Oh Joy, Another Devaluation, This Time It’s Avianca Lifemiles

Got this email which has some unwelcome news for Aussies who buy Avianca Lifemiles for cheap Star Alliance awards.  It’s not all bad, some awards to South America went down.  Thankfully I burned my balance last year in Ecuador and Colombia!

This is why I always say don’t buy miles unless you are redeeming them straight away.

We want to inform you that starting May 15th, 2017, the amount of miles required for redemption of air tickets of routes from Australia, New Zealand and Oceania, in Economic, Business and First class from Star Alliance table will have some changes. The changes for some routes will be reductions, and for others they will be increments, while some other regions will remain the same.

Remember you can use your miles to redeem Round-trip, One-way, Multi-City tickets, and use flexible payments combining LifeMiles + Money. General terms and conditions for ticket redemptions apply.

Review the table here

Are Daily Getaways Worth It Anymore?

Old-timer travel hackers will remember the golden days when buying Wyndham points could mean ultra-cheap airline miles when Daily Getaways used to be interesting.  Those days are long gone and no further proof is needed than seeing 1143 Wyndham packages still for sale at 5pm EST.  I remember back in 2012 (before I started this blog) setting an alarm for 2am my time to get ready with browsers loaded to compete to buy Wyndham points and they would sell out in seconds.  Nowadays these point packages have such limited use and you can often find these hotels cheaper on online booking sites that it’s no longer worth it.  Sad!

 

6000 Velocity Points With Midas Car Service

The Midas promo is back and almost as good as before.  I got 10,000 points 2 years ago and my car is so sparingly used, it doesn’t really need another one or I would go for this.  6000 points is still pretty good for something most car owners do at least once a year.  This is a good one to combine with the free 1000 points new member bonus if you aren’t already a member.

DETAILS

*From 14 March 2017 to 21 April 2017, Velocity members can earn a bonus 6,000 Points on all vehicle services at Midas*! From 22nd April 2017, Velocity members will revert to the base earn 2 Points per $1 spent on all vehicle maintenance, maintenance services and Manufacturers Logbook Services. Service definitions are found at midas.com.au/car-service and midas.com.au/logbook-service.

The following additional maintenance service items are eligible for Velocity Points earn if deemed to be required and are additional to the service package: Brake fluid flush, Coolant system flush, Power steering flush, Transmission flush.

The following repair items are not eligible for Velocity Points earn: Brake parts, Exhaust parts, Drivetrain parts, Engine parts, Body parts, Suspension parts, Electrical parts, Climate control parts, Steering parts, Tyres and Non-related service labour.

Velocity members can book an eligible service by calling 13 MIDAS (64 32), booking online at midas.com.au or in any Midas Service Centre. Velocity Points will be loaded within 7 days of the completed service.

To earn and redeem Velocity Points, you must be a Velocity member. Velocity membership and Points earn are subject to the Member Terms and Conditions available at velocityfrequentflyer.com as amended from time to time.

1000 Free Velocity Points For New Members

Are you a member of Virgin Australia’s Velocity?  If not, now is your chance to join and start off with a FREE 1000 bonus points!  Use my referral link and I will also get 1000 points for referring you (thank you very much)!

 

You need to earn at least 40 points as per T&C’s which is very easy to do.  Here are some ideas.

  1.  Transfer points from Flybuys
  2.   Buy petrol at BP
  3.  Shop online
  4.  Get credit cards
  5.  Join E-Rewards and do a survey.
  6.  Transfer from Amex Membership Rewards
  7.  Keep an eye out for new promos, they have them all the time.  I just got 200 points from doing this survey!

Once you have qualified, then go out and refer your own friends to boost your balance and soon you will be on your way to a dream trip!

 

Singapore Krisflyer Program Changes 23 March

I’ve seen tons of posts on this subject in my rss feed.  Some people hate it because the miles required for most awards is going up.  Others love it because fuel/carrier surcharges are going away.  Here’s the details straight from the horse’s mouth.

  • Revisions to Saver Award levels in the Singapore Airlines and SilkAir Award Chart have been made to ensure that flight rewards remain sustainable yet competitive. We last made adjustments to award levels in various zones in 2012.

 

  • The 15% discount for redemption and redemption upgrade bookings made through singaporeair.com and the SingaporeAir app will be discontinued, and the same redemption fare will be applied across all channels.

 

  • Fuel and insurance surcharges from all redemption award tickets on Singapore Airlines and SilkAir operated flights will be removed.

