Avianca LifeMiles are easier to earn than ever thanks to the Avianca Vuela Visa that was introduced at the end of 2016. In light of that fact, today I’m going to go over strategies for maximizing your LifeMiles.
Best Ways to Get Avianca LifeMiles
- The new Avianca card issued by Banco Popular comes with 40,000 Avianca LifeMiles after your first purchase on the card and a $149 annual fee. You can easily boost that bonus to 60,000 LifeMiles after your first purchase by using the following promotion code when applying: AVSPWE. Enter the code in the Financial Information section of the application. You can read the rest of the details of the Avianca Vuela Visa’s offer here. I double checked to see if the code is still working to garner the 60k bonus, and this FlyerTalk thread has evidence that it does. FYI, I’ve read multiple data points that Banco Popular has asked applicants to provide proof of income.
- LifeMiles often runs sales when you can buy their miles for 1.5 cents or cheaper–like this recent one in December. Read Anatomy of an Award: Using Avianca LifeMiles to Buy Business Class Ticket Between US and Europe for $1,040 for full details. With mile prices that cheap, it can be a better deal to buy miles to redeem on a flight than outright paying for the cash flight in some circumstances.
Maximizing Your LifeMiles
Before I dive into any specific redemptions, I want to draw attention to what I think is a major strength of LifeMiles. At least for the churners in the audience.
If you take a look at Scott’s Comprehensive Spread Sheets of Eight Star Alliance Award Charts: Cheapest Awards to Every Region, you’ll see that LifeMiles award prices tend to be average. You’re not going to find a ton of “sweet spots”. However…
A) Avianca is in Star Alliance, and
B) they don’t collect fuel surcharges on awards, no matter what airline you’re flying.
A problem many of us face (a show of hands please? I know I’m not the only one!) is our inability to earn United miles due to the Chase 5/24 rule. Sure, I can collect Singapore miles via tons of cards, but I have to stick to redeeming them solely on United flights if I want to avoid fuel surcharges. United miles give you fuel surcharge free access to Star Alliance award availability, so it’s a bummer being locked out of them.
LifeMiles lend a helping hand in this aspect, since they unlock Star Alliance award space and don’t collect any fuel surcharges. United, Copa, and Avianca are the only miles I’m aware of that can book fuel surcharge free awards across Star Alliance.
One way LifeMiles awards cost half the price of roundtrip awards. Since you can book one way awards, a roundtrip can have two open jaws.
Here is Avianca’s award chart for redeeming LifeMiles on Star Alliance partners. The chart also includes region definitions. I think Avianca’s award prices for flying partners are much fairer than their award prices to fly their own flights, which were devalued in March of last year.
- 63k LifeMiles To Fly Any Star Alliance Business Class to Europe
- 87k LifeMiles To Fly Lufthansa First Class to Europe (No Fuel Surcharges)*
- 25k LifeMiles to Fly United Transcontinental Business Class
- 36k LifeMiles To Fly Thai Airways Business Class Between North and Southeast Asia
63k LifeMiles To Fly Any Star Alliance Business Class to Europe
For just 63,000 LifeMiles, you can fly any Star Alliance carrier between Europe and the United States, and Star Alliance has great (probably the best) premium cabin award space out of all the alliances.
While it would cost you less (57,000) United miles to fly United Business Class to Europe, it would cost you 70,000 United miles to fly any other Star Alliance carrier.
Scott has used LifeMiles to book Europe to the United States in Business Class for 63,000 miles. He helped a friend go through the process of buying the LifeMiles for this award, so ultimately he paid a thousand dollars for his Business Class ticket. LifeMiles sales are pretty frequent so you can consistently buy Business Class tickets to Europe this way for about $1,000.
87k LifeMiles To Fly Lufthansa First Class to Europe*
This one has an asterisk next to it because award space is hard to find, so let’s call it a tentative sweet spot.
LifeMiles have had a rocky relationship over the years with Lufthansa First Class. For a while you couldn’t book the renowned premium cabin with LifeMiles, nor could you mix the class of service with any LifeMiles award. Luckily now you can do both, so the ability to book Lufthansa First Class between the United States and Europe for 87,000 LifeMiles is alive again (caveat: if you can find the award space).
It can be hard tracking down Lufthansa First Class award space on the LifeMiles website as it doesn’t always show the same availability that United or Aeroplan might, and LifeMiles’ call centers are known for being useless.
I recommend searching on an engine with a better interface like united.com where you can see months of award space at a time, and when you find your desired flight, look it up on lifemiles.com. That advice applies when searching for any award space you want to book with LifeMiles.
25k LifeMiles to Fly United Transcontinental Business Class
You can use 25k LifeMiles to book domestic First Class or Business Class on United, including United’s fully flat beds on its routes from Los Angeles and San Francisco to New York (Newark). It costs 35,000 United miles to fly those same transcontinental flat beds.
Scott also goes over the process of buying the LifeMiles to redeem on this award in his post Using LifeMiles to Book Transcontinental Flat Beds for $400.
36k LifeMiles To Fly Thai Airways Business Class Between North and Southeast Asia
Scott redeemed 36k LifeMiles on a Thai Airways Business Class award between Japan and Thailand a little over a year ago.
Out of all your options redeeming miles on Thai Airways Business Class between these two regions, using LifeMiles is the cheapest. That being said, you can book Cathay Pacific flights between North Asia and Southeast Asia (say, Tokyo to Hong Kong, for example) for just 30k American Airlines miles. So this isn’t some crazy sweet spot, but useful to know if you want/need to fly Thai Airways.
LifeMiles have a decently priced award chart for flying partners with a few good deals to be found here and there. It’s my opinion that the utility of LifeMiles lies in the fact that they open up the ability to book Star Alliance award space with no fuel surcharges, which you can’t do with many types of miles. The main type of mile you can do this with is United miles, but if you’re anything like me, you can’t earn United miles from credit card bonuses/spending because you’re locked out by Chase 5/24.
So for those of you that are like me, LifeMiles can be your United miles! If only it was a little easier to earn them… we might be onto something.
Made any particularly good LifeMiles redemptions lately that I can add to this list? Let us know in the comments.
If you want to apply for the Avianca Vuela Visa, here is the application link: https://www.lifemilescreditcard.com/WLInternet/avianca.aspx, and don’t forget the promo code AVSPWE or you’ll only get the 40k LifeMiles bonus. We do get commissions when you sign up for some cards, but not this one–we just want you to be aware of the best deals.