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

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Transferring to Avianca LifeMiles

Citi ThankYou has a 25% bonus for transferring to Avianca LifeMiles until December 12, 2018. The news has come and gone without making too much of a splash, which is unfortunate because this is a fantastic deal hiding in plain sight. Normally, the Avianca chart is just OK – it’s not too generous – but this bonus makes it shine! Stay with me for the next couple of minutes, and I’ll show you that this transfer bonus is on a par with the best deals we’ve seen.

Here is the Avianca Star Alliance award chart along with the best possible redemptions IMHO (Avianca’s own flights to Colombia cost about the same). I highlighted the best deals in the chart, although it doesn’t mean that you won’t find other deals if you look hard enough. Avianca changed its award chart in 2017, in part to close up major loopholes that had been exploited by travel hackers for years to their hearts’ content, but, as a result, the chart became so freakishly convoluted that they were bound to outsmart themselves (click to enlarge).

Transferring to Avianca LifeMiles

The 25% Citi bonus makes transferring Citi points to Avianca a real value proposition

Fly anywhere in the world without fuel surcharges

Just like United or American, Avianca doesn’t add any surcharges to its own or its partners’ award flights anywhere in the world.

Use Avianca for U.S. domestic flights from 6,000 ThankYou points in Coach

Avianca divides the United States into 3 parts:

Transferring to Avianca LifeMiles

You can fly between Miami and Dallas for 6,000 ThankYou points

Basically, you’ll pay 7,500, 10,000, or 12,500 Avianca miles (or 6,000, 8,000, and 10,000 Citi ThankYou points) per one-way travel for flying anywhere in the Continental U.S. Some of these deals are better than others, but I’d say 8,000 points for a flight between New York and Dallas, or Miami and San Francisco, sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

Fly to Colombia from 12,000 ThankYou points in Coach and from 27,000 points in Business Class after transferring to Avianca LifeMiles

Avianca flies nonstop to the following U.S. cities.

  • Bogota: Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York (JFK), Orlando, Washington (IAD)
  • Medellin: Miami, New York (JFK)
  • Cartagena: Miami, New York (JFK)
  • Cali: Miami, New York (JFK)
  • Barranquilla: Miami
  • Pereira: New York (JFK)

Avianca doesn’t have an award chart for its own flights – you’re using a flight calculator instead. The cost of Avianca’s award flights to Colombia depends on where you’re flying from. Here are some examples for flights to Bogota.

From New York:

  • Economy – 18,000 (15,000 ThankYou points)
  • Business – 40,000 (32,000 ThankYou points)

From Chicago:

  • Economy – 18,000 (15,000 ThankYou points)
  • Business – 35,000 (28,000 ThankYou points)

From Washington, DC:

  • Economy – 18,000 (15,000 ThankYou points)
  • Business – 38,000 (31,000 ThankYou points)

From Miami:

  • Economy – 15,000 (12,000 ThankYou points)
  • Business – 33,000 (27,000 ThankYou points)

From Los Angeles:

  • Economy – 17,000 (14,000 ThankYou points)
  • Business – 33,000 (27,000 ThankYou points)

If you’ve noticed something strange, you’re not alone. New York to Bogota lasts under 5 hours, and yet, it costs considerably more in Business than a flight from LA that clocks in at 7+ hours. In fact, LA is the only flight I would consider buying a Business Class seat on. For other markets, 12,000 to 15,000 ThankYou points in Economy look like a great deal to me.

Transferring to Avianca LifeMiles

27,000 ThankYou points is a great price for a 7+ hour flight between Los Angeles and Bogota in Business Class

Note: If you’re accustomed to getting frustrated from the lack of premium class seats, you might run into a different problem with Avianca. It might be easier to find Business Class than Coach awards on Avianca, especially from major markets, whether you want them or not.

Fly to Brazil for 40,000 ThankYou points in Business Class

Avianca Brazil

Avianca Brazil flies nonstop to 2 U.S. cities

  • São Paulo: Miami, New York (JFK)

This could be a great redemption opportunity because Avianca charges 50,000 miles to Brazil, rather than the 60,000 miles to the rest of southern South America. The problem is, however, that first, you can only redeem an Economy Class seat on Avianca Brazil, and second, it’s moot anyway because I’ve never managed to find a nonstop Avianca Brazil flight to São Paulo from either city. It seems that a flight to Brazil is always routed via Bogota.

Still, even with one layover, 40,000 ThankYou points is not a bad price for a Business Class seat to Brazil. That’s 80,000 miles per round trip for a lie-flat seat to deep South America. Approaching a Unicorn territory, I’d say.

Transferring to Avianca LifeMiles

40,000 ThankYou points for a Business Class seat between the U.S. and Brazil

Fly to Peru for 26,000 ThankYou points in Business Class

Avianca Perú/TACA

  • Lima: Miami, Orlando

You can fly nonstop to Lima for 32,500 Avianca miles or 26,000 ThankYou points in Business Class. That’s a reasonable value for a nearly 6-hour flight. A coach seat will run you 15,000 miles or 12,000 ThankYou points after transferring to Avianca LifeMiles, just like to Colombia.

Transferring to Avianca LifeMiles

26,000 ThankYou points in Business Class from the U.S. to Lima

Guatemala and Salvador for 12,000 ThankYou points in Coach

For the sake of thoroughness, these are other destinations served by Avianca. Salvador and Guatemala flights start at 15,000 miles or 12,000 ThankYou points in economy.

