30 Best Ways to Redeem Avianca LifeMiles for Maximum Value

Avianca Vuela 787 Business Class

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Avianca LifeMiles may not necessarily be one of the most talked about miles like ANA, Virgin Atlantic, or United, but we find LifeMiles extraordinarily useful, particularly for those who are Citi loyalists!

Headquartered in Bogota, Colombia, Avianca Airlines has been the national airline and flag carrier of Colombia since 1919! It’s also part of the Star Alliance — the largest airline alliance in the world.

In fact, there are so many good options for using your Avianca LifeMiles that it can often be difficult deciding which flights to take! But in this guide, we will show what we believe to be the best ways to redeem Avianca LifeMiles for maximum value!

Table of contents

Table of Contents

The Pros and Cons of Avianca LifeMiles (Quick Overview)

To start with, let’s talk about the many benefits of Avianca LifeMiles:

  • There are no fuel surcharges levied on any flights
  • You can basically book any Star Alliance partner online
  • No close-in booking fees, which means you can save big bucks on last-minute award availability
  • Miles will not expire as long as you have qualifying earning activity every 12 months, which includes purchasing LifeMiles
  • You can also regularly earn loads of miles from sales of up to 125%-150% bonus miles!

Avianca does have a few disadvantages, one of which is a not-so-competent phone reservations department. If you do find an award that isn’t bookable online, you will need to call them over the phone, which can be a pain.

There is also a flat $25 award booking fee, and a high set of award change/cancellation fees. For more details on award fees, check out our guide for airline award cancellation and change fees!

It’s also important to be aware that award availability on the website has been inconsistent; it doesn’t always show the same availability as websites like United.com or Aeroplan.com.

One last tidbit to remember is that the award pricing may be different depending on which way you’re going between 2 cities. For example, one-way business class from Japan to Australia costs 40,000 miles in business, but the reverse route from Australia to Japan costs 50,000 miles in business.

Keep this in mind so you’re not surprised by 2 different miles prices!

How to Boost Your Avianca LifeMiles

Avianca Lifemiles can be transferred from American Express Membership Rewards, Citi Thank You Rewards, and Capital One at a 1:1 rate, or from Marriott at a transfer rate of 3:1.

Hot Tip: We’ve also got an entire article dedicated to the Best Ways to Earn Lots of Avianca LifeMiles, so don’t miss it! 

Recommended Amex Cards (Personal)

The Platinum Card® from American Express - There's currently a new welcome bonus offer of 60,000 100,000 Membership Rewards Points after spending $6,000 on purchases in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Plus, earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership.

This is our #1 card for accessing 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide, including Priority Pass (enrollment required). We leverage ~$4,900+ in benefits and perks from the card every year. Terms Apply. For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, click here.
American Express® Gold Card - This card has a new welcome bonus of 35,000 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

We love using this card as it earns 4X Membership Rewards Points at restaurants, including takeout and delivery, and earns 4X Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).

There's no better card in our opinion if you eat out and/or shop at supermarkets regularly; and you'll have access to many benefits and perks. Terms apply and for rates and fees of the Amex Gold card, click here.

Recommended Capital One Cards That Earn Miles (Personal)

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card - This card is packed with lots of benefits and perks. Earn 60,000 mile sign up bonus once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening. We recommend this as a no-brainer card if you even semi-regularly stay at hotels since this card earns unlimited 2x miles on every purchase.
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card - This is an excellent card for those looking to earn 1.25x miles per $1 on every purchase. With a 20,000 mile sign up bonus (worth $200 toward travel) after spending $500 within the first 3 months and no annual fee, it's a strong choice.

Marriott Transfers

You can earn Marriott points and transfer those to Avianca Lifemiles at a transfer rate of 3:1. Plus, for every 60,000 Marriott points that you transfer, you’ll receive an extra 5,000 Avianca Lifemiles bonus.

Banco Popular Avianca Co-Branded Credit Cards

You’re also eligible to earn LifeMiles directly by using the Avianca Vida Visa® Card or the Avianca Vuela Visa® Card.

Avianca LifeMiles Sales

The last way to earn LifeMiles worth discussing is by purchasing them. We mention this method because there are often gigantic sales of up to 125%-150% bonus miles!

Be sure to wait until these sales happen (which is quite often) to buy LifeMiles if you need to.

The 30 Best Ways to Use Your Avianca LifeMiles

As already discussed, you are best off booking awards online; the phone agents are not as competent as you’d typically like them to be.

In theory, you can book any partner award online, but sometimes availability is blocked.

For example, Air New Zealand is known to have limited award availability shown on the Avianca LifeMiles website. With business class availability being so rare on Air New Zealand, this example might be one of the extreme cases where you want to try calling LifeMiles.

The flat $25 award booking fee is definitely offset by the fact no fuel surcharges will be passed on LifeMiles award bookings. There is also no close-in booking fee, so last-minute awards won’t cost any additional money.

However, once you do make your award booking, change and cancellation fees are no joke, so be sure you understand that before setting plans in stone.

1. Fly Lufthansa First Class Without Surcharges to Europe (87,000 Miles)

Lufthansa First Class
Enjoy complete privacy and utter perfection in Lufthansa first class without the surcharges using Avianca LifeMiles! Image Credit: Greg Stone

The first choice is definitely one of the most popular: flying on Lufthansa first class! This is a stunning redemption, and flying Lufthansa without surcharges at reasonable rates is often difficult.

Lufthansa first class awards are almost never available more than 15 days in advance to partners, so you’ll have to book pretty close to departure. Luckily, LifeMiles doesn’t assess any close-in booking fees!

Avianca LifeMiles provides the most affordable way to fly on Lufthansa first class from the U.S. to Europe without paying ~$600 in fuel surcharges each way. First class from the U.S. to Europe will cost you just 87,000 LifeMiles + $31 in taxes and fees!

