Avianca's LifeMiles frequent flyer program has some outstanding specials on buying miles. These deals unlock some extraordinary value on Star Alliance Business and First Class flights when you buy LifeMiles.
Unfortunately, dealing with the LifeMiles program can be unnecessarily complicated and redeeming LifeMiles can be a challenge. It's also worth pointing out that Avianca, the airline affiliated with the LifeMiles program, is currently in administration. LifeMiles itself is not in administration and is unaffected, but there could be implications for LifeMiles if Avianca does not recover and/or leaves Star Alliance.
You should also consider whether it's a good idea to buy miles while there is still uncertainty about when Australia's international borders will reopen. There is a risk that the miles could lose their value before you're able to redeem them for international flights.
Nonetheless, there is great value to be had if you understand the intricacies of this wonderful yet frustrating frequent flyer program and are prepared to take some risks.
Avianca typically offers very generous discounts around 4-6 times per year when you buy LifeMiles. It's not uncommon to see up to 145% bonus LifeMiles during promotions!
This guide explains how to buy and redeem Avianca LifeMiles for discounted premium travel across the Star Alliance network.
How to Buy LifeMiles
You can buy LifeMiles directly on the LifeMiles website. (If the website appears in Spanish, you can select the English language option in the top-right corner beside the log-in button.)
The cost is USD33 per thousand at full price, although the regular promotions can bring the price down to around USD13.20 per thousand (or occasionally even less).
As you'll be buying miles from a Colombian airline, we recommend calling your bank before the credit card payment is processed (so that your card doesn't get blocked, should your bank suspect fraudulent activity). To save on credit card surcharges, we recommend using a credit card with no international transaction fees.
There is an annual purchase limit of 200,000 LifeMiles, excluding bonus miles. However, you only need to buy 40% of the miles needed to redeem for an award flight in advance. You can later purchase the other 60% at a good price when booking your flights. So the annual purchase limit is not all that limiting.
To be eligible for the promotions on buying miles, you'll need to already be an Avianca LifeMiles member before the current offer was announced. Some offers are targeted. Join now for free to avoid missing out on future offers!
Special Deals on Buying LifeMiles
With Avianca's current promotion, you'll receive up to 200% bonus LifeMiles on purchases. This is identical to the previous limited-time offer in September 2020, which was the best public offer LifeMiles has ever had. This offer expires at 11.59pm on 3 December 2020 (El Salvador time).
With this offer, even purchases of as little as 1,000 LifeMiles will earn 200% bonus miles.
If you were to purchase the maximum 200,000 LifeMiles during this promotion, you would receive 600,000 miles (including 400,000 bonus miles) at a cost of USD6,600.
Beware that LifeMiles normally expire after 12 months unless you earn at least 1 mile every year. However, due to COVID-19, Avianca has paused the expiration of miles until 31 December 2020. Miles due to expire before 31 December 2020 will now expire at the end of this year, if there is no account activity.
There is a discussion about this offer on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Buy Miles - 200% Bonus
Redeeming Avianca LifeMiles
In theory, you can book award travel on any Star Alliance airline (plus Iberia and Aeromexico) using the LifeMiles website. In practice, it's often not quite this simple. Nonetheless, here's what you need to know…
There are no stopovers allowed on LifeMiles award bookings, and transits cannot be longer than 8 hours. But mixed-class award bookings recently did become possible.
There are no fuel surcharges on LifeMiles awards - just a USD25 ticketing fee per booking. But, for some reason, award flights originating in Australia are more expensive than LifeMiles awards to Australia.
Here are some of the Avianca LifeMiles award sweet spots:
- Business and First class from Australia to North Asia (China, Japan, Korea and Hong Kong)
- Business and First class from Australia to Europe
- Business class from Perth to Africa with South African Airways
- Economy flights within Brazil
Here is the full LifeMiles award chart. Click on the image below to expand it:
If you need to complete a booking or make any changes over the phone, you may need to provide your LifeMiles account PIN number. This is a 4-digit number that can be set by logging into the LifeMiles website and editing your account profile.
Note that some members have reported difficulty in booking LifeMiles award flights on partner airlines including Singapore Airlines & Turkish Airlines in recent months.
For some inspiration, there is a detailed thread on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum where members post their successful LifeMiles award bookings: Avianca Life Miles - post your SUCCESSFUL award bookings here
LifeMiles + Money
As we mentioned before, you only need to have 40% of the miles for any given redemption in your account. You can then purchase up to 60% of the miles needed at the checkout using "LifeMiles + Money". Just use the slider after selecting your flight/s when booking on the new LifeMiles website.
LifeMiles Screenshot Method
If you're unable to book an itinerary involving connections online, you may need to employ the infamous LifeMiles screenshot method. See this AFF article for more information about this: The LifeMiles Screenshot Booking Method
Frequent Flyer Solutions offers a comprehensive training program which includes an entire course on buying points for discounted premium travel! This course covers 8 frequent flyer programs in detail, including Avianca LifeMiles and three other Star Alliance programs.