Tag Archives: lifemiles

Lifemiles increases award cancellation fees by up to 4X

So file this one under “why we can’t have nice things”. Everyone’s favourite South American airline, Avianca, has quadrupled the cancellation fees for Lifemiles award tickets.

As per OMAAT, Lifemiles now charges up to US$200 to cancel an award ticket, versus US$50 before. You can read more posts about this on the FT thread and this Aussie FF thread.

Ben at OMAAT suggests that there are 2 scenarios

  • If your award ticket is within 1 region (eg start in North America, end in North America), your cancellation fee is US$50
  • If your award ticket goes from 1 region to another (eg start in North America, end in Singapore), your cancellation fee is US$200

That said, other people are reporting different- user Tokyoite on FT reports that this varies by cabin class as well.

The logic I see so far is that,
– cancel fee varies between F , J and Y redemptions.
– intra-region is USD 100/ticket/person to refund. as per the site (F & J award)
– inter-region is USD 200/ticket/person to refund. as per the site (F award. J is USD 100)

– Existing tickets are not affected (tickets still show USD 50/ticket).
– Call-center is still clueless and they still say USD 50/ticket

Here’s my experience with some dummy bookings-

  • SIN-SFO in Business Class, US$200 refund fee

  • SIN-JFK in First Class, US$200 refund fee

  • SIN-BKK in Business Class, US$100 refund fee

  • SIN-PER in Business Class, US$200 refund fee

  • SIN-NRT in Business Class, US$100 refund fee

It appears I’m getting something closer to Ben’s experience. However, it’s not strictly the case that inter zone awards always get a US$200 refund fee- Singapore and Japan are in different zones (South and North Asia) as per the LM award chart, yet my cancellation fee is still US$100.

The best advice I can give you is to be aware of these changes and always check what the cancellation fee is before you book (if you hover your mouse over your itinerary the fees for changing/cancelling will appear.

The important thing is that it appears tickets issued before this change will have the original US$50 refund fee honored, at least based on anecdotal reports I’m reading on the forums.

The funny thing about Lifemiles awards is that traditionally they’ve been cheaper to refund (US$50) rather than change (US$150). With this new development it would be cheaper to change rather than refund. I’ve never actually tried changing a date with the call centre before but I can imagine that will be all sorts of fun, given their reputation for competence.

Suffice to say, this doesn’t make Lifemiles a terrible program overnight, but it does mean you’ll want to think carefully about booking “just in case” awards. When the cancellation fee was US$50, it was still justifiable to snap up an award you saw, with cancellation being a (potentially long) phone call and US$50 away. Now that the fee is US$200 the dynamic changes a bit.

By the way, if you want to buy Lifemiles, you can follow this link and get a 140% bonus (buying at 1.375 US cents per mile) when buying miles. You need to register by 27th Feb and buy by 28th Feb.

Lifemiles sale is back with up to a 135% bonus

Lifemiles are back on sale from now till 28 Feb with members getting up to a 135% bonus on purchased miles.

As usual, the promotion is tiered, and the more miles you buy, the larger the bonus you get.

135% bonus offer

It appears that the 135% bonus is only available to targeted accounts. My account was targeted, but there are reports of other accounts only getting a 125% bonus as seen below.

LifeMiles-Bonus-2
125% bonus offer

Here’s the math (assuming a 135% bonus)

  • Buy 1,000-50,000 miles-1. 57 US cpm
  • Buy 51,000-100,000 miles- 1.47 US cpm
  • Buy 101,000- 200,000 miles- 1.4 US cpm

And for the inevitable question: is this a good time to jump in? It’s certainly not the best sale I’ve seen. Lifemiles have been offered with a 140% bonus, which brings the average cost down to 1.375 US cents per mile. Here’s a reminder of the recent sales

  • December 2016- 140%
  • November 2016- 140%
  • September 2016- 140%
  • May 2016- 135%

If you don’t need miles now, I’d recommend holding off for a while. But if you absolutely need to fly now and have been targeted for 135%, I see no reason not to jump in.

Someone recently asked me why I think Lifemiles are a good deal despite it being possible to buy Krisflyer miles for 2 SG cents each (assuming you sign up for the OCBC Voyage card and pay $10K for 500,000 KF miles)

(1) No fuel surcharges on Lifemiles awards

(2) The ability to try first and business class products on other *A carriers (eg ANA and Eva) for fewer miles than what it’d cost you to redeem via SQ (assuming you value LM and KF miles the same)

L1010005

(3) The existence of sweet spots on the Lifemiles award chart, like flying from Singapore to Hawaii for 51,000 miles in business class (one-way)

You should not be buying Lifemiles if your goal is to fly with SQ. This is because

(1) Lifemiles (and other *A partner programs) does not have access to SQ’s long haul First and Business class space. You will at best be able to book SQ’s regional business class seats on the A330

(2) SQ awards are cheaper to redeem through the Krisflyer program than via Lifemiles

The maximum number of Lifemiles you can buy (pre-bonus) each year is 200,000.

Lifemiles purchases will code as airline and online transactions, so you’d earn 4 mpd using your HSBC Advance Card, DBS Woman’s World Card and 3 mpd using your DBS Altitude AMEX/Visa.

Lifemiles is offering discounted redemption tickets, but should you bite?