Here are some great example routes you can take:

  1. Los Angeles (LAX) to Frankfurt (FRA) – availability is tough
  2. Houston George Bush (IAH) to Frankfurt (FRA) – availability is tough
  3. San Francisco (SFO) to Munich (MUC) – availability is sporadic
  4. Dallas Fort-Worth (DFW) to Frankfurt (FRA)good availability
  5. Washington, D.C. (IAD) to Frankfurt (FRA) – good availability
  6. New York City (JFK) to Frankfurt (FRA) – good availability

If Europe is on your list, we’ve written an extensive guide on flying there with points and miles.

Hot Tip: Need help booking? Check out our step-by-step guide for booking Lufthansa first class!

2. Fly Swiss Air Business Class Without Surcharges to Europe (63,000 Miles)

SWISS Air First Class
Revel in Swiss luxury aboard SWISS International Airlines First Class! Image Credit: Swiss

SWISS Air has a fantastic business class product that generally has solid availability far in advance. They levy fuel surcharges, but luckily LifeMiles doesn’t pass them on!

All but one of their nonstop routes are to Zurich. You can snag a one-way flight for only 63,000 LifeMiles and $31 in taxes and fees!

Here are some great example routes you can take:

  1. New York City (JFK) to Geneva (GVA)
  2. Chicago O’Hare (ORD) to Zurich (ZRH)
  3. Boston (BOS) to Zurich (ZRH)
  4. Miami (MIA) to Zurich (ZRH)
  5. Los Angeles (LAX) to Zurich (ZRH)
  6. San Francisco (SFO) to Zurich (ZRH)

3. Fly Transcontinental Business Class in the U.S. on United Airlines (25,000 Miles)

United Polaris 787-10 seat
Flying on United Polaris is a great way to try a new product en route to Europe. Image Credit: Stephen Au

Another great sweet-spot has to do with the recent surprise announcement by United Airlines that they will fly the 787-10 between Newark and Los Angeles/San Francisco (LAX/SFO) starting in early 2019!

This means that you’ll be able to fly transcontinental on United’s awesome Polaris business class! Their planned schedule is as follows:

  • Newark to San Francisco: twice daily from February 14, 2019, up to three times daily from March 8, 2019
  • Newark to Los Angeles: once daily from January 7, 2019, up to twice daily from February 14, 2019

Trying United Polaris across the U.S. will set you back only 25,000 miles each way!

4. Fly to Europe on United Airlines’ Real Polaris Business Class (63,000 Miles)

United Polaris 787-10 seat fully flat
United Polaris 787-10 seat fully flat. Image Credit: Stephen Au

If you want to try United Polaris business class on long-haul flights, you can do so when flying to either London, Tel Aviv, or Frankfurt! It will only cost 63,000 miles each way + ~$31 in taxes and fees.

Here are some great example routes you can take:

  1. San Francisco (SFO) to London-Heathrow (LHR)only flights UA 901/949
  2. San Francisco (SFO) to Tel Aviv (TLV)
  3. Newark (EWR) to Tel Aviv (TLV)only UA 90/91
  4. San Francisco (SFO) to Frankfurt (FRA)

5. Avianca Promo Awards

Avianca 787
Image Credit: Avianca

Avianca will routinely run promo awards for different destinations all around the world. There’s some solid opportunity to eke extra value from your LifeMiles due to the discounts offered here.

Keep in mind that you’ll need to read carefully and be sure to book the awards when the sale is actually occurring. The promo awards are typically only valid if booked within a short window of time (2-3 weeks).

Some example promos include:

  1. New York City (JFK) – Seoul-Incheon (ICN) – round-trip for 144,000 miles in Asiana Airlines first class (regular price = 180,000)
  2. Los Angeles (LAX) – Beijing (PEK) – round-trip for 144,000 miles in Air China first class (regular price = 180,000)
  3. Seattle (SEA) – Taipei (TPE) – round-trip for 120,000 miles in EVA Air business class (regular price = 150,000)
  4. San Francisco (SFO) – Taipei (TPE) – round-trip for 120,000 miles in EVA Air business class (regular price =150,000)

6. Fly to Australia and New Zealand in Economy (40,000 Miles)

If you wanted to save money when flying to Australia or New Zealand (where round-trip tickets from America regularly cost more than ~$1,200), you could use 40,000 Avianca LifeMiles + ~$31 in taxes and fees each way!

Here are some example routes you can take:

  1. San Francisco (SFO) to Auckland (AKL) on United Airlines
  2. Houston (IAH) to Auckland (AKL) on Air New Zealand
  3. Los Angeles (LAX) to Melbourne (MEL) on United Airlines
  4. Chicago (ORD) to Auckland (AKL) on Air New Zealand
  5. Vancouver (YVR) to Sydney (SYD) on Air Canada

7. Fly to Belgium in Business Class on Brussels Airlines (63,000 Miles)

brussels airlines business class
Fly Brussels Airlines in business class for 63,000 Avianca LifeMiles. Image Credit: brusselsairlines.com.

There are 2 nonstop flights to Brussels on Brussels Airlines. Their business class is solid, with direct aisle access and a 1-2-1 configuration.

It will cost just 63,000 miles + ~$31 in taxes and fees each way to book these routes, but the only ones available are from the East Coast:

  1. New York City (JFK) to Brussels (BRU)
  2. Washington, D.C. (IAD) to Brussels (BRU)

8. Fly to Warsaw in Business Class on LOT Polish Airlines (63,000 Miles)

LOT Polish Business Class
While definitely not industry-leading, LOT Polish Airlines presents a comfortable way to fly to Warsaw, Poland. Image Credit: theluxtraveler.com.

If visiting Poland is high on your to-do list, you will be very pleased to find that Star Alliance partner LOT Polish Airlines has 4 nonstop routes from the U.S. to Warsaw.

