Avianca’s LifeMiles program is a popular option for booking Star Alliance flights because they have no fuel surcharges, decent award rates, and they often sell miles cheaply. They are about to increase in popularity as Avianca Life Miles has now been added as the latest Citi Thank You transfer partner.
As seen in the picture above, Citi Thank You points transfer to Avianca Life Miles at a 1:1 ration in blocks of 1,000 miles. This is an exciting change since Life Miles gives you access to a nice award chart — though they don’t always have access to all partner award availability shown on other Star Alliance carrier sites (like United and Aeroplan). The good news is that you can easily search for availability using Avianca’s site. The award chart (see a link to the full chart here) has decent rates to much of the world from North America. I pasted this chart together, so forgive anything that doesn’t line up perfectly straight:
You’ll notice that rates are reasonable to much of the world — with business class to North/South/Central Asia all available for less than 80K miles one-way (and first class to North Asia would only be 90K miles).
You may have also noticed the absence of North America-to-North America and Europe rates. That’s because those vary a bit by region:
Domestic USA flights within a single region are available from just 7,500 miles one-way. That could be a nice value as the regions are actually fairly large. For example, United States 1 extends from as far north as Maine to as far south as South Carolina. Region 2 can stretch from North Dakota to Florida. As an example, I just looked up an itinerary from Fargo to Orlando to leave on Tuesday, and it came up at 7500 miles.
The taxes and fees on that flight come to $55:
That compares pretty favorably to booking last minute at the best cash rates:
And what’s even better is that Avianca will let you adjust the number of miles, allowing you a higher cash co-pay. You could pay as little as 3500 miles for that flight if you up the cash copay to $115.
Keep in mind that domestic United availability isn’t great and cash prices on that route surely aren’t as expensive when you plan in advance, but this sure beats paying United both more miles and more money for the same flights.
Flights to Europe in business class aren’t quite as good a value as Aeroplan — but with no fuel surcharges, there may be times when it makes a lot more sense to redeem Life Miles.
This is certainly a net positive for the Citi Thank You program. I love to see transferable programs add transfer partners because it helps those programs maintain value. If one partner devalues, there are other great options ready to step in. Furthermore, a diversity of options is valuable to have in play. Some will probably argue that LifeMiles aren’t the best use of points since they can so often be purchased cheaply — but with some good opportunities to earn Thank You points at 3x, I’ll be happy to have access to another competitive award chart. We have added Avianca LifeMiles to our Citi Transfer Partners page for reference.
H/T: One Mile at a Time