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Mighty Travels is reporting that Avianca (a Star Alliance airline based in South America) has introduced a new award chart that splits the United States into 3 different regions. Note that this does appear to be for a limited time (through October 15th)
Travel between regions costs the following amount of Avianca LifeMiles for a one-way trip
- Within the Same US region: 7,500 miles
- To the “next” region (so from Region 1 to Region 2 or Region 3 to Region 2): 10,000 miles
- From Region 1 to Region 3: It actually doesn’t say but I believe it’s the “standard” price of 12,500 miles one way
Avianca belongs to the Star Alliance, so these flights are typically going to be offered by United, and require United low-level Saver availability to be able to book. This can be another good way to book close-in travel on United without having to pay the $75 close-in booking fee
We already knew that Avianca wasn’t so good at US geography. There was a time for awhile that they were counting Guam as part of the “United States” region and you could fly from anywhere in the US to Guam (via Hawaii) for only 12,500 miles (that deal is now dead).
They posted the list of which states were in which regions, but I thought it would be more instructive to put it in a picture
(IMPORTANT NOTE: Alaska and Hawaii are NOT in Region 3 – they are still in their own zones – their inclusion is just an artifact of the tool I used to make the map)
I was worried about how they’d handle the fact that the Cincinnati (Ohio) airport is actually in Kentucky, but it looks like those are both in Group 1. I do find it amusing that it would cost me 10,000 miles to fly to Florida, but if I travel 100 miles northwest (i.e. in the OPPOSITE DIRECTION) to Indianapolis, I can fly there for only 7500 miles?!?!!?
Montana to Florida is another “odd” pairing to only by 7,500 miles.
As it stands, this would be my cheapest way to fly anywhere in the northeast, as to use Avios requires a connection, so it would be 9,000 Avios (vs. only 7,500 Lifemiles). On our upcoming trip to Europe, I paid 12,500 Delta Skymiles for a direct flight to Boston. With Avianca, it would have only been 7,500 miles (though I’d have to connect through Newark).
Where to get Avianca LifeMiles
Avianca is not a partner with any of the major transferrable currencies (Chase, American Express, Starwood, Citi), so there isn’t a great way to get a bunch of LifeMiles. There is a credit card (public link) through US Bank that seems to offer 20,000 LifeMiles after first purchase
The best way to get a bunch of Avianca LifeMiles is through their regular purchase and transfer bonus promotions. There is currently a 135% bonus promotion on purchasing LifeMiles, which means you could purchase miles for as little as 1.4 cents. That would make a 7,500 mile ticket cost about $105.
Note that using and redeeming Avianca LifeMiles comes with some quirks. I would NOT speculatively purchase LifeMiles, as they have a history of devaluing their award chart with no notice. Still, if you have some upcoming travel, this could be a way to save some miles!