LOT’s seats are in a 2-2-2 configuration, so direct aisle access isn’t always possible. The seats themselves are not industry-leading by any measure, but it’s certainly a way to fly nonstop to Poland in comfort.

It will cost 63,000 miles each way to fly on LOT Polish business class. Here are the 4 non-stop routes you can take:

  1. Los Angeles (LAX) to Warsaw (WAW)
  2. Chicago O’Hare (ORD) to Warsaw (WAW)
  3. Newark (EWR) to Warsaw (WAW)
  4. New York City (JFK) to Warsaw (WAW)

9. Fly Air New Zealand’s Fifth Freedom Flight in Business Class to London (63,000 Miles)

Air New Zealand Business Class
You’ll be ready to hit the ground running when you fly Air New Zealand’s business class on the fifth freedom flight from Los Angeles to London. Image Credit: airnewzealand.com

Air New Zealand has a unique and excellent long-haul business class product. Interestingly, they have a fifth freedom flight in the 787 Dreamliner between Los Angeles and London, which costs only 63,000 miles + $31 in taxes and fees each way.

This a hugely popular route, and it’s impressive that they operate this business class product so far away from New Zealand.

Award availability is sparse in general on this route, but availability on Air New Zealand here? If you find a flight, you should definitely book it!

10. Fly From Japan to Australia in Business Class on ANA (40,000 Miles)

ANA Business Class Seat 2
Enjoy the comfort of ANA business class. Image Credit: Stephen Au

Have you ever wanted to fly ANA business class? Well, you can do so for ridiculously cheap prices using LifeMiles! You’ll fly for almost 10 hours nonstop, and it’ll only cost you 40,000 miles!

ANA flies their 787 Dreamliner, which only has business class, but it’s sure to be comfortable with lie-flat seats and delicious Japanese catering.

You can fly on ANA’s only flight to Australia with this route:

  1. Tokyo-Haneda (HND) to Sydney (SYD)

Hot Tip: Need help booking? Check out our step-by-step guide to booking ANA business class.

11. Fly Between Bangkok and Japan in THAI Business Class Aboard the A380 (36,000 Miles)

thai business
THAI Airways business class. Image Credit: Thai Airways

Ever wanted to try THAI business class? Since Thai Airways operates all different types of aircraft, the business class products are dramatically inconsistent. A solid business class product, however, is on the A380 or A350!

You can fly between Bangkok and Japan (6 hours each way) for 36,000 miles! This is definitely an affordable way to try a solid business class product while traversing around Asia.

Keep in mind that THAI flies the A350 and the A380 on this route, though the difference is negligible because the seating configuration is the same at 1-2-1.

Here are the routes you can fly:

  1. Bangkok (BKK) to Tokyo-Haneda (HND)
  2. Bangkok (BKK) to Tokyo-Narita (NRT)

12. Fly Between Bangkok and Japan in THAI First Class Aboard the A380 (50,000 Miles)

Thai Airways Boeing 747 - First Class
Thai Airways Boeing 747 – First Class. Image Credit: Cherag Dubash

If you want to fly first class between Bangkok and Japan on THAI, you can do so on the A380. The A350 does not have a first class cabin, but the A380 has 2 rows in a 1-2-1 configuration.

The only route operated with an A380 is TG 676, between Bangkok (BKK) and Tokyo-Narita (NRT). You can fly first class on this 6-hour flight for 50,000 miles each way!

Hot Tip: If you take this flight, try to get bulkhead seats 1K and 2K for extra privacy and space!

13. Fly From New Zealand to Japan in Business Class on Air New Zealand (50,000 Miles)

Air New Zealand 787 Business Class
If you have a chance, you can also try the Air New Zealand 787 Dreamliner business class product! Regardless of what plane you fly, Air New Zealand business class is one of the best in the world. Image Credit: airnewzealand.com.

Want to fly from New Zealand to Japan in business class? You can do so on the 11-hour flight operated by Air New Zealand!

For 50,000 miles and ~$91 in taxes and fees, you’ll be able to fly on Air New Zealand’s great business class product aboard the 787 Dreamliner.

With a 1-1-1 configuration and only 18 seats in the entire business class cabin, you will definitely be spoiled to the max!

14. Fly From Hawaii to Korea in Business Class on Asiana Airlines (48,000 Miles)

asiana airlines business class
Enjoy Asiana Airlines Business Class like I did with my fiancee! Image Credit: Stephen Au

If you’re living from Hawaii, you can enjoy being closer to Asia with shorter flight times to reach places like Korea. Asiana Airlines has a pretty convenient route between Honolulu (HNL) and Seoul-Incheon (ICN) that averages about 9 hours each way for 48,000 LifeMiles.

This flight is operated on the A330, which features lie-flat business class seats. This product definitely isn’t the best possible, but is nevertheless a convenient route for those originating in Hawaii.

15. Fly to Portugal in Business Class on TAP Portugal (63,000 Miles)

Flying to Portugal is a pretty niche award redemption, and it’s impossible to fly nonstop from the West Coast.

TAP Portugal, the flag carrier of Portugal, offers lie-flat business class seats on their A330, and they fly the A330 from Boston (BOS), Miami (MIA), New York City (JFK), and Newark (EWR).

16. Fly From Thailand to New Zealand in THAI’s New Business Class (40,000 Miles)

Thai Airways 787-8 Silk Class
Thai Airways’ 787-8 business class features seats in a 2-2-2 configuration. Image Credit: Thai Airways

Thai Airways recently debuted their brand new 787-900 Dreamliner, which has an absolutely breathtaking business class.

While business class on different THAI planes (particularly the 747 and 777) leaves a lot to be desired, the 787-900 is an industry-leading product.

With a reverse herringbone 1-2-1 configuration, brand new planes, and an incredible soft product, this may be one of the best sweet spots Avianca has to offer.

You’ll be able to fly this amazing business class on the 11-hour flight from Thailand to Auckland one-way for only 40,000 miles + $31!

