Once Again, Things That Could Have Been Brought to My Attention YESTERDAY!

Over the past week and a half AviancaTaca LifeMiles has made some modest mileage price increases in their award chart and increased the cash component of cash and points awards from 1.3 to about 1.5 cents per mile.

These changes were made without any advance notice (as they’ve made earlier changes to their award chart as well).

Some frequent flyers went rather ballistic on the LifeMiles Facebook page. Their social media reps were at first denying that any changes had been made.

Now, apparently, LifeMiles has sent out an email acknowledging the changes. I haven’t received it, perhaps because I subscribe in Spanish (thinking I’d get more info out of them if they don’t have to first translate to English – guess not).

Here, German frequent flyer site vielfliegertreff.de, with the aid of Google Translate:

Dear partners,

In the last week we have some adjustments to the tables of the redemption of miles for airline tickets. These changes, especially the only Star Alliance member airlines flights to and from Oceania, Africa, Asia and the Middle East operated. We have not made ​​any changes to the tables of redemption between the Americas.

Based on market conditions, these adjustments the miles up to 5,000 Miles for Economy Class Life up to 10,000 Miles Life Business Class and up to 25,000 Miles First Class Life increased required.

Given historical data, the adjustments affect less than 1% of the tickets in Life Miles redeemed.

Apart from the changes mentioned above, for the first time in more than two years, we have a minimal increase in the price of miles that are purchased when our customers flexible use payment option.

This does not affect most of the redemptions in Life Miles. The cost of purchased miles through Flexible Payment is clear in the redemption process and the tool allows our customers until needed, the number of miles that you think is correct to a maximum of 60% of the miles for redemption of a ticket . purchase

Thank you and we always have the feedback that we. Fanpage of our partners and value your preferences

I’m sure it’s more articulate in the original.

And I think it’s actually quite a reasonable note, although for most members the claim that the price of the cash component of awards hasn’t gone up in two years falls on deaf ears as the program has only been a part of the Star Alliance for 11 months.

Still, I don’t see the changes as that draconian though I certainly don’t like them. The real issue is that the changes are made with no advance notice whatsoever, and not even with contemporaneous acknowledgment.

Programs should provide reasonable notice before making changes so that members who have been saving up for awards don’t have the rug pulled out from underneath them. No program should operate like Lucy, Charlie Brown and the football.

I’d have been perfectly fine with things if they had brought these changes to the attention of members in advance.

Instead, it serves as a good illustration and reminder that programs can and do make changes whenever they wish (although in Europe sometimes that generates litigation). And it’s why I don’t like carrying huge mileage balances to save for a future time, or buying miles without a specific immediate purpose.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. No more Freddies for them! Such is what happens when one spoils a youthful kid with too much adulation too soon.

  2. When the “buy LifeMiles” promotion was being pushed last month, I priced around-trip award itinerary from IAD to BOG and neither the number of miles required nor supplemental price per mile matched what was being stated in the blogs. Both were higher.

  3. Two things to note, yes it should have been in advance but they also just ran a buy purchase last month and then did 2 * devaluations this month (without notice). So it’s not just that they devalued but they did in after what some regard as a bait and switch!

    Two, they have just been voted best program in SA based on support for these people they just dudded, I think next year they will be lucky not to be last! Social media works both ways as they have just learnt to their expense!

  4. “Given historical data, the adjustments affect less than 1% of the tickets in Life Miles redeemed.”

    Makes me wonder why bother with the change and make everyone angry in the first place…

  5. “Given historical data, the adjustments affect less than 1% of the tickets in Life Miles redeemed.”

    This sounds very similar to what British Airways said about their program when they switched to Avios. Hard to believe.

  6. Although it would be nice for them to give advance notice, I don’t necessarily feel like it warrants outrage from customers. They are operating a business, and sometimes businesses raise prices to keep up with the marketplace. People wouldn’t get mad at pepsi if they raised the price $0.50 for a soda..

  7. @Matthew – if they sold you a voucher for a soda, and told you when you came back to redeem it that the soda now required 2 vouchers you would be angry.

  8. @Matthew, $0.50 is a considerable price hike for a soda. I think I would be up in arms about it

  9. The program made changes that do not affect customers in the Americas. Only Africa, Asia and OCeania were affected. If you dont fly the airline, you have no business being a member of Lifemiles. Get your own cheap ticket somewhere else!

  10. Making changes without notice is troublesome enough. But having a “sale” on miles hen these changes were likely in consideration is pretty awful.

  11. If it is too good to be true….
    Dont buy miles unless you have a trip in mind…

    And people ignored these time tested warnings!

    Some bloggers are advising people to speculate on US miles as those are “expected to become AA miles”. There will be a devaluation once the companies merge, I can bet you on that! ( they already got rid of the soft landing policy to begin with). Don’t like that? go to Delta!

  12. Their English version, for those who care:

    Dear members

    In the last several days, we have made certain changes to our redemption tables. The vast majority of these changes only affect routes offered through our Star Alliance partners from or to Africa, Asia, Middle East, and Oceania. No change was made to redemption tables for flights within the Americas. The changes made are based on market conditions, and increase required mileages by up to 5,000 LifeMiles in Economy Class, up to 10,000 LifeMiles in Business Class, and up to 25,000 LifeMiles in First Class. Based on our historical data, these changes affect less than 1% of LifeMiles’ ticket redemptions.

    In addition to the changes described above, for the first time in more than two years, we have made a minor increase in the price of miles purchased through our Flexible Payment tool. This adjustment will not affect the majority of redemptions in LifeMiles. The cost of miles purchased through Flexible Payment is transparent in the redemption process, and the tool makes it easy to purchase only the amount of miles the customer considers convenient, up to a maximum of 60% of the miles required for the redemption.

    We appreciate and will consider the feedback received from members commenting in Facebook, and we value your preference.

  13. I would echo Erics comments, that it will be interesting to see how they do in the Freddie’s next year… They really took the spotlight for Star Alliance this past year, and I get the feeling that people remember the bad a whole lot longer than the good.

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