Avianca LifeMiles sweet spots for award flights

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Avianca LifeMiles is one of my favorite airline programs because of unique sweet spots, the ability to “hack” awards to pay fewer miles than the published award chart rates, and the fact that there are no fuel surcharges. The purpose of this post is to provide an overview of the strengths of Avianca LifeMiles as a reference when considering transfer partners of the major transferable currencies.

We have updated this sweet spot guide due to the 2022 award chart changes for awards to Asia both to reflect the new award pricing and to provide an updated example of mixed-cabin pricing. As a reminder, you can find more resources like this one on our Resources page, linked at the top of any page on Frequent Miler. a screenshot of a credit card

Avianca LifeMiles Sweet Spots

Collecting miles

Transfer points

Avianca LifeMiles is a transfer partner from many transferable points programs, so it is easy to accumulate miles from transfers. We sometimes see transfer bonuses to LifeMiles, so you may be able to stretch your transferable points a bit further. Standard point transfer ratios are as follows:

Rewards ProgramAmex Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Chase Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Citi Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Marriott Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Capital One Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Bilt Transfer Ratio
(and transfer time)
Accor Live Limitless1000 to 500 (Unknown)1000 to 500 (Unknown)
Aegean Miles + Bonus60K to 25K (~1 day)
Aer Lingus Avios1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 via Qatar, BA (1 to 2 days)60K to 25K (Unknown)1 to 1 via BA (Unknown)1 to 1 (~5 Minutes)
Aeroflot Bonus60K to 25K (Unknown)
AeroMexico ClubPremier1 to 1.6 (1 to 2 days)1 to 1 (~6 days)60K to 25K (2 to 4 days)1 to 1 (Instant)
Air Canada Aeroplan1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)60K to 25K (4 to 5 days)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (~5 Minutes)
Air China Phoenix Miles60K to 25K (Unknown)
Air France KLM Flying Blue1 to 1 (~10 minutes to 1 day)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)60K to 25K (1 to 3 days)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (~5 Minutes)
Air New Zealand Air Points60K to 307 (1 to 2 days)
Alaska MileagePlan60K to 25K (~2 days)1 to 1 (~5 Minutes)
Alitalia MilleMiglia
Allegiant
Altitude Points
American AAdvantage3K to 1K (~2 days)1 to 1
(Ends June) (~ 1 Day)
Amex Membership Rewards
Amtrak Guest Rewards
ANA Mileage Club1 to 1 (~1 day)60K to 25K (4 to 7 days)
Arrival
Asiana60K to 25K (~1 day)
Avianca LifeMiles1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)3K to 1K (~1 day)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (~5 Minutes)
Best Western
Bilt
Brex
British Airways Avios1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 via Qatar (1 to 2 days)60K to 25K (~10 hours)1 to 1 (Unknown)1 to 1 (~5 Minutes)
Capital One Miles
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)60K to 25K (~1 day)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (~5 Minutes)
China Eastern Airlines60K to 25K (Unknown)
China Southern Airlines’ Sky Pearl Club60K to 25K (Unknown)
Choice1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 2 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)
CNB Rewards
Copa Airlines ConnectMiles60K to 25K (~3 days)
Delta SkyMiles1 to 1 plus excise tax (Instant)3K to 1K (1 to 2 days)
EL AL Israel Airlines
Emirates Skywards1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)60K to 25K (~3 days)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (~5 Minutes)
Etihad Guest1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (~1 hour)60K to 25K (3 to 5 days)1 to 1 (Instant)