17. Fly From Thailand to Australia in THAI First Class (60,000 Miles)

Thai Airways A380 First Class
Image Credit: Thai Airways

If you wanted to fly on Thai Airways first class, you could do so for 9 hours from Bangkok to Sydney on the 747-400 and spend only 60,000 LifeMiles one-way!

When you’re flying THAI first class, be sure to arrive early and visit the first class lounge in Bangkok to get your complimentary hour-long massage, ground service in a golf cart, and unlimited dining options at the touch of an iPad!

18. Fly to Turkey in Business Class on Turkish Airlines (63,000 Miles)

Want to visit Turkey and explore the serene scenery there? Itching to enjoy some delicious kebabs and Turkish delight? Now, you can fly comfortably on Turkish Airlines with LifeMiles for only 63,000 miles one-way!

Unfortunately, Turkish Airlines’ business class product is pretty dated with a 2-3-2 arrangement. This means that the cabin is a lot more crowded — but if you care about legroom, these straight forward-facing seats provide lots of it and are completely lie-flat.

This is a comfortable though not extravagant way to fly to Istanbul with points and miles.

As always, you won’t be responsible for the common out-of-pocket fuel surcharges that plague European flights!

19. Fly From Hawaii to China in Business Class on Air China (48,000 Miles)

Although Air China has a reputation for being a relatively lackluster airline for anything less than first class, you’ll be able to fly from Honolulu to Beijing in fully lie-flat seats in a 2-2-2 configuration on Air China’s A330!

For 11 hours and 25 minutes of flying time, paying 48,000 miles is not bad if you get to enjoy flat beds and decadent Chinese cuisine.

If you’re based in Hawaii and want to fly to China nonstop, this is definitely your best option! Cash prices for business class are approximately $3,000, and economy is typically no cheaper than $1,000 round-trip — it’s definitely best to use points for this redemption.

20. Fly From Hawaii to Tokyo in Business Class on ANA (48,000 Miles)

ANA Business Class
ANA Business Class. Image Credit: All Nippon Airways

If you’re based in Hawaii, finding affordable nonstop flights to Asia can be extremely difficult. For those who want to fly between Hawaii and Japan, spending 48,000 LifeMiles will get you a very solid business class product between Honolulu and Tokyo!

On top of this, come spring 2019, ANA will be debuting the A380 on their Honolulu service! This means that you’ll be flying a brand-new, huge, comfortable double-decker with some of the best seats in the business!

Until then, however, you’ll have to “settle” for the ridiculously efficient 787 Dreamliner!

21. Fly to South Asia in Economy (39,000 Miles)

Interested in flying to South Asia for the cheapest miles price possible? These are the countries that Avianca LifeMiles considers to be “South Asia:”

  • Bangladesh
  • Brunei
  • Cambodia
  • Indonesia
  • Laos
  • Malaysia
  • Myanmar (Burma)
  • Singapore
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam

Honestly, cash tickets to some of these countries can get hairy pretty quickly. Instead, for just 39,000 miles, you can fly one-way in economy to any of these places from the U.S.!

Here are some great example routes you can take:

  1. Houston (IAH) to Taipei (TPE) to Bangkok (BKK) to Vientiane (VTE) on EVA Air and THAI Airways [average cash price = $2,200]
  2. New York City (JFK) to Istanbul (IST) to Dhaka (DAC) on Turkish Airlines [average cash price = $1,000]
  3. Seattle (SEA) to Seoul-Incheon (ICN) to Phnom Penh (PNH) on Asiana Airlines [average cash price = $1,000]
  4. Los Angeles (LAX) to Singapore (SIN) to Bandar Seri Begawan (BWN) on Singapore Airlines [average cash price = $2,500]

22. Fly to the Southern Tip of South America in Economy (30,000 Miles)

Avianca Vuela Economy Class Cabin
Don’t care too much about business class when flying to South America? Try out Avianca economy for 30,000 miles each way in economy! Image Credit: Avianca.com.

Another nice opportunity for economy flyers is checking out the southern tip of South America! These countries include:

  • Chile
  • Argentina
  • Uruguay
  • Paraguay
  • Bolivia

If heading to any of these countries is on your radar and you don’t want to use too many of your hard-earned points and miles, then look at this redemption! Flying in economy will only cost 30,000 miles each way, which is perfect for budget travelers.

Here are some great example routes you can take:

  1. Houston (IAH) to Santiago (SCL) on United Airlines
  2. Newark (EWR) to Buenos Aires (EZE) on United Airlines
  3. Miami (MIA) to Panama City (PTY) to Montevideo (MVD) on COPA Airlines
  4. Los Angeles (LAX) to Bogota (BOG) to La Paz (LPZ) on Avianca Airlines
  5. Orlando (MCO) to Lima (LIM) to Asunción on Avianca Airlines

23. Fly to Scandinavia in Business Class on SAS (63,000 Miles)

Scandinavia is a region that contains several countries. A Star Alliance member, SAS is the flag carrier of Scandinavia, and they have hubs in Stockholm (Sweden), Copenhagen (Denmark), and Oslo (Norway).

Here are the airports that fly to each of the hub cities:

Airports with nonstop flights to Stockholm (ARN) 
Los Angeles (LAX)San Francisco (SFO)
Miami (MIA)Chicago O’Hare (ORD)
Boston (BOS)Newark (EWR)
Washington, D.C. (IAD)

Airports with nonstop flights to Copenhagen (CPH)
San Francisco (SFO)Chicago O’Hare (ORD)
Miami (MIA)Washington, D.C. (IAD)
Boston (BOS)Newark (EWR)

Airports with nonstop flights to Oslo (OSL)
Newark (EWR)Miami (MIA)

With this in mind, you can now plan your award travel based on the country you want to visit first or the airport you live closest to.

