When booking a domestic United award using LifeMiles this past week, I noticed something odd. Well, more than one thing was odd. First, the price was a quirky 6,500 LifeMiles instead of falling right into the 7,500/10,000/12,500 prices that LifeMiles has had for U.S. domestic awards.

This wasn’t really surprising in its own right, as I knew LifeMiles had started pricing individual routes both higher and lower than what was previously offered. I welcomed this change, as I now save 1,000 LifeMiles on this particular redemption.

It was the taxes and fees that surprised me. Instead of the typical $30.60 charge for a one-way award, I was being presented with just $15.60.

That’s Right – LifeMiles Reduced Their Award Fee

It’s always irked me a bit that LifeMiles has charged a booking fee for all awards, even award on their own metal and awards booked online. No other program that I know does this. Frontier used to, and they still might. Others, like Alaska, charge an extra fee only for partner awards.

Well, I’d completely forgotten that Avianca LifeMiles had actually adjusted the award fees as well as the mileage requirements for many domestic U.S. awards. This is definitely a welcome change, as most of the awards that I book with LifeMiles are short-haul tickets that cost 7,500 miles or less. These will typically now only have an award fee of $10 instead of $25.

This might not seem like a lot of savings, and it’s a pretty small detail, but it does represent real savings when you’re looking for multiple tickets. When the kid and I flew to Arizona to kick off a week-long road trip, we paid $91.80 in taxes and fees for three award tickets to Tucson. Now, with the current fee structure, we would owe just $46.80.

an airplane wing over a beach

Lovely view of Arcata-Eureka Airport as we leave

But Not All Is So Wonderful

The flip side of this is the increase in miles for some routes. Where the SFO-ACV hop as seen a reduction, a ticket from Arcata to Tucson is not 10,000 miles one-way. These previously priced at 7,500 miles. Same goes for Albuquerque, although we can still fly to Denver for just 7,500 miles.

I wish LifeMiles wasn’t such a crap shoot at times. In this most recent case, the changes worked in my favor. However, they left some people worse off, not to mention I don’t like any situation where I can’t predict the price of an award. Why a flight to Tucson should cost more than one to Denver (which is actually farther) is beyond me.