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This week the Citi ThankYou program got a very exciting new 1:1 points transfer partner, LifeMiles. If you aren’t yet familiar with this Star Alliance program, you really need to spend at least enough time to read this post as this could be a route to booking award flights for much less than you have before. You may have heard of LifeMiles even if you have never flown on Star Alliance airline Avianca as they are a popular program in some miles and points circles thanks to the frequent discounted mileage sales they offer and the often fair and sometimes interesting award chart they utilize.
I love LifeMiles as a new Citi ThankYou transfer partner as it opens up additional opportunities to fly Star Alliance airlines such as United, Air Canada, ANA, SWISS, Lufthansa, Turkish, Air New Zealand, and more with your Citi ThankYou points.
Some folks stock up on LifeMiles to use them to fly fancy flights such as ANA First Class or Lufthansa First Class since LifeMiles doesn’t pass along fuel surcharges, doesn’t charge a close-in booking fee, and wants a comparatively reasonable 83,000 miles to fly from the US to Europe in first class on a three-cabin plane. That said, LifeMiles doesn’t always have access to the same Lufthansa first class awards as other Star Alliance partners such as United and Aeroplan and it seems that getting that kind of award these days requires a special handshake, some voodoo powers, and insane luck, so let’s instead focus on some easier to secure and more frequently useful LifeMiles awards.
Fly United Domestic Round Trips From 7,500 Miles Each Way
While it is nothing like Lufthansa First, I think my new favorite LifeMiles award chart sweet spot is the 15,000 miles round trip economy saver award within parts of the United States on United Airlines operated flights. LifeMiles has divided the United States mainland into three zones as shown below and travel within a zone starts at just 7,500 miles each-way (based on a round trip booking). This is a much better deal than the 10,000 – 12,500 miles each direction that United will want for a domestic saver award.
Here in Texas, we are in Zone 2 which includes states as far east as Florida and as far Northwest as Montana, which is sort of awesome. Assuming there is a United saver award available, I can fly from Houston to anywhere in this zone starting at just 7,500 miles each way, if I book a round trip, otherwise, it is 12,500 miles each way.
This means Orlando, Chicago, Kansas, Montana, and more are all a very manageable 15,000 miles round trip in economy or 30,000 miles round trip in domestic first. You can even connect in another zone and still get the same-zone pricing if your final destination is within your zone.
Being able to fly within a zone for just 15,000 miles for an economy round trip and 30,000 for a first class round trip is pretty fantastic, especially if you are earning ThankYou points that you transfer to LifeMiles at a rate of 3x on gas and travel via the Citi ThankYou Premier Card or similar. That essentially means a free United one-way flight for every $2,500 you charge in those 3x bonus categories.
Here are some example LifeMiles award chart prices as well as a link to their award chart:
- Houston – Orlando 7,500 miles in economy (based on round trip booking)
- Houston – New York 10,000 miles in economy (based on round trip booking)
- Houston – Honolulu 22,500 miles in economy
- New York – Zurich 24,000 miles in economy
- Houston – Frankfurt 63,000 miles in business class
- Frankfurt – Male 45,000 miles in business class
- Honolulu – North Asia (Narita, Guam, etc.) 48,000 miles in business class
LifeMiles aren’t just good within the US, but they offer a fair business class price to Europe of 63,000 miles each way with no fuel surcharges. If you want to book some trips from/to North Asia, from Hawaii, etc. there are some additional great deals to be had. LifeMiles sometimes comes up with bizarre routings, but that can be to your advantage in some cases.
You can also sometimes get some pretty interesting mixed cabin awards and pricing, such as this example from Houston – Male in the Maldives. The first segment from Houston – Frankfurt is in business class and the Frankfurt – Male is in economy. The total cost for this award is 54,880 miles which interesting if you think about it as normally just Houston – Frankfurt would cost you 63,000 miles in business class. In other words, invest some time in playing around with the LifeMiles booking site as you never know what you might find that works for your family.
I did a test transfer from Citi ThankYou to my LifeMiles account and the miles were transferred instantly as soon as I logged out of LifeMiles and logged back in, so this can be a fantastic way to quickly secure the award booking you desire.
A final piece of advice if you are new to LifeMiles, is that you don’t want to have to call them. Book what you can book on the website, or move on if you can’t find what you want and don’t expect a phone call to make anything work better. If you absolutely must make some sort of change to a reservation that requires contact with LifeMiles, email may be a better route than a phone call, but even then don’t expect anything to happen quickly. It’s basically like customer service on “island time” brought to you by an airline program.
What do you think of this new Citi Transfer partner and does LifeMiles play a role in helping your family stretch your miles and travel more for less?
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.