SAS flies the A330 to Scandinavia, and they feature 8 rows of business class seats in a 1-2-1 configuration. Also, these are staggered Thompson Vantage XL seats, which are very similar to the Delta One Suites (but without the doors).

Overall, it is a very solid product with great inflight entertainment, food, service, and comfortable beds that will get you to Scandinavia and leave you pleased!

24. Fly to Ghana in Business Class on South African Airways (78,000 Miles)

South African Airways
South African Airways A330-300 business class. Image Credit: South African Airways

This next redemption is a pretty niche redemption, because it really is only 1 route:

  • Washington, D.C. (IAD) to Accra (ACC)

You’ll be able to fly on South African Airways business class to Ghana for only 78,000 miles.

South African Airways operates the A330 on this route. The seating configuration is a staggered 1-2-1, so you’re guaranteed to have a comfortable flight in business class.

Though they aren’t known for fancy amenity kits or a particularly refined service like what you’d receive on Air France, South African Airways is known for having unmatched energy in their crews and flight service!

25. Fly to Cairo in Business Class on Egyptair (78,000 Miles)

This particular redemption is even more niche than the South African Airways flight to Accra, Ghana. Egyptair operates a single route to the U.S. (their only other route in North America is to Toronto).

They fly a Boeing 777 from New York City (JFK) to Cairo (CAI). This is a 2-cabin aircraft with 2 mini-cabins of business class seats, separated into a cabin of 4 rows and a cabin of 3 rows. Each of these rows are 7 across in a 2-3-2 configuration and angled flat seats. 

Honestly, these seats are pretty terrible for business class — but again, if you’re a traveler from New York and need to get to Egypt in the quickest way possible without transiting other airports, it is an option.

Flying this route in business class will cost 78,000 miles each way.

26. Short-Haul Flights Within North Asia in Business Class (22,500 Miles)

One of the best ways to redeem Avianca LifeMiles is on “short-haul” flights within North Asia. Luckily, Avianca has a very generous definition of North Asia.

North Asia countries as defined by Avianca LifeMiles
ChinaMariana Islands
North KoreaJapan
South KoreaMacao
Hong KongTaiwan

Here’s an example route you can try:

  • Seoul-Incheon (ICN) to Taipei (TPE) on THAI, EVA Air, or Asiana Airlines business class

This 2.5-hour flight will cost 22,500 miles each way, and you’ll have the chance to try some solid regional business class products here.

27. Fly to Saipan From Seoul in Business Class on Asiana Airlines (22,500 Miles)

This redemption expands on the “within North Asia” sweet spot for 22,500 miles each way that we explained above.

A highly niche redemption, you can fly on Asiana Airlines’ 767 in business class to Saipan in the Mariana Islands.

The 767 is arranged in an atypical 2-1-2 configuration with angled-recliner seats. For a short 4.5-hour flight, it’s an excellent nonstop way to get to Saipan directly from Korea.

If you are interested in first class, check out our guide to booking Asiana first class with points and miles.

28. Fly to Tokyo From Guam in Business Class on United Airlines (22,500 Miles)

Yet another sweet spot is to fly from Guam (GUM) to Tokyo (NRT) on United Airlines in business class. This also qualifies for the 22,500-mile cost one-way, even though it is a 4-hour flight!

The not-so-good news is that these seats are simple recliner seats like the ones you’d find on domestic first class flights. They are arranged in a 2-2 configuration on 737-800 planes.

Nevertheless, it’s a great way to get from Guam to Tokyo on a quick 4-hour flight for only 22,500 miles each way.

29. Fly to Hong Kong From Tokyo in Lie-Flat Business Class on ANA (22,500 Miles)

ANA Business Class
This lie-flat ANA business class seat can be yours with some planning! Image Credit: Stephen Au

The last redemption we’ll be discussing in this guide is a darn good one.

How would you like to fly 4-5 hours in ANA’s 787 Dreamliner lie-flat business class from Tokyo to Hong Kong for only 22,500 miles each way? Yeah, we thought you’d like this redemption!

These 2 countries both fall into “North Asia,” so you can enjoy 4-5 hours in real business class for only 22,500 miles!

Hot Tip: A word of caution — ANA operates lots of flights from Tokyo to Hong Kong. Be sure to book flights on the 787 Dreamliner, because that is the only business class product that has lie-flat seats exactly like long-haul flights from America.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Avianca LifeMiles doesn’t receive enough attention for being a solid all-around frequent flyer program. Citi loyalists will rejoice since Avianca is a transfer partner with Citi ThankYou Rewards, and you can also top off your LifeMiles balance with transfers from Marriott.

You may also look into getting the Banco Popular co-branded credit card or buying lots of LifeMiles outright during huge sales offering 125%-150% bonuses!

With tons of quality redemptions, no fuel surcharges, no close-in booking fees, and lots of ways to explore the world on Star Alliance partners in first, business, and economy class, you should definitely give Avianca LifeMiles a look when deciding on how to travel!

The information regarding the Avianca Vida Visa® Card, Avianca Vuela Visa® Card, Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, and Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer. 

For rates and fees of the Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.

Frequently asked questions

How do I join Avianca LifeMiles?

You can join Avianca LifeMiles here.

LifeMiles is a separate entity from Avianca, so you will notice that you’re redirected to an external website. You will make all your award bookings through LifeMiles.

Do I need to be an Avianca LifeMiles member to search for awards?

Yes, you must join LifeMiles to search for award availability. Also, keep in mind that Avianca LifeMiles is not the best search engine for multiple connections. The search engine becomes clunky at that point and can display incomplete award availability.

How many Avianca LifeMiles do I have?

Check your Avianca LifeMiles balance by logging in here. You may also boost your LifeMiles by purchasing during one of their many sales! With these sales, you’re eligible to receive up to 150% bonus miles! Be sure to hold out for these sales when buying miles.

When do Avianca LifeMiles expire?

