Best Ways to Use Avianca LifeMiles for Maximum Value

 

Flights on Avianca: LifeMiles does not publish an official award chart for flights on Avianca, but you can use their calculator to see the number of points. New York to Bogota starts at 35,000 round trip for economy class and 80,000 for business class. 

Flying on Star Alliance: LifeMiles has two award charts for Star Alliance partners. Their second chart focuses on flights within the U.S. or Europe, and also flights between the U.S. and Europe. Avianca divides the U.S. into three regions, and if you stay within the same region (flying on United) it only costs 7,500 points one-way.

Star Alliance Airlines: Adria, Aegean, Air Canada, Air China, Air India, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana, Austrian, Avianca, Brussels Airlines, Copa, Croatia Airlines, Egyptair, Ethiopian, EVA Air, LOT Polish, Lufthansa, SAS, Shenzhen Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Swiss, TAP Portugal, THAI, Turkish Airlines, and United. (You can also book on non-alliance member Iberia, but you need to call)

Online Booking– You can search by airline and route on their website. You need to register for a free account. The LifeMiles’ system is not great, so I highly suggest that you search awards by segment to start. If find award space for all segments, then see if the online system will book the flights together. If it does not work, you may have to call or email LifeMiles.

Stopovers: Not Allowed.

Routing Rules: LifeMiles doesn’t really have any routing rules. If you wanted to fly a really long time in business class, you could fly from Sydney to Tokyo via Los Angeles on United for only 50,000 points one way. Or from the U.S. to Asia via Europe.

Fuel Surcharges: Avianca does not pass on any fuel surcharges, so using LifeMiles to book Lufthansa, Swiss, South African, Turkish, Austrian, Ethiopian, and Air Canada can save you hundreds of dollars in fees. 

Award Booking Fee: You must pay a $25 award booking fee for all awards.

Mixed Cabins: LifeMiles allows mixed cabin awards and it can save you a lot of points.  The formula is (the distance of a segment * cabin award price/ total distance) + (the distance of a segment * cabin award price/ total distance). For example, the flight below is from the U.S. to Turkey (Europe 3). If you just booked the first segment, it would cost 63,000 points, but you can save 8,000 points for flying one segment in economy class over business class. (Intra-European business class is pretty awful. It generally has the same legroom as economy class, but with a blocked middle seat). If you wanted, you could technically save points by skipping the last leg similar to hidden city travel, but you would have to book only one-way and not check a bag.

  • Other Examples: Fly ANA First class from the U.S. to Tokyo and then book economy to Singapore or Sydney.

Miles and Cash: LifeMiles allows you to book a mix of cash and points if you have at least 40% of the required points. The cash co-pay is at a pretty reasonable rate as well. 

Upgrades: You can also use points for upgrades on Avianca and other Star Alliance partners. 

Phone Number: 1-800-284-2622 (their call center is hard to work with, so try booking online first). Alternatively, if calling does not work, you could screenshot the segments that show award space and email soportelife@avianca.com and support@lifemiles.com

Fees: $50 for depositing miles and $150 change fee.

Sweet Spots

Staying Within Same U.S. Region– The LifeMiles map of the U.S. is below. Zone 2 is quite large and you can fly from Florida to Montana for only 7,500 LifeMiles each way in economy class on United. 

The U.S. to Europe– Award flights from the U.S to Europe are not great values for most award programs due to fuel surcharges. However, LifeMiles does not pass on their partner airlines’ fuel surcharges, which can save you about a $1,000 if you wanted to fly Lufthansa Business or First class. 

The U.S. to Southern South America– If you fly on Avianca, it should cost only cost 45,000 points in economy class. 

The U.S. to South Africa- Costs 78,000 points one-way, plus you can book the direct flight from JFK to JNB if you can find award space on South African. 

The U.S. to Asia in First Class- Costs 90,000 points to North Asia and 99,000 for South Asia. 

North Asia to Australia- 20,000 in economy and 40,000 in business for a 9-hour flight. 

 

Award Chart

 

Region Definitions

 

The U.S. Zones