For the month of April, AviancaTaca is offering a 100% bonus on purchased miles.Through this promotion you can essentially purchase a maximum of 100,000 miles for 1.5 cents each, including all taxes and fees. The major restriction is that you have to be a program member before the start of the promotion to qualify, so if you’re not a member already, be sure to sign-up so you’re eligible the next go around.
There are some things I love about Lifemiles, including:
- They allow one-way awards at half the cost of a roundtrip
- They don’t impose fuel surcharges on award redemptions
- They have competitive redemption rates (you can find their Star Alliance award chart here)
- As long as you have 40% of the miles needed for a redemption, you can purchase the remaining miles for 1.275 cents each, payable at the time of ticketing
And then there are two things I hate with a passion about Lifemiles:
- Their call center is HORRIBLE, so if your redemption requires servicing over the phone, you might as well forget about it
- They don’t allow mixed cabin awards, meaning if you book a business class award all segments have to be in business class
That last point is probably the single most ridiculous policy of any airline. Basically if you’re redeeming miles for business class and your itinerary requires a connection on a plane with only a coach cabin, you have to book two separate awards. I don’t know of any other airline with a policy that ridiculous.
So I’m kind of surprised that I speculatively purchased Lifemiles and also recommend others do the same, since I do think there’s a ton of uncertainty with the program. They could impose fuel surcharges at any point, get rid of the option to purchase the remaining 60% of miles at the time of ticketing for 1.275 cents each, or at the very least increase the cost, or they could raise their redemption rates without notice, as we’ve seen them do in the past.
But here’s the beautiful thing about buying miles with them — you only take on 40% of the “risk” that you usually do when you purchase miles. For example, purchasing just 26,000 miles will give you the flexibility to book a one-way business class ticket to almost anywhere in the world. At the time of ticketing you can purchase the remaining 60% of the miles needed for a redemption, which is just a really useful benefit.
While Lifemiles isn’t great for an aspirational 16 segment award with a stopover, I think we’ve just about all been in a situation where we just need a nonstop international first or business class flight, and Lifemiles is tough to beat for that. Assuming a ratio of 40% miles purchased in advance at 1.5 cents each and 60% miles purchased at the time of ticketing for 1.275 cents each, that’s an average of 1.365 cents per mile. They charge 52,500 miles one-way to Europe, so that’s ~$716 worth of miles, while they charge 62,500 miles one-way to Africa, Asia, or the Middle East, which is ~$853 worth of miles.
While there’s some risk with the program, that’s a rate at which I’m willing to gamble a bit.