Avianca LifeMiles expire after 12 months unless there is qualifying earning activity, which includes purchasing any amount of LifeMiles. If your miles are about to expire, you can always buy a small amount of LifeMiles, such as 1,000 LifeMiles.

How many Avianca LifeMiles are required for a trip reward?

Avianca LifeMiles has an award chart that can be viewed here. Partner flights and Avianca flights are priced the same.

Make sure to confirm the award cost online when searching for award flights.

Which credit cards can I use to earn Avianca LifeMiles?

You can look at the co-branded Banco Popular Avianca Vuela credit card if you want to earn LifeMiles directly.

We recommend always using AmEx, Citi, or Capital One cards due to the fact that you don’t need to limit yourself to only earning LifeMiles. You can pick when to transfer to LifeMiles or other partners.

How can I contact Avianca LifeMiles?

You can call Avianca LifeMiles at 1-800-284-2622. You can also email them at [email protected]

The call center representatives are not exactly the most competent people in the industry, so just be prepared to have to call several times to get the outcome you desire.

Stephen Au

About Stephen Au

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Stephen has been privileged to enjoy many premium cabin products and 5-star hotels. A petroleum engineer by trade, Stephen caught the travel bug in college when he traveled to Asia several times. After 2 years of continual promotions, Stephen quit his safe and secure career path in favor of entrepreneurship.

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Disclaimer: Any comments listed below are not from the bank advertiser, nor have they been reviewed or approved by them. No responsibility will be taken by the bank advertiser for these comments.


  1. Are stop overs allowed on Aviance or all of these options you mentioned have to be nonstop flights?


  2. Stephen, thanks for a fantastically detailed review of the Avianca program.


  3. Hi- great article on Life Miles – I was wondering as ANA is part of Star Alliance- could you transfer lifemiles to ANA s program and if yes, would it be 1-1 swap ?

    Thanks Again,



    • Hi Darren,

      ANA is part of Star Alliance. You may not transfer ANA miles between Avianca Vuela miles. You may book travel on ANA using Avianca miles.


  4. There’s no “Vuela” in Avianca, it’s just Avianca.


  5. How do I upgrade star alliance airlines with Lifemiles. I saw online saying that for upgrading from economy to business, the only way is to “call them.” Is there any other way around?


    • Hey Lily,

      Yes, you’ll need to call Avianca LifeMiles to upgrade your Star Alliance flights. There’s no easy workaround to this, and you’ll want to confirm availability online before calling.


      • Hi Stephen,

        Could you elaborate on “you’ll want to confirm availability online before calling”. Where exactly should I check the availability?



        • Hi Amit,

          This is strictly for using LifeMiles to upgrade flights. You can use a resource like ExpertFlyer to check upgrade availability.

          Thanks for reading.


  6. Parag Mehta May 24, 2019

    Quick question – I am looking for a flight from EWR – BOM for 17th June in Business Class operated by United. United website shows availability for the direct flight but the same flight is not available on Lifemiles website. Is there a way to still book the flight? thanks a lot


    • Parag,

      You will need to change your search option from Smart Search to United Airlines. If this still doesn’t work, give Avianca LifeMiles a phone call. Thanks for reading.


      • Sandra Chen June 29, 2019

        I just redeemed Points to fly Eva Air. During the booking process, i have not see seats selection. How can i request seats?


        • Hi Sandra,

          You’ll need to get the record locator from Avianca LifeMiles for EVA Air, which is typically 6 letters/numbers (ABC1DE for example). Then, go on EVA Air’s website and select seats. Thanks for reading.


  7. Are tickets booked with lifemiles on United typically ticketed right away or do they take 24hrs to confirm they have been ticketed? I booked a flight From Lax-Den and even though I have everything set United says they’re not ticketed yet and Avianca says it takes 24hrs to have them confirmed. My ink card doesn’t even show the charge as pending so I’m worried… Any insights based on your past experiences?


    • Hi Ivan,

      It is not uncommon for tickets booked with partner airlines miles to take 24 hours to ticket. Have you now received confirmation of your ticket?


  8. Brussels airlines doesn’t fly direct flights between US & Sweden. Brussels is the capital of Belgium – that’s not Sweden 🙂


  9. Alas, no more DFW-FRA First class on the A330


  10. Great review – thanks so much! I just bought 150,000 Lifemiles two weeks ago, trying to plan a trip for two to Greece next summer. But everytime I find a flight option available for saver-level miles on either the United or Aeroplan website, it’s NEVER available on the Lifemiles site. Sometimes I’ll even get different results if I unselect the “Smart Search” option and choose “Star Alliance” or the individual airline instead. If it’s available on United’s site but not with Lifemiles, then I guess I’m out of luck, right ?


    • Hey Tim, you may have luck in calling LifeMiles to book the itinerary for you over the phone. Generally, phone agents have access to all saver award space while the website may only show some options (due to technical limitations). However, some domestic connections may only be bookable on the United site due to expanded access for Explorer credit cardholders and Premier status members.


  11. As a very frequent flyer who has for years used sites like Upgradedpoints to learn all about getting the most bang-for-buck from flying, I sincerely appreciate what you folks do. However, I wish to humbly request a bit more openness and honesty from promotion pieces like this article on LifeMiles.

    I felt the need to write this reply after reading the previous comment from user “Tim” from August 17, 2019: “Great review – thanks so much! I just bought 150,000 Lifemiles two weeks ago, trying to plan a trip for two to Greece next summer.”

    My immediate thoughts when seeing that were, “Wow! Gooooood luck, my friend.” and “this article hypes all the great options to be booked with LifeMiles, but it does not comment nearly enough on how almost impossible it is to get any of this actually ticketed.”

    I think a better title for this article should have been, “30 Best Ways to Redeem Avianca LifeMiles for Maximum Value with a Percentage Chance of Actually Getting it Done.”

