Skip to content

Can’t find award availability with Avianca LifeMiles? Don’t give up until you try this trick

July 28, 2022
6 min read
Lufthansa Airbus A319 in Star Alliance livery
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Airline websites often have frustrating little quirks that make finding award availability harder than it needs to be. Frequent Miler recently outlined a helpful tip for those booking flights with Avianca LifeMiles, and we thought it would be of value to TPG readers.

Avianca is part of Star Alliance, a partnership of 26 airlines worldwide. You can use LifeMiles to book flights on Avianca’s many Star Alliance partners (and a few others, too). However, the website sometimes hides award inventory — unless you know the following trick.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

We’ll show you how to strongarm the LifeMiles website into giving you the flights you want. It doesn’t work every single time, but it’s a great plan B for when you’re not seeing award availability.

Outsmart Avianca’s award search tool to find the flights you want

(Photo by Mateusz Wlodarczyk/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

When booking on, a drop-down menu exists above the area where you enter your travel details. The top three search options are:

  • Smart Search.
  • Avianca.
  • Star Alliance.

Further down the list, you can choose to make a more narrow search by selecting individual partners.

It would seem that “Smart Search” should utilize all options to present the best flights for your desired travel dates. But in practice, it underdelivers in a big way.

Let’s search for a business-class flight from Miami International Airport (MIA) to Poland's Warsaw Chopin Airport (WAW). We’ll use the “Smart Search” option to locate flights — as most travelers would.

(Screenshot from

Using this method, the LifeMiles search cannot find any results for the week of Sept. 24, 2022. That’s frustrating, because we can see availability through other Star Alliance sites. Below is a business-class award on LOT Polish Airlines via the United Airlines site — but it doesn’t appear on the LifeMiles site.

Sign up for our daily newsletter
(Screenshot from

By switching the type of search on the LifeMiles site to “Star Alliance” instead of Smart Search, there are still no results for the week of Sept. 24, 2022.

(Screenshot from

However, because we’ve discovered through the United website that LOT Polish has a Saver Award available, we could instead ask LifeMiles to search specifically for LOT Polish flights via the drop-down menu.

(Screenshot from

Voila! The business-class LOT Polish ticket that we saw with United magically appears. We’ve effectively forced LifeMiles to examine LOT Polish as an option, which yielded the proper result (though interestingly, it still doesn’t show economy class to be available, as United did).

(Screenshot from

Related: Book this, not that: Star Alliance award tickets

How to earn Avianca LifeMiles

(Photo by Daniel Munoz/AFP/Getty Images)

Avianca LifeMiles is an award currency worth investing in. You’ll often find cheaper flights through LifeMiles than other competing airline currencies, particularly for premium seats on international routes. Read this post to learn how to book some of the best Avianca LifeMiles sweet spots.

Avianca is a partner of the following transferable points programs:

This makes LifeMiles one of the easiest currencies to earn. You can rack LifeMiles up quickly by opening cards such as:

Avianca also frequently publishes sales that allow you to buy LifeMiles at a huge discount. Just recently, Avianca awarded an up to 145% bonus on purchased miles.

Related: Transfer and maximize: The ultimate guide to Amex Membership Rewards

Bottom line

Searching Avianca’s LifeMiles website by individual airline can help you find award seats that won’t otherwise appear in the search results.

This technique won’t necessarily find every single award — but if you see inventory through another site like Air Canada Aeroplan or United Airlines that isn’t appearing with LifeMiles, trying this workaround should dramatically improve your success rate.

Featured image by dpa/picture alliance via Getty I
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.