Tag Archives: star alliance

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.

An Unplanned Flight on the BB-8 plane

ANA First off the checklist too!

Flown August 2016
Published January 2017

At Narita Airport

It has been some time since my last entry and I finally got the time to share my first flight report for this blog, which is not going to be very common since I prefer to focus on hotels.

Maybe this is considered the second, but I guess my Medical Emergency does not really count as a flight report, does it?

Continue reading An Unplanned Flight on the BB-8 plane

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.