LifeMiles is a great tool for advanced point hackers – especially if you love flying Business and First Class with Singapore Airlines, ANA, United and more.

Despite the loyalty program being part of Colombia’s Avianca, which has no presence in Australia, LifeMiles can be purchased and used for cheap Business and First Class tickets. Avianca is part of Star Alliance, so your miles can be used on over 25 partner airlines.

Admittedly, you’ll need a bit of specialist knowledge to use LifeMiles effectively, and there is definitely a language barrier to overcome with the contact centre if anything goes wrong. But once we can all travel again, you should definitely keep LifeMiles up your sleeve.

How do I join Avianca LifeMiles?

Happily, it’s both easy and free to join Avianca LifeMiles, even from Australia.

  1. Head to the pre-enrolment page on LifeMiles and enter an email and password. Be sure to change the page language to English, if needed. You can do this next to the ‘flag’ icon at the top.
  2. Tell the program a bit more about yourself, including your name. Note that you need to include a drivers license or passport number, though this isn’t checked.
  3. Read and accept the T&Cs and Privacy Policy. Click ‘Join LifeMiles’.
  4. Hoorah! You are now a member of LifeMiles.

How do I earn LifeMiles?

Most of you reading this won’t be earning LifeMiles in the traditional ways, but we’ll quickly list some:

Miles expire after 12 months of being earned – so don’t hoard them! The expiry policy is a soft expiry, meaning that points only expire after 12 months of inactivity. Note that only earning miles counts as an activity for extending the expiry date. Redeeming miles doesn’t. Though the expiry policy is extended to 24 months if you are an elite LifeMiles member.

Buying LifeMiles is the way to go

Buying LifeMiles is a far simpler option, indeed. The program often has big bonuses where you can earn a bonus of 200% on top of your purchase – essentially tripling your points haul.

Here’s a quick peek at how much LifeMiles cost (at normal pricing). The price per mile is fixed at 3.3 cents USD for all denominations. That’s quite expensive, and it doesn’t get cheaper if you buy more:

LifeMiles amountUsual cost (including fees)
5,000 milesUSD$165 (around $223 AUD)
50,000 milesUSD$1,650 (around $2,230 AUD)
150,000 milesUSD$4,950 (around $6,690 AUD)
300,000 milesUSD$9,900 (around $13,380 AUD)

But with bonus offers, you can pocket far more points for the same cost. One of the best deals in 2020 was a 200% bonus on LifeMiles. If you purchased 150,000 miles for USD$4,950, you’d end up with 450,000 miles in your account. That’s so much better! Remember, purchased miles are still subject to a 12-month expiry.

How do I use LifeMiles?

LifeMiles can be used across more than 25 different airlines, including Avianca and Star Alliance partners. This makes it handy for exploring the globe. Here is the full partner award table, and you can read our complete guide to buying and using LifeMiles in this separate advanced article.

There are some great sweet spots between Australia and Asia. But yes, the miles required are different for the return leg of each region. Go figure!

Using miles between Australia and Asia

Australia to North Asia
(e.g. Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, China)
25,000 miles50,000 miles62,500 miles
North Asia to Australia20,000 miles40,000 miles50,000 miles
Australia to South Asia
(e.g. Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia)
27,500 miles50,000 miles75,000 miles
South Asia to Australia22,500 miles40,000 miles60,000 miles

Given North Asia is further away from Australia than South Asia, it doesn’t quite make sense that you will need fewer LifeMiles flying to Tokyo than Singapore. But that’s how the chart works, and how we end up with a sweet spot.

Using miles between Australia and Europe/US

Heading further afield to Europe or the US with Star Alliance carriers? Here’s what you need:

Australia to Europe62,500 miles92,500 miles120,000 miles
Europe to Australia55,000 miles85,000 miles115,000 miles
Australia to the United States40,000 miles80,000 miles105,000 miles
The United States to Australia40,000 miles80,000 miles111,000 miles
ANA The Room Lifemiles
Fly ANA’s ‘The Room’ Business Class with LifeMiles, including routes from Tokyo to Europe and the US.

As usual, taxes are extra on all flights. It does differ between airlines, but you should expect to fork out under USD$100 per person, each way. There is also a USD$25 booking fee per reservation, which is non-refundable.

For example, ANA charges USD$67.42 in taxes each way on a Perth-Tokyo flight.

