LifeMiles Miles And Money Awards Not Devalued

Since joining the Star Alliance a couple of years back, Avianca’s LifeMiles program has been one of the most lucrative for premium cabin Star Alliance redemptions. The program has its pros and cons, but all things considered it’s incredibly useful.

Unfortunately over the past couple of weeks they’ve devalued the program pretty substantially in two ways:

The good news is that they’ve kept one fairly lucrative aspect of their program the same. One of the unique things about LifeMiles’ program is that they offer Miles/Money awards, whereby you can purchase up to 60% of the miles needed for an award ticket at the time you purchase your ticket.

The good news is that they haven’t adjusted the cost of generating miles through this method, so it’s still possible to generate miles for 1.5 cents at the time of ticketing.

As I’ve written about in the past, the cost of purchasing miles at the time of ticketing is non-linear.

Take the below Asiana first class award between Los Angeles and Seoul Incheon, for example.

Asiana-A380-First-Class-001
Asiana A380 first class

The cost is 90,000 miles (I booked this a couple of weeks ago for 75,000 miles, pre-devaluation).

You can purchase up to 54,000 miles at the time of ticketing for $849.74. That’s ~1.57 cents per mile.

LifeMiles-Cash-2

However, if you instead purchase just 40,000 miles at the time of ticketing, the cost per purchased mile goes down to 1.5 cents per mile.

LifeMiles-Cash-1

In order to achieve the cost of 1.5 cents per mile you should purchase ~45-53% of the miles needed at the time of ticketing.

The good news is that the cost of doing this hasn’t changed, so it’s still possible to generate miles this way. Since there’s a cap to the number of miles you can purchase per year, this is an easy way to generate more miles, since it’s not subject to that cap. You can book award tickets using Miles And Money, and then cancel them for a $50 fee. Rather than get the cash component refunded, they instead refund you the number of miles the ticket would have cost.

I suppose this is a small win in the LifeMiles devaluation…

Comments

  1. Actually with the newest fixes there were a couple of new first class bugs TATL travel that they opened. Savings are around 60% depending on how you buy your miles

  2. I currently have zero life miles. Does this mean that I can purchase miles and also pay the rest in cash in order to get premium cabin seats?

  3. A very small win in the context of the overall hits this program has taken in the past year. Given all the problems it has, it is now only of use for a small handful of niche trips.

  4. How can I earn LifeMiles? Is there any big sign up bonuses out there? what’s the best “strategy” to get lots of miles here?

  5. @ JC — They frequently offer a 100% bonus on purchasing or transferring them, which is the best way to initially earn them. They also have a co-branded credit card, but the sign-up bonus isn’t huge.

  6. @ Kris — Well you would need to buy the initial miles for 3.3 cents each. If you wait until they offer a 100% bonus on purchased miles, that should lower the cost to 1.65 cents per mile.

  7. @ Lucky — there is also one other potential piece of good news. When I was cancelling some LM award tickets a couple of weeks ago, an agent said their IT team is working on putting award cancellations online. Hopefully, it means we no longer have to jump through hoops to cancel tickets — I imagine the generous cancellation policy they have (can cancel even after travel date) is because they know their current LM system is down so often.

  8. Cancelling Lifemiles award tickets is worse than I thought. Be careful. They have rejected 2 perfectly good credit cards and disconnected me after 40 minutes.

  9. @ Ben — Adding the $50 fee raises that 1.50 cpm cost, plus is it really worth the nightmare of dealing with these geniuses? I really don’t think this post provides generally good advice.

  10. @ Gene — To clarify, the point of this post is to say you can still do Miles & Money at the same cost as before when issuing an award. Was pointing out the cancelling option in passing, but my point is that it makes more sense than ever before to purchase as many miles as possible at the time of ticketing.

  11. @Gene – that’s a pretty unfair statement. Not only does this post point out an awesome feature (miles still purchasable at 1.5cpm), but anyone with half a brain would realize that the $50 would raise the cpm if purchasing that way. Although… Perhaps you don’t fit in to that category.

    Oh — and depending on the number of miles purchased at 1.5cpm (>33,333) you’ll still be coming out ahead of a 2×1 buy miles promo at their new rates.

  12. @ Ben — You are correct. (I didn’t get enough coffee this morning in Club Lounge. 🙂 )

    @ Chris — Gee, really? I still have 3/4 of a brain, even after all the first class champagne.

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