Purchasing Avianca LifeMiles – Why I’m Wary


Avianca’s LifeMiles program has been selling miles in ever increasing quantities recently and, while its very tempting to snap up miles at a cheap rate when you can, there’s a reason why I’m not ready to dive in just yet.

Avianca is a Star Alliance member so its loyalty points (LifeMiles) can be used to book awards on a good number of desirable airlines and routes – and, as things stand, its award charts aren’t too bad at all.

The full LifeMiles Award Chart for Star Alliance redemptions is here (click to enlarge):


And here are some highlights (all figures are one-way)

  • North America – Japan (Business Class/First Class) – 75,000/90,000
  • North America – Europe (Business Class/First Class) – 63,000/87,000
  • Europe – Thailand (Business Class/First Class) – 78,000/102,000
  • Europe – Hong Kong (Business Class/First Class) – 75,000/115,000

As LifeMiles has, as of yesterday, reinstated the ability to book Lufthansa First Class awards, the stand out deal appears to be 87,000 LifeMiles between North American and Europe. Not only does that get you travel on the ultra-aspirational Lufthansa First Class but you also get to try out the Frankfurt First class terminal too.

Buying LifeMiles

LifeMiles has been running a deal, since around 19 November, whereby you can purchase miles for just 1.47 cents each and this deal is available through 18 December.

The offer is for a 125% bonus on all purchases of over 100,000 LifeMiles


If you were to buy the maximum allowable number of miles it would cost $4,950…


…and you would receive 337,500 Life Miles (150,000 + 125% bonus) which brings the cost of the miles to 1.47 cents per mile.

Is Buying LifeMiles At This Rate Good Value?

Let’s take a look at how much the awards I highlighted earlier would cost if you purchased LifeMiles at 1.47 cents each:

  • North America – Japan (Business Class/First Class) – $1,103/$1,323
  • North America – Europe (Business Class/First Class) – $926/$1,279
  • Europe – Thailand (Business Class/First Class) – $1,147/$1,500
  • Europe – Hong Kong (Business Class/First Class) – $1,103/$1,690

The Business Class deals aren’t that impressive as, if you double up the costs to get the price for a roundtrip, the final cost of the awards isn’t too dissimilar to a lot of Business Class cash fares offered by airlines when the sales are on – and with cash fares you often have a greater choice of dates and you earn miles as well.

(Here are all the latest airfare deals I’ve posted including recent Business Class sales)

On the other hand, the First Class awards look to be great value.

Lufthansa-First-Class-747-400Lufthansa First Class 747

If you can snag Lufthansa First Class awards between Europe and the US for as low as $1,279 each way then you’re getting a fantastic deal. A quick ITA Matrix Search shoes that Lufthansa First Class tickets are usually in excess of $5,000 for Frankfurt – New York and $6,000+ for Frankfurt – Los Angeles.

Why I’m Not Buying LifeMiles Just Yet

LifeMiles are making me nervous with their offers and I simply don’t trust them not to devalue their award chart before I’m ready to use the miles I purchase.

This year LifeMiles offered bonuses of between 100% and 150% on six separate occasions so there’s a lot of LifeMiles out there – it’s not exactly a scarce currency!

On top of that, just one week after announcing the latest bonus, LifeMiles announced a devaluation to miles used on Avianca effective from 1 March 2016 (Lucky wrote a post on the LifeMiles devaluation here). Sure, that still gives anyone who purchased miles with the intention of using them on Avianca 3 months to use up their miles….but what happens if the awards aren’t available.

This brings me back to a point I make just about every time I discuss purchasing miles – you shouldn’t buy miles unless you have a firm, short-term plan for what to with them.

There is absolutely nothing stopping LifeMiles from announcing a whole-scale devaluation of their Star Alliance award chart starting from, say, 1 April 2016. And, if that were to happen, I’m guessing there would be one almighty rush to purchase awards before that date – and there simply won’t be enough awards to go around.

I’m more than a little tempted to buy miles in this promotion now that I know Lufthansa First Class is back on the options list again but I’m managing to hold myself back. I have so much travel booked for the first 8 months of next year I couldn’t possibly fit in a rushed award booking if LifeMiles announces a devaluation and I’d feel pretty foolish if I was left with a seriously devalued currency on my hands.

My plan is to step back from any LifeMiles purchases for the next few months and, come the latter half of next year, if LifeMiles offer yet another high bonus for purchasing miles (and it’s almost inevitable they will) I’ll reassess the situation then.


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