On Wednesday, American Express added the Avianca LifeMiles program as a Membership Rewards transfer partner. Points will transfer from American Express to LifeMiles at a 1:1 ratio (1 Membership Rewards point equals 1 LifeMile).
LifeMiles is the frequent flyer program of Colombia’s airline Avianca. The addition of the LifeMiles program will be the 20th airline and hotel transfer partner for American Express Membership Rewards. See the full list below.
|Program||Type||Transfer Ratio||Transfer Time|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||Airline||1:1||Instant|
|Cathay Pacific||Airline||1:1||1-7 days|
It is currently only possible to transfer Citi ThankYou points and Marriott Rewards points into the Avianca LifeMiles program, so the addition of American Express Membership Rewards is welcome news.
Why is the Addition of LifeMiles to Membership Rewards a Big Deal?
Avianca LifeMiles is, in our opinion, the best mileage program for booking Star Alliance (think Lufthansa, ANA, Swiss and more) award tickets. You are able to use LifeMiles to book cheap domestic award tickets on United Airlines and get cheap award rates across the world for both economy and business class tickets.
The best part? LifeMiles charges very low fees, allows you to book one-way award tickets, they don't have fuel surcharges on award tickets, and you can book awards online directly through their website.
Additionally, Avianca's LifeMiles program is one of the few that you should consider if you are thinking about buying airline miles. That’s in large part because the airline frequently sells its miles with insane bonuses, of 120% or more.
This makes LifeMiles an easy way to book business and first class tickets for pennies on the dollar. During one of their promotions, you could buy enough miles to book a first class flight to Tokyo on ANA, one of the world’s top airlines, for about $1,400. That ticket would generally cost $12,000 or more. The same is true for Lufthansa First Class to Europe.
Having the ability to both buy miles and transfer from Amex Membership Rewards & Citi ThankYou should make a lot of Star Alliance award tickets within reach.
There are many ways to redeem Avianca LifeMiles and you can view their entire Star Alliance award chart here. However, this can be confusing to look at so we will outline some of our favorite ways to use your Avianca LifeMiles below.
United Shorthaul Economy Awards
Last year, LifeMiles introduced the ability to book short haul award tickets for travel within the United States on United Airlines.
This means that travel within any of the three regions will cost 7,500 miles one-way (would cost 12,500 booking with United). Traveling from group 1 to group 2 costs 10,000 miles one-way (would cost 12,500 booking with United).
The states included in each region are listed as follows.
One Way Business & First Class Awards to Europe
As mentioned above, one of the best things about the LifeMiles program is the ability to book one-way award tickets (unlike other Star Alliance partners like ANA). They also don't tack on any fuel surcharges so it is a great option for getting around the world in premium cabins.
With LifeMiles, it is possible to fly to Europe for just 63,000 miles in business class and only 87,000 miles in first class, one-way. Because of this, it is our favorite way to book the coveted Lufthansa first class cabin.
Per the screenshot below, you can use Avianca LifeMiles to book a one-way first class ticket on Lufthansa for 87,000 miles and only $30 in taxes and fees.
One Way Business & First Class Awards to Asia
Much like Europe, LifeMiles is a great way to get to Asia in a premium Star Alliance cabin. With LifeMiles, it is possible to fly to Asia from the US for just 78,000 miles in business class and only 90,000 miles in first class, one-way.
Thrifty Traveler staff member, Kyle recently booked a one-way business class award ticket from Chicago (ORD) to Taipei (TPE) on EVA Air for 78,000 LifeMiles and $31.10 in taxes and fees. You can read his full review of the experience here.
The addition of Avianca LifeMiles to the Amex Membership Rewards program is huge. It was previously only possible to transfer into LifeMiles from Marriott Rewards and Citi ThankYou. Adding Membership Rewards opens a lot of possibilities for booking award tickets all over the world. Kudos to Amex for adding another high-quality transfer partner to the Membership Rewards program!
Lead Photo (CC BY 2.0): Thomas Naas via Flickr