    Again, as a frequent, frequent flyer who belongs to nearly every program in the Star Alliance and OneWorld alliances, I have often TRIED but NEVER succeeded in booking anything through the LifeMiles website. And since the majority of people following travel advice on booking with miles want to do so in the easiest way possible, I do not consider “just send them an email” or “give them a call” to be valid options. Avianca is infamous for having some of the worst customer service in the travel game. So here are my suggested edits and advice for this kind of article:

    A. NEVER purchase LifeMiles until you have gone through their online booking system (as of 9/2019: https://www.lifemiles.com/fly/find) and confirmed that your chosen flight and booking class is showing availability. Don’t be swayed by the “limited time only, sale ends soon” on LifeMiles nonsense either. LifeMiles sales are offered constantly and continuously throughout the year; some better than others, but almost always something is out there through their constant email offer bombardments.

    B. IF you are mostly an economy class flyer, then your chances are generally good to FIND availability; but booking it through lifemiles.com can still be a 50/50 crap shoot.

    C. IF you are hoping to book premium in Business or First class seating, goooood luck and plan on spending hours upon days in ever finding an opening you will actually be able to get ticketed.
    A lot of availability from Star Alliance carriers is not published through LifeMiles until the very last minute. I think the other carriers are on to LifeMiles’ excessive discounting, and therefore don’t offer them anything until they are mostly certain they cannot ticket the seat through their own systems.

    That being said, here are a few of my amendments from this list of 30 Best Ways…
    1. Fly Lufthansa First Class Without Surcharges to Europe
    ROUTE: Dallas Fort-Worth (DFW) to Frankfurt (FRA)
    TIME: searched the next 15-days (“almost never available more than 15 days in advance”)
    Were we able to find tickets?
    Economy: YES
    Business Class: YES
    Estimated odds that you will find tickets in First Class: less than 1% chance of success. Seriously! For general bemusement, I have searched time-to-time on Avianca for MONTHS for the Lufthansa First Class flight tickets and I have NEVER seen one available.

    2. Fly Swiss Air Business Class Without Surcharges to Europe
    ROUTE: New York City (JFK) to Geneva (GVA)
    TIME: searched the next 21-days
    Were we able to find tickets?
    Economy: YES
    Business Class: YES, but only on the first two days. NO availability on the 19-days that followed.
    Estimated odds that you will find tickets in Business Class: 80% if leaving the following day or day after. 0% if trying to book further in advance than 2-days.
    And so on…

    Again, have loved and used this site on numerous occasions, so my comments are no knock on you fine folks. I just don’t want people falling into what I feel is a bit of a scam with Avianca and LifeMiles. What good is it to purchase or transfer points with them, if you will almost never be able to use them to book the kinds of seats and itinerary you most wanted?

    Better to check on LifeMiles first if your trip is possible, but then expect in most cases to book online (at higher point and fee expenses, I know) from the airlines themselves.


    • Bob,

      Your premise is completely incorrect but your frustrations are understandable. Let me first inform you that I have made over 15-20 successful online bookings using LifeMiles, many of which include hard-to-access products. The reality is that if you want to book first class, you have two options:

      1. Pay $10,000 per ticket
      2. Use miles to heavily discount the ticket price

      What LifeMiles has done is effectively allow you to book first class tickets via LifeMiles purchases at huge discounts. Yes, you have to play by the rules of their program, but that’s the case with all of the frequent flyer programs out there. If you’re one of those people who’d rather pay thousands of dollars to book whatever flight you want, then have at it!

      LifeMiles is one of the most underrated programs out there, regardless of the way you slice it. The way they’ve democratized Star Alliance premium bookings is something that I am personally grateful for, especially with their addition of numerous transfer partners and the ability to purchase LifeMiles if you don’t have enough points.


    • I will state that last year we booked business class flights from LAX to Lisbon via the lifemiles website. The route was not the best but a 13-hour flight in Business for (I think 60k points) was awesome! Yes, it’s not as good as say the United Airlines site or Southwest for availability but it is far easier to use than my 100k BA Avios that I can never seem to find availability on.


    • I have made several successful bookings through the lifemiles.com website. They have all been to Asia (Hong Kong or Bangkok) – departing the U.S. from either IAH, SFO, or LAX. I have been able to successfully book flights on ANA, EVA, and Asiana, but by far the most availability has been on EVA. I always book in business class at 78,000 miles each way, although once I was able to get the NRT to IAH leg of a BKK-NRT-IAH trip in First Class on ANA for around 86,000 miles (including the BKK-NRT leg). The ANA first class product was spectacular BTW, but I digress. I guess it just depends on where you want to fly and how flexible you can be on your travel dates. In all circumstances, my flights were booked at least 4 months in advance, usually 6 to 9 months. I think I have gotten very good value from the program..effectively I have paid around $2,200 or $2,300 R/T each time in J from the U.S. to S.E.A. I certainly agree that the LifeMiles phone agent process is painful, as is the cancellation fee of $200 if your plans change.


  12. This is so much more helpful than other sites. I’m not going to say any names but this helped so much! Thanks Upgraded Points.


  13. Hello, I am new to Avianca LifeMiles, do I need to have an account and miles before I can search for an award?
    Is there an option to hold an award reservation for a few days before actually book? (as AA does).
    Thank you.


    • Hi Tara,

      Yes, you must have an account with Avianca in order to search for an award. However, it is generally better to use the United or Aeroplan website to search for awards with Avianca as they often show more availability.

      Thanks for reading!


  14. Is it just me? I can’t get anything to show up on the Avianca site – always gives me an error. Plus I keep seeing this ‘Smart Search’ referred to, but I cannot find that anywhere on the site. How do I get to that?


  15. I don’t find the “Smart Search” option either. Did Avianca revamp their website?

    *Yep. Lifemiles.com and Avianca are different websites. Thanks!


