Star Alliance Gold Status for Sale

Avianca LifeMiles will now straight-up sell you elite status. And with this change they fully supplant US Airways’ role inside of the Star Alliance.

US Airways used to be known as ‘the official consolidator of Star Alliance premium cabin seats’ (HT: eponymous coward), the idea was that they would sell miles cheap and as a result let people buy the business and first class seats that the rest of the Star Alliance didn’t expect to sell for cash at a deep discount.

No one monetized their frequent flyer program, and the award seats of their partners like US Airways.

But now US Airways and American have merged, US Airways has left the Star Alliance.

Fortunately Avianca LifeMiles has stepped up to the plate — with frequent discounted mileage purchase offers (selling miles even cheaper that US Airways!), and now an offer to straight up sell elite status which is something US Airways used to do also.

Avianca LifeMiles Will Sell You Instant Silver and Gold Status

Avianca now sells their Silver and Gold (bottom and mid-tier) elite status, but not their top tier Diamond status.

Here are the prices:

Status updates within 24 hours of purchase. The membership kit can take up to 4 weeks to receive (and a membership card may be required for entrance into partner Star Alliance lounges). Status lasts one-year from purchase.

Who is This Good For?

It’s not worth it for Star Alliance Gold status alone, in my opinion, because you can buy a United lounge membership for about a quarter the cost (or get the United Club card, no fee the first year, which comes with lounge access).

Still, Star Alliance Gold benefits like priority boarding, extra checked baggage allowance, and lounge benefits are nice.

To make this offer worthwhile you need to have planned meaningful amounts of intra-South America travel or US-South America travel with Avianca planned.

Here are the LifeMiles elite benefits for Silver and Gold status:

The Most Valuable Redemption Program in Star Alliance

When the program joined Star Alliance a year and a half ago I declared it the most generous in the alliance.

After United’s devaluation, that’s highly 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.

  • They have a reasonably priced award chart
  • There are no fuel surcharges
  • They offer one-way awards
  • They frequently sell miles cheap, ~ 1.5 cents apiece.
  • They 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 ~ 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).

A History of Changes Without Notice

Back in May they tweaked some award prices without notice and increased the cash cost of cash and points awards as well.

(HT: Loyalty Lobby)


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 InsideFlyer.com, 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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Comments

  1. Gary I have been 1K with United for years. With their recent award devaluation and their mediocre inflight service I’m seriously thinking of giving up the status for 2015. I just don’t think it’s worth spending $10,000 plus 100,000 of flying miles to maintain it. With two of us that means the spend is actually $20,000. Just for the fun of it I tried finding an LAX-HKG saver business or saver first award on United through December. It’s next to impossible to find any awards flying United unless it’s a double connection. What’s your take on maintaining 1K status?

  2. Per your reference in the post… do you (or anyone else) have links for a United MP Club card fee-waived? Haven’t seen one in a while…

  3. @mark – i think if you’re flying for work, and need to do an incremental 10k or 20k miles of flying then 100k status is worth it. But from scratch for leisure? I do not.

  4. Flying only for leisure, and able to make last minute bookings, I have made extensive use of Avianca, doing trips like 48 hr advance notice 1st class from Saigon-US on LH, and buying the mileage down for $775. It’s a perpetual points machine if you just cancel the booking , because you get the purchased miles back at 1.5 cents .
    I have a close call on one coming up…business from Bologna to Tokyo which is $2800 cash on Turkish or 135000 miles , most of which can be purchased….but thinking of booking this then trying to find a last minute first seat through another carrier and paying the change fee. Better ideas, anyone? Do I want the miles to be earned or not for the difference in price?

    I have had pretty good luck with their call center, certainly better than a number of US carriers. No real problems at all actually.

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