Avianca is a pan-American airline that has been in service since 1919. Primarily the flag carrier of Colombia, Avianca also owns subsidiaries based in El Salvador, Ecuador, Costa Rica, and Guatemala – all of which are operating and codesharing under the Avianca brand.
Avianca mostly flies to destinations within North and South America, with a few routes between South America and Europe.
Its frequent flyer program is LifeMiles, which unlocks reward seats on flights operated by Avianca and its subsidiaries. Moreover, since Avianca is a member of Star Alliance, LifeMiles enables redemptions on Avianca’s partners, such as Air Canada, Lufthansa, Swiss, United, All Nippon Airways (ANA), and more.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything there is to know about Avianca LifeMiles, including how to optimize your earning and redeeming within the program.
Earning Avianca LifeMiles
There are many ways to earn LifeMiles, including flying with Avianca and its partner airlines. However, the best way to rack up Avianca LifeMiles is by converting points from other programs.
Transferring Points from Other Programs
Avianca LifeMiles is a transfer partner of major points programs in the US. The following programs allow conversions at a rate of 1 point = 1 LifeMile:
Historically, there have been transfer bonuses, which yield 15-25% more LifeMiles, depending on the program.
Marriott Bonvoy points could also be converted to Avianca LifeMiles at a rate of 3 Bonvoy points = 1 LifeMile. Unfortunately, with LifeMiles, you won’t get the bonus 5,000 miles every 60,000 Bonvoy points converted, as you would with other airlines.
It’s an unfavourable exchange altogether, so you should only convert your Marriott Bonvoy points to LifeMiles when you need a top-up on a planned redemption. Otherwise, you should save your Bonvoy points for aspirational hotel and resort stays.
Other than Marriott Bonvoy, you could also transfer points from the following hotel programs at suboptimal rates:
- Accor Live Limitless: 2 points = 1 LifeMile
- Best Western Rewards: 5 points = 1 LifeMile
- IHG One Rewards: 5 points = 1 LifeMile
- Radisson Rewards: 10 points = 1 LifeMile
- Wyndham Rewards: 5 points = 1 LifeMile
Flying with Avianca
You could earn Avianca LifeMiles on almost all Avianca flights paid with cash. However, before we dive into how much LifeMiles you could earn, we need to go over Avianca’s fare classes.
Instead of simply calling them economy and business class, Avianca sells economy class as XS, S, M, and L, while the airline sells business class as XXL. Each fare class is differentiated by pricing, inclusions, LifeMiles earned, and change/cancellation policies.
Note that with Avianca’s recent retrofitting program, its entire narrowbody fleet only features economy class with Plus and Premium seats. Its widebody fleet, on the other hand, still features lie-flat seats in business class.
As a revenue-based program, you’ll earn LifeMiles based on the amount you spend on Avianca flights, rather than the distance you fly. Depending on your fare class, you’ll earn the following LifeMiles per every US dollar you spend on your base fare:
- XS: N/A
- S: 3 LifeMiles per dollar spent
- M: 5 LifeMiles per dollar spent
- L: 7 LifeMiles per dollar spent
- XXL: 7 LifeMiles per dollar spent
If you’re a LifeMiles elite tier member, you’ll also earn the following bonuses:
- Red Plus: 10% bonus
- Silver: 30% bonus
- Gold: 50% bonus
- Diamond: 70% bonus
Leading up to and during your Avianca flight, you can earn an additional five LifeMiles per dollar spent on additional services, including seat selection, Avianca Lounge passes, travel assistance, and seat upgrades.
Flying with Partner Airlines
When you fly on a revenue ticket with one of Avianca’s partners, you can credit your flight to your Avianca LifeMiles account. In order to do so, you must add your LifeMiles number during booking or check-in.
Unlike flying with Avianca, you’ll earn miles based on the distance you fly with partners, rather than the amount you spend on your fare. Note, however, that the number of miles you’ll actually earn depends on the fare class and cabin you booked, with partner airlines having different accrual rates.
