As the year draws to a close, I’m trying to wind down for the next few days. But I am also taking this time to reflect on my travels this year and plan out travels for the coming year. And my advice is, if you do not have an account with Avianca’s LifeMiles program, you should get one now.

Avianca is a South American airlines recent entrant to the Star Alliance, namely in June 2012, and their award chart is a very reasonable one for those who would want to fly premium cabins. Star Alliance has multiple airlines flying out of India, namely Thai, Singapore Airlines, United, Swiss, Lufthansa, Austrian, South Africa Airways, amongst others. A lot of these airlines have good premium cabin products. And love it or hate it, our own Air India might just be in the alliance soon enough.

Now while Avianca does not fly into India, we can still signup for their loyalty program. Why would you want to do that?

  • Have a look at the award chart. I find it very reasonable to be able to fly India to Europe in a Star Alliance carrier in First Class for 145,000 miles for a round trip ticket, or 115,000 for Business Class if that is good enough. And one way awards are available as well.
  • This carrier ain’t in the Eastern Hemisphere, and they don’t charge a fuel surcharge on the flight bookings. So, I could easily save a few 100$ which is spent while booking on British Airways Avios, Jet Airways JP Miles, Singapore Airlines and others
  • They seem to have access to inventory that other airlines don’t offer, such as LH F.
  • Frequent sales for buying miles, when you can buy miles at 30$ per 2000 miles. With this, your cost per mile is real low (i.e., 1.5 Cents = 92 paise). And these qualify as airline purchases so on a certain credit card issued in India (my favourite one), you can actually earn 10 miles / Rs 100 spent as well. However, to participate in these sales, you need to be a member prior to the sale being announced.
  • The awards they can book are all available online.

There are a few cons as well of dealing with them:

  • The award booking engine is buggy, and also does not allow mixed cabin bookings. So you got to choose a single cabin (economy, business or first) all the way through to your destination.
  • They might just wake up one day and decide to bump up the award chart like they did last year a couple of times.
  • You don’t get a flight connection when the layover is more than 8 hours.

But to be able to buy miles at less than one Rupee and being able to spend them on award tickets that cost way more than that is to me worth the effort.

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Posted by Ajay Awtaney | 7 Comments

7 Responses to “It might be a good time to sign up for the LifeMiles program”

  1. Parag Mehta says:

    Agree. .. bought 60k miles in the last 200pc promo. .. I think it’s a great alternative for us out of India

  2. Sundhar says:

    Does lifemile show inventory outside of LH i.e if AI joins will it show its inventory from USA?.

  3. AJ says:

    @sundhar, Lifemiles shows inventory on all sorts of carriers, such as LX, SQ, TH, UA, OS and others. my guess is once AI comes on board, they will share their inventory as well with Lifemiles.

  4. Amit says:

    Can anyone lend me their account to buy lifemiles ? I created after Dec’3 only after seeing this offer.

    Thanks!

    Moderated, this forum is not to trade miles.

  5. Deo says:

    There was also a 3-for-1 targeted promotion running last few days. I think the best strategy is not to stockpile the miles, but only to buy them if you have confirmed plans and then wait for the nearest 2-for-1 promo.
    Their award booking cancellation/date change rules are pretty obscure as well. I tried hard to look for them in the fine print but no cigar. Would be helpful if you could run a rule over them.

  6. KRISHNAKUMAR says:

    Hi,

    Already enrolled for the programme. In the award chart, it is shown that from India (Central Asia) you can travel to South Asia,central Asia and other ( Australia,New Zealand). There is no mention of Europe or north America.
    Further, I did not find any Indian city in the booking option. I did not see any Lifemail inventory either.
    Can you send me a link?

  7. AJ says:

    @Krishnakumar you have to type the City or airport code. For instance, look at BOM or DEL.

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