Avianca is a Star Alliance member in Latin America and, now that US Airways has moved to oneworld, one of the only good sources of cheap miles to book flights on partners like Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa, Thai Airways, and …yes, even United Airlines. They regularly have sales that bring the price below 2 cents each. Their current sale offers 100% bonus miles and allows you to purchase up to 75,000 miles and get 75,000 bonus miles. The final cost for these 150,000 miles is $2,250, or 1.5 cents per mile.
Any additional miles you need during the year can be purchased at the time of booking. You need only have 40% of the miles required for an award, and the other 60% can be bought at a rate of 1.56 cents per mile. This means you have the opportunity to buy up to 375,000 miles during a year for one account at a weighted average price of 1.536 cents each.
There are several good redemption opportunities that can be found on the LifeMiles award chart, though it certainly helps if you book them online and don’t need to deal with the call center. Some example round-trip prices:
- Business class from North America to Europe — 105,000
- First class from North America to Europe — 145,000
- Business class from North America to South Asia — 130,000
- First class from North America to South Asia — 165,000
One-way awards are available at half of these prices, and no fuel surcharges are imposed, which is a pretty good deal. However, LifeMiles does require that the same cabin class be available on all segments of your award. That means you cannot fly economy class to a gateway city to meet up with that amazing first class award you finally found to your destination. At least, not on the same ticket.
Similar 100% bonus promotions have been held in October, December, and March. Although Avianca has a history of devaluing its program without notice, they did recently win a Freddie Award. I hope it would cause them to reconsider such a move for at least a few months.
The message is still clear: Good price, but redeem them quickly.
Since Avianca processes this purchase directly — unlike many programs that sell miles through Points.com — the charge will count as airline spend and should earn the appropriate bonus if using a card such as the Premier Rewards Gold Amex. Also, Avianca requires that you be an existing member of the LifeMiles program before the promotion was announced in order to take part. That means anyone who is learning about LifeMiles for the first time is out of luck. But because these promotions are so regular you should at least create an account now in preparation for the next announcement.