The frequent flyer program of Star Alliance member and Colombian flag carrier Avianca has long been popular with Australian frequent flyers. Avianca’s Life Miles program sells miles, often accompanied by generous bonuses (such as the current 140% bonus miles being offered). These miles can then be redeemed for premium cabin travel on other Star Alliance airlines, such as Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways.
Avianca last week increased the number of miles needed when redeeming a flight on most routes departing from Australia. For example, a return Business class ticket from Australia to Europe increased in price from 170,000 to 185,000 miles. Similarly, a round-trip from Australia to “South Asia” increased in price by 20,000 miles for Business class and 30,000 miles for First class – both 25% increases. There were also some minor rate reductions to destinations in the Americas, but mostly on routes where award availability is virtually non-existent.
Despite some initial confusion, it’s not all bad news. It seems that the changes only affect bookings originating in Australia and New Zealand. Flights in the opposite direction (i.e. bookings to Australia or New Zealand that originate overseas) are unaffected by the changes!
I am looking through the website now and it appears it is only leaving Australia. Lifemiles is one strange program!
Under the new rates, a Business class redemption from Australia to Europe costs 92,500 Life miles one-way or 185,000 miles return. But the same redemption originating in Europe costs only 170,000 miles return or 85,000 miles one-way.
Round-trips will price as the full fare applicable from the point of origin, so if booking from Australia better to buy two one-ways. If starting from overseas, cheaper to book the return.
If you wanted to book a return flight from Australia using Life Miles, it’s actually better value now to book the flights as 2x one-way tickets. This way, you can access the lower rate on the return sector. If starting from overseas though, it’s better to book a return trip to access the lower rates in both directions.
Avianca’s Life Miles is particularly popular as Life miles can often be obtained very cheaply. But booking an award flight via Life Miles can be a trying experience. This, combined with the recent devaluations, has prompted some members to now focus on United’s Mileage Plus program. United is another Star Alliance airline that sells miles.
I suppose most of us have had an enjoyable time thus far with LM and this change is not thoroughly unexpected. Increases for the bookings i see most often in our successful bookings thread – Aus to Eur, N Asia and S Asia. Interesting that Aus to N Asia is still cheaper than S Asia (in F and Y, same in J). I’m thinking of having a closer look at UA now, especially with the new $200 cancellation fees with LM
UA 100% is key. Easy availability + interesting routing options + Air China available.
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