Tuesday, May 12, 2015

How to get a ~$5400 YYC-NRT busines class flight for ~$1600

This is a copy and paste of a post I put up on the Rewards Canada blog last week but it fits in perfectly here as I used a Calgary as an example of how this can be used to save some money on flights like this. Now you had to be an Avianca LifeMiles member prior to this promotion starting so if you aren't you can't take advantage of it this time. However I would recommend joining the program as their buy miles offer of up to a 100% does come around a few times per year. Granted not as good as the 120% offer being run now but still a very viable method to save you some money on future travel. Here is the post:

For a few years Avianca LifeMiles had been famous for selling their miles with a 100% bonus every few months. That recurring offer seem to dwindle towards the latter half of 2014 but now it is back with an extra bonus! If you live in countries outside of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador, United States and Colombia  you'll actually get a 120% bonus! Hooray for us Canadians as we get the full 120%!

If you have followed us for sometime you'll know this is a decent option to get Star Alliance flights on the cheap especially in business class. However Avianca announced back on September 30th the price to buy miles will go up 10% and had changes to their award chart on October 15th which were a devaluation. So what should you do? If you know that you can make your travel work and get the LifeMiles redemption(s) of your choice go ahead and buy the miles however I wouldn't buy them if you don't think you'll use them over then 3-6 months just in case another award chart devaluation comes along.

For us, the miles cost US 1.5 cents a piece +GST. This brings the price down to levels prior to September 30th, 2014. It appears that those who are eligible for the extra 20% can only buy 68,000 miles (+81,600 bonus miles) for a total of 149,600 miles. However you don't have to buy that many miles. For 78,000 miles you can get a one-way business class ticket to North Asia (Japan, China, Korea etc) from Canada depending on availability. With the bonus this means you only have to buy 36,000 miles for US$1,188 (lets say $1500 Canadian)

Here is a great example of how this bonus can be utilized for some huge savings!

Air Canada Business Class One-way from Calgary to Tokyo costs $5494.41 all in

Same ticket using Avianca LifeMiles with this promotion and taxes costs around $1,600 (and its only 75,000 miles even though their reward chart shows 78,000 miles!)
That's a saving of over $3,800!

Another decent feature of LifeMiles is their Cash + Part Miles option but that was devalued over a year ago. This option only requires that you have 40% of the points for a reward (so buy 40% during this 100% bonus period) and then you can buy the rest of the miles (the other 60%) at about 1.56 cents per mile (used to be 1.25 cents!). So if you get the 20% bonus with the current promo you are better off buying all the miles but if you only qualify for the 100% bonus where the miles cost you 1.65 cents you may want to go with the Cash+miles options

Some things to consider with the buy miles option before you pull the trigger is that their call center tends to be on the less helpful side so you are better off booking award tickets online which also means you are limited to the powers of that source, mixed class awards are not allowed unless you book each award ticket as separate one way flights and they have devalued the program without notice in the past so only buy these miles if you think you will use them in the next short while

Offer details
Earn up to 120% Bonus LifeMiles when you buy LifeMiles online. You must be a LifeMiles member as of May 4 to purchase. Full details Until May 29, 15

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