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 3 October 2019, 2pm SGT, LifeMiles is offering up to a 145% bonus on miles. Everyone’s offer will differ, and you’ll need to log into your LifeMiles account to check what you were targeted for.
If you were targeted for a 145% bonus, your tiers will look like this:
- 1,000-12,000 LifeMiles: 115% bonus, or 1.53 US cents/mile
- 13,000-40,000 LifeMiles: 135% bonus, or 1.40 US cents/mile
- 41,000-200,000 LifeMiles: 145% bonus, or 1.35 US cents/mile
I can no longer find a link to LifeMiles award chart (which may be a bad thing), but as far as I know, these award prices out of Singapore have not changed:
|Business Class||First Class|
|Singapore to North America||78,000 miles||99,000 miles|
|Singapore to Hawaii||51,000 miles||75,000 miles|
|Singapore to Australia||40,000 miles||60,000 miles|
|Singapore to Europe||78,000 miles||102,000 miles|
|Singapore to Japan||36,000 miles||50,000 miles|
|Edit: Thanks to Gideon on the comments for this tip- For award charts on partner airlines, you need to go to Partners (https://www.lifemiles.com/partners/airline/UA) and then scroll towards the bottom to a section titled ‘How to redeem your LifeMiles’ . You will see: ‘Learn how many LifeMiles you need to redeem a ticket on and then the link to the chart.|
What card should I use?
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:
- OCBC 90N Card: 4 mpd, with no cap
- 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
What do I need to know about buying LifeMiles?
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”…
…and lo and behold, award space shows up.
Sometimes this works, and sometimes it doesn’t. What it does suggest is that you should always start searching on a “better” site like Aeroplan or ANA, then come to LifeMiles to try and book the flight.
Get 10-31% off selected Star Alliance redemptions
In addition to the sale, LifeMiles is offering 10-31% off selected Star Alliance redemptions made by 19 October 2pm SGT. Your travel can be after this date, but you will need to ticket your award before then.
Here’s the full list of city pairings available (the file name says Feb 2019, but on the top left hand corner you’ll see that this applies for redemptions by 19 Oct 2019). There are two destinations available out of/into Singapore, identical to the previous time this sale was available.
|SIN-HKG (and vv.)||N/A|
|SIN-NRT (and vv.)|
These discounts will be automatically applied when you search for award space.
Although there aren’t any long haul destinations available ex-SIN, it may be worth looking at whether positioning yourself to Hong Kong (if you dare) can make sense, because LAX and SFO are available at 64K miles respectively for one-way Business Class, instead of the usual 75K.
I certainly wouldn’t buy LifeMiles speculatively, but if you can find the award space you need, it can definitely work for you.
If you’re new to the miles and points game, it may be good to spend some time learning the ropes about intra-Alliance redemptions and buying miles before taking the plunge- i.e. if you’re the sort who asks “can I transfer LifeMiles to KrisFlyer” then this definitely isn’t a promotion for you.