sadly. If you’re fortunate, they’ll give advance notice. If not…well.

  5. Points well noted. The summary charts in the other articles are neatly documented. Surely, with a bit of thinking and planning to fits one’s spending pattern, the dreams would now be many steps closer.

    Immediately after this, I need to relook into some of my hotel bookings. I have made some bookings with Agoda that was entitled to 7% upfront discount using Altitude, as well as the 3 miles per $ spending. Now I’m wondering if it would put me in better position to swap to using Citi PM instead. Example: earning 6 miles on Agoda website, and $1.2 miles per local $ spent. Hmm….

    I’m having a little confusion on how to compare them like to like. Maybe I shall use 5 cents per 1 miles. Assuming $1000 spending, altitude will give me $70 discount plus 2790 miles (3 miles x $970, equivalent to $139.50 @ 5 cents per mile); therefore total benefit is $209.50.

    Whereas for PM, it will be 7.2 miles per dollar in total, so that would be 7,200 miles equivalent to $360 money back.

    Do you think I’m analyzing on the right track? Thanks.

    1. Which altitude card are you using? If you managed to get in on the DBS Altitude AMEX sign up promo then you’ll get 4.5 miles on your online hotel spend (assuming the transaction is carried out online and not later on in the hotel- ie you pay online first).
      If you are earning 3 miles on your altitude card, then you’re right that the differential is 3 miles per $1 spent, because of the PM 6 miles per $1 bonus (but only for stays until 15 Oct- have you considered that?). I think you should use 4 cents per mile, to be a bit more conservative. Remember, 4 cents is the ideal value you should redeem at, but it may not always be possible (due to capacity controls on business class award inventory).

      In this case I’d probably go for the discount that altitude has. 7% in cash savings is not to be passed up easily. BTW for PM is it is 6 miles per $1 not 7.2 miles. Your spending on the hotel counts as overseas spend. therefore the correct calculation is 6000*0.04=$240, versus 70 + 930*3*0.04=181 thereabouts. But our calculation should really factor in some time value of money component for that $70. This then boils down to how much you value having cash now over miles later. Remember that if PM is not your primary mile earning card you’ll need to spend $25 at some point in time to liberate those miles, so factor that in too. By the way, is it not possible to double dip? it seems that all citibank cards above gold tier will get 7% off at agoda-

  6. Hi Aaron, I just redeemed 156k LM for a return USA ticket in May 2016. While I immediately received an Avianca LM email with redemption details (including the reservation code), I am wondering if there will be an e-ticket or confirmation email as well. From your experience, was this sent within 24hours of the redemption, or only closer to the departure? How would ANA refer to an Avianca reservation code?

    1. Nice work! I take it you got ana business. That’s a lovely product to try. When you redeem you get a lifemiles acknowledgement email. You then wait 24-48 hours for avianca ticketing to send you the eticket. It will be a separate email- you use the pnr on that ticket to manage your booking on ana and select seat etc. They’re usually quite reliable on this, I’ve received my ticket in 12 hours before. I take it you still have time before you fly?

  7. Thanks Aaron for the speedy response! Yup, I still have some time till my flight next May 🙂 I’ve heard good things about ANA, and really enjoyed your trip report. Will look out for the eticket.

  8. hey aaron. heard someone mention on OMAAT that one can find sq suites on LM if one knows where to look. seen any before in your LM award engine searches?

    1. yes and no. i’ve booked SQ F before on SIN-BOM. that route used to be operated by a 77W. It eventually got updated to an A380, so whoever had booked it with F was automatically upgraded to suites.

      That was some time ago, mind. I have never seen SQ F availability since, much less suites.

