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Star Alliance member Avianca is useful because it has an award chart similar to (but somewhat better than) United. And transfers from Citibank’s ThankYou Rewards to LifeMiles have a 25% bonus through April 30, 2022.
LifeMiles offers a reasonable award chart and no fuel surcharges redeeming on Star Alliance partners, and a number of sweet spots (like discounting an award when a segment of a business class redemption is in coach)
They’re extremely useful if you have points spread across different transferable currencies since you can pool them in the same account. While I love them for booking transatlantic business class awards on partners like Lufthansa and Swiss (I just gave a cousin a New York to Porto business class award traveling Swiss a couple weeks back), one of the really good values is Star Alliance member Avianca’s LifeMiles frequent flyer chart for US domestic travel. And United sometimes even has good availability when fares are expensive too.
Here’s a personal example of how I’ve used LifeMiles on United. I needed to go from Austin – Washington DC at the last minute, and here’s what I found on United’s website for non-stops.
The crazy thing is that United had domestic first class saver award space. Still I didn’t want to spend 25,000 United miles one-way, even though it wouldn’t be a terrible redemption considering the ticket price.
Fortunately LifeMiles treats this as a United States 1 – United States 2 award on their special domestic U.S. redemption chart. That meant just 15,000 miles one way instead of 25,000 miles. But it gets better. LifeMiles lets you redeem cash and points, buying points at a discount at time of redemption which doesn’t count against the maximum number of miles you can buy in a year. This one way ticket would cost me all-in $176.49 and 6000 miles.
Put another way my 6000 miles saved me $592.51, or 10 cents per mile. 10 cents a mile is admirable for an international premium cabin redemption (and harder and harder to do most days). This was domestic. With a 25% transfer bonus, cents per Citibank point would be even more remarkable.