EVA Air Infinity MileageLands1 to 1 (Instant)1000 to 750 (~1 day)
Expedia+
Finnair Plus+1 to 1 (Instant)
FlexPoints
Frontier Miles60K to 25K (Unknown)
Garuda Indonesia Frequent Flyer
Go Far Rewards
Hainan Airlines60K to 25K (12 hours to 1 day)
Hawaiian Miles1 to 1 plus excise tax (Instant)60K to 25K (1 to 2 days)1 to 1 (~5 Minutes)
Hilton1 to 2 (Instant)
Hotels.comRewards
HSBC Rewards
Hyatt1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (~5 Minutes)
Iberia Avios1 to 1 (~12 - 72 hours (slower over weekend))1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 via Qatar, BA (1 to 2 days)60K to 25K (~1 to 2 days)1 to 1 via BA (Unknown)1 to 1 (~5 Minutes)
IHG1 to 1 (5 hours)1 to 1 (~5 Minutes)
JAL (Japan Airlines) Mileage Bank60K to 25K (~2 days)
Jet Airways Inter Miles1 to 1 (Instant)60K to 25K (~7 days)
JetBlue250 to 200 plus excise tax (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)60K to 12.5K (Unknown)
Korean Airlines3K to 1K (~1 day)
LATAM Pass60K to 25K (~1 day)
Leading Hotels of the World1K to 200 (Instant)
Malaysia Enrich1 to 1 (1 to 2 days)
Marriott Bonvoy1 to 1 (~1 day)1 to 1 (~1 day)20K to 25K (~5 Minutes)
Merrill
Miles & More
Multiplus60K to 25K (Unknown)
PenFed Rewards
Penny Points
Qantas Frequent Flyer1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (~1 day)60K to 25K (~2 days)1 to 1 (~1 day)
Qatar Privilege Club Avios1 to 1 (Unknown)1 to 1 via BA (Instant)1 to 1 (1 to 2 days)60K to 25K (3 to 4 days)1 to 1 via BA (Unknown)1 to 1 via BA (~5 Minutes)
Radisson Rewards
Royal Brunei Royal Skies
Saudia Airlines60K to 25K (~5 days)
Shop Your Way Rewards1 to 10 (Instant)
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (~17 hours)1 to 1 (~1 day)60K to 25K (~1 day)1 to 1 (~7 hours)
Sonesta Travel Pass
South African Airways Voyager60K to 25K (Unknown)
Southwest Rapid Rewards1 to 1 (Instant)60K to 25K (1 to 2 days)
Spirit
TAP Air Portugal60K to 25K (Unknown)1 to 1 (Unknown)
Thai Airways International Royal Orchid Plus1 to 1 (3 to 7 days)60K to 25K (~4 days)
ThankYou Rewards
Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles1 to 1 (~1 day)60K to 25K (~1 day)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (~5 Minutes)
Uber Cash
UBS My Choice Rewards
Ultimate Rewards
United MileagePlus1 to 1 (Instant)60K to 30K (2 to 5 days)1 to 1 (~5 Minutes)
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)60K to 25K (1 to 2 days)1 to 1 (Unknown)1 to 1 (~5 Minutes)
Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer60K to 25K (Unknown)
Vueling Club60K to 25K (Unknown)
Wells Fargo Rewards
Wyndham1 to 1 (Instant)1 to 1 (Instant)

Buy points on sale

LifeMiles offers frequent sales on points. We will list any current offers in this post. When on sale, LifeMiles typically offers miles for somewhere between 1.2c each to 1.4c each.

Hacking Avianca LifeMiles awards to pay less

Avianca LifeMiles sweet spots
Use Avianca LifeMiles to fly Lufthansa First Class with no fuel surcharges and for less than sticker price with the right hacks.

Avianca LifeMiles is a very hackable program in the sense that there are a multitude of ways to pay less than the award chart rates. Note that the rates shown in the sections below are generally before considering methods to reduce the price. There are generally three ways to save on LifeMiles awards: award ticket sales, award pricing anomalies, and mixed-cabin awards.

Award Ticket Sales

Avianca occasionally puts flights to select regions on sale for reduced-rate award tickets. This has most commonly happened for awards to Asia or South America, though it is certainly possible that they may offer sales to other regions. It is worth keeping your eye out for emails from LifeMiles and/or subscribing to your favorite blogs to be alerted when a region is on sale.

