Citi 25% Bonus for Transferring to Avianca LifeMiles Part 2: Combine It With the Latest Avianca Award Sale for Unicorn-Grade Values

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Avianca award sale

Citi 25% Bonus for Transferring to Avianca LifeMiles Offers Fantastic Values (That Many People Miss) Part 1

While I was working on the second part of my Avianca series, I’ve learned about an Avianca award sale on its Asian Star Alliance partners. Avianca does it from time to time, so there is nothing unusual about that. What’s unusual is that this time the award sale is coinciding with Citi ThankYou’s 25% transfer bonus to Avianca LifeMiles and Black Friday. What can I say – sometimes, although rarely, stars just align our way.

Direct Link to Avianca Award Sale Offer (HT to Hustler Money Blog).

If you had any doubt whether or not to take advantage of the Citi ThankYou 25% transfer bonus to Avianca, you shouldn’t anymore. Book a First Class flight to Seoul or Beijing for 58,000 ThankYou points (or 116,000 per round trip). Business Class award tickets to Asia start at 48,000 Citi points, or 96,000 per round trip.

This Avianca award sale has a very short window, just until December 12. I don’t mean to sound overly dramatic, but if you’re interested in traveling to Asia sometime in the next 11+ months, run, don’t walk, to take advantage of this opportunity!

Keep in mind: you must book by December 12, not fly by December 12. Fly whenever you want (subject to availability). 🙂

Avianca Unicorn grade redemptions – this is for real, folks!

58,000 points and no fuel surcharges on airlines such as Asiana, ANA, or China Airways is almost unheard of. “Almost” because there is that Virgin Atlantic 110,000 – 120,000 miles redemption on ANA First Class to Japan that worked out to 85,000 – 93,000 AMEX or Citi points per round trip during their recent 30% transfer bonuses.

However, Avianca routing rules are much more flexible than Virgin Atlantic’s, where you only benefit from the most direct route. With Avianca you will get the discount even if you use a connecting flight , as I will demonstrate.

Here is the list of the latest Avianca sale flights that originates or terminates in the U.S.

Format: Avianca Miles(Award Sale Discount)/Citi points with the 25% transfer bonus.

To/From

Economy

Business Class

First Class

New York (JFK)

Seoul (ICN)

Beijing (PEK)

Shanghai (PVG)

Taipei (TPE)

 

 

60K(-20%)/48K

60K(-20%)/48K

64K(-15%)/52K

 

72K(-20%)/58K

72K(-20%)/58K

Los Angeles

Hong Kong (HKG)

Seoul (ICN)

Beijing (PEK)

Shanghai (PVG)

Singapore (SIN)

Taipei (TPE)

 

28K(-20%)/23K

31K(-11%)/25K

 

26K(-26%)/21K

 

31K(-11%)/25K

 

64K(-15%)/52K

60K(-20%)/48K

60K(-20%)/48K

60K(-20%)/48K

67K(-14%)/54K

60K(-20%)/48K

 

 

72K(-20%)/58K

72K(-20%)/58K

Chicago

Singapore (SIN)

 

74K(-5%)/60K

Seattle

Taipei (TPE)

 

30K(-14%)/25K

 

60K(-20%)/48K

San Francisco

Hong Kong (HKG)

Taipei (TPE)

 

32K(-4%)/26K

 

64K(-15%)/52K

60K(-20%)/48K

The whole list including a few good discounts for some intra-Asia travel is here

Is a picture really worth a thousand words?

Let’s find out.

You can fly to Seoul in a wonderful Asiana enclosed First Class Suite for 58,000 Citi points.

Avianca award sale

Fly to Seoul in Asiana’s First Class enclosed suite for 58,000 Citi points!

Or to Beijing for 48,000/58,000 Citi points in Business/First Class on Air China. And if you take a connection flight on Asiana (which has a better First Class cabin) you’ll even save a few miles.

Avianca award sale

Fly Air China or Asiana to Beijing for 48,000 Citi points in Business and 58,000 in First 

Or to Taipei for 48,000 Citi points in Business Class.

Avianca award sale

Taipei from San Francisco in Business on Eva is only 48,000 points

Or to Hong Kong for 52,000 Citi points in Business Class.

Avianca award sale

LA to Hong Kong on Eva in Business is only 52.000 Citi points

If the city you need is not on the Avianca award sale list, I wouldn’t worry about it. Fly to Seoul in First Class (oh yes, you can tell I am partial to Asiana!) and use local lowcosters or other frequent miles currency to get to your final destination.

Trick’n’tripping Avianca LifeMiles for even better value

There used to be times when people would hack Avianca LifeMiles just for the badness of it. The program had almost no restrictions, allowed you to book crazy and illogical routes, and even ticketed itineraries that would blatantly violate Cabotage rules. There was something about this program that drew badass travel hackers like a moth to a flame. Well, nothing lasts forever, and LifeMiles has eventually shut down most of these loopholes.

Except for the ones it hasn’t.

To better understand why Avianca is such a terrific program for people with inquisitive minds, I have 3 words for you: mixed class awards. These are important, because unlike most airlines, Avianca doesn’t charge you by the highest class mileage – it spreads the difference depending on the actual length of trip you spend in each cabin.

