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TPG readers are used to hearing about some of the great deals offered by lesser known frequent flyer programs. However, these often come with some caveats: you’ll have to put up with navigating a difficult website, you’ll be disappointed that it doesn’t have access to the same awards found on other programs, or you’ll be frustrated with poorly trained phone agents (to name a few).

Avianca LifeMiles has been the poster child for these kind of issues, as it offers some great award prices, yet its website had many limitations, and its call center is extremely difficult to handle. But after a scheduled outage to its site, LifeMiles is back with a much more attractive version, though whether it will materially improve the award booking process is still unknown.

Exploring the New Site

Avianca clearly invested a lot of effort into the new site, but it’s unclear if it’s much of a leap forward in functionality. First, you are able to search by a single airline, the entire Star Alliance or do something called a “Smart Search,” which appears to be the Star Alliance plus their two non-alliance partners AeroMexico and Iberia. However, the program’s initial search screen leaves out one important detail: the dates of your flight. You’ll have to wait to fill that in on the next screen.

Flights between Denver and the west coast are only 7,500 LifeMiles, each way, a real bargain.
Flights between Denver and the west coast are only 7,500 LifeMiles each way, a real bargain.

If the site finds the seats you’re looking for, it appears to be a straightforward process to book them. Furthermore, there are reports from FlyerTalk of the program now having more access to partner award flights that weren’t available before, such as Turkish, South African and some Lufthansa first class flights.

However, the site appears to have some significant flaws. First, it’s quite buggy, as I found myself receiving repeated error messages and being forced to acknowledge the privacy policy repeatedly. But more significantly, the site still fails to find a lot of Star Alliance award seats that I was able to find on United.com.For example, LifeMiles found no options when I searched for flights in business class from Denver (DEN) to Tel Aviv (TLV) on December 4, 2019.

Yet United.com quickly found this routing and other options in business class (despite its seven-day fare calendar being inaccurate).

Why LifeMiles Are so Valuable

While you might not be flying on Avianca to Latin America anytime soon, the LifeMiles program has gained a following due to the low prices it offers for awards, and because it has no fuel surcharges on premium class international awards. For more information, read Senior Points and Miles Contributor Richard Kerr’s posts on Everything You Need to Know About Avianca LifeMiles and Hidden Gems of the Avianca LifeMiles Program.

LifeMiles can also be especially valuable for domestic flights, as I point out in my post on Best Ways to Redeem Capital One Miles for Domestic Flights. As shown in the example above, many United-operated flights within the US will set you back just 7,500 miles each way.

Finally, LifeMiles are extremely easy to come by, as it’s a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, the Marriott Bonvoy program, Citi ThankYou Rewards and Capital One. If you have rewards in any of these programs, you can pool them into your LifeMiles account and start traveling. Avianca also frequently runs bonuses on purchased miles as well as mileage transfers, giving you the opportunity to pick them up for as little as 1.35 cents apiece, well below TPG’s most recent valuation of 1.7 cents.

Bottom Line

It’s great to see LifeMiles investing in its website, and members will certainly appreciate the chance to redeem their miles online with additional Star Alliance partners. It’s just too bad that they didn’t put more thought into the design of the site, and it’s still not as functional as other Star Alliance websites. Having a website with a challenging interface never stopped award travel enthusiasts from taking advantage of a great deal, and I’m sure the new LifeMiles website won’t be too great of a challenge either. Here’s hoping that the program continues to update both the front-end look and back-end functionality in the weeks and months to come.

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

Aside from the 75,000 points welcome bonus, Amex recently made huge improvements to the Business Platinum Card, including the fact that you will now earn 50% more points on purchases of $5,000 or more, earn 5x on flights and eligible hotels at Amextravel.com and cardholders will receive a $200 airline fee credit each year.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Welcome Offer: Earn up to 75,000 Membership Rewards® points.
  • Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
  • Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's 1.5 points per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
  • 35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year.
  • Enroll to get up to $200 in statement credits annually by getting up to $100 semi-annually for U.S. purchases with Dell. Terms apply.
  • Get one year of Platinum Global Access from WeWork. With this membership, you can access 300+ premium, inspiring workspaces in 75+ cities. To get this exclusive offer, enroll between 2/15/2019 and 12/31/2019.
  • Terms Apply
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$595
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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