Award Pricing Anomalies

Avianca inexplicably prices some specific flights well below their award chart rates. We’ve written a number of posts about this phenomenon:

For reasons that aren’t clear, these anomalies pop up in various regions and routes. In many cases, the reduced pricing has stuck around for years and makes for good sweet spots on select routes. I expect there are some that have either not been found or not been widely reported, but here are some examples of this phenomenon:

  • New York (JFK) to Zurich for 16.5K miles one way in economy class (should be 30K)
  • New York (JFK) to Lisbon for 35K one way in business class (should be 63K)
  • Mixed-cabin awards (more on these in the next section) sometimes price differently depending on the combination of partners

There are many more examples of this. You never know when you may stumble on one of these sweet spots that will fit your needs.

Mixed-cabin awards

The real hack on Avianca LifeMiles is in leveraging mixed-cabin awards. That’s because LifeMiles prices mixed-cabin awards roughly based on the percentage of distance traveled in each cabin. In other words, if you book a trip that is 10,000 miles in total distance and you will travel 4,000 miles of it in economy class and 6,000 miles of it in business class, Avianca will charge roughly 40% of the economy class price for that itinerary and 60% of the business class price. Note that this is a simplification; the exact price does work out exactly down to the mile by these percentages and there are some other variables (and sometimes outright glitches), but the final price is roughly based on percentage of total distance flown in each cabin. This makes for some great opportunities in the right situation.

As an example, the price for business class from most of Europe to the USA should be 63K miles one-way. See this flight from Paris to Newark at 63K in business class (right side) as an example.

a white rectangle with black outline

However, if you add some economy class segments beyond Newark, the total price decreases. For instance, here is Paris to Newark on that same business class flight and then continuing on to Seattle via Houston.

a screenshot of a computer

As you can see in the small print at the bottom of that screen shot, that itinerary costs only 47,390 miles. That represents a savings of 15,610 miles — almost 25% less than the cost of Paris to Newark alone (during the recent Citi transfer bonus, you only would have needed to transfer 38,000 Citi ThankYou points to cover that itinerary). If you only want to travel to Newark, you could conceivably get off the plane in Newark and not take the connecting flights and save a large chunk of miles. Be aware that there are some potential issues there: if there are irregular operations, you may end up rebooked on a route that doesn’t connect at Newark. If your bags get misplaced and don’t show up in Newark when you do (remember that you need to collect them and pass through customs at your first point of entry to the US, so you would ordinarily pick them up in Newark), I assume that United is going to try to deliver them to you in Seattle. Airlines don’t like people taking advantage of this type of ticketing loophole on paid tickets, so it is possible that United and/or Avianca could get upset with you if you make a habit of doing this regularly. On the other hand, people miss connecting flights all the time, so if you do this once or twice it may not even be noticed. See the section titled “LifeMiles Skiplagging (advanced flyers only)” in this post for more warnings and considerations.

In Fall of 2022, Avianca LifeMiles increased redemption rates to Asia, now usually charging 90K miles one way in business class from the US to Asia. As an example, here is an award flight from Seattle to Tokyo in business class for 90K miles:

a screenshot of a computer

However, if you instead book Seattle to Singapore and take the same flight above combined with an economy class leg to Singapore, you’ll pay just 58,150 miles one way — a savings of more than 35% over booking the flight from Seattle to Tokyo alone (and still far less than the pre-devaluation price of Seattle to Tokyo).

a screenshot of a computer

Those are a couple of examples, but Greg has many more similar examples in his post: Avianca LifeMiles’ awesome mixed-cabin award pricing: First class for less. Note that in some scenarios, mixed-cabin award pricing even varies by partners (see Does LifeMiles play favorites? for more).

In the coming sections, keep in mind that using the above techniques, you may be able to pay even less than the award rates shown by using the techniques and scenarios above.

