LifeMiles, the popular frequent flyer program of Avianca, has until now been extending miles that were due to expire during the pandemic. But these extensions will come to an end on 31 July 2021. This means that many LifeMiles members are now at risk of losing their miles from the end of this month!
With the Avianca LifeMiles program, all miles in your account will generally expire if you don’t earn any new miles at least once a year. In other words, if you don’t earn at least one LifeMiles mile every 12 months, your entire balance will be forfeited! This unusually harsh policy was implemented by LifeMiles in April 2018.
With LifeMiles no longer extending the expiration of miles from the end of July 2021, you may need to take action now to either use your existing LifeMiles, or earn at least one new mile to prevent the rest of your LifeMiles balance from expiring!
How to extend your LifeMiles
The good news is that it’s relatively easy to earn new LifeMiles and keep your miles alive. The easiest option would be to buy 1,000 LifeMiles, which is the minimum amount, for USD33 (~AU$44).
Another option could be to transfer points from a hotel loyalty program to LifeMiles. Marriott Bonvoy, Hilton Honors and Accor ALL are among the hotel loyalty programs that offer the option to transfer points to Avianca LifeMiles.
If you have Amex Membership Rewards points, for example, you could convert 4,500 Amex points to 3,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. Then, transfer your 3,000 Marriott Bonvoy points (the minimum amount) to Avianca LifeMiles. You’ll receive 1,000 LifeMiles and all your existing LifeMiles will also be safe for another 12 months.
You can also earn LifeMiles by shopping with their program partners, flying with a Star Alliance airline, or by booking a hotel through RocketMiles, to give a few more examples.
But if transferring points from another program, or making a transaction that earns LifeMiles, beware that there could be a lag before the points arrive in your LifeMiles account. So, don’t delay!
If in doubt, the safest option is to simply buy 1,000 miles as these should post to your account within a few days.
Redeeming LifeMiles in Australia during COVID-19
If you’d prefer not to earn more LifeMiles and to simply use up your existing balance, your options at the moment are unfortunately somewhat limited.
As Avianca is a Star Alliance member, it is possible to redeem LifeMiles to fly with any other Star Alliance airline. But with most Australians currently restricted to travel within Australia and New Zealand, this makes Air New Zealand the only realistic option.
Unfortunately, Air New Zealand releases very little award availability to partner airlines… but there are occasionally seats available if you look hard enough. Any Air New Zealand flight from Australia to New Zealand (or Norfolk Island) costs 21,000 LifeMiles in Economy or 33,000 LifeMiles in Business, plus taxes.
It is also possible to redeem LifeMiles for hotel and car hire bookings, although the value is not great.
As a reminder, beware that redeeming LifeMiles does not extend the validity of your remaining miles! You need to earn at least one new mile.
Avianca, which is based in Colombia, filed for bankruptcy in May 2020. But the airline was quick to ensure members of the LifeMiles program, which is a separate entity and was not part of the bankruptcy proceedings, that their miles would be safe. Avianca continues to operate flights and expects to exit bankruptcy protection later this year.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: What to do with expiring LifeMiles