  16. ANA isn’t flying to Honolulu any longer. Flights were discontinued in the 2nd Quarter of 2019.


    • j par,

      This is incorrect. Honolulu represents a hugely important market to all Japanese carriers, including ANA. Look at flights NH 181, 183, and 185.


  17. I have Lufthansa economy ticket from Cairo to JFK via Frankfurt. How do I upgrade to business class using my Lifemiles?


    • Srini,

      You can only upgrade full-fare economy tickets to business using LifeMiles. You’re probably aren’t a full-fare economy passenger, unless you paid $2,000-$3,000 one-way for this ticket.


  18. Regarding #17 – Thai Air 1st class BKK-SYD, can you get that in Biz class as well? For less points of course.


    • Hi Scott,

      Yes, you can get that in business class. However, the product doesn’t usually get the best reviews.


  19. Having spent many months lurking and studying on several travel sites, I do find yours to offer the best advice without shamelessly pushing me to apply for more credit. So thank you! If someone could clarify for me why I can find award space on United for a trip but not Avianca. In particular JNB-ATL. If the routing is Star Alliance, why isn’t the routing available on all the Star Alliance carriers award programs?


    • Hi Pamela,

      Thanks for the high compliment!

      Unfortunately, every airline’s search engines are built on a different IT infrastructure and software architecture. For this reason, there’s a lot of discrepancies across different systems. There’s also the issue of variable award pricing, which United uses heavily to charge higher amounts for United flights. However, partners like Avianca LifeMiles only have access to the “cheapest” level, which means that they wouldn’t be able to help with those higher-cost United flights.

      I hope this helps!


  20. Would you be able to book an economy flight via Lifemiles and then upgrade to first class via United?


    • Hi Trica,

      If you’re talking about an award flight, the answer is almost always no.

      In almost all situations, you can’t upgrade an award flight.

      The exception is if United Airlines offers you an economy plus or first class upgrade for a cash surcharge, such as $200.


  21. Do not get lifemiles. I used 63,000 lifemiles to book a one way business class from EWR to MAD on UA (end of March 2021). Trying to change the travel date as Covid-19 is still ravaging Europe. It is impossible to get through Avianca. According to the lifemiles and Avianca chat live agents, I can only make changes via Avianca call center. 45 minutes on hold, still waiting for call back request to my number (been 4 hours)! And the Avianca chat agent’s only advice to my predicament is to call the call center around 3 AM (so as not to wait too long!)


  22. Makchelu May 3, 2021


    I am trying to book a business class flight from TPE-JFK but I don’t see it available at lifemiles.com. Is there any other way to book the business class ticket?



    • Hi Makchelu,

      You can search for all Star Alliance availability through the United website, find the flight number you want to book, and then call Avianca directly in order to finalize the booking using your miles.


  23. I have been trying the most points-effective way to get to the Maldives. I feel like there have to be some deals that I am missing.
    I have a Life Miles account, plenty of MR, and I just received a special to buy Life Miles. I instantly started looking for Life Miles uses. They seem to spread to many different airlines.
    Are you able to offer any best use options for getting to the Maldives?
    I will be flying out of Austin TX, but have no problem booking a separate connection to the coast.


  24. Warning about Lifemiles: The LifeMiles website has never been easy to use, but until recently I was able to pay for the taxes, etc. for a redemption with no problem using a U.S. credit card as late as March of 2020 when booking a flight from Washington-Bogota. Last month, I tried to book a simple Cartagena-Bogota flight with miles and paying taxes of $31 with Amex, BOA, and various other cards with no luck. Customer service was also unhelpful and eventually, after jumping through many hoops (enter your pin number) 3 or 4 credit cards were declined, as well as my sister-in-law’s Colombian credit card. A call to AMEX revealed what I had suspected, AMEX never declined any transaction with LifeMiles. I tried again today to book a flight to Europe and the same thing, declined, hours of waiting on call center and then being told to go to the beginning.

    While you show great redemptions, if Avianca has made it almost impossible to use the lifemiles, and is selling them at the same time, then buyer beware.


  25. I and my family bought some Avianca miles with the recent promotion and plan to book a Star Alliance return flight from Europe to US with Lufthansa/Swiss. Given that we would like to sit together do you know if you can also select seats when booking Star Alliance partner flights via the LifeMiles website?

    Did you experience any issues with booking (paying taxes) any Star Alliance flights on the LifeMiles website?


    • Hi Michael,

      In order to select seats, you’ll need to get the booking confirmation from the operating airline.

      For example, if your booking reference from LifeMiles is ABC123, you’ll need to call LifeMiles at 800-284-2622 and ask for the Lufthansa or Swiss Air record locator. Then, you can go on Lufthansa’s website, enter the Lufthansa/Swiss record locator, and finally select your seats.

      There should also be no issues with paying for taxes and fees on the LifeMiles website.


  26. Wonderful article. I would like to get your opinion on something. I have 55,000 Capital One Miles and I was going to transfer to Etihad at a transfer rate of 1000=1000 and figure out a trip down the line. But right now when I log in to my Capital One account they are offering a transfer special to Avianca where I can get a transfer rate of 1000=1250. I see they fly out of IAD which is about 45 minutes away from me. What would you suggest as far as transfer of points and potential trip?


    • Hi Gerard,

      For starters, I would not transfer any miles speculatively until you are ready to book a ticket, because once you move your miles from Capital One to an airline you cannot move them back.

      In terms of whether you should transfer to Avianca or Etihad, you’ll want to consider where you want to travel, and what cabin class you want to fly there. But generally speaking, I would lean towards Avianca thanks to the transfer bonus, and the fact their booking partners are better than Etihad.


  27. Thaddeus McIlroy August 15, 2021

    The selection of available flights to book with Lifemiles has become miniscule — in many cases I can’t find any flights on Lifemiles, thought flights show as available with Air Canada and United miles. I foolishly bought 245,000 miles just before Covid hit — worst investment of my life.


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