I wish I discovered it myself, but I didn’t. Here is an excellent Frequent Miler post that describes this “phenomenon.”

With LifeMiles, the start and end of the trip dictate which part of the award chart is used, but the pricing is determined by how far you fly in each cabin. The total is a weighted average.

How does it help you? Skiplagging!

What is Skiplagging?

Skiplagging is the practice of booking a connecting itinerary with the express intent of skipping the final leg. It’s like buying a ticket from New York to Cleveland via Chicago when your real destination is Chicago (seriously, what’s in Cleveland, anyway?). This is a controversial practice that’s frowned upon by every airline in existence, because, well, no gamer (in our example, airlines ) likes to be gamed. Airlines can boot you out of the program, confiscate your miles, and kill your cat if they catch you missing your flight on purpose (note: not everything in the preceding statement might be true and accurate to the best of my knowledge).

How much can you save skiplagging with Avianca? Sometimes, quite a bit, actually.

Take a look at this flight between New York and Bogota, where a business class award seat costs 37,500 (the Avianca calculator shows 40,000, but I’m not complaining 🙂 ). By finding a flight to Lima via Bogota with a Coach seat on the final leg, you can reduce the cost by over 8,500 miles.

Avianca award sale

Avianca charges you 22,270 miles for JFK-BOG and 6,670 miles for BOG-LIM. So you final bill would be 28,940 miles instead of 37,500.

Or consider United service to Lima via Bogota from Newark. This one costs even less – just 27,730 miles. Just skip the final leg to Lima and pocket 10,000 miles.

Avianca award sale

And this United flight from Newark would cost you even less: 27,730 miles (or 23,000 Citi points with the 25% bonus)

The biggest challenge is finding these Economy Class seats on a final leg. But when you do, you can save a few thousands miles. In the example below, your real intended destination would be Copenhagen, not Stockholm.

Avianca award sale

You would be saving a little over 4,000 miles using this method instead of buying a ticket to Copenhagen — may not be worse the hassle

In some cases you can save really big. A First Class seat to Tokyo on ANA costs 90,000 miles. But not if you buy a ticket to Hong Kong with the second leg in Economy, and skip it.

Avianca award sale

You’ll be saving over 15,000 miles by buying a First Class ticket for LAX-NRT-HKG instead of LAX-NRT

You’re saving a whopping 15,500 miles on this itinerary, and this has nothing to do with the latest Avianca award sale. I’d say it’s worth the trouble. But if you manage to combine a route that’s eligible for the Avianca award sale with skiplagging (especially if you find an economy class ticket), you’re golden!

Gaming Avianca LifeMiles for Lufthansa First

Flying First Class on Lufthansa is a dream for many hobbyists, although I’ve never understood why. I’m sure the service is outstanding, but this is a 9-hour flight, and from the pictures and reviews, I didn’t feel that the open design of the Lufthansa First Class cabin is something I should be dying to try.

Of course, there are also those fabulous First Class lounges in Frankfurt and Munich, as well as the most important part of air travel – a Mercedes ride to your “ride” from the lounge.  🙂

Well, OK.

If you’re insanely flexible and can fly on a moment’s notice, Avianca can help you score that elusive ticket. In my experience, I’ve checked every day, and every day there was award space for at least 1 person from JFK to Frankfurt or Munich (the other way around, too). But the privilege is not cheap – 87,000 miles. About the same as you’d pay for a first class flight to Asia, which is a much longer affair.

So how do you game it? While it’s not exactly skiplagging (you don’t skip anything), the same principle applies. If you’re only in it for the experience (and not Frankfurt itself) make another city, like Istanbul, your final destination.

Avianca award sale

Save 7,800 miles to fly JFK-FRA-IST instead of JFK-FRA

You’re saving almost 8,000 miles using this method. Want to save even more? Fly to Reykjavik. It’s farther from Frankfurt than Istanbul, and so the savings are even more pronounced.

Avianca award sale

Fly Lufthansa First to Iceland via Frankfurt instead of Frankfurt and save 11,100 miles

You will save a whopping 11,000 miles (also nothing to do with the Avianca award sale), get the whole Lufthansa First Class “Experience,” and visit a fascinating country in the process. Win-win-win!

Welcome to Avianca where the more you fly – the less you pay!

They totally must pay me for this Motto!

Why not skip the last leg? Because it’s not going to help your cause. Arriving passengers don’t get access to the First Class Lounge, and you won’t be driven to your plane, which is such a waste of 9 hours of air travel!  🙂

Downsides of skiplagging

While the risk of getting in trouble with the airline for skiplagging is real, I don’t believe it’s really high unless you go out of your way to get on their radar. The airline would be insane to punish you for one or 2 skipped segments and subject itself to regulatory and possibly legal scrutiny. Other risks and inconveniences are more serious, in my opinion.

  • You can’t check bags.

  • In case of IROPS, an airline can send you to your final destination using alternative routes.

  • Bad karma? Someone somewhere won’t get your seat, which will fly empty.

OK, I thought this would be the final Avianca part, but I’m exhausted. Scribbling 1,500 words can get tiring, and I’m not even nearly done. Stay tuned!

Next: Avianca LifeMiles: The Bad and the Ugly, How to Book, and Final Thoughts

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