The following are Avianca’s airline partners:
Star Alliance Airlines Aegean Airlines Air Canada Air China Air India Air New Zealand All Nippon Airways (ANA) Asiana Airlines Austrian Airlines Avianca Brussels Airlines Copa Airlines Croatia Airlines EgyptAir Ethiopian Airlines EVA Air LOT Polish Airlines Lufthansa Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) Shenzhen Airlines Singapore Airlines Swiss TAP Air Portugal Thai Airways Turkish Airlines United Airlines
Star Alliance Airlines
Air New Zealand
All Nippon Airways (ANA)
LOT Polish Airlines
Scandinavian Airlines (SAS)
TAP Air Portugal
The fastest way to earn LifeMiles is to purchase them straightforwardly from Avianca. You can purchase LifeMiles in increments of 1,000 for $33 (USD), up to a maximum of 200,000 LifeMiles per calendar year. This works out to 3.3 cents (USD) per LifeMile.
If you’re intent on purchasing LifeMiles, you should definitely wait for promotions, which are usually held monthly. Historically, promotions entail bonuses of 125–170% more LifeMiles.
Therefore, if you chance upon a 170% bonus promotion, you can buy blocks of 2,700 LifeMiles for $33 each, bringing your acquisition cost down to 1.2 cent per LifeMile.
An alternative to buying LifeMiles directly is “Multiply your Miles”, which lets you double or triple the LifeMiles you earned through Avianca or any partner.
Through the program, you’ll still pay the normal price of each LifeMile at 3.3 cents (USD), with discounts being offered occasionally. However, there’s no maximum number of LifeMiles you can “multiply”, and the LifeMiles you multiply won’t count towards your annual purchase limit.
Other Ways to Earn Avianca LifeMiles
Outside of flying with Avianca and its partner airlines, you can also earn LifeMiles through a variety of ways.
For hotels, LifeMiles has a dedicated booking portal, where you can earn up to 14,000 LifeMiles per night. You might also chance upon promotions, which allow you to earn bonus LifeMiles.
You can likewise earn LifeMiles on paid stays at major hotel chains and booking platforms, including:
- Barcelo Hotels: 1 LifeMile per dollar spent
- Best Western: 250 LifeMiles per stay
- Booking.com: 2 LifeMiles per dollar spent
- Hotels.com: 2 LifeMiles per dollar spent
- IHG: 2 LifeMiles per dollar spent
- Kaligo.com: 3–20 LifeMiles per dollar spent
- Marriott International: 2 LifeMiles per per dollar spent
- Rocketmiles: 500–1,000 LifeMiles per night booked
- Wyndham: 2 LifeMiles per dollar spent
Similar to LifeMiles’s hotel booking portal, you can also earn LifeMiles on car rental reservations through a dedicated portal.
Lastly, LifeMiles has plenty of restaurant and shopping partners in Guatemala, El Salvador, Colombia, and Costa Rica. At these establishments, you can earn anywhere between 1–3 LifeMiles per dollar (USD) spent.
Redeeming Avianca LifeMiles
As with most airline loyalty programs, you’ll get the most value by redeeming your miles for award flights. Still, let’s take a look at the different ways to redeem Avianca LifeMiles.
The first thing you should know is that there are no carrier-imposed surcharges levied on any flight redeemed through LifeMiles. This means that the taxes and fees you need to pay in cash are relatively small.
Like Aeroplan, LifeMiles imposes dynamic pricing for redemptions involving Avianca-operated flights, while the program uses a zone-based award chart for flights solely operated by its partners.
The partner award chart can get quite complicated, as LifeMiles has separated the world into 20 different regions. The contiguous US alone is separated into zones 1, 2, and 3.
While we won’t get into detail on LifeMiles’s complicated redemption pricing, here are some sample redemptions:
For a non-stop Avianca flight from Toronto to San Salvador, an XS economy ticket, which includes only a personal item, may cost 13,300 LifeMiles. Should you need more baggage allowance, you can redeem for a higher fare class with LifeMiles or pay for baggage separately with cash.
For a non-stop Avianca flight from Los Angeles to Bogota, an XXL business class ticket may cost only 43,800 LifeMiles. Los Angeles-Bogota is the only Avianca route within the Americas with a business class cabin.
As for a flight operated by a Star Alliance partner, a one-way business class ticket from Washington, D.C. to Lisbon on TAP Portugal costs 63,000 LifeMiles.
For a domestic GOL flight from Sao Paulo to Foz do Iguaçu, a one-way economy ticket costs 6,000 LifeMiles.
To search for award flights you’ll have to go through to the LifeMiles website and not the Avianca website itself.
