Airlines

LifeMiles Black Friday sale: 150% bonus on miles, up to 43% off Star Alliance awards

Buy LifeMiles at 1.32 US cents each, and redeem selected routes for up to 43% off.

LifeMiles is the frequent flyer program of Avianca, a member of Star Alliance. It runs regular miles sales, and is a good way of getting discounted First and Business Class tickets when you can find award space.

For Black Friday, LifeMiles is offering a 150% bonus on miles purchases, with a minimum purchase of only 1,000 miles. This offer is available until 4 December 2019, 2 p.m SGT. 

To enjoy the 150% bonus, you’ll need to register your account via the link below (this offer is for OMAAT readers, but really, anyone can register). Once registered, you should be able to see the 150% bonus immediately. 

Get a 150% bonus on LifeMiles here

Buying LifeMiles at a 150% bonus means paying 1.32 US cents per mile, one of the lowest prices that LifeMiles go on sale for. 

LifeMiles does not impose fuel surcharges on redemptions, and here’s how much it costs for Business/First Class redemptions out of Singapore. The award chart can be found here

 Business ClassFirst Class
Singapore to North America78,000 miles99,000 miles
Singapore to Hawaii51,000 miles75,000 miles
Singapore to Australia40,000 miles60,000 miles
Singapore to Europe78,000 miles102,000 miles
Singapore to Japan36,000 miles50,000 miles

Get up to 43% off selected Star Alliance redemptions

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In addition to the sale, LifeMiles is offering up to 43% off selected Star Alliance redemptions made by 10 December 2 p.m 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 . There are two destinations available out of/into Singapore, identical to the previous time this sale was available. 

 BusinessEconomy
SIN-HKG (and vv.)36K 32.4KN/A
SIN-NRT (and vv.)36K 31K17K 15.5K

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 Taipei or Hong Kong (if you dare) can make sense, because LAX, SFO, IAH, and SEA are available at 64K miles for one-way Business Class, instead of the usual 75K.

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
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You can buy a maximum of 200,000 LifeMiles each year (pre-bonus), and LifeMiles tickets can be redeemed for anyone you choose. 

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 the program’s recent financial woes. Here’s an excerpt from a recent Moody’s review of LifeMiles’ debt: 

LifeMiles Ltd.’s B2 ratings reflect its exposure to the weak credit profile and liquidity pressures of Avianca Holdings, S.A. (Avianca) which increases the risk of additional upstreaming of cash flow to the shareholders, either in the form of dividends, mostly financed with incremental debt, or in the form of anticipated purchases of airline tickets. The B2 ratings also incorporates LifeMiles’ good liquidity and solid business model as the sole operator of Avianca’s frequent flyer program, its diversified and sticky base of commercial partners and co-branded credit card growth and the potential benefits to the company’s growth plan from improved economic dynamics in its largest markets.
The rating of the term loan takes into consideration its secured position within the company’s capital structure. The corporate family rating is at the same level as the senior secured rating given that it is the only debt in the company’s capital structure.

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:

 Earn RateCapRemarks
OCBC 90N Card
Apply here
4 mpdNoneUntil 29 Feb 2020
UOB Visa Signature
Apply here
4 mpdS$2,000Min spend S$1,000 per statement period
DBS Woman’s World Card
Apply here
4 mpdS$2,000 
SCB Visa Infinite
Apply here
3 mpdNoneMin spend S$2,000 per statement period
BOC Elite Miles 
Apply here
3 mpdNone 
DBS Altitude Visa/ AMEX
Apply here
3 mpdS$5,000 

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, but for what it’s worth, 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 using the default LifeMiles search settings, but only see Economy Class options.

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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.

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.

Conclusion

I certainly wouldn’t buy LifeMiles speculatively, but if you can find the award space you want, it can definitely work for you.

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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.


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