Avianca LifeMiles Sweet Spots (Economy Class)

Africa in economy from 40K each way

  • The short story: Avianca LifeMiles offers competitive pricing for Star Alliance awards with no fuel surcharges.
  • Miles required: Officially, 40K each way in economy class to South Africa (which includes most of Africa) or 42.5K each way to North Africa (and the Middle East). Note that there is sometimes variance (See: The secret LifeMiles award chart), though we are not aware of any such pricing anomalies to Africa.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at LifeMiles.com (you’ll need to create a free Avianca LifeMiles frequent flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at LifeMiles.com. Can also book via email. Phone bookings are known to be a hassle but also possible.
  • Key warnings: Availability at LifeMiles.com does not always match what you’ll find at United.com. Phone agents generally do not see better availability than what is shown at LifeMiles.com. Always check the LifeMiles site before transferring points. Keep in mind that the mandatory $25 booking fee (added to all bookings) is the same whether one-way or round trip, so book round trip to save.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Citi, Capital One, Marriott

Comparison point: ANA Mileage Plan charges just 65K round trip on Star Alliance and is an Amex transfer partner, though they do pass on fuel surcharges so you’ll want to avoid Lufthansa Group flights. See our Best ways to get to Africa using miles (economy edition) for more information and a full comparison of options.

Caribbean in economy for 12.5K one-way

  • The short story: Avianca LifeMiles offers one-ways on United to the “rest of North America” (i.e. not the US) for 12,500 miles each way in economy class.
  • Miles required: 12,500 miles each way in economy class
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at LifeMiles.com (you’ll need to create a free Avianca LifeMiles frequent flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at LifeMiles.com. Can also book via email. Phone bookings are known to be a hassle but also possible.
  • Key warnings: Availability at LifeMiles.com does not always match what you’ll find at United.com. Phone agents generally do not see better availability than what is shown at LifeMiles.com. Always check the LifeMiles site before transferring points.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Citi, Capital One, Marriott

Comparison point: Turkish Miles & Smiles charges just 10K each way to international destinations in North America or 7.5K to Caribbean destinations that are part of the United States (though booking through Turkish is often more challenging than the LifeMiles booking tool). See our Best ways to get to the Caribbean / Central America using miles for more information and a full comparison of options.

Europe in economy: 20-30K each way (exceptions from 16.5K one-way)

  • The short story: Avianca LifeMiles offers competitive pricing for Star Alliance awards, with some routes to Europe inexplicably pricing lower than the award chart.
  • Miles required: Officially, the LifeMiles award chart offers economy class at 20K one-way from the Northeastern US to the British Isles, Scandinavia, and Russia or 30K one-way on all other routes between the US and Europe. However, there is some inexplicable variance (See: The secret LifeMiles award chart), with some routes pricing well under the expected 30K economy class price (such as Denver to Brussels for 23K). Also see: Trying to crack  the LifeMiles secret code to Europe.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at LifeMiles.com (you’ll need to create a free Avianca LifeMiles frequent flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at LifeMiles.com. Can also book via email. Phone bookings are known to be a hassle but also possible.
  • Key warnings: Availability at LifeMiles.com does not always match what you’ll find at United.com. Phone agents generally do not see better availability than what is shown at LifeMiles.com and it seems that manual bookings via email have ended. Always check the LifeMiles site before transferring points. Keep in mind that the mandatory $25 booking fee (added to all bookings) is the same whether one-way or round trip, so book round trip to save.
  • Transfer fromAmex Membership Rewards, Brex Cash, Citi Thank You, Capital One, Marriott Bonvoy

Comparison point: Air France / KLM Flying Blue offers monthly promo awards routes and we sometimes see a couple of routes from the US for 10K-15K each way in economy class. See our Best ways to get to Europe using miles for more information and a full comparison of options.