So, is buying LifeMiles on promotion a good idea? Well, the Perth-Tokyo return flights above cost AUD$4,005 in Business Class for June 2022. Alternatively, you can use 90,000 LifeMiles + USD$134.84 for a return reward ticket.

At the lowest price of 1.1 cents USD per mile (with a 200% bonus), you could buy this ticket for USD$1,124.84 inclusive of the LifeMiles and taxes. That’s about AUD$1,530 at the time of writing – 62% off the cash ticket price. It’s even better if you throw First Class travel into the mix. Of course, the overall cost will vary depending on what deal you get with buying LifeMiles.

What status tiers does Avianca LifeMiles have?

Avianca has 4 elite tiers in the LifeMiles program, which can give reciprocal Star Alliance perks with all partner airlines. But you do need to actually fly Avianca a lot to earn those shiny membership cards.

For this reason, we don’t imagine many of our Australian-based readers will be aiming for LifeMiles status. But here’s a quick overview of the perks for those who are interested.

Avianca Red Plus Card LifeMiles Red Plus

Achieve/Maintain: 11,000 miles (at least 8,800 miles with Avianca)
Star Alliance equivalent: Silver
The threshold is temporarily reduced in 2021 due to COVID-19

As the first step on the elite status ladder, you get:

  • Priority airport check-in
  • 20% LifeMiles bonus on eligible flights
  • Miles expire after 24 months instead of 12 months
  • Priority phone service
  • Elite membership maternity leave

LifeMiles Silver

Achieve/Maintain: 16,000 miles (at least 12,800 miles with Avianca)
Star Alliance equivalent:
The threshold is temporarily reduced in 2021 due to COVID-19

In addition to Red Plus benefits, some major benefits of Silver status include:

  • Courtesy upgrades to Business Class at the airport (selected routes)
  • 40% discount on access to Avianca-owned VIP lounges
  • 25% LifeMiles bonus on eligible flights
  • Group B Priority Boarding
  • Priority baggage
  • Additional 1 piece/23kg bag in Economy
  • Same day earlier flights within Colombia
  • Pre-selection of seats
  • Access to Avianca Plus/preferential seats from check-in

 LifeMiles Gold

Achieve/Maintain: 29,000 miles (at least 23,200 miles with Avianca)
Star Alliance equivalent:
The threshold is temporarily reduced in 2021 due to COVID-19

As the second-highest tier, Gold members enjoy:

  • Courtesy upgrades to Business Class from 48 hrs prior (selected routes)
  • Access to Avianca and partner airline/Star Alliance lounges (+1 guest)
  • 75% LifeMiles bonus on eligible flights
  • Additional 2x pieces/23kg bag in Economy, and 1x piece/23kg bag in Business Class
  • Access to Avianca Plus/preferential seats from booking
  • Live chat

 LifeMiles Diamond

Achieve/Maintain: 48,000 miles (at least 38,400 miles with Avianca)
Star Alliance equivalent:
The threshold is temporarily reduced in 2021 due to COVID-19

Top-level Diamond members have it easier with:

  • 2x LifeMiles upgrade certificates
  • Access to Diamond VIP Lounge in Bogotá (+1 guest)
  • 100% bonus LifeMiles on eligible flights
  • Group A Priority Boarding
  • Pre-selection of any seat on booking
  • Rollover up to 16,000 LifeMiles
  • LifeMiles redemption fee waiver

How do I contact LifeMiles?

To change or cancel an award ticket, you need to call LifeMiles customer service. As there is no office in Australia, we recommend calling the US one on +1 800 284 2622. If you want to follow up on a refund, the Bogotá office might be the best to call on +57 1 401 3434.

Finally, if you’re having difficulty fixing your problem over the phone, try emailing the program: [email protected]

Summing up

Avianca LifeMiles is your ticket to cheaper Star Alliance flights. Fancy flying ANA’s new ‘The Suite’ First Class to Europe, or a quick hop across the ditch with Air New Zealand? If the reward seat availability is there, then LifeMiles can make it happen. Just be sure you’re aware of all the quirks of the award chart.

While it’s easy to buy points, we always recommend you wait for a big sale. Buy just what you need for a certain redemption, because those points will expire in 12 months. Lastly, we also suggest you only book flights you’re sure you’ll be able to take, for now. Dealing with flight changes and cancellations won’t be as easy with an international program such as LifeMiles.

New to Avianca LifeMiles? Start here! was last modified: September 10th, 2021 by Daniel Sciberras