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.
From now till 28 Feburary 2020, 2 p.m SGT, LifeMiles is offering up to a 140% bonus on miles purchases. To enjoy this 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 140% bonus immediately.
Here’s how the bonus tiers:
- Buy 1,000-10,000 miles: 105% bonus
- Buy 11,000-50,000 miles: 115% bonus
- Buy 51,000-1000,000 mile: 130% bonus
- Buy 101,000-200,000 miles: 140% bonus
Buying LifeMiles at a 140% bonus means paying 1.375 US cents per mile, a relatively low price (but not the lowest we’ve ever seen- during Black Friday the price was 1.32 US cents/mile)
LifeMiles does not impose fuel surcharges on redemptions, and here’s how much it costs for selected Business/First Class redemptions out of Singapore.
|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|
The full award chart can be found here.
Get up to 33% off selected Star Alliance redemptions
In addition to the sale, LifeMiles is offering up to 33% off selected Star Alliance redemptions made by 13 March 2020, 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 (the file name says Feb19- don’t ask me, LifeMiles never bothered to update the title). Sadly, there’s only one discounted route available out of Singapore, but if you’re willing to position yourself elsewhere in the region you might have better options.
|SIN-HKG (and vv.)|
These discounts will be automatically applied when you search for award space.
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
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. Do note that Moody’s has recently upgraded LifeMiles’ debt rating from B2 to B1 with a stable outlook.
Here’s an excerpt:
|LifeMiles upgrade to B1 mainly reflects an improvement in its main shareholder, Avianca Holdings S.A.’s (Avianca), credit profile, reducing the risk of LifeMiles upstreaming extraordinary cash flows — either in the form of dividends, most likely financed with incremental debt or anticipated purchases of airline tickets. The recovery in Avianca’s liquidity follows a debt exchange concluded on December 31, 2019 and the availability of new credit facilities. However, Avianca’s credit profile remains weak creating risks for LifeMiles’ credit quality and overall operation.
LifeMiles’ B1 ratings also incorporates its adequate liquidity and solid business model being the sole operator of Avianca’s frequent flyer program, its diversified and sticky base of commercial partners and co-brand credit card growth. Also reflected in the rating are the potential benefits to the company’s growth plan from improved economic dynamics in its largest markets. The corporate family rating is at the same level of the senior secured rating given that it is the only debt in the company’s capital structure.
The rating of the term loan takes into consideration its secured position within the capital structure of the company and the existence of a mandatory prepayment clause that obliges the use of a percentage of excess cash to pay down the term loan. This clause partly offset the risk of cash leakage at LifeMiles before fulfilling its debt payment obligations. In addition, LifeMiles liquidity policy of maintaining a minimum cash balance equivalent to six months of rewards plus two quarters of debt service also mitigates this risk.
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||None||Until 29 Feb 2020|
|UOB Visa Signature
|4 mpd||S$2,000 per statement period||Min spend S$1,000 per statement period|
|DBS Woman’s World Card
|4 mpd||S$2,000 per calendar month|
|SCB Visa Infinite
||3 mpd||None||Min spend S$2,000 per statement period|
|BOC Elite Miles
|DBS Altitude Visa/ AMEX
|3 mpd||S$5,000 per calendar month|
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.
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.
I certainly wouldn’t buy LifeMiles speculatively, but if you can find the award space you want, 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.