North America from 7.5K in economy (or less on some routes)

  • The short story: Avianca LifeMiles offers one-ways on United within a single "zone" at excellent prices. Some flights price even less than the "official" rates.
  • Miles required: As per the old award chart, the US is split into 3 zones. Within a single zone, awards typically cost 7.5K one-way in economy class or 10K one-way in business class. Between Zone 1 (most of the East Coast) and Zone 2 (most of the states apart from the far west) is 10K one-way in economy or 15K in business class. Note that some routes price below the chart for no clear reason. Note also that mixed-cabin itineraries can price favorably in some instances. See: Avianca LifeMiles' awesome mixed-cabin award pricing. First class for less.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at LifeMiles.com (you’ll need to create a free Avianca LifeMiles frequent flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at LifeMiles.com.
  • Change and cancellation fees: Theoretically $50 within a region, though flights between regions can cost $200 to cancel.
  • Key warnings: Availability at LifeMiles.com does not always match what you’ll find at United.com. Phone agents generally do not see better availability than what is shown at LifeMiles.com. Always check the LifeMiles site before transferring points.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Bilt, Citi, Capital One, Marriott

Comparison point: Turkish Miles & Smiles charges just 7.5K each way for domestic Star Alliance flights, which means that flights entirely within the US on United or entirely within Canada on Air Canada cost just 7.5K miles each way. International flights between the US and most North American international destinations cost 10K each way in economy class. See our Best ways to get to the US and Canada using miles for more information and a full comparison of options.

South America in economy from 20K/30K or less

  • The short story: Avianca LifeMiles offers competitive Star Alliance pricing to both Northern and Southern South America with no fuel surcharges. Note that you can mix cabins on partner awards to save miles, which means that in some cases you can fly your long-haul flight in business class for not much more.
  • Miles required: According to the old award chart, flights to Northern South America are 20K each way in economy class and Southern South America costs 30K one way in economy class. However, flights on Avianca metal may price out at less than 20K each way in some instances (and always keep your eye out for Avianca pricing anomalies).
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at LifeMiles.com (you’ll need to create a free Avianca LifeMiles frequent flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at LifeMiles.com. Can also book via email. Phone bookings are known to be a hassle but also possible.
  • Key warnings: Availability at LifeMiles.com does not always match what you’ll find at United.com. Phone agents generally do not see better availability than what is shown at LifeMiles.com. Always check the LifeMiles site before transferring points. Also note that as of May 2020, Avianca has filed for bankruptcy protection. LifeMiles is not yet affected by this process and may not be, but given the uncertain state of global economics it may be wise to hold off on bookings that aren't time-sensitive.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Citi, Capital One, Marriott

Comparison point: Virgin Atlantic charges as few as 12,500 miles one-way on the shortest routes to South America on Delta and Etihad has slightly better rates for flying American Airlines. See our Best ways to get to South America using miles for more information and a full comparison of options.

Avianca LifeMiles Sweet Spots (Business and First Class)

Asia in business class from 75K one-way or first class from 90K one-way (or less)

  • The short story: Avianca LifeMiles increased redemption rates in 2022, but business class awards may still be a good deal since they are semi-hackable by finding the right partners and/or adding a long economy class leg.
  • Miles required: From 90K each way in business or 120K each way in first class, no fuel surcharges. Those prices are not very good, but note two things: first, there is sometimes variance by partner or city pair (See: The secret LifeMiles award chart); second, it is possible to pay less by combining a long-haul premium cabin flight with a long-haul economy class flight. See: Avianca LifeMiles’ awesome mixed-cabin award pricing: First class for less).
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at LifeMiles.com (you’ll need to create a free Avianca LifeMiles frequent flyer account). Note that you may need to toggle between "Smart Search", "Star Alliance", and a specific airline in the drop-down menu above city pair to find availability.
  • How to book awards: Book online at LifeMiles.com. Can also book via email. Phone bookings are known to be a hassle but also possible. In a pinch, you can try a manual booking, though that process is quite slow and is best used when you aren't concerned about award availability changing.
  • Key warnings: Availability at LifeMiles.com does not always match what you’ll find at United.com. Phone agents generally do not see better availability than what is shown at LifeMiles.com. Always check the LifeMiles site before transferring points (and keep in mind the need to toggle between Smart Search, Star Alliance, and an individual airline when searching to see all availability). The mandatory $25 booking fee (added to all bookings) is the same whether one-way or round trip, so book round trip to save.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Capital One, Citi, Marriott

