Million Mile Secrets reader Jonnie commented:
You say, ‘Avianca miles can be used on any Star Alliance airline, like United Airlines.’ How is that done? Can those miles be transferred to United Airline’s MileagePlus?
Jonnie wants to know how to use Avianca miles on United Airlines. And if they can be transferred to her United Airlines account.
Jonnie can use Avianca miles on United Airlines by redeeming them on the Avianca website or by calling Avianca. That’s because Avianca and United are both members of the Star Alliance.
But Jonnie can NOT transfer Avianca miles to her United Airlines account. Because she has Avianca miles, she has to book her flights through the Avianca website or call center (even if they are on OTHER airlines, like United Airlines). Jonnie can book a 1-way flight within the US on United Airlines using 12,500 Avianca miles.
Using Avianca Miles
Link: Avianca Award Chart
With Avianca miles, Jonnie can:
- Book 1-way award tickets
- Avoid fuel surcharges!
- Get lower priced redemptions compared to other Star Alliance airlines
- Book her award tickets online
But Jonnie can NOT:
- Book mixed cabin awards (coach on 1 flight and Business Class on another) which is bad if she is connecting from a city that only has regional jets with coach
- Have connections longer than 12 hours (most airlines allow 24 hours)
- Get good telephone customer service
- Book award tickets that aren’t available online
Although she can search for award tickets online, if her itinerary is complicated it might not show up in an online search.
How to Book a United Award Ticket Using Avianca Miles
Jonnie should book her award ticket online instead of calling Avianca at 800-284-2622, because their call center doesn’t have the best customer experience.
Step 1 – Log Into Your LifeMiles Account
Step 2 – Enter Your Travel Information
Jonnie can leave the “Preferred carrier” drop down box on the default setting of “Smart Search” to search all Star Alliance member airlines. Or she can choose to search by specific airline, such as United Airlines.
Because she wants to fly on United Airlines, she chooses United Airlines as her “Preferred carrier” and enters her travel information.
Jonnie is flying 1-way in coach from Austin to Lima, Peru on January 16, 2015.
Step 3 – Choose Your Flight/Flights
Because Jonnie is only flying 1-way and she is searching for flights on United Airlines, her search gives her 1 choice. She choses her flight and clicks “Continue.”
If Jonnie were flying round-trip or doing a “Smart Search,” she might have other choices.
Step 4 – Review Information and Click “Continue”
A 1-way flight from Austin to Lima, Peru will cost Jonnie 20,000 Avianca miles and $45.
If she is satisfied with her flight choice, Jonnie clicks “Continue.”
Miles and Money
If Jonnie didn’t have enough Avianca miles, she could choose to pay with miles and money. She can reduce the number of Avianca miles she needs by 1,000 mile increments and pay a portion in cash. But the cash rate is not a fixed rate.
The more miles you buy, the lower the cost per purchased mile. Essentially you’re getting a discount for buying more miles.
Jonnie can buy up to 60% of the Avianca miles she needs for an award ticket.
So if Jonnie wanted to save half her Avianca miles she could use Miles and Money. Jonnie will use 10,000 Avianca miles and $150 cash for her 1-way flight from Austin to Lima, Peru.
Avianca doesn’t charge fuel surcharges on award tickets so Jonnie can spend a little more money. However, they charge a $25 ticketing fee per person.
The charge for redemption of an Award Ticket through www.lifemiles.com with Star Alliance Airlines is USD 25 + local taxes. Redemption of Award Tickets in other channels shall be subject to a redemption charge depending on the selected route, time in advance of the flight and elite level of the redeeming Member.
Jonnie can use Avianca miles to book an award ticket on Star Alliance airlines, like United Airlines. But she can NOT transfer her Avianca miles to her United Airlines account.
Jonnie can book her award ticket on the Avianca LifeMiles website. She can book 1-way tickets, but she can NOT book a mixed cabin ticket. And Avianca doesn’t charge fuel surcharges on award tickets.
Note: Avianca is also known for changing their award program without notice. So you should NOT sign-up for the card or buy Avianca miles unless you plan on redeeming them soon.