Since joining the Star Alliance a couple of years back, Avianca’s LifeMiles program has been one of the most lucrative for premium cabin Star Alliance redemptions. The program has its pros and cons, but all things considered it’s incredibly useful.
Unfortunately over the past couple of weeks they’ve devalued the program pretty substantially in two ways:
- On September 30, 2014, LifeMiles increased the cost per purchased mile by 10%, from 3.0 to 3.3 cents per mile (though they frequently offer a 100% bonus on purchased miles, meaning the cost really increased from 1.5 to 1.65 cents per mile)
- On October 15, 2014, LifeMiles devalued their award chart pretty substantially
The good news is that they’ve kept one fairly lucrative aspect of their program the same. One of the unique things about LifeMiles’ program is that they offer Miles/Money awards, whereby you can purchase up to 60% of the miles needed for an award ticket at the time you purchase your ticket.
The good news is that they haven’t adjusted the cost of generating miles through this method, so it’s still possible to generate miles for 1.5 cents at the time of ticketing.
As I’ve written about in the past, the cost of purchasing miles at the time of ticketing is non-linear.
Take the below Asiana first class award between Los Angeles and Seoul Incheon, for example.
Asiana A380 first class
The cost is 90,000 miles (I booked this a couple of weeks ago for 75,000 miles, pre-devaluation).
You can purchase up to 54,000 miles at the time of ticketing for $849.74. That’s ~1.57 cents per mile.
However, if you instead purchase just 40,000 miles at the time of ticketing, the cost per purchased mile goes down to 1.5 cents per mile.
In order to achieve the cost of 1.5 cents per mile you should purchase ~45-53% of the miles needed at the time of ticketing.
The good news is that the cost of doing this hasn’t changed, so it’s still possible to generate miles this way. Since there’s a cap to the number of miles you can purchase per year, this is an easy way to generate more miles, since it’s not subject to that cap. You can book award tickets using Miles And Money, and then cancel them for a $50 fee. Rather than get the cash component refunded, they instead refund you the number of miles the ticket would have cost.
I suppose this is a small win in the LifeMiles devaluation…