Comparison point: ANA Mileage Club has a phenomenal award chart with round trip awards to Japan from 75K round trip in business class (with many other sweet spots for both ANA and Star Alliance flights to Asia). See our Best ways to get to Asia using miles for more information and a full comparison of options.

Africa in business class for 78K each way or first class for 105K each way

  • The short story: Avianca LifeMiles offers competitive pricing for Star Alliance awards with no fuel surcharges.
  • Miles required: Officially, 78K each way in business or 105K each way in first class with no fuel surcharges. Note that there is some variance (See: The secret LifeMiles award chart). Also see: Avianca LifeMiles’ awesome mixed-cabin award pricing: First class for less for ways to fly first class for even fewer miles). In short, it is possible to pair the long-haul flights in business with connecting segments in economy class to pay fewer total miles.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at LifeMiles.com (you’ll need to create a free Avianca LifeMiles frequent flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at LifeMiles.com. Can also book via email. Phone bookings are known to be a hassle but also possible. Finally, it may be possible to email for a manual booking if individual segments are available but don't show up together.
  • Key warnings: Availability at LifeMiles.com does not always match what you’ll find at United.com. Phone agents generally do not see better availability than what is shown at LifeMiles.com. Always check the LifeMiles site before transferring points. Keep in mind that the mandatory $25 booking fee (added to all bookings) is the same whether one-way or round trip, so book round trip to save.
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou points, Capital One miles, Marriott Bonvoy

Comparison point: ANA Mileage Plan charges just 104K round trip on Star Alliance and is an Amex transfer partner, though they require round trip booking and they do pass on fuel surcharges so you’ll want to avoid Lufthansa Group flights. See our Best ways to get to Africa using miles for more information and a full comparison of options.

Europe in business class for 63K each way or first class for 87K each way

  • The short story: Avianca LifeMiles offers competitive pricing for Star Alliance awards, especially in first class, with no fuel surcharges.
  • Miles required: 63K each way in business or 87K each way in first class, no fuel surcharges. Note that there is some variance, with some routes inexplicably pricing well below the official award chart like Newark to Lisbon for 35K miles in business class (See: The secret LifeMiles award chart). Also see: Avianca LifeMiles’ awesome mixed-cabin award pricing: First class for less for ways to fly first class for even fewer miles). Mixed-cabin business class itineraries can price from as low as 49K. See: Trying to crack  the LifeMiles secret code to Europe.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at LifeMiles.com (you’ll need to create a free Avianca LifeMiles frequent flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at LifeMiles.com. Can also book via email. Phone bookings are known to be a hassle but also possible.
  • Key warnings: Availability at LifeMiles.com does not always match what you’ll find at United.com. Phone agents generally do not see better availability than what is shown at LifeMiles.com. Always check the LifeMiles site before transferring points. Keep in mind that the mandatory $25 booking fee (added to all bookings) is the same whether one-way or round trip, so book round trip to save.
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership Rewards, Brex Cash, Capital One, Citi Thank You, Marriott Bonvoy

Comparison point: Iberia charges as few as 34K miles each way in business class on its flights to/from Europe. See our Best ways to get to Europe using miles for more information and a full comparison of options.

