AviancaTaca Lifemiles devalues their award chart with no advance notice

Lifemiles is one of the most exciting new Star Alliance frequent flyer programs, given that they’ve been offering 100% bonuses on purchased miles several times since joining the Star Alliance, including last December and in April. They’re a great program because they sell miles cheaper than any other program I can think of, have reasonable redemption rates, allow one-way awards, and don’t impose fuel surcharges on award redemptions, among other reasons. I shared my reasoning for why I purchased Lifemiles during the last promotion here.

At the same time I don’t have much “faith” in the program. They don’t have all that much to lose in the US market yet — even though they did win a Freddie Award — so if they try to pull a “fast one” on us they’ll more easily get away with it.

And that’s exactly what they’ve done. You can find their new Star Alliance award chart here (which, interestingly, I don’t actually know how to access from the Lifemiles website). On the plus side they’ve “cleaned up” the award chart. Previously the pricing was completely off depending on which side of the chart you started searching on. For example, the prices listed from North Asia to South Asia were different than the prices listed from South Asia to North Asia.

Unfortunately they’ve also increased the redemption rates in many markets. Basically the cost of business class awards has gone up by about 5,000-10,000 miles for many city pairs, so it’s not a complete Aeroplan or British Airways style slaughtering of the award chart, but still pretty bad without any notice.

The good news is that best I can tell they haven’t updated the prices in many markets yet, so you should still be able to book awards at the old rates. For example, searching for travel between the US and Singapore (South Asia) returns a cost of 62,500 miles one-way (which is the old price), while it should be 65,000 miles under the new chart.

So it should still be possible to lock in some redemptions at the old rates before they update the booking engine.

I don’t like how they’re doing it, but hey, I’m not surprised they’re doing it and I guess it could be worse.

(Tip of the hat to LoyaltyLobby)

Comments

  1. I’m sure the language of the 100% offer and the program in general stipulates that they’re subject to change at LM’s sole discretion, but this is pretty shady only days after the 100% promo ended… Definite bait & switch.

  2. Like that award chart! How do I book that flight in First between OTHER and OTHER

  3. I think the worst thing about the ‘way’ they did it, is that it might give other airlines the confidence to do it to their programs and erode member value, and ‘stick it’ to their member base. So that’s scary.

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