AviancaTaca is offering a 100% bonus on the purchase of Lifemiles through April 30, 2013. Through this promotion you can purchase a maximum of 75,000 Lifemiles (plus the 100% bonus), for a total cost of roughly 1.5 cents per mile. The promotion is also only valid for those that were members of the Lifemiles program prior to April 8, 2013.
There are some major pros and cons to the Lifemiles program. Some of the major pros are that they allow one way awards, don’t impose fuel surcharges, and have an attractive Star Alliance award chart. Also, as long as you have 40% of the miles needed for an award ticket, you can purchase the remaining miles for 1.275 cents each. So assuming you can keep the ratio of 40% of miles at 1.5 cents each and 60% of miles at 1.275 cents each, that’s essentially a cost of 1.365 cents per mile.
The single biggest con, which is simply ridiculous, is that they don’t let you mix cabins on an award ticket. That means if you book a first class award all segments have to be in first class, which sucks, since lots of flights don’t offer a first class cabin. This greatly limits the potential of these miles, in my opinion, since I can’t remember the last time I redeemed miles with all travel in a single cabin.
Still, they charge 52,500 miles one-way in business class between the US and Europe, and 62,500 miles one-way in business class between the US and Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. At 1.365 cents per mile that’s $716 and $853, respectively. For a one-way business class ticket that’s pretty tough to beat, assuming you can stick to one cabin of travel the entire way of your journey.
I actually haven’t taken advantage of this in the past, though am tempted to this time around, especially with US Airways leaving the Star Alliance sooner or later.