North America from 10K in business class (or less on some routes)

  • The short story: Avianca LifeMiles offers one-ways on United within a single "zone" at excellent prices. Some flights price even less than the "official" rates.
  • Miles required: As per the old award chart, the US is split into 3 zones. Within a single zone, awards typically cost 7.5K one-way in economy class or 10K one-way in business class. Between Zone 1 (most of the East Coast) and Zone 2 (most of the states apart from the far west) is 10K one-way in economy or 15K in business class. Note that some routes price below the chart for no clear reason. Note also that mixed-cabin itineraries can price favorably in some instances. See: Avianca LifeMiles' awesome mixed-cabin award pricing. First class for less.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at LifeMiles.com (you’ll need to create a free Avianca LifeMiles frequent flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at LifeMiles.com.
  • Change and cancellation fees: Theoretically $50 within a region, though flights between regions can cost $200 to cancel.
  • Key warnings: Availability at LifeMiles.com does not always match what you’ll find at United.com. Phone agents generally do not see better availability than what is shown at LifeMiles.com. Always check the LifeMiles site before transferring points.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Bilt, Citi, Capital One, Marriott

Comparison point: Turkish Miles & Smiles charges just 12.5K each way for business class domestic Star Alliance flights, which means that flights entirely within the US on United or entirely within Canada on Air Canada cost just 12.5K miles each way in business. International flights between the US and most North American international destinations cost 15K each way in business class. See our Best ways to get to the US and Canada using miles for more information and a full comparison of options.

Oceania for 80K each way in business class

  • The short story: Avianca LifeMiles might have somewhat hackable awards if you could find premium cabin space on the long-haul.
  • Miles required: 80K miles in business class from the US to Australia / New Zealand / Oceania, but see Avianca LifeMiles' awesome mixed-cabin award pricing: First class for less for info on how this might be hackable if premium space exists. Note also that Air New Zealand economy class flights price lower than the chart shows for flights to/from Los Angeles. Business class may also price lower if you can find availability.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at LifeMiles.com (you’ll need to create a free Avianca LifeMiles frequent flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at LifeMiles.com. Can also book via email. Phone bookings are known to be a hassle but also possible.
  • Key warnings: Availability at LifeMiles.com does not always match what you'll find at United.com. Phone agents generally do not see better availability than what is shown at LifeMiles.com. Always check the LifeMiles site before transferring points.

Comparison point: ANA Mileage Plan charges from 105K round trip in business class on ANA flights during low season, but they do require round trip booking. See our Best ways to get to Oceania using miles for more information and a full comparison of options.

South America in business class from 35K one-way

  • The short story: Avianca LifeMiles offers competitive Star Alliance pricing to both Northern and Southern South America with no fuel surcharges. Note that you can mix cabins on partner awards to save miles, which can be useful if you need a positioning flight.
  • Miles required: According to the old award chart, flights to Northern South America are 35K each way in business class and Southern South America costs 60K one way in business class. However, flights on Avianca metal appear to be pricing out at 40K - 55K (while partner awards follow the old chart).
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at LifeMiles.com (you’ll need to create a free Avianca LifeMiles frequent flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at LifeMiles.com. Can also book via email. Phone bookings are known to be a hassle but also possible.
  • Key warnings: Availability at LifeMiles.com does not always match what you’ll find at United.com. Phone agents generally do not see better availability than what is shown at LifeMiles.com. Always check the LifeMiles site before transferring points. Also note that as of May 2020, Avianca has filed for bankruptcy protection. LifeMiles is not yet affected by this process and may not be, but given the uncertain state of global economics it may be wise to hold off on bookings that aren't time-sensitive.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Citi, Capital One, Marriott

Comparison point: Alaska’s award chart options are slightly better given that American Airlines to much of northern South America is 30K each way and LATAM award flights cost 45K miles each way. See our Best ways to get to South America using miles for more information and a full comparison of options.

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23 Comments
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Dam

hi Nick,

I see that there are reduced rates for ‘club lifemiles’. Is it worth it to pay to get those discounts?