  9. Hi Aaron,

    Love your posts and thanks for sharing all these tricks! Am completely new to lifemiles but at first instance it seems really difficult to play around with the site and find availability for any dates/destinations! Could you share with us some hints/guidance on how you usually would hunt for deals on LM? Thank you so much! ((:


    1. Thanks Jasyln! It’d be easier to help you if I knew a bit more about what you’re looking for, eg what routes and dates. In general, the best availability tends to be either <1 month out or >9 months, and you may not find any availability on certain routes which aren’t served by star alliance carriers (or are served but don’t have open award space). In general I’ve always been able to find award space from SIN to SFO, JFK, SYD, BOM, LHR (although the routing isn’t always great), FRA, SJC. Those tend to be the routes I look at more. Any particular area you’re looking to go to?

  10. Hi Aaron,

    I’m not quite clear on the 150k miles cap and how that applies to redemption. Is that the limit to load up your account prior to booking and any further miles I pay for at the time of booking is not counted?

    I am extrapolating this from your suggestion to purchase 45-55% of the miles at the time of purchasing.

    Kind Regards,

    1. yes, that is correct. so in a given calendar year you can only buy 150k miles outright, but there is no limit to the amount you can buy using the cash + miles option.

      the nifty thing is that if you cancel your award ticket which you paid for using cash and miles, you don’t get back the cash you paid for miles, you get back all the miles. this means you can essentially “buy” more miles.

      eg suppose i redeem a ticket for 60,000 miles + $Y cash for 20,000 miles. when i cancel, i dont get back Y cash, i get back 80K miles.

  11. Hi Aaron, I chance upon your website and I just want you to know that it’s the best site that I have ever come across. I used to do my own credit card charts, but now I know I can depend on your site 🙂

    However, I really need advice on this life-miles thingy. I plan to travel to Rome in September on SQ. There are 3 of us travelling – 2 adult and 1 children aged 5 travelling. I checked the SQ price would be $5865 (inclusive of taxes and surcharges) for the 3 of us.

    A ticket redemption on economy class would cost 70,000 per pax. Total would be 210,000.

    At a rate of US$15 for 1000 miles, that would cost 210 * 15 * 1.4 (Forex) = $4410. Now, this is excluding taxes and surcharges of $1542 ( $279 + $1263 ). Hence total cost using miles would be $5952. This would actually cost more than buying the tickets direct from SQ?

    Maybe, I did my sums wrong. Can you help to clarify and advise? Thank you. 🙂

    1. hi daniel, glad you find it useful. so let’s discuss lifemiles- i strongly advise that if you get into lifemiles it makes a lot more sense to use it for premium cabin redemptions. you might find some value for economy redemptions but trust me, you’re going to consistently find better value flying ANA first/EVA business through lifemiles.

      you’re trying to fly 3 people- that already might be tricky to do from a redemption perspective. but assuming there are seats, lifemiles charges 110,000 miles round trip (i’m not sure where you’re seeing 70,000). during sales events, you can often buy lifemiles at 1.375 US cents per mile, so that’s the rate i’m going to use here. 3 people, at 1.4 (i know the official rate is 1.35 now but when you buy miles using your credit card you’ll be hit by a conversion fee so let’s say 1.4 to be conservative) cents per mile for 110,000 miles each will be S$6352. you’d be better off buying revenue tickets instead.

      to go back to my original point- unless you are travelling in one of the economy sweet spots for lifemiles (eg singapore to japan which is 40,000 miles round trip) it generally does not make sense to redeem lifemiles for economy. FYI- it’s 110,000 miles roundtrip for economy and 156,000 miles for business. that’s a price difference of S$950 for round trip business class- a bit steep if you’re doing for 3 people but surely a good bargain for 1 person…

  12. Hi Aaron, I have signed up for the Lifemiles account. Does it matter that I used my driver’s license/NRIC number instead of passport number to sign up? Passport number is too difficult to remember. Also, may I ask which part of the year do they normally have sale? And is it true that once you purchase the miles, you have to use it within a short period of time? Thank you.

