It’s rare that I get really, truly f*&^@$% angry at a loyalty program. Hilton had a more or less unprecedented devaluation of their HHonors program earlier in the year, though I still couldn’t really be mad at them. They made an extreme business decision, but at least they provided a bit of advance notice, and time will tell whether it was in their best interest or not.
But for the first time in a while I’m angry. Really, really angry. And the target of my anger is the Lifemiles program. AviancaTaca is a newcomer to Star Alliance, and their award program has looked promising, for reasons I outlined in this post.
However, last week they raised award prices in many markets without any advance notice. Not only did they not provide any advance notice, but they didn’t make any sort of an announcement either. And that wasn’t even the first time. Back in December of last year they devalued their award chart as well with no advance notice or announcement of any sort.
And now for a third time they’ve devalued their program with no advance notice or announcement whatsoever. Up until now you’ve only needed 40% of the miles for a redemption, while the remaining 60% of miles could be purchased for 1.275 cents each. Based on doing award searches on lifemiles.com, they’ve raised the cost of that.
For example, below is a business class award between Detroit and Frankfurt, which ordinarily costs 52,500 miles. Using the “flexible payment” option, previously you could have knocked off 31,000 miles for $395.25. However, now they’re charging $483.79 for the 31,000 miles, which is 1.56 cents per mile. So they’ve basically raised the cost from 1.275 cents to 1.56 cents per mile, which is a ~22% increase.
Look Lifemiles, I understand you’re new to Star Alliance and it’s natural for you to want to tweak the numbers so they work in your favor. I think we can all understand that. But you can’t — CAN’T — make devaluations without some advance notice, or at the very least without an announcement.
Sadly they don’t seem to have a Twitter account, but I’d highly recommend we all write on Lifemiles’ Facebook page to let them know this isn’t okay. I’d really appreciate if you guys could join me, regardless of whether you have Lifemiles or not. We’re all in this together in the miles and points game, and I think it’s important to let them know what they’re doing isn’t okay, if for no other reason than to prevent similar actions from other loyalty programs in the future.
(Tip of the hat to Canadian Kilometers)