Avianca is a Star Alliance airline that regularly sells miles cheap, I bought quite a haul at around 1.35 cents per mile recently.
They offer one way awards, cash and points awards, and make their Star Alliance partner awards bookable online. They do not add fuel surcharges to award tickets.
You do have to pretty much book only those awards that can be found on the website, customer service is frustrating by phone (though better by email), and you have to book only one class of service on an itinerary (so you cannot book an economy seat domestically, for instance, in conjunction with an international business class flight).
One of the other big drawbacks to the program has been that it could not access Lufthansa first class awards. When the program first launched as a part of Star Alliance they had better access to Lufthansa first class than other Star Alliance programs. I assumed it had something to do with an incorrect ‘point of sale’, that they were accessing the space as though they were part of Miles & More. Eventually Lufthansa first class access was shut down entirely, either as a way to clamp down on this error or to limit skyrocketing costs to the program.
Whatever the reason, Avianca LifeMiles can once again book Lufthansa First Class awards!
Here’s Detroit – Frankfurt a couple of days from now:
You can book it for either 87,000 LifeMiles one-way, or for 50,000 LifeMiles and $500.
Other routes are available, for instance here’s first class Frankfurt – Beijing.
Bear in mind that they have the same access to these seats as other Star Alliance programs like Air Canada Aeroplan and United Mileage Plus. That means that under normal circumstances you’ll only see first class award space on Lufthansa within 14 days of departure. But you will see that space again within 14 days of departure, which is huge in my opinion.
And that means return trips to the fabulous First Class Terminal in Frankfurt.
(HT: Jeremy C.)