Avianca’s frequent flyer programme, LifeMiles, can be both amazing and horrible at the same time. The programme is so limited, yet sometimes so powerful (at the same time), that it’s just crazy. Here’s my experience booking LifeMiles awards that aren’t available online (such as your desired flight combination).

Before I begin, I should note that LifeMiles is currently offering a bonus on purchased miles (as they do every few months). The current bonus is 2×1 LifeMiles + a percentage bonus, depending on how many LifeMiles you purchase. Also keep in mind, they might not have access to all Star Alliance award space (especially Lufthansa’s).

Lufthansa First Class

Lufthansa First Class

So LifeMiles… they’re a great and hard-to-use frequent flyer programme at the same time. They’re great because they charge NO fuel surcharges on award tickets, they’re also great since award tickets are bookable online (for the most part). The change fee is $150 USD and the cancellation fee is $50 USD (cancelling is better than rebooking), so that’s another reason why LifeMiles is great.

So where are they not-so-great? Well, their search engine for awards is very limited. Specifically, you can’t always get the routing you want as the tool will display the top few results, and not all of the possible combinations. So if you want a specific set of flights, you’ll have to be a bit more creative. Booking online is easy and you can even purchase additional miles to complete the reservation during the booking process. In my experience, buying miles when booking is better than buying miles outright during their promotions… it just depends on how many miles you need.

So while that is all great, what if you want to book flights NOT listed during a search online? Well, firstly, make sure the flights you want have award space (verify with United or Aeroplan), then search each flight individually through LifeMiles to make sure LifeMiles has access to the award space.

Once you’ve verified the flights are bookable using miles, you’ll have to get creative and send an email to support (at) lifemiles (dot) com, and request a manual reservation be created for your desired flights. In the email, you should include the following:

  • LifeMiles Number
  • Flight Information (Date, Flight Numbers, Route)
  • Passenger Information (Name, Gender, Date of Birth)
  • Phone Number (they might call you to verify the booking)
  • A short message saying the award can’t be booked online due to website error (search engine not showing the exact combination, but flights are available)
  • Screenshot of each flight being available on LifeMiles.com
  • Screenshot of the desired payment option (the miles/money combination on the booking page)

The last screenshot in the list above refers to the payment option. They can create a manual booking for you with your desired payment option (e.g. some miles, some cash).

You should get an acknowledgement email confirming they will forward your details to the booking department, and that you will be receiving the booking (if successful) via email. The email with the booking details will have all of the flight information, and also the deadline for payment of the ticket.

LifeMiles Manual Booking

LifeMiles Manual Booking

Once you receive and have verified all of the booking information in the itinerary email they send you, simply call LifeMiles and tell them you’d like to pay for an existing reservation (call LifeMiles, not Avianca). The agent will verify the details and tell you how much you will pay. Then within 24-48 hours, you should be getting an email with the itinerary and ticket number. In my experience, my bookings have been ticketed within 10 minutes of calling in.

So there you have it, you CAN book LifeMiles awards not available online. This method *should* work virtually all of the time, just specify in the email that you would like to book the flights as they are, but the website is not showing them despite the flights being available.

Don’t call their reservations desk and ask for the reservation to be manually created over the phone, they will tell you they can’t “unify” the flight segments (which isn’t true, since they can.. just if you ask them over email).

Happy booking!