    1. nah I don’t really think so. whenever you book a redemption ticket you can specify your passport number again. the sales are at least 4 times a year but i think they’re increasing the frequency as they try to monetize the program. once you buy the miles you can use them whenever you want, but because devaluation is always a real possibility it’s advised that you use them asap

    1. because there is always a possibility of an unannounced devaluation, ala alaska mileageplan. Lifemiles has in recent history provided notice before devaluing (there were a couple of instances where they didn’t, but that was long ago), but with FFP’s so poorly regulated who knows?

    1. if it’s any consolation they’re now selling at 1.47 cents but it’s not the cheapest they’ve ever gone. I’ve bought at 1.375 before. if no good opportunities now, wait till they offer better price.

  13. Hey aaron
    May I ask what is the best way to accumulate LM other than purchasing them at the quarterly sales.
    Looking at the CCs issued in SG, most of which only allow points to be converted to Krisflyer or Asiamiles. Redemption for partners airline definitely look striaght forward on their website as compared to the rest of the Star Alliance members where some only offers upgrade with miles.

    Have been following your RTW report! Looking good! Enjoy!

    1. hi bel! honestly the best way of getting LM is the sales (more than quarterly, i think they’re up to 6 or 7 times a year). You won’t be able to earn LM through CC in singapore. and you’re right that SQ makes it very difficult to redeem star partner tickets (1) they demand a lot of miles (2) they make it hard to see availability (have to call).

      so it sucks but yeah, that’s the hand we’ve been dealt. on cathay pacific website you can use asiamiles to book with BA, Qatar etc without any problems. if only SQ allowed that.

      1. Thanks for your prompt reply and sharing Aaron!

        I also noticed that you are quite a big fan of KF as compared to asiamiles in terms of redemption. I do not have much flexibility on my travel dates which makes it quite hard for me to redeem some of the SQ flights at times.

        1. actually not anymore. ever since i learned about cathay’s minimal surcharges i’ve been keeping my points stored on the credit card side instead of converting so i have that extra flexibility to convert to asiamiles if needed .see here

          1. Yup. I see your point! It truly saves more miles in almost all locations!
            Thank you for the info!

            I do realised that only Citi bank has points statement and when checking on my rewards, I found out some of my shopping purchases as not 10x! Argh! Waste of ‘precious’ miles(9x)!

            1. yeah that’s the big con. most banks will not give you a points statement and the burden of checking falls on you. have to be vigilant!

  14. hi Aaron, We are planning our europe holiday for 3 of us and I have bought 360k life miles to take business class. Flying to barcelona on the 26th march and back from geneva on the 9th april. However, I am not getting any availability on life miles website. I also have emirates 55k and cititbank 40k and dbs around 20k worth of miles. is there a way to get a business class ticket for all of us for this trip?

    1. short answer- 3 award tickets is difficult but not impossible. if you’re ok flying separately your job gets much easier. if lifemiles is not giving you the exact dates that you need, not much can be done there because what you see is what you get. would you consider using lifemiles to fly to an airport close to barcelona and then getting a cheap budget flight to barca?

  15. Thank you Aaron, Managed to get bangkok-barcelona on swiss air for 3 of us on a business class. Nice to have break in bangkok before we head to europe. No luck with return flights from Geneva. Is it worth keep checking or just consolidate all my miles into krisflyer and check sq? I do not want to have a stop over at another destination on my way back?

  16. Hi, intriguing discovery you’ve written about in this article, which led me to set up a LM account and explore its website. (You’re right – until today, I’ve never heard of LM or Avianca…) I’m just wondering if I’m getting the numbers right and if I understood booking process correctly. Assuming I travel SIN to LHR on J, it’s 156,000 miles. Come mileage sale time, I go ahead and purchase the limit of 150,000 miles first; make a booking; adjust miles and cash ratio such that I end up paying with 150,000 miles and US$198 cash; and complete and ticket the booking. Is that correct?

    If I’m right about this process, then the total cost (assuming US$16.50 per 1,000 miles at sale time) for SIN-LHR on J would be (150×16.5) + 198 = US$2,673?

