LifeMiles is the frequent flyer program of Avianca, a member of Star Alliance. It runs frequent mileage sales and is a good way of getting discounted First and Business Class tickets, if you can find award space.
From now till 1 August 2019, 2pm SGT, LifeMiles is offering up to a 145% bonus on miles purchases to members who register via this link. This promotion is targeted at readers of OMAAT, but really, anyone can register.
Here’s how the bonus tiers, and your effective price per mile
- 1,000-10,000 LifeMiles: 105% bonus, or 1.61 US cents/mile
- 11,000-50,000 LifeMiles: 110% bonus, or 1.57 US cents/mile
- 51,000-100,000 LifeMiles: 135% bonus, or 1.40 US cents/mile
- 101,000-200,000 LifeMiles: 145% bonus, or 1.35 US cents/mile
LifeMiles purchases are processed directly by Avianca in USD, meaning that they code as foreign currency airfare spend. You’ll want to use one of the following cards to maximize the miles you earn:
- UOB Visa Signature: 4 mpd, with min $1K max $2K foreign currency spend in a statement period
- DBS Woman’s World Card: 4 mpd, max $2K spend per month
- SCB Visa Infinite: 3 mpd, with min $2K total spend in a statement period
- BOC Elite Miles World Mastercard: 3 mpd, no cap or minimum spend
- DBS Altitude Visa/DBS Altitude AMEX: 3 mpd, capped at $5K spend per month
The usual caveats about buying LifeMiles apply:
- Don’t buy them speculatively. Only buy them if you have a confirmed trip in mind and have found award space on LifeMiles (you don’t need to have any miles in your account to search for award space)
- You can’t redeem Singapore Airlines First or Business Class cabins on selected routes with LifeMiles
- LifeMiles may not see the same award space as other Star Alliance partners. Just because you see something on Aeroplan or United doesn’t necessarily mean it will appear on LifeMiles
- All changes and cancellations must be done through the Avianca call centre; they cannot be done online. It costs between US$100-200 to cancel an award ticket, depending on your origin and destination
LifeMiles expire after 12 months of account inactivity, but you shouldn’t be holding on to them for that long anyway, especially if you’re concerned about Avianca’s US$68M Q1 2019 loss and its bond downgrade.
That said, it’s important to remember that (1) LifeMiles is a separate legal entity from Avianca, and has a stable credit outlook from Moody’s and (2) the program’s financial future is only of concern to you if you’re holding on to LifeMiles, which you shouldn’t be in the first place.
You can buy a maximum of 200,000 LifeMiles each year (pre-bonus), and LifeMiles tickets can be redeemed for anyone you choose. There are no fuel surcharges on LifeMiles redemptions.
LifeMiles award space issues
I use LifeMiles every now and then, and one of the things I’ve noticed is that award availability seems to have shrunk. I can’t say for sure whether it’s just poor engine design or deliberate award blocking, because it is possible to force LifeMiles to show results that don’t show up the first time round.
For example, in the example below I’ve searched for SIN-LAX, but only see Economy Class options.
However, I know from searching Aeroplan that there are Business Class options available that day on Air China. So I toggle the search mode from “Smart Search” to “Air China”…