AviancaTaca offering a 100% bonus on the purchase of LifeMiles through April 30, 2013

AviancaTaca is offering a 100% bonus on the purchase of Lifemiles through April 30, 2013. Through this promotion you can purchase a maximum of 75,000 Lifemiles (plus the 100% bonus), for a total cost of roughly 1.5 cents per mile. The promotion is also only valid for those that were members of the Lifemiles program prior to April 8, 2013.

There are some major pros and cons to the Lifemiles program. Some of the major pros are that they allow one way awards, don’t impose fuel surcharges, and have an attractive Star Alliance award chart. Also, as long as you have 40% of the miles needed for an award ticket, you can purchase the remaining miles for 1.275 cents each. So assuming you can keep the ratio of 40% of miles at 1.5 cents each and 60% of miles at 1.275 cents each, that’s essentially a cost of 1.365 cents per mile.

The single biggest con, which is simply ridiculous, is that they don’t let you mix cabins on an award ticket. That means if you book a first class award all segments have to be in first class, which sucks, since lots of flights don’t offer a first class cabin. This greatly limits the potential of these miles, in my opinion, since I can’t remember the last time I redeemed miles with all travel in a single cabin.

Still, they charge 52,500 miles one-way in business class between the US and Europe, and 62,500 miles one-way in business class between the US and Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. At 1.365 cents per mile that’s $716 and $853, respectively. For a one-way business class ticket that’s pretty tough to beat, assuming you can stick to one cabin of travel the entire way of your journey.

I actually haven’t taken advantage of this in the past, though am tempted to this time around, especially with US Airways leaving the Star Alliance sooner or later.

Filed Under: AviancaTaca, Great Deals
  1. Hi Ben, do you know if there is a better than 20k bonus credit card offer for Avianca?
    Thank you.

  2. Does anyone have any specifics with regards to stopovers or open jaws for one-way/round-trip redemptions for Lifemiles redemptions?

  3. @Lucky

    bummer… but since there is no annual fee, it’s still free 20k miles i could put to good use. 😉

  4. @ Lantean — True, though at a valuation of 1.365 cents per mile that’s ~$270 worth of value. You better have run out of other cards to apply for before going for this one. 😀

  5. One condition is that you have to have been a Life Miles member prior to April 8, 2013. So even if you enroll today, you are not eligible.

    Am I reading the condition correctly?

  6. @ LV — To be honest I don’t even know, because that would require booking by phone, which is a daunting prospect.

  7. In terms of all segments having to be in the same cabin, do you know if they consider domestic first class first class or business?

    I want to fly to Europe on Austrian out of JFK (in business class), but being that I live in LA, I’m wondering if I could tack on LAX-JFK in united first class to the same award?

  8. @ Alex — US Airways first class and United three cabin first class are coded as “O” class (first class), while United two cabin first class and three cabin business class are coded as “I” class (business class).

  9. I also found that you can book any next day connection on their website. example: HNL-IAH and next morning IAH-RDU(can not be booked without paying extra miles)

  10. @max

    right, that’s the way it’s always been with Avianca, the connection has to be under 8 hours. 😉

  11. If I make a booking using Lifemiles and then later change the dates while keeping the city pairs the same will I have to pay a change fee? Also, what is the cancellation fee?

  12. @ John — Oddly the redeposit fee is $50 while the change fee is $150. Yeah, I know it doesn’t make any sense.

  13. It is under 8 hours. still I cannot book it.

    September, 25th, 2013
    Honolulu (HNL) to Houston (IAH)
    UA200 Honolulu (HNL) 19:35 Houston (IAH) 08:11 07:36 0 Business

    Flight 3 – September, 26th, 2013
    Houston (IAH) to Raleigh-Durham (RDU)
    UA1572 Houston (IAH) 13:05 Raleigh-Durham (RDU) 16:50 02:45 0 Business

    It wants extra miles or it will say it is sold out.

