Post-COVID-19 Travel: I Booked a Flight for 35,000-Miles in Business Class From JFK to Lisbon



Back in January, Nick from Frequent Miler shared an amazing find: 35,000 Avianca miles for a TAP Portugal Business Class seat from New York to Lisbon. That’s really astonishing because a regular LifeMiles redemption rate between the U.S. and Europe is 63,000 miles.

I would’ve snagged that ticket right away, but I needed to do something about my ANA miles that were expiring in February. Hence I tweaked my plans a little and used them to book a ticket to Israel with a stopover in Lisbon. That trip was supposed to happen in October.

Of course, it didn’t for obvious reasons.

Interestingly, I kept tracing TAP Portugal Business Class award space from time to time, and it pretty much disappeared, then reappeared on select dates, until recently (I think, but not sure), it became widely available.

How widely? Like almost every day for two people!

JFK-LIS: TAP Portugal Business Class

JFK-LIS TAP Portugal Business Class award space for September 2021 for 2 people

At the time of writing, the 35,000 rate is available from late March till the end of schedule. I just couldn’t take it anymore and booked the damn ticket already. 🙂

JFK to LIS is the only TAP Portugal Business Class itinerary available for 35,000 Avianca miles

Like Nick, I also tried to find other anomalies that would make this thing even sweeter. Like him, I failed every time.

  • No other North American flight to Lisbon in TAP Portugal Business Class priced at 35,000 miles. Even from Newark.
  • No connecting flight that included the JFK-LIS leg would price at 35,000 miles.
  • The round trip priced at 98,000 miles, and the flight from Lisbon at 63,000.
  • Basically, no matter what I tried, I couldn’t get the same price. Period.

So, take it for what it is. If you’re based in or close to New York, find a cheap positioning flight. Enjoy Portugal for 35,000 miles. Then hop on a cheap Avios flight to Madrid and fly back in Iberia Business Class for 34,000 miles (low season) and 50 Euro surcharge.

If you’re not based in or near New York, then any positioning flights will increase the total cost, and the return flight on Iberia might cost more too.

Speaking of Iberia, the airline still hasn’t published its 2021 off-peak calendar, but as I recently reported, Head for Points and Point Me to the Plane had come up with an unofficial schedule, so check it out.

Can this 35,000-mile rate be just a glitch? 

This would be at least a 10-month old glitch, but, I guess, anything is possible.

However, since I went ahead and took one for the team (:-)), I can report that my booking has been ticketed. Here is the LifeMiles record of my reservation.

And here is the TAP Portugal ticketing screen (I removed the personal information, of course).

But my flight is so far away that anything can happen.

What about the COVID-19 uncertainties?

Well, should things go wrong, it seems my recourse would be limited, but I’m willing to risk it anyway.

If your ticket was fully or partially redeemed with LifeMiles:

And you redeem it between October 1st and December 31st, 2020 regardless of the flight date:

    • You can change it as many times as you want without any penalty only if you reschedule it before the date of the trip and to fly before December 31st, 2021 and as long as you do it on the same route or to common points. No fare difference is exonerated. [Whatever on earth that means!]

If you already know when to fly, make the change of your ticket by contacting our call center or LiveCHAT and keep in mind

    • If your ticket was redeemed with miles, you have not used it and it is less than one (1) year old, you can change the itinerary (date and time), change the travel route or request a refund of the miles. Partially used tickets or tickets issued more than one (1) year old allow for re-routing (date and time) only, no re-routing or refund.

Maybe I’m missing something, but I’m not seeing anything about waiving the redepositing fees. So the risk is there, I guess.

If you don’t have LifeMiles, you can pay 31,000 AmEx MR points or $396

There is a 3 for 1 LifeMiles promo going on right now wherein you can buy miles with a 200% bonus (today, Dec 3, is the last day). You will need to buy 12,000 miles for $396 to get 36,000 miles total.

I’m normally against buying miles no matter what the bonus is, but if you want this specific redemption, $400 doesn’t seem like such a bad deal.

There is another promo valid until Dec 15: a 15% transfer bonus from AmEx Membership Rewards. You’ll need 31,000 MR points to cover this ticket.

Let’s recap

  • 35,000 miles to Europe in TAP Portugal Business Class is faaaar below the LifeMiles 63,000-mile rate.
  • Only available on a nonstop flight TO Lisbon, not FROM!
  • Only from New York and only from JFK.
  • Connecting flights won’t work.
  • Nothing else will work (as far as I can tell).

I have covered Avianca a lot! And yet, it is still a mystery wrapped in who knows what to me! 

Any of you, guys, at least tempted to book this flight?
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Great find. Lucky you live New York!

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