LifeMiles Has a New Online Award Search — and Lets You Pick Cabins Flight-By-Flight

Avianca’s LifeMiles is a fantastic frequent flyer program because they give you access to Star Alliance award travel, they don’t add fuel surcharges to any awards, have a reasonable award chart and sell miles super cheap.

In fact the head of the program has described the miles they sell as ‘good miles’ and the miles earned from flying as ‘bad miles’.

Not all connections are bookable when redeeming an award, you’re pretty much limited to the options you see on their redemption website and telephone customer service is challenging (e-mail is better). I’m a fan of the program and have a few hundred thousand miles there myself.

They’ve rolled out changes to their online redemption engine and it’s producing some interesting results.

North America – South Asia is 99,000 miles in first class according to their award chart. Here they are showing the price for each segment, which totals 99,000 miles.

The engine appears to be pricing each segment separately. And it will even let you choose a different class of service for each available segment.

The same flight segment can have a different price depending on the itinerary that it’s a part of, the engine appears to be trying to get to the correct total price and then allocating it to the segments. Here’s that same ANA first class initial segment for more miles when paired with only an economy option onward to Bangkok.

And note that if you select all coach it’s 39,000 miles total which matches the award chart.

There are some real oddities I haven’t quite been able to figure out. For instance my Washington Dulles – Bangkok search brought up this Brussels – Kuala Lumpur option. So be careful what you’re selecting.

Still it looks like is adding functionality to their online booking tool which is great for the value of their miles.

(HT: Sexy_kitten7)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. How do you find the award availability on their website? I recently spent time looking for flights from Chicago to Europe and found lots of star alliance availability using United mileage plus, but none when searching Avianca.

  2. @ Gary — Do you ever get tired of thinking about and searching for awards? It used to occupy much of my thoughts, but now I don’t seem to care anymore. Maybe it is stress from other more important things going on in my life, and this ailment will return, but I don’t think it will…

  3. I have to echo others. I’m constantly finding “sold out” messages when I know there is award space I can find on United or Aeroplan. What am I doing wrong? I’d like to like the program, but I can’t buy miles I can’t use.

  4. @DaveS ~ “Sold Out” on LM rarely means just that. It is their catch-all term to indicate that that flight is not there on their site, for any number of reasons. It is very frustrating, but something we have to live with. I hope this is just the start of revamping their site. I has been so awful for so long that a stack of improvements are needed.

  5. I like the new improvements, but of course the availability still leaves much to be desired. But that’s an issue of the FF program itself, not just the engine specifically.

    That you can now fine-tune to select the cabin classes for specific legs to better manage the cost is the best new feature for me. Now you don’t have to spend first-class rates for the whole journey if you’re forced to take economy on a leg.

  6. A potential quirk: I found a HKG-SIN SQ flight on economy for 9000 miles, which is a quarter less than the published rate. There must be others out there as well.

  7. There are problems with this new booing tool. It does not allow booking of previously available routes eg SYD-LAX on OZ. This used to be a reliable option for premium cabin on this route. When selecting preferred carrier as “Asiana Airlines” and searching this route it returns an error “Sorry, we could not process your request. Please try again or contact our Call Center Option 3. LifeMiles Team. Error”
    When searching for general award availability on this route OZ and CA routings do not show up at all.

  8. Neither am I. How about anyone else?

    I hope this is only a momentary hitch… I want to do more searches.

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