    UA200 1 x 40,000 Honolulu (HNL) – Houston (IAH) 19:35 08:11 Business
    UA1572 1 x 25,000 Houston (IAH) – Raleigh-Durham (RDU) 13:05 16:50 Business

  14. I bought lifemiles last time and every time i try to redeem miles, it doesnt match the avalibility as on for the star alliance partners, its so frustrating, just try it your self before buying miles,i was able to use usairways on a domestic travel clt to vegas and in the airport they charged me $15 for partner redemption. If anyone has positive experience about booking lifemiles with united availability, please post, thanks

  15. example 4/8/13 dxb to iad available united airways on but not on lifemiles, it shows lufthansa availabilty with a connection, i dont have any status

  16. @Talha

    4/8/13 is almost over here on the east coast, definitely it’s already 4/9/13 in Dubai… so not sure what exactly is United showing you there…

  17. @ Carl — Within the limitations of their program (like not allowing mixed cabin awards) it’s actually pretty good.

  18. 1) no mixed cabin
    if you are in a RJ market with no J, there is no way to fly from your home.

    2) layover maximum is 12-hour
    if the layover is over 12-hour, it is not bookable.
    3) always try to book via the more direct route.

    if the shortest route is 1-stop, and there is no space, dont expect the online engine to show u other routings.

    4) what u can book on the phone is the same as online.

    even u find a customize routing, there is no way to book it on phone unless you are willing to pay segment by segment.

    it can work for some people if they have a lot of flexibility on dates/cabin type and destinations. dont buy if you are not willing to spend a lot of effort and wait to use it.

  19. A big heads up here. My inlaws booked an int’l award with lifemiles, but missed a connection due to a delay. Seems that there is not much consideration to help them reroute. Still working on it now. Argh!

  20. I read a number of message about the search engine not showing availablity on certain carriers. If ANA/United/EF/KVS show availability, can you not contact the call centre to book them for you? Also, one question… do these miles ever expire?


  21. @ zh — You should be able to get that availability by phone then. Lifemiles expire after 24 months of inactivity, though any activity at all will extent their life.

  22. How are you calculating the cost at 1.5 cents per mile? Their site says 1000 miles costs $35. So if you buy 75,000 miles for $2625, and get the 75,000 mile bonus, it costs $2625 for 150,000 miles, or 1.75 cents per mile. Just trying to figure out exactly what I am missing?

  23. even though cancellation is only $50 — cancelling a lifemiles ticket is a pain. not only does it take 3-7 days (i.e. dont expect to cancel a ticket slated for flying tomorrow), but agents give lots of confused info about how much is refunded if one uses a CASH+MILES combination…. e.g. if one used the best 40% miles plus cash option…. would one only get back the 40% miles, or 100% of the ticket mileage? some agents say only the 40% mileage and no cash refund. Any clarification??

    And their poor English is a royal pain!!!

  24. Am I reading that chart right – it’s 5k fewer miles to fly business class Europe/N American than to fly N America/Europe? Or did the chart not get properly updated?

  25. @ homerica7 — The price varies based on where you live and the respective taxes. If you log in you should see the updated pricing.

  26. @ Lisa — Nope, the price is the same in both directions. Are you sure you’re not confused between North America and North Central America? They’re not very clear about it, admittedly.

  27. North America to Oceania is a sweet spot on here I think. For example I’m booking for my gf to fly Montreal to Sydney one way for about 600-650 in Y. It’s 40000 miles each way.

  28. @Eric F-D if you make the refund of a lifemiles award ticket which was created through the cash+miles combination they will reimburse you all the 100% of the miles used (the 40% plus the 60% you purchased) also the fees and taxes will be refunded to your credit card discounting the 3% in bank fees. The miles are refunded in 72 hours and the airport taxes in 3 months or less

  29. Lucky, have you noticed that cash + points can actually get the cost down to about $6 per 1000 miles? Has to be very large or multi-person trip. Check it out.

  30. @ Robert — I see how you can get it down to about 1.375 cents per mile plus the cancellation fee that way, but $6 per 1,000 miles? What am I missing?

  31. @Robert and @lucky- i think what Robert means is that the FINAL 1000 that you buy with cash plus miles gets you down to $6 for the final 1000. but the first 1000 you buy with cash plus miles is very high – i think like $30 per 1000 miles (quite expensive). and thus only when you do the full 60% cash plus 40% miles do you get the average value of 1.375 cents per mile!

  32. p.s. so basically its a non-linear price function. the early 1000s cost a lot, and the later 1000s cost less. but clarification – you get down to $6 per 1000 on the last 1000 only on VERY VERY high awards. for an 80k award, the last 1000 seems to be around $8 for me in a test booking.

  33. Eric–maybe that’s why I work in politics and not accounting! Yes, the initial 1000 co-pays are higher, and reduce to balance out…Ben was correct initially.

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