Salvador (Avianca El Salvador)

  • San Pedro Sula: Miami, New York (JFK)
  • San Salvador: Boston, Miami, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York (JFK, EWR), Orlando, San Francisco, Washington (IAD)

Guatemala

  • Guatemala City: Chicago, Los Angeles, New York (JFK), Orlando (Avianca Costa Rica)
  • Guatemala City: Miami (Avianca El Salvador/TACA)
  • Guatemala City: Los Angeles (Avianca Guatemala)

Fly from U.S. Zone 1 to Europe 1 for 16,000 ThankYou points

You pay 20,000 Avianca miles or 16,000 ThankYou points per one-way travel to Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Estonia, Great Britain, Ireland, Iceland, and Russia.

Transferring to Avianca LifeMiles

Europe 1 is a great deal for 16,000 ThankYou points

A Business Class seat to Europe 1 would cost you 48,000 ThankYou points, which is not bad, but not amazing either.

Transferring to Avianca LifeMiles

Or for 48,000 points in Business

Fly to South Africa in Business Class for 63,000 ThankYou points

A flight to South Africa costs 78,000 Avianca miles or roughly 63,000 ThankYou points. That’s a great value for a 15-hour trip without any fuel surcharges. Finding a Business Class award on South African is another story, but as you can see, it’s possible if you’re flexible enough.

Transferring to Avianca LifeMiles

63,000 ThankYou points to South Africa in Business — Fantastic Value!

Fly to Asia in Business Class for 60,000 to 63,000 ThankYou points

The Avianca chart breaks Asia into 3 zones: North Asia, Central Asia, and South Asia. The cost difference in Business Class is negligible, though: from 75,000 to 78,000 Avianca miles. After transferring to Avianca LifeMiles with the 25% bonus, you’ll pay 60,000 to 63,000 ThankYou points per one-way travel – an excellent rate considering what U.S. carriers are charging for these flights.

Transferring to Avianca LifeMiles

You can fly to Japan in Business Class on ANA for 60,000 ThankYou points and no fuel surcharges!

Fly to South Korea on Asiana or Japan on ANA in First Class for 72,000 ThankYou Points

I flew Asiana First Class a few years ago and loved every minute of it even if it’s not fancy enough for some bloggers. And what’s not to love? You get a large enclosed suite, a huge 32-inch TV, and great food that more than make up for lack of glitz and glam. As for ANA, you could do better with Virgin Atlantic miles, especially if you’ve transferred your AMEX or ThankYou points when the 25% bonus was available. If not, then 72,000 ThankYou points is still a fantastic value, and do remember that you’re saving big $$$ in fuel surcharges, as well.

Transferring to Avianca LifeMiles

72,000 ThankYou points in Asiana First Class is a bargain!

Fly to the South Pacific (or anywhere else in the world) for 64,000 ThankYou points in Business Class

You can fly nonstop to Australia (United or Air Canada) or New Zealand (United or Air New Zealand) for 80,000 Avianca miles or 64,000 ThankYou points. Most of United and Air New Zealand flights are from the West Coast and Houston, but for all of us, East Coasters, Air New Zealand begins flying from Chicago to Auckland on November 30, 2018. So if you do live on the East Coast, Air Canada (Toronto) and Air New Zealand (Chicago) might make an easier target for that positioning flight.

Transferring to Avianca LifeMiles

64,000 ThankYou points to Australia. It’s not easy to find Business Class award space to the South Pacific, but if you do, it’s hard to beat!

Fly to Australia from New York in First and Business Class for 79,000 ThankYou points

It can be tricky finding a flight to the South Pacific along with a positioning flight to the point of departure. So as an alternative, search for an Asiana flight via Seoul (First Class cabin to Seoul and Business Class from Seoul to Sydney). And you’ll enjoy the Asiana First Class lounge at Incheon while waiting for your flight.

Transferring to Avianca LifeMiles

Or fly your first leg in First Class for just 15,000 points more

Bottom Line

The Citi ThankYou 25% bonus for transferring to Avianca LifeMiles turns LifeMiles into one of the hottest deals in the miles-and-points universe even if it’s not obvious just by looking at the announcement. Get great deals on Avianca travel to Colombia and Brazil. Pay peanuts for U.S. domestic travel and flights to Europe 1 in Economy. Enjoy excellent values for Business Class award flights to Europe, South Africa, Asia, and the South Pacific. Or fly in First Class on Asiana and ANA to Asia and the South Pacific. And Avianca doesn’t add fuel surcharges to its own flights or any of its partners.

Is it all rosy and peachy? Well, no, which is why in the next part, we’ll talk about some caveats. There are also tricks to book Avianca award travel and get even better value out of it. In the meantime: what do you think about this bonus and are you going to transfer points to Avianca LifeMiles?

Next: 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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5 Responses to Citi 25% Bonus for Transferring to Avianca LifeMiles Offers Fantastic Values (That Many People Miss)

  1. HoKo says:

    Great post Andy, I don’t have any immediate uses but i was thinking about transferring a chunk of TYP’s over for future European business class travel.

    I believe points expire after only 12 months but if need be u can transfer 1,000 points to push the expiration out by another year?

    Do you have any dedicated posts talking about best sweet spots / deals to Europe in Biz? What would your top three options be at this point? IM a Washington DC based flier.

    • Andy Shuman says:

      Thanks! I think it’s still hard to beat ANA for 88K if you don’t mind RT and can travel on United, Air Canada, Airp Portugal or Scandinavian to avoid YQ. Otherwise, I’m working on a post outlining some AV tricks that would take it even further.

      • HoKo says:

        Yeah that ANA sweet spot is nice but MR is the currency that I’m poorest in. I’m sitting on six figure balances of UR and TYP but MR is only at around 40K 🙁

        Looking forward to the AV post – I think I’m gonna transfer ~200k from TYP for future speculative bookings

  2. Christian says:

    Another really good post. Thanks. I should mention. though that AA does charge fuel surcharges on BA flights.

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