Yesterday Avianca’s LifeMiles program announced a 100% bonus on purchased miles, which they historically have offered several times per year. It’s an opportunity to pick up LifeMiles for 1.5 cents each, which is a great price.
What makes this promotion unique is that:
- LifeMiles will be devaluing their award chart for travel booked as of October 15, 2014
- LifeMiles will be increasing the cost of purchased miles by 10% starting September 30, 2014
That’s a bit of a double whammy, since both sides of the value equation are worsening — within a two week period they’re going to charge you more for less valuable miles.
With the devaluation in mind, Ivan Y asked the following question:
@ Lucky – given the upcoming devaluation, any opinion on what award(s) we should try booking… or, perhaps a more appropriate term would be “attempt to book” given their restrictions? Oceania/Others and Central Asia are going up the most for First class redemptions but Aus. would be on United (not sure on Central Asia). North Asia on Asiana’s A380?
As I always say, the best use of miles is one that gets you where you want to go in relative comfort. That being said, there are certainly ways to maximize LifeMiles if you’re looking to experience some great airlines. I’ve written a primer in the past about redeeming Avianca LifeMiles, so that’s a good place to start.
Nowadays you really don’t have access to that many international first class products when redeeming Avianca LifeMiles (which is true of the Star Alliance as a whole, in many cases):
- LifeMiles is blocking Lufthansa first class award seats
- Swiss is only making first class award seats available to elite members in their Miles & More program
- Singapore Airlines makes most of their premium cabin award seats available only to KrisFlyer members
Which first class products does that leave readily available? Air China, ANA, Asiana, Thai, and United. It’s certainly not worth going out of your way to fly Air China or United first class. And Thai first class isn’t available on their one flight to/from the US.
Realistically if originating in the US, your best bet is to redeem LifeMiles for ANA or Asiana first class.
Avianca’s LifeMiles program charges 75,000 miles for one-way first class between the US and North Asia (that price will go up to 90,000 miles as of October 15, 2014). So if you’re buying those miles for 1.5 cents each, that’s like paying ~$1,100 for a one-way first class ticket in ANA or Asiana first class between the US and Asia, which is an amazing value.
Anyway, ANA first class and Asiana first class are both fantastic products, among my favorites out there. If I were considering purchasing LifeMiles or had a stash of LifeMiles, I would definitely consider making a booking in first class on one of those two carriers.
ANA first class has amazing food and service, and a very good hard product. And while it has historically been very difficult to find first class award space on ANA, they’ve recently loosened up a bit and are once again releasing quite a bit of space.
ANA first class cabin
ANA first class caviar service
Asiana first class has always offered amazing food and service, and finally has a decent hard product on their A380, which they’re flying between Los Angeles and Seoul Incheon.
Asiana A380 first class cabin
Asiana first class caviar service
They’re releasing quite a bit of award space on this route, both far in advance and close to departure.
Do you plan on redeeming LifeMiles before the award chart devaluation? If so, how?