In theory, you can upgrade from economy to business class on Avianca-operated flights using LifeMiles, but the program isn’t transparent about its upgrade pricing. You’ll need to call in to ask about the number of LifeMiles required for an upgrade.
In contrast, for Star Alliance-operated flights, you can request for a one-cabin upgrade based upon a zone-based redemption chart.
Examples of upgrade pricing are:
- North America to Europe: 25,000 LifeMiles for economy to business; 40,000 LifeMiles for business to First Class
- North America to North Asia: 30,000 LifeMiles for economy to business; 50,000 LifeMiles for business to First Class
- North America to Others (Australia/Oceania): 35,000 LifeMiles for economy to business; 60,000 LifeMiles for business to First Class
You can request for a Star Alliance upgrade through an online form.
To qualify for an upgrade with LifeMiles, tickets must be booked under eligible fare classes, and they must be paid for as commercial tickets and not redeemed with miles.
Other Ways to Redeem Avianca LifeMiles
While redeeming for flights is the best use of your LifeMiles, you can also redeem them in different ways.
You can also transfer your LifeMiles to another member for $15 per every 1,000 LifeMiles. Keep in mind that you can only transfer up to a maximum of 75,000 LifeMiles each calendar year.
Avianca LifeMiles Sweet Spots
Arguably the best use of Avianca LifeMiles is booking premium cabins between North America and Europe on partner airlines.
In fact, you can book Lufthansa First Class from the US to Germany for only 87,000 LifeMiles, plus about $27 (USD) in taxes and fees. Remember, unlike other loyalty programs, LifeMiles doesn’t tack on carrier-imposed surcharges.
With cash fares on Lufthansa First Class going for well over $10,000 (USD) per way, this is a remarkable deal.
You can also find good value on trans-Atlantic business class redemptions with LifeMiles. For example, you can redeem a one-way ticket from New York to Switzerland on Swiss, or Chicago to Frankfurt on Lufthansa for only 63,000 LifeMiles.
Avianca LifeMiles Tips & Tricks
On the LifeMiles award search engine, you can use the Smart Search option to help you with your search. The feature allows you to view redemption prices in a monthly calendar view.
Using Smart Search, you’ll see symbols for low-priced redemptions (blue dot) and high-priced redemptions (gray dot). No symbol means unavailable.
As you search for awards, you can use the filter option to show Avianca and/or Star Alliance flights, as well as economy and business class awards.
The Smart Search feature is also useful for searching “saver awards” or low-priced Star Alliance awards, since the calendar shows availability for entire months.
You can, for instance, look up award availability on Swiss flights using Smart Search, then compare redemption pricing with another Star Alliance loyalty program of your choice.
Avianca LifeMiles Elite Status
Avianca LifeMiles has four elite membership levels. In order to reach the next tier, you must accumulate qualifying miles, with a corresponding minimum number of miles flown with Avianca.
Qualifying miles are defined as follows:
Note that, currently, there aren’t any LifeMiles co-branded credit cards in the US and Canada.
Interestingly, you’ll earn qualifying miles when you buy LifeMiles. Therefore, you can earn elite status by flying the required number of miles on Avianca; then, you can complete your elite qualification requirement by buying LifeMiles.
As a LifeMiles elite member, you’re entitled to several benefits, including:
- Star Alliance status (Star Alliance Silver for Red Plus and Silver; Star Alliance Gold for Gold and Platinum)
- LifeMiles elite bonus miles
- 5% discount on flight redemptions
- Avianca Lounge entry
- Seat selection for member and companions
- Carry-on for XS fares
- Checked baggage for S fares and above
- Preferential call center and live chat
- Priority check-in, boarding, and baggage handling
Despite being the loyalty program of an airline based in Latin American countries, Avianca LifeMiles is valuable even for someone living in North America. It unlocks redemption opportunities on not only its flights, but its Star Alliance partners as well.
If you own US credit cards, you can easily transfer points from American Express Membership Rewards, Brex Rewards, Capital One Miles, and Citi ThankYou Rewards to LifeMiles. You can also buy LifeMiles and take advantage of the frequent bonus promotions LifeMiles holds.
Subsequently, you can redeem your LifeMiles for aspirational premium award flights, such as Lufthansa First Class and Swiss business class, at low redemption prices.