Saul

I just booked two economy award tickets on Austrian with Avianca Lifemiles and I was not able to select seats at the time of booking. I then tried to manage my booking after getting the confirmation code and do not see a way to select seats. Is this standard for Lifemiles?

Eric

Hello Nick! Can I log into my lifemiles account to book a flight for ONLY my wife using my lifemiles? I have lifemiles but she does not. Thanks!

Vince

My understanding is that change and cancellation fees can be substantial (any change $150 per ticket, cancellation fee up to $200 per).

Robin

Hey Greg every time I try to search for award opening on life miles it tells me that I don’t have any mall so it doesn’t let me search. Is this true do I have to transfer some miles into my account before I can see availability

Mary G

Thanks for the update Nick! Now that I have finally gotten a few Lifemiles award flights under my belt – all of this makes MUCH more sense! This is a very well structured and very clear article on some hacks that can be tricky at times!

BBQman

Hey nick. Fyi, no more avianca us cards and no more brex.

[…] a current journey and now we have been in a position to redeem for good in some regional journeys. LifeMiles has some very candy locationsSo this could possibly be time up. The 145% bonus is legitimate from […]

Jillian

Is the JFK-LIS business class sweet spot still available? I searched for it today and can’t seem to find any availability for the next year. I’ve never used Life Mile’s booking system so I am not sure if I’m searching wrong or if the loophole has been closed?

deetee

Big fan of the comparison points. When reading bloggers sing the praises about various mileage programs, it’s good to anchor the quality of the deal to other programs out there.

paul t lanyi

huge fan of LifeMiles. Example, JFK to LAX on UA in Polaris 38K to 55K points OW on the UA site. booked 2x on the LifeMiles site for 25K points each. LifeMiles is my first place to look for Star Alliance flights. Also, they have sales that off exceptional value, e.g. buy 100 points, get a bonus of 150+. so valuable.

rich

Has anyone recently received an email from saks giving you a $25 gift card supposedly
“The delay you experienced on your recent saks.com order #‌ORDER# was not up to the level of service you should expect from Saks”

I’m not going to click on any links in the email although it looks legit (and I have a computer security background) and provides a gift card # and pin you are supposed to use on check out.

I used the $50 platinum credit on something my GF found and don’t recall any major issues.

I suppose I can try to use this GC as well as the 0ther $50 credit down the road for $75 off?

Just curious if anyone else has seen this. I’m almost expected a follow up email saying it was sent in mistake!

Lantean

I have a question for LifeMiles pros… I was looking at a BJV-IST-JFK flight for this summer. It was available thru all Star Alliance programs, including LifeMiles. By the time my trip got confirmed, the BJV-IST leg became unavailable thru LifeMiles (IST-JFK is still available) even tho the whole trip is still available thru other programs (Aeroplan, Singapore, United, etc). It’s just LifeMiles that can no longer see that one leg.
What do you guys make of it? Do you think it will come back to LifeMiles or should I even try a manual booking even tho it is NOT showing on their website? It’s all quite bizarre really considering it was showing just fine a week ago.
Thank you.

Paul

How easy is it to cancel and get the miles reinstated?

paul t lanyi

i’ve cancelled three reservations in the past two weeks. the hard part is the wait times for Avianca’s call center. sometimes it’s minutes, sometimes hours. miles reinstated within days, taxes take a LONG time to come back

Randy

The reason for having discounted award redemption is because of the partner of LifeMiles – TripPlus Travel Service, which is a startup company with lots of Taiwanese people in management team. So that’s why you can see the majority of discounted award redemptions are US – Asia (especially Taiwan) flights. I was told that TripPlus has worked with LifeMiles for several years. That’s why it is a lot easier for them to discuss about the routes for discounted award redemption. TripPlus is also the only authorized partner who can sell discounted mileage of LifeMiles on TripPlus own storefront.