The Avianca/TACA LifeMiles program sells miles for around 1.36 cents per mile, which means you can get into luxury seats like Singapore business class beds on an A380 for less than the cost of a paid economy ticket.
LifeMiles selling for 1.3 cents is not new. Scott wrote about that deal in September. Every month or two LifeMiles has a “2 for 1″ promo that makes their miles a steal. What is new is that Singapore business class space is currently bookable on lifemiles.com.
Normally longhaul Singapore business class space on their 777-300ERs and A380s can only be booked with Singapore’s own miles (or Membership Rewards transferred to Singapore.) Singapore charges big fuel surcharges on redemptions; LifeMiles doesn’t. So now is your chance to get into longhaul Singapore business class beds for under $900 per direction, which in some cases could be cheaper than buying the same flight in economy.
Singapore 777-300ER Business Class
Here’s why LifeMiles rock:
- During 2 for 1 promos, you can buy miles for 1.5 cents. There is a 2 for 1 promo until April 30, 2013. (To participate, your account needs to have been opened before April 8, 2013, the date the promo started. This is a common requirement, so open a LifeMiles account now to take advantage of the next promo.)
- You only need 40% of the miles listed on the award chart to book an award. The other 60% of the award’s price can be purchased at 1.275 cents per mile.
- Combined that means you can start with zero miles now and get the miles you need for an award for 1.36 cents per mile.
- The LifeMiles chart is broadly in line with United’s chart. It’s not too much worse. For instance, roundtrip business to Europe is 105k LifeMiles versus 100k United miles.
For more detail, see Roundtrip Flat Beds (Business) to Europe for Under $1,500 All In.
Here are some example itineraries and prices in dollars.
Example 1: LAX-Singapore with LifeMiles account opened before April 8th
Cost: 62,500 Miles oneway
Miles to purchase with 2 x 1 promo: 13,000 @ $30/1000 = $390
Total Miles so far : 26,000 (13,000 * 2 x 1 Promo)
26,000 is about 40% of 62,500
Purchase the remaining miles required at $474 (37,000 miles * 1.275)
Redemption Fee: $25
That is some amazing value for a Business Class ticket to Asia! Keep in mind that this is one way, so roundtrip would be double that amount.
Example 2: LAX-SIN with account open AFTER April 8th
Miles to Purchase: 26,000 @ 30/1000 = $780
Purchase remaining miles needed (37,000) at 1.275 CPM = $474
Redemption Fee & Taxes: $27.50
That is a pretty good deal for Business Class to Asia one way–especially if you were going to purchase a premium ticket anyways. But you would do better by waiting until the next 2 x 1 promo, when you are eligible.
Singapore Space BEFORE purchasing at 1.275 CPM
Singapore Space AFTER purchasing at 1.275 CPM
Why Is This Important?
LifeMiles are extra hot for one reason right now, and it is because you can gain access to Singapore Airlines business class award space. Flying from Newark-Singapore on the longest flight in the world is now possible for $900. That route will shut down later this year so it’s best to try to get on those flights.
In addition, you don’t have to fly to Singapore. You can go anywhere in Asia on Singapore for 62,500 LifeMiles each way in business class. India is 62,500 miles in Business Class, and $891 is extremely cheap for one ways to India in Business Class!
Problems With LifeMiles
There are drawback to LifeMiles that you should know.
- They don’t always show the same partner availability as other Star Alliance programs.
- The agents are worse than US Airways reps.
- You cannot combine two cabins like Business & Economy or First & Business. LifeMiles is the only program in the world that I know of that has this rule.
- Their Multi-City search is horrible.
- They show a ton of phantom space.
- Sometimes, the system won’t ticket your reservation.
If you can get over these issues, then LifeMiles may be a good proposition. However, it comes with great caution. I bought 26,000 miles today and went to ticket my reservation only to find out how buggy the system is. For 30 minutes, the system crashed. Then, the flight I wanted to book became unavailable. 10 minutes later, it became available again. I ticketed an itinerary and an E-Ticket number wasn’t assigned for 24 hours, which made me nervous.
But in the end everything has ticketed and for less than $900 I am flying:
- Newark to Houston in United First
- Houston to Moscow to Singapore in Singapore business
[Scott: I am very tempted to buy myself a seat Singapore to Frankfurt for this fall on the A380. I happen to need to get from Southeast Asia to Europe, and under $900 for a flat bed on Singapore's A380 is tempting.
Singapore Business space for 65k miles (AKA $891)
And yes SQ26 that day is on an A380…
I still haven’t decided whether to book or not…]
If you have plans to travel in premium cabins to Asia, Africa, The Middle East or Europe, this is a great way to save some money!
For anyone who has booked with LifeMiles, what have your experiences been?
-Bengali Miles Guru
Tip to Canadian Kilometers & Ben for discussing this more!