LifeMiles is the mileage programme of South America-based airline Avianca, which is a member of Star Alliance. You may not really be interested in flying to Columbia to fly this airline, but it has a colloquially bigger role in the world of flying. LifeMiles, as a programme, has some of the cheapest redemption tickets available on Star Alliance airlines, and regularly sells miles to offer tickets on the cheap to its members. So, if you think premium cabin tickets in Business Class are expensive, this should cut down the price of those tickets by half many a times.
Like I explained in the past, Star Alliance is the global grouping of 28 airlines which include bigwigs such as Lufthansa, United and Singapore Airlines. Our own Air India was inducted into the group in 2014. Being a member of Star Alliance means airlines try and cooperate with each other on a common pool of resources such as airport space, routes and so on, and even give each other’s frequent flyers access to their facilities such as lounges and premium check-in.
But there is one more important ability, the ability to access the redemption tickets on the other carriers of the alliance. For instance, you can use your Air India miles or United miles to book tickets originating from Japan on ANA or from Bangkok on Thai Airways as well. Similarly, you can use LifeMiles to book these redemption tickets as well.
One of the many reasons to look at LifeMiles as your Star Alliance redemption programme is that it does not charge exorbitant fuel surcharges on redemption tickets. Taxes and fees on LifeMiles awards from India to Germany, or the US, let’s say only cost $25 while other programmes can charge up to $500 in the same fees.
Secondly, it does not need you to call and book tickets. Most LifeMiles redemption tickets can be booked online itself on lifemiles.com without having to call and get someone on the other end to look up tickets for you. If the ticket is available on your dates, it is yours.
The last and major reason is, LifeMiles has, over the years, sold miles at a discount frequently. At least a few times a year, they post sales where you can buy miles at least at 50 percent off. On a usual day, LifeMiles would be available for $33 for 1000 LifeMiles (Rs 2300 approximately). But with
this sale going on till July 31 , they are going to give you 2.45 LifeMiles for the price of one, which means you can get 2245 LifeMiles for the same price, making the price 0.95 paise per mile approximately, only when you register through this link and pay for at least 101,000 LifeMiles. Further, if you buy LifeMiles with a credit card such as Citi PremierMiles, you get Rs 4.5/Rs 100 spent as well.
But why would you want to buy LifeMiles? The reason is simple. LifeMiles has a very good award chart, which means that you get cheap tickets to business and first-class cabins for airlines around the globe for cheaper as compared to the retail price (subject to availability, of course)For instance, a round trip on Swiss Airlines for next month from Delhi to London in Business Class would cost roughly about ₹ 200,000 per person. But on LifeMiles redemption, the same ticket would cost 90,000 miles and 12.91$ tax round trip, making the net price about
Rs 90,000 to Rs 100,000.
Similarly, the programme has some exceedingly nice redemption prices such as 96,000 LifeMiles for a roundtrip to Tokyo from India in Business Class, which would usually cost Rs 200,000 in cash ticket. For flying to the US, think no less than buying a ticket worth Rs 3.5-4 lakh for a round trip ticket in peak season, but a round trip booked by redeeming LifeMiles would be worth 156,000 LifeMiles and hence cost about Rs 1.5 lakh. A quick look at the
LifeMiles Star Alliance Award chart will tell you how many miles you need to go anywhere in the world.
Remember, you can also credit your Air India and other flights on Star Alliance member airlines to LifeMiles to earn LifeMiles. If you don’t earn or redeem any miles in 12 months on LifeMiles, the whole of your miles expire, so it is important to keep earning and burning.
Ajay Awtaney is a business travel & aviation journalist based in Mumbai, and the founder of the Indian frequent-traveller website Live From A Lounge ( www.livefromalounge.com .) Ajay flies over 200,000 miles every year, and tweets about The Business of Travel at @LiveFromALounge . Ajay Awtaney's columns