    If that is correct, then that works out to be about S$3,800 for a J class ticket to LHR. Not a bad deal if SQ inventory were available to be booked, but it looks like the route can only be done using one or more of the other airlines other than SQ (eg. TG, TK, BR, OS, NH, etc.) That being the case, I’m wondering if, say, a TG roundtrip business ticket to London for S$3,800 is that wonderful a deal? It is possible to fly for less than or just over S$3,000 on a revenue ticket on UL, MH or AY, and earn miles and elite status on one of the Oneworld programmes at the same time. I’m doubtful a TG J class product is that much superior (if at all) to what UL or AY offer in their longhaul aircraft.

    Perhaps the best deals are for Asia-USA, the dollar value for which you have singled out in your article and I admittedly haven’t really checked out. But given how my travels are to LHR or other parts of Europe most of the time, rarely touching any part of North America, I’m wondering if this deal involving LM is not *quite* as remarkable as I hoped it would be, or if I’m getting my numbers all wrong. Appreciate your insights!

    Finally, from your experience, do you think it is worth, during one’s regular revenue travels on SQ (which I do on company business, at the company’s expense), to credit miles earned to LM at all? Or should one stick to KF? I used to split the miles earned between KF and UA’s MileagePlus, but it seems rather pointless today given the massive devaluation of MileagePlus following the merger of UA and CO.

    1. your numbers aren’t correct. during a sale you would buy at 1.375 us cents per mile, making the trip to london US$2145. London is probably a bad example because on departure they will hit you with very expensive airport taxes if you’re flying in premium cabins (google London APD. you will be very unlikely to find SQ award space on long haul routes with LM (you can find plenty of regional space to places like BKK). i think the value lies more to USA than london because you can fly with top tier carriers like BR and NH (I think tg is really subpar)

      i personally credit to KF, haven’t really thought of crediting them anywhere else given how easily LM can be bought. put it this way- you earn KF miles to fly on SQ. you buy LM miles to travel on *A carriers.

      1. OK, I get your point. So LM is really a better deal to the US than to Europe, generally speaking. BTW, how did you get 1.375 cents? I’m looking at your reply on July 17, 2015 to the very first comment by Justin, where you mention US$16.50 per 1,000 miles, and a check now on LM shows it’s US$33.

  17. Sorry, I am very new to this and have a question regarding redemption. After purchasing your lifemiles at a sale, and say you want to redeem a first class ticket from Singapore to North America.. I was looking at the “Star Alliance Air Ticket redemption” chart on Lifemiles website and my interpretation of that chart is that you can only fly from South Asia to another South Asian country or “Others” (

    Why is it so, or how have I wrongly interpreted the award ticket redemption?

    1. no, you’re not reading it properly. look at from north america- you’ll see there’s an intersection with south asia

  18. Hi, I am very new to miles in general and I have a question – say Ive purchased life miles at a sale and want to redeem an award ticket from Singapore to North America on a star alliance airline. I look up the star alliance air ticket redemption chart (, but the table does not quite make sense to me – it seems as if from Singapore (south asia), one can only fly to another south asian country or “others” which encompasses oceanic countries.

    Have I interpreted the table wrongly? Thanks!

  19. Hi Aaron,

    Really eye-opening blog you’ve got, kudos!

    I’m new to the game and just signed up for a LifeMiles account. If I have unclaimed miles sitting in my credit card account, how can I merge miles purchased in the LM account with those in my CC account to purchase an air ticket?

    PS. Is claiming for economy, or even premium-economy, an absolute no-go in your books? Any situations that serve as an exception to the rule?

    1. no, they’re two completely different currencies. there is no singapore credit card that transfers to lifemiles.

  20. Hi Aaron,

    Thank you for sharing with everyone on your blog.

    Regarding phantom availability, does it mean that the page will stop loading and crash, causing us to lose the miles ?

    1. No, it means you will see award space when it doesn’t really exist. Your transaction simply won’t proceed beyond that point and you get an error msg

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