Australian travellers are set to come out on top in Avianca's sweeping overhaul of its LifeMiles frequent flyer scheme.
The changes, which kick in from at 4pm AEDST on October 15, will increase the number of points needed for many award flights booked across the global Star Alliance network.
However, business class flights from Australia to Singapore, Bangkok and London on airlines such as Thai and Singapore Airlines will now be available for fewer LifeMiles than the previous awards chart.
You'll also need fewer points to nab a first class seat on Thai's Boeing 747 flights between Sydney and Bangkok, although continuing that pointy end passage to London becomes a bit more expensive.
If you’ve already followed Australian Business Traveller’s advice and stocked up on LifeMiles – or even if you're completely new to the idea of buying frequent flyer points to save money on travel – here are the new LifeMiles sweet spots that could save you thousands on your next business trip.
Flying to Singapore with Singapore Airlines
Business class flights between Australia and Singapore with Singapore Airlines can be booked via LifeMiles within 14 days of departure, including the carrier’s Airbus A380 flights to Sydney and Melbourne.
Come 4pm, you’ll go from forking out 47,500 miles to an even 40,000 – a saving of 15%.
And, if you use Avianca’s ‘flexible payment’ option to burn fewer miles for the same tickets as previously detailed by Australian Business Traveller, you could save even more.
Flying to Bangkok with Thai Airways
If your travels will take you to Thailand, you’ll be able to grab a business class seat on Thai Airways’ Sydney-Bangkok flights for the same reduced cost as Sydney-Singapore above.
As a one-up over Singapore Airlines, Thai does allow first class award bookings on its Australian flights – including to and from Sydney.
As with business class, first class awards between Australia and Thailand decline slightly: in this case from 65,000 miles to a round 60,000 points.
First class award availability between Sydney and Bangkok is quite good – we were able to find seats on most flights later in the year, while also spotting seats on flights closer to departure.
Flying to Europe
Avianca’s Star Alliance membership allows you to pair flights from Australia to Europe on any partner airline where awards are available, but you may need to be flexible on stopover points and the city in which you enter Europe.
While one-stop journeys – for example, Sydney-Singapore-London – may be difficult to book using points, you may have better luck using a different route such as Sydney-Shanghai-Frankfurt-London on a mix of Air China and Lufthansa.
Whichever path you take, business class treks are slightly less costly at 85,000 miles – 2,500 fewer miles than the older rates – although first class jumps by 10,000 miles in each direction to 115,000 miles.
Flying on other routes
The changes are part of a wider overhaul of the Avianca LifeMiles scheme, which could mean a shake-up in the number of miles needed for flights between other cities and those that don’t touch Australian soil.
If that’s where you're headed, jump on the Avianca website to check how many miles you’ll need for your particular journey under the new rates.
Of course, the true appeal of the program has always been the lucrative and award-winning double miles promotions – where miles can be bought by travellers around the globe at half the price that you’d normally pay.
Having increased the cost for 1,000 miles from US$30 to US$33 earlier this month, it remains to be seen if Avianca will continue running similar ‘buying miles’ deals, enabling travellers to truly take advantage of the new award rates.
But even if we’ve seen the last of the special offers, that existing balance of yours will now fly you further in business class comfort than ever before.
New to Avianca? Using LifeMiles to unlock low-cost business, first class flights
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