After getting the Amex Business Platinum card in February, I’ve finally completed my spend to get the full bonus. This brings my MR stash to nearly 200k, so I thought I’d try do some research on fares to use the “pay with points” benefit.
In the process I stumbled upon a business class fare between Los Angeles and Madrid for a mere $2,036 round-trip! In the world of premium flying, this is a good deal.
The carrier is Avianca, so the routing is via Colombia. Obviously, the ticket is not a great option for many people, but if you are an aviation geek and/or have the time to burn, as well as $2k to burn, this “cheap” business class fare might be something to consider.
I found the deal via Google Flights. There are many dates available, extending into summer. All 4 legs appear to be on the Avianca’s 787 Dreamliner, with lie-flat seats in a reverse herringbone configuration. It looks like a great product. Lucky of One Mile at a Time has reviewed both the LAX to Bogota and Bogota to Madrid legs.
Trying to “book” the ticket
I have neither 2 grand to spare nor the time to fly it, so this was simply an exercise in my own curiosity. I clicked through a few of the booking options from Google flights to see if I the fare was indeed real. Both CheapoAir and Avianca had it represented accurately.
Dealing with Avianca’s website was a bit of a pain. When prompted for my LifeMiles number on the first page in the booking process (after flight selection), it redirected me to the home page. Totally frustrating.
I didn’t take the process all the way to the final confirmation page, but everything I did seemed to check out.
One of the cool things about this fare is the serious mileage accrual from the ticket. According to Avianca’s chart, you would earn 150% of flown miles as both elite qualifying miles and as redeemable miles. The ticket would therefore earn over 25,000 LifeMiles and 25,000 miles toward status! This is more than enough for Avianca Silver status, and you’d be well on your way to Gold.
You could also credit the mile to United, but you would receive only 100% of flown miles, which isn’t a great deal, in my opinion, unless you are trying to qualify for a high tier of United status. LifeMiles are plenty valuable themselves, so I would probably credit the flights to Avianca.
But can I use Amex pay with points?
Since this was why I found the ticket, I wanted to explore the ability to pay for the fare with Membership Rewards points. So I headed over to the Amex Travel site.
Predictably, American Express Travel let me down. Avianca business class tickets wouldn’t even come up. But I did find a FAQ section that said you could call to book airlines that didn’t show.
So I tried Amex by phone. No dice. The agent couldn’t find the fare. Shoulda figured.
Now I’m not sure if this is a classic case of HUCA, or if I am totally out of luck. If I had the time, or was actually planning on booking the ticket, I might keep trying. But since I’m not, I don’t feel like wasting the effort.
It’s still a decent business class deal!
Even without “pay with points” as an option, this is still a decent business class deal. If you’re made of money. There are many dates for which you can book this ticket. Poke around on Google Flights to see if you can find your perfect dates, and then book via CheapoAir.com or you could try Momondo or Expedia (affiliate links)
Booking this Avianca business class deal?