When Mileage Programs Sell Miles They’re Taking Over the Mantle of Old School ‘Consolidators’
Airfare discounters also used to be called bucket shops. But not the kind from Boiler Room or The Wolf of Wall Street.
eponymous coward long ago dubbed US Airways “the official consolidator for Star Alliance premium cabin seats.”
Back in the day consolidators bought blocks of seats cheap and resold them at a discount relative to going prices. This helped airlines fill their planes, and price discriminating consumers in search of a bargain travel.
The idea was that those seats that would otherwise go empty get offered up as awards.. and US Airways sold access to those seats cheap by offering to sell miles most of the time with a 100% bonus.
Of course, US Airways has since raised the price of their miles twice and raised the price of their awards. And US Airways has left the Star Alliance. But they continue to sell miles with a 100% bonus.
As a result, the title of ‘official consolidator for Star Alliance premium cabin seats’ has passed to Avianca’s LifeMiles program.
100% Bonus on Purchased Miles from LifeMiles… Again
LifeMiles is selling miles with a 100% bonus through May 30th.
That makes the price of miles 1.5 cents apiece. As long as your account was open before the launch of the promotion should be eligible to buy up to 75,000 miles and receive 150,000.
Buy miles and receive the double!
Buy miles 2×1 is back! The promotion that has been recognized as the best in the Americas at the 2014 Freddie Awards.
LifeMiles often accompanies their promotion with a picture of two happy people, and says they’ll give you ‘the double.’ English is not their first language..
This is an Intentional Strategy
As with US Airways, they very much know what they’re doing. A week and a half ago Matthew Vincett, the President of the LifeMiles program, spoke at a conference and dubbed miles earned from flying as their ‘bad’ miles and those earned from other transactions such as partners ‘good’ miles for the program. They make money on these sales, and manage their costs even with a lucrative Star Alliance award chart.
LifeMiles Points Are Very Valuable, But…
When Avianca joined Star Alliance I declared LifeMiles the most generous in the alliance. Since United’s devaluation, that’s likely true. They are part of my “Devaluation Plan B” which is to look to international frequent flyer programs for value if and when US programs devalue further.
The program has no fuel surcharges, offers one-way awards which are priced reasonably, and as with this offer they sell miles cheap. They also offer ‘cash and points’ which means that as long as you have 40% of the miles needed for an award you can buy the rest at the time of redemption for just over 1.5 cents apiece.
That said, their call centers are frustrating and they don’t permit “mixed cabin” redemption — so if you are redeeming a transatlantic business class award, all segments need to be in business class (including domestic US flights, and intra-Europe flights). And back in May they tweaked some award prices without notice and increased the cash cost of cash and points awards to its current pricing as well.
So it’s far from a perfect program!
Many folks have benefited from the 100% purchase bonus. If you don’t already have an account, open one so that you have the option to take advantage of this in the future.