 

> View the Revised Award Chart, effective from 23 March 2017

> View the Current Award Chart

 

Importantly, with this change, while there will be an increase in the number of miles required to redeem for flights in certain zones, you can also expect to enjoy savings in the amount of cash you would need to pay for your redemption ticket due to the removal of fuel and insurance surcharges. Here is a snippet of the old and new charts with emphasis on Zone 9 which includes Sydney, Brisbane & Melbourne.  Old chart on top, new chart below.  A further 15% will be taken off the old chart if you book online.

This is further illustrated in the examples below.  I am using my own examples geared towards eco-tourists and birders ex-Australia.

EXAMPLE 1 SYDNEY TO JOHANNESBURG

The current prices reflect the 15% online discount and the carrier surcharge.  Below, you see highlighted in yellow how much surcharge is going away.  But the new mileage costs will be 47k economy, 60k premium economy, 78 business & 112k first.

Since most people prefer to redeem business class awards, the comparison is between 61,625 miles + $488 AUD vs 78,000 miles + $90 AUD in gov’t taxes which you always have to pay.  The economy example is 36,125 miles + $452 AUD vs 47,000 + $90 AUD gov’t taxes.

 

EXAMPLE 2 – BRISBANE TO KOTA KINABALU (SQ + SILKAIR)

This is a route I would actually be willing to do in SQ’s economy cabin which is one of the best in the world.  So I would be looking at 21,250 miles + $286 AUD old rates vs 28,000 miles + $88 AUD for gov’t taxes.

Are you a winner or loser with these new charts?  It all depends on what is easier for you to acquire, cash or miles.  If you get miles fairly painlessly with credit card spending and online mall portals then you will probably prefer the new charts.  If you have more cash to spare and don’t like bothering with the credit card game, you won’t be happy with these new changes.  As for me, I have grown away from SQ as a primary program mostly because of the fuel surcharges so this is encouraging to get me back on board.

Now if only Qantas would get rid of their surcharges!

Aussies: Qantas & Virgin Both Have Transfer Promos

These promos come up several times a year so no need to rush and transfer your points.  Best to wait until you are within a few months of booking an award to avoid being caught out by devaluations.

First up: Qantas is emailing members who have previously transferred credit card points with a tiered bonus promo.  Few people will be able to hit the 30% tier so I am calling this a 15% bonus for all practical purposes.  The link emailed to me is tied to my account so keep an eye out for it.  You may want to transfer a nominal amount of credit card points to keep you in the loop for future promos.

Not to be outdone, Virgin’s Velocity has a more accessible promo with Flybuys that anyone can do if you have linked your Flybuys and Virgin accounts. 

This promo was a real nice earner for me last year as I got lots of Flybuys points from maximizing shopping promos, then used a promo like this to get a 15% bonus!

Velocity 7 Million Points Promotion

The good news?  Everyone will win SOMETHING!

The bad news?  That SOMETHING may not amount to much as the prize pool will be divided evenly among all the entrants.  If you already collect Velocity points, my guess is that they will get about 700,000 entries (10% of all members) an everyone will get about 10 points.  Whoopie!  If you don’t have other sources of Velocity points such as Flybuys, don’t bother with this promo.

Avianca’s New Buy Lifemiles Promo Through 28 Feb

Avianca has periodic promos throughout the year so only take advantage of them when you will be redeeming them within a few months.  Lifemiles can be very valuable to eco-tourists visiting Central and South America as it gives you access to all the birding hotspots such as Napo Wildlife Centre, Galapagos, many places in Colombia & Peru and more!

Only 3000 Lifemiles for Avianca’s subsidiary Aerogal from Quito to Coca!

Here’s the details of the current promo:

    • For LifeMiles members that have Colombia, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, Chile or Venezuela as their country of residence in their Member’s profile the bonus percentage applies as follows: for purchases from 1,000 – 10,000 LifeMiles receive 2×1, for purchases from 11,000 –40,000 LifeMiles receive 2×1 + 15% additional miles, for purchases from 41,000 – 200,000 receive 2×1 + 25% additional miles.
    • For LifeMiles members that have any other country as their country of residence in their Member´s profile the bonus percentage applies as follows: The bonus percentage apply as follows: for purchases from 1,000 – 50,000 LifeMiles receive 2×1, for purchases from 51,000 – 100,000 LifeMiles receive 2×1 + 15% additional miles, for purchases from 101,000 – 200,000 receive 2×1 + 25% additional miles.
    • The bonuses are calculated based on the miles purchased per individual transaction without taking into account the 2×1 bonus.
    • The miles must be purchased in multiples of 1,000.
    • The minimum miles to purchase per transaction is 1,000 LifeMiles.
    • The maximum miles to purchase per transaction during this promotion to receive the bonus showed in the table above is 200,000 LifeMiles if the Member has not purchased miles in 2017 or 200,000 LifeMiles minus the miles previously purchased by the Member in 2017.
    • The Member may purchase miles outside of the limits showed in the table above but in such case the transactions will be processed but no bonuses will be granted.
    • The maximum amount of miles to receive by a member per calendar year outside of this promotion is 200,000 LifeMiles (including miles purchased and bonuses received). If the member surpasses the limit, through purchases made during this promotion and other purchases in 2017, taking into account the bonuses received for those purchases, he or she will not be able to purchase any more miles until the next calendar year.
    • Each package of 1,000 LifeMiles costs USD $33.00 without applicable taxes and USD $40.26* including applicable taxes according to correspondence country registered in the LifeMiles database**
    • Only form of payment through Avianca´s Call Center and LifeMiles.com: credit card or international debit card. Cash payments are only allowed at Avianca´s Information Centers. Other Conditions: The receipt of the transaction will reflect the total number of miles accrued to the member´s account, including the bonus miles and the total charge for the transaction.
    • This promotion applies for miles purchases made between February 15th and February 28th, 2017 (between 00.00-23.59 GMT -6, El Salvador).
    • The miles purchased and earned with this promotion do not apply to achieve or maintain the Elite status.
    • The purchase of miles is not reversible or refundable. The purchase of miles is an immediate execution contract. Once the payment is made, the miles will be accrued immediately on the members account. As of that moment the miles can be used according to the terms and conditions of the LifeMiles Program. For these reasons the purchase of miles is a contract that cannot be resolved and retraction or similar rights according to applicable law are not applicable.
    • Miles are not endorsable.
    • Miles purchase is available through Avianca´s Call Centers, LifeMiles.com and Avianca Information Centers. For residents of Curacao it is only available through LifeMiles.com and Avianca´s Call Centers. For residents of Venezuela, it is only available through LifeMiles.com.
    • Does not apply to the Flexible Redemption (miles + money) during the payment process of air ticket redemption.
    • Miles purchased, once accrued, can be redeemed in accordance with the conditions specified in the LifeMiles Program Terms and Conditions and the portfolio of products and services available for redemption.
    • LifeMiles Terms and Conditions apply. LifeMiles is a trademark of LifeMiles B.V.

*For residents in Colombia: the values are settled based on Colombia´s exchange rate on the date of the transaction. For residents in Peru each package of 1,000 miles has a cost of USD 38,94 or S/.128.23 including taxes. Prices in Nuevos Soles reflect the reference exchange rate to February 10th 2017: S/. 3.293 Per 1 USD dollar. Final prices in Nuevos Soles will be determined bases on the exchange rate of the date of the transaction. For residents in Costa Rica the values are settled based on the exchange rate as provided by IATA. For the rest of the countries the values are settled based on the exchange rate of the date of the transaction.
**The price can be lower depending of the correspondence country entered on the Member´s profile in their LifeMiles account.

 

Getting To Darwin, Northern Territory With Airline Miles

Darwin is the gateway to the vast Northern Territory of Australia and you’d be surprised how big it really is!  If you are already in Australia (see miles guide here), it’s pretty easy to pick up domestic flights to Darwin (DRW) from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

IMG_7101

INTERNATIONAL OPTIONS

STAR ALLIANCE

There are no Star Alliance carriers operating to Darwin, however if you have Singapore Krisflyer miles you can use Silk Air from Singapore.

ONEWORLD

Obviously in Australia Qantas is the main player and you can redeem your miles from any OneWorld partner.  Although Qantas has no direct international flights from Darwin, you can easily add on a Sydney-Darwin (for example) segment to any international award to Australia.

Malaysian Airlines flies direct from Kuala Lumpur and is a great choice for people arriving from Europe.

SKY TEAM

There are no Sky Team carriers operating to Darwin although people with Delta miles can redeem them on Virgin Australia.

NON-ALLIANCE AIRLINES & LOW COST CARRIERS

Virgin Australia is the big one and as mentioned above people with Delta miles can redeem with them.  Virgin is also partnered with Singapore Airlines, Etihad and others.

Jetstar is a partner of Qantas but not a member of OneWorld but they have frequent sales so you are better off keeping an eye on their sale page and just paying for the flights.  This is what I did, I got BNE-DRW-BNE for $210 each!

Air Asia flies direct from Denpasar.

Air North has some interesting destinations like Dili, Timor-Leste and some remote Aussie towns.