I mentioned yesterday that Ben over at OMAAT had managed to wrangle a special deal for his readers. To summarise, readers from OMAAT could register at this page to

  • Buy Lifemiles at a 140% bonus (with a minimum 101,000 mile purchase), equivalent to 1.375 US cents per mile
  • Redeem Lifemiles at an unspecified discount

I registered yesterday and received a confirmation email from Lifemiles that my 140% bonus was now active.

As for the discount, well, the unspecified discount is now specified, and is it worth the hoopla? Let’s have a look.

From now till 2 Jan 2017, you can book discounted Lifemiles tickets for certain routes. It says that travel period is until Dec 2017, but does not specify exactly when in Dec (i.e. start Dec? End Dec?). I suppose if you’re trying to book and you don’t see the discount reflected, it means your period isn’t valid.

As I mentioned in my analysis, given that OMAAT’s readership is mainly American, this promotion was created with US-based flyers in mind. We can see this in the way Lifemiles has further split the USA into several sub redemption zones for the purposes of this promotion (on the regular Lifemiles chart the entire continental USA is one zone). Here’s the chart, reflecting round trip prices (one ways are 50%)-

And here are the zones covered for this promotion.

So let me start with the bad news- there is no promotion on journeys starting or ending in Singapore, or anywhere conveniently accessible from Singapore like Malaysia or Thailand. 

Image result for darth vader no gif

To be fair, I did warn you in my other article this might happen

Of course, this, like my love life, could turn out to be a damp squib. Given OMAAT’s US-centric focus, it is entirely possible that the routes on discount could be domestic US routes, or journeys that must start in the USA, or routes that otherwise have little relevance to SG-based flyers.

So I’ve been wracking my brain to see if there’s anything us Singapore-based flyers can use, and here’s my analysis. Yes, I’m mostly grasping at straws here.

(1) If you could position yourself to South Asia…

The closest destinations to Singapore that are covered by this promotion are in South Asia. Geographically speaking, the closest one is in Colombo, a 3h 50 min flight from Singapore.

Hypothetically speaking, you could position yourself to Colombo and then take advantage of the discounted rates to USA 1 (East Coast USA), which includes New York.

And as soon as I say that, the following occurs to me-

(1) If you’re positioned in Colombo (or anywhere in South Asia for that matter) your are probably going to end up with Air India award space. And we all know what happens when you fly Air India….

(2) The incremental savings don’t really make the additional costs and time to position worth it. You save 3,000 miles on business class tickets to USA 1 (East Coast USA) and 2,000 miles on first class. That’s just not worth the trouble

(2) If you for some reason needed to travel between Europe and the East Coast…

The second thing I realised is that even for US-based flyers, the promotion is quite limited. Unless you live in USA 1, you don’t have a lot of places to choose from. The only international destinations USA 2 flyers can access are the Caribbean and Brazil. Live in USA 3 (West Coast)? The only international destination you have is Brazil.

But assuming you had just finished a nice holiday in New York and suddenly had the urge to visit the UK, you could now save on First and Business Class redemptions (I imagine you’d be flying either United or Lufthansa, with a transit) to the tune below. In business class, 52,500 is a good saving from 63,000, and in first,  75,000 is a good discount from 87,000.

One Way prices. Chart from OMAAT

You can’t even use this to make the infamous SQ25/26 route work for you, because it’s usually the SIN-FRA leg that is full, while the FRA-JFK leg has availability. But given that there’s no awards available to Singapore, you can’t even use this promotion to position yourself for an easier SQ redemption.

(3) If you have US domestic travel coming up…

I’m travelling to Miami in March, but to get there I’ll need to transfer in IAH, and to get back I’ll need to transit in JFK.

Both Texas and Florida are in USA 2, so I’d be paying the following rates (read the second row)

one way prices. Chart from OMAAT.

For comparison, on Krisflyer’s partner award chart they charge the following for domestic US flights, regardless of where in the US.

one way prices Economy Business First
Partner: North America (Canada, USA ex Hawaii) -North America 12,500 20,000 30,00

You can see that I’d be paying 7,500 LMs vs 12,500 Krisflyer miles to get from IAH to MIA. Or if I wanted to fly first class (remember that US domestic first class tickets as business class, so you should look at the business class prices) I’d be paying 15,000 LMs vs 20,000 Krisflyer miles.

So there is some limited value there. I’ve already booked my travel so I’d have to pay a US$15 fee. 7,500 LMs cost US$103, and together with the LM US$25 redemption charge I’m looking at US$128 before taxes (which are likely to be minimal). If I value my Krisflyer miles at 2-3 cents each, then those 12,500 miles are worth S$250-S$375, meaning I’d be somewhat better off redeeming Lifemiles. On the other hand, I paid out of pocket for Lifemiles and my Krisflyer miles are entirely the byproduct of my regular spending.

Conclusion

I think there simply isn’t anything of value here for SG-based flyers, unless you require travel that starts and ends outside of Singapore.

In a way it makes me feel a bit better about booking my JFK-SIN return leg on my Miami trip already. If there was actually a discount on tickets to Singapore, I’d have to weigh whether the savings would be worth the US$50 cancellation fee and the time I’d need to spend on the phone with Lifemiles customer service.

TL;DR, grapes are probably sour anyway.

Image result for sour grapes fox

Are there any opportunities for SG-based flyers that I’ve missed out?

HT: OMAAT