Link to promotion. But seriously, read the below for your safety.
The Avianca LifeMiles program might be my favorite frequent flyer program. Up until this point, it’s offered tremendous value to me:
- You can buy miles frequently at only 1.5 cents per point.
- No fuel surcharges.
- Reasonable award rates (up until this point).
- Lots of trick routes. One (Guam) was recently shut down after someone was denied boarding.
- Cash and points redemptions if you don’t have enough points. Effectively allows you to buy more points at 1.5-1.6 cents each.
- You can search awards 5 days at a time. It used to be 7.
With that being said, there are also some dramatic downsides to the program:
- Two unannounced devaluations recently. A third one was announced and takes place October 15th.
- Cancelling awards can only be done over the phone, and is a truly a pain because it can take several hours or days to cancel an award. Or, it could take 30 minutes. I’ve had all kinds of scenarios.
- If you booked an award on cash and points and decide to cancel, you’ll get back all points and no cash. For example, if the award was 80K miles but you decided to do 40K miles plus $600, but then cancelled the ticket, you’d get back 80K miles and $0. Plus a $50 cancellation fee.
- No mixed cabins on awards. This one hurts.
- No layovers over 12 hours. This also hurts.
You take the good with the bad. I’ve found the program to be extremely useful and I know many others that have as well. That’s why when a sale like the current one for 1.5 cents each appears, a sale that happens regularly by the way, it’s worth noticing.
Before you buy, realize the following:
- LifeMiles is devaluing on October 15th. Here’s where to find the new chart.
- The cost to buy miles is going up to 1.6 cents for all future promotions like this. This is likely your last chance to buy miles at this rate.
- You can buy 150K miles per year. BUT, you can buy more by booking with cash and points, then cancelling the ticket to get back all points.
If you’re still cool with all that, then by all means purchase away. I have several flights booked over the next few months using LifeMiles and one of them is a “trick” route while the other allowed me to gain an extra 10 hours of First Class for a slightly lower than full price redemption. There are good values to be had – but you really need to play with the award booking engine to find them.
I plan to add a new section to my Beginners Guide series for the LifeMiles program. Stay tuned for that one.
Hat Tip: Canadian Kilometers