Can’t find award availability with Avianca LifeMiles? Don’t give up until you try this trick
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.
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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
When booking on LifeMiles.com, a drop-down menu exists above the area where you enter your travel details. The top three search options are:
- Smart Search.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Related: Book this, not that: Star Alliance award tickets
How to earn Avianca LifeMiles
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:
- American Express Membership Rewards (1:1 transfer ratio).
- Capital One miles (1:1 transfer ratio).
- Citi ThankYou Rewards (1:1 transfer ratio).
- Brex Rewards (1:1 transfer ratio).
- Marriott Bonvoy (3:1 transfer ratio — with a 5,000-mile bonus for every increment of 60,000 points you transfer).
This makes LifeMiles one of the easiest currencies to earn. You can rack LifeMiles up quickly by opening cards such as:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 80,000 points after spending $6,000 on purchases within the first six months from account opening.
- Citi Premier® Card: Earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening (see rates and fees).